Making Money with Stock Photography
As a photographer it can be hard to generate consistent income, sometimes jobs are few and far between especially in the off-season of photography. However, as a photographer there are a few ways to generate residual income from your shoots. Some ways include usage rights for shoots, or by selling prints of some artistic shots. One other great way is to take some of your shots and upload them to stock photography catalogs.
Stock photography is a type of photography used in advertisements and websites, as well as various books and pamphlets. How it works is, a company or organization will need a picture of say, a couple on a beach. They can hire a photographer, fly him to a beach, pay for the hotel and his shoot fee, as well as the fee for models and any rentals. The alternative is that they can find a photographer who has already taken this picture and pay them a few dollars for the non-exclusive rights to the picture. The photographer makes some money, and the business gets an image at a much cheaper rate.
The best way to get started with stock photography is to go visit some stock websites. Sites like Istockphoto.com or Big Stock photo are great places to start. Take a look around their most popular photos, and make a list of photos that you think you can handle. Some things that always sell well are families, business ideas and any kind of holiday themed pictures. Some pictures you will need models for, while others will be more of a still-life photo.
Once you’ve planned some of your shoots, you may find that you need to find some models. One great place is to get some friends to model for you, often times people will do it for you for free, or if you offer to buy them dinner after the shoot. It is important to remember that you will need a model release when you use a model for your shoots. You can find examples of these on the stock websites, though you may need them to sign a different release for each different stock photography website.
Stock photography really is a numbers game, some photographers make all of their living off this style of photography, while others only ever make a few dollars. The best way to improve your odds is to upload as many pictures as you can, as you will have more chances to make sales. Sometimes, you can upload five pictures of the same thing, and you will make hundreds of dollars on one, and never sell the other four. No one can really explain why this is, so its always good to upload a good number of shots. Also important is to think of the tags that people might search for that apply to your image. Dig a bit deeper when tagging images and try to include abstract ideas, after all, the more tags you put on the images the more likely it is to pop up in searches.
However you decide to best tackle stock photography, remember to have fun with it. Manage your expectations and as long as you only expect to have some fun with your friends, while getting paid to practice your photography skills you will be okay. If you take it too seriously you may find it less enjoyable, and will be less likely to want to do shoots specifically for the purposes of stock photography, and the less shoots you do, the fewer shots you can upload. If you keep it fun, and keep shooting you may find it as a great way to supplement your income, or maybe even it could become your main source of income over time.