How to start your stock photography career. A quick guide on how you can achieve success the quickest.
What's your goal? A hobby or business?
You must have come across stock photos while surfing the Internet as a viewer or as a buyer. From newspaper articles to book covers, they can be found in many areas of life.
Now you have given your mind that you are trying yourself as a photographer in the field of stock photography.
You need to clarify a question for yourself before you begin: what is your goal with it? As a hobby photographer, is it a pleasure to see your purchased image on a website? Or do you want to earn more serious income over the years as a part-time job?
If the former is your goal, i.e. no matter the level of revenue, you just want to feel good, then virtually any agency can come into play. If you start digging into it, you will find the specifics of your favourite company. And sooner or later, you will greet the fellow photographers as acquaintances on the forum.
However, if the latter is your goal, i.e. you want to make money, to a significant extent, then it really matters where you start. Because in the beginning, you will need a lot of encouragement and positive experiences. Mainly in the volume of sales.
I think stock photography is primarily a business, so to achieve the latter goal I would like to give you some useful help and guidance based on my own experience and that of other stock photographers.
What are the encouraging factors you will need so much?
- The first image sold. How long you have to wait until the first sale?
- A worldwide popular stock photo site, where many buyers turn up from your country as well, so your local pictures can also be sold.
- If the forum members are intended to help beginners.
- Sell a relatively large number of images in a few months (number is important at this stage).
The best stock photo site to start with
Considering the factors mentioned above, you should no doubt choose Shutterstock as your first companion on your stock photography journey. At Shutterstock, an 'avalanche' of sales will begin in just a few weeks. Sure, only 3-5 pictures a week at first, but that quickly jumps to daily frequency. As you upload your new images, your sales will increase significantly.
Shutterstock is known all over the world, no wonder wherever you live, customers will surely be looking for your local photos as well.
Photographers have accumulated a significant amount of knowledge on the company’s forum, so you won’t be short of help.
Some tips for boosting your sales:
- If you're not a professional photographer, start now to improve your photographic skills.
- Upload new images regularly. If only three, but daily or every other day (better to upload a few more often than rarely a lot).
- Study the photos already on the site and try to create better ones.
- Find the niches you are able to fill.
- Avoid oversaturated topics like puppies, kittens and the like when possible.
- Use only relevant terms when entering your title and keywords. The title should be objective, descriptive, never poetic!
- Take local photos! Traveling photographers can’t even get close to a local photographer.
- For building, landscape photos, include the exact location (country, town, and street, if applicable), and include the continent, country, and town (if relevant) in your keywords. This is not necessary for general images of course.
- For animal and plant photos, be sure to include the Latin name in addition to the common English name!
- Enter the names of typical buildings, sculptures, institutions in their native language AND English! Buyers often look for local names.
The point is to get your images found (title + keywords) and if they are found, let them be chosen instead of the others (quality photos, special topics and composition).
Shutterstock brings quick success, but it usually pays woefully little for an image and quite narrows down the content of the images that can be uploaded. For example, you can't upload a photo that contains a lot of non-English text (Latin text on tombstones, etc.). After a while, you may get to the point where you want something more, more promising.
I’ve also tried Dreamstime, Getty Images, EyeEm, Adobe Stock, and iStock. I finally found Alamy, which seemed a perfect place at first glance. Much better than any other. You can read more about my good and bad experience with these agencies.
Unfortunately, Alamy is not the company to start with. With the exception of its excellent forum, the exact opposite is true of it, as are listed in the encouraging factors described above.
- Before you upload your images, define your goal!
- Start learning or expanding your photography skills. You won't go far without it!
- Read the forum(s) regularly! I suggest you choose one forum (agency) and study it thoroughly.
- Take a look at the pictures already uploaded on the site! Type in your search terms and watch the photos on the first page!
- If you feel you have some really good pictures, start uploading, but only to one agency at this stage!
- After a while, you'll find out what customers are looking for and take photos accordingly! Nobody cares what you like, it's what your customers are after!
Good luck with stock photography!