IanButty

Is it possible to make a living out of stock photography any more?

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If you are another Yuri Arcus and follow his industrious approach, I guess the answer is still YES. I used to do commissioned work for publishers mostly in the UK. I offered a fairly modest rate for the job but always retained the copyright so eventually the portfolio had a value and started generating reasonable revenue. Between the two streams, a decent living was possible. I mostly sold direct so not only pocketed the whole sale, but was in daily touch so had a better grasp on what was going on. Now we are too isolated.

 

It's not really like that any more and the greatly reduced prices don't help. For sure, posting a sunny day at the seaside for live news and a set of food containers and a few lego set-ups won't effectively put bread on the table. Just a biscuit or two!

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Out of curiosity, how many on here:

 

1. Shoot stock footage?

2. Sell Print on Demand?

3. Have a drone or are considering purchasing one?

4. Work directly with clients?

 

Me it's, 1. Yes but still learning 2. Yes 3. Considering 4. No, but would like to. 

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7 hours ago, Robert M Estall said:

. For sure, posting a sunny day at the seaside for live news and a set of food containers and a few lego set-ups won't effectively put bread on the table. Just a biscuit or two!

 

 

i don't know.....

 

km

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7 hours ago, Robert M Estall said:

It's not really like that any more and the greatly reduced prices don't help. For sure, posting a sunny day at the seaside for live news and a set of food containers and a few lego set-ups won't effectively put bread on the table. Just a biscuit or two!

 

I don't do that well but for my number of images I do ok, and going by my sales last year and also adding regular live news sales into things (which I do hope will improve), I can guess that if I was to have about 20,000 varied images in my port, I could just about scrape a living from it, as long as prices didn't drop too much.

 

Geoff.

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43 minutes ago, Brasilnut said:

Out of curiosity, how many on here:

 

1. Shoot stock footage?

2. Sell Print on Demand?

3. Have a drone or are considering purchasing one?

4. Work directly with clients?

 

Me it's, 1. Yes but still learning 2. Yes 3. Considering 4. No, but would like to. 

 

  1. No - and no intention of going there!
  2. Yes, with mixed success.
  3. No - and definitely no.  Though the potential for sales and new imagery is very exciting, I must confess being put off by potential legal issues and current & future restrictions on owning and flying drones (referring specifically to the UK, here).  I can only see this getting more onerous.
  4. Yes, with limited experience.  When it works out well, it can work out very well.

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5 hours ago, Brasilnut said:

Out of curiosity, how many on here:

 

1. Shoot stock footage?

2. Sell Print on Demand?

3. Have a drone or are considering purchasing one?

4. Work directly with clients?

 

Me it's, 1. Yes but still learning 2. Yes 3. Considering 4. No, but would like to. 

 

1. Have experimented a bit with video and recently made a couple of sales -- much to my surprise -- thru another agency.

2. Yes. Sales have been declining, though, due to overwhelming odds.

3. No. I wouldn't know what to do with one.

4. Yes, whenever one contacts me through my own stock website, which is increasingly rare.

Edited by John Mitchell

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6 hours ago, Brasilnut said:

Out of curiosity, how many on here:

 

1. Shoot stock footage?

2. Sell Print on Demand?

3. Have a drone or are considering purchasing one?

4. Work directly with clients?

 

Me it's, 1. Yes but still learning 2. Yes 3. Considering 4. No, but would like to. 

1. No, but I do have a back-burner interest in trying that someday

2. A few sales/year thru my website now, also uploading to a big POD site, but with low expectations

3. Looks like fun, but legal issues and high cost for a quality set-up mean I'm not going there. 

4. Yes. A few of my old customers are still in business, even fewer new customers since 2008. It used to be that the telephone was an important tool and I'd get some slides over to the customer (usually a publisher) very soon after a call. Now an email exchange is about it (with someone I've never met) resulting in a link being sent for download privileges. My website about covers it's cost now in print sales, with file delivery the real usefulness.

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45 minutes ago, KevinS said:

1. No, but I do have a back-burner interest in trying that someday

2. A few sales/year thru my website now, also uploading to a big POD site, but with low expectations

3. Looks like fun, but legal issues and high cost for a quality set-up mean I'm not going there. 

4. Yes. A few of my old customers are still in business, even fewer new customers since 2008. It used to be that the telephone was an important tool and I'd get some slides over to the customer (usually a publisher) very soon after a call. Now an email exchange is about it (with someone I've never met) resulting in a link being sent for download privileges. My website about covers it's cost now in print sales, with file delivery the real usefulness.

 

Re #4, I'm finding that most people contacting me these days are looking for free images. For example, a well-known museum in California e-mailed me last week about using an image. I asked what their budget was, and I've never heard back from them. This surprised me as I've licensed quite a number photos to museums. Unfortunately, my stock website has stopped paying for itself. Not sure if it's worth the cost any longer. It does come in handy, though, for storage and file delivery.

Edited by John Mitchell

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19 hours ago, Brasilnut said:

Out of curiosity, how many on here:

 

1. Shoot stock footage?

2. Sell Print on Demand?

3. Have a drone or are considering purchasing one?

4. Work directly with clients?

 

 

 

1 - yes, some

2 - yes, and via galleries (A3 + A4 framed prints / A3 + A4 mounted prints / A5 cards)

3 - yes

4 - yes - i usually have at least one commission to shoot every day

 

km

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20 hours ago, Brasilnut said:

Out of curiosity, how many on here:

 

1. Shoot stock footage?

2. Sell Print on Demand?

3. Have a drone or are considering purchasing one?

4. Work directly with clients?

 

Me it's, 1. Yes but still learning 2. Yes 3. Considering 4. No, but would like to. 

 

No to all 

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1 hour ago, geogphotos said:

 

No to all 

 

Why not POD? Just curious.

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2 minutes ago, John Mitchell said:

 

Why not POD? Just curious.

 

Dabbled a bit with FAA and had a sale or two but never really tried.

 

Busy enough with stock I suppose. 

 

 

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19 hours ago, John Mitchell said:

 

Re #4, I'm finding that most people contacting me these days are looking for free images. For example, a well-known museum in California e-mailed me last week about using an image. I asked what their budget was, and I've never heard back from them. This surprised me as I've licensed quite a number photos to museums. Unfortunately, my stock website has stopped paying for itself. Not sure if it's worth the cost any longer. It does come in handy, though, for storage and file delivery.

John,

 

Sorry to hear about the requests for free photos. It happens to me once in a while, and I still find it insulting if it's a business doing the asking.

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On 9/27/2017 at 02:45, Brasilnut said:

Out of curiosity, how many on here:

 

1. Shoot stock footage?

2. Sell Print on Demand?

3. Have a drone or are considering purchasing one?

4. Work directly with clients?

 

 

1) No, I don't even shoot "stock" photography - I just shoot what I love to shoot. Personally the thought of shooting for money does not appeal to me personally, the thought of photography as an enjoyable experience does so thats what I, personally, keep to. Enjoying myself in retirement.
2) No

3) Definitely, as soon as the Mavic is upgraded with a better camera.
4) No

Edited by Panthera tigris

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I haven't done any of the above but I'd like to do 2 & 3. Don't think I've got anything worthy of FAA and a drone with a suitable stock camera I have no knowledge of. Not sure the investment would be worth it either.

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On 9/26/2017 at 14:45, Brasilnut said:

Out of curiosity, how many on here:

 

1. Shoot stock footage?

2. Sell Print on Demand?

3. Have a drone or are considering purchasing one?

4. Work directly with clients?

 

 

 

#1  No.  But if I were just getting into the business I would.  (Too old to learn new tricks).

#2  I have but I no longer do unless someone contacts me directly & the size of the print will justify my time.

#3  No.  But again, if I were just getting started, I definitely would.  (See #1)

#4  Yes I do. 

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2 hours ago, Panthera tigris said:

1) No, I don't even shoot "stock" photography - I just shoot what I love to shoot. Personally the thought of shooting for money does not appeal to me personally, the thought of photography as an enjoyable experience does so thats what I, personally, keep to. Enjoying myself in retirement.

 

 

Great attitude. Personally, I find that making some money as well is part of the enjoyment. :D

 

Also, "retirement" can be very expensive, where I live anyway.

 

 

Edited by John Mitchell

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I have been reading this thread with interest as a newcomer. I am semi retired with a decent pension and part time job topping up my income. Photography has been a hobby for a good number of years. I have decided to put some images on here as my health is not good and I don't know how much longer I can keep working at the day job. 

 

Im slowly working through my back catalogue and have uploaded 1500-2000 pictures in the last couple of weeks since I joined, with a good number more to come. Everything is passing quality control. I have low expectations as Im my own worse critic. My pictures are technically competent though lack the wow factor, and my photoshop skills are ok at best. 

 

With 255 views, no zooms, and no sales so far, is this something that could provide an income supplement or am I barking up the wrong tree? Any advice or constructive criticism would be welcomed. 

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With 255 views, no zooms, and no sales so far, is this something that could provide an income supplement or am I barking up the wrong tree? Any advice or constructive criticism would be welcomed. 

 

Overall, I think they're technically pretty good but you did get lucky in a few occasions, such as the following (extremely noisy):

 

Tower Bridge London Stock Photo

 

I've looked through your portfolio and I just think that there's few images that make you go WOW...with the exception of your Marrakesh images. Perhaps you were in a holiday mood and relaxed because you managed to gather some quite intimate images of people, whereas in the UK and Belgium, it's far away shots. I've been making an effort lately to try to get closer to people and try to capture moments and expressions. I really like this one as it tells a story and is beautifully framed:

 

Marrakech and more Morocco Stock Photo

 

Lastly, I think there's some issues with the captions (didn't see the keywords). They're not descriptive enough. As this one is just "Marrakech and more Morocco". Perhaps go into more detail on the architecture style and the people (what were they wearing). Are they Berbers? Maybe even the neighborhood within Marrakesh. 

 

I'm relatively new here and only been uploading regularly for the past 6 months, but others on here have much more experience and would be able to shed some light and give you more advice.

 

Good luck

 

Nut

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4 minutes ago, Brasilnut said:

 

Overall, I think they're technically pretty good but you did get lucky in a few occasions, such as the following (extremely noisy):

 

Tower Bridge London Stock Photo

 

I've looked through your portfolio and I just think that there's few images that make you go WOW...with the exception of your Marrakesh images. Perhaps you were in a holiday mood and relaxed because you managed to gather some quite intimate images of people, whereas in the UK and Belgium, it's far away shots. I've been making an effort lately to try to get closer to people and try to capture moments and expressions. I really like this one as it tells a story and is beautifully framed:

 

Marrakech and more Morocco Stock Photo

 

Lastly, I think there's some issues with the captions (didn't see the keywords). They're not descriptive enough. As this one is just "Marrakech and more Morocco". Perhaps go into more detail on the architecture style and the people (what were they wearing). Are they Berbers? Maybe even the neighborhood within Marrakesh. 

 

I'm relatively new here and only been uploading regularly for the past 6 months, but others on here have much more experience and would be able to shed some light and give you more advice.

 

Good luck

 

Nut

Thanks for the feedback. HMS Belfast was taken middle of the night hence the noise, but I see your point. 

 

I have only ever taken photo's for myself and never had to think about what sells before so maybe it's time to re assess. 

 

I will go back and look at my descriptions. All advice is most welcome.

 

Steve

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HMS Belfast was taken middle of the night hence the noise, but I see your point. 

 

Get the tripod out! Or at worst lean it against a steady railing (I tend to do that a lot lately when I don't have the tripod). The only issue is the horizon is not straight most of the time but easily fixable later on in post-processing. 

 

-------------

 

You're welcome :) Keep uploading and I trust you'll turn those views into zooms and zooms into sales. 

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On 9/26/2017 at 20:45, Brasilnut said:

Out of curiosity, how many on here:

 

1. Shoot stock footage?

2. Sell Print on Demand?

3. Have a drone or are considering purchasing one?

4. Work directly with clients?

 

Me it's, 1. Yes but still learning 2. Yes 3. Considering 4. No, but would like to. 

1. No

2.No

3.No

4. Very occasionally

 

Kumar (the Doc one)

Edited by Doc

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2 hours ago, Steviebuoy said:

Thanks for the feedback. HMS Belfast was taken middle of the night hence the noise, but I see your point. 

 

I have only ever taken photo's for myself and never had to think about what sells before so maybe it's time to re assess. 

 

I will go back and look at my descriptions. All advice is most welcome.

 

Steve

 

You need to do lots of work on captions and keywords. Lots. "Animals of......" for a batch just won't do. I think you know that. Also, when I got into the keywords I saw things like "cottage" on a peacock. The animals should have scientific names as well as common names. You are just wasting your time if you don't keyword and caption properly. It is a pain in the neck. Believe me, I hate our current Image Manager but it must be done. Your lovely images will never be seen.

 

Paulette

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14 hours ago, Steviebuoy said:

I have been reading this thread with interest as a newcomer. I am semi retired with a decent pension and part time job topping up my income. Photography has been a hobby for a good number of years. I have decided to put some images on here as my health is not good and I don't know how much longer I can keep working at the day job. 

 

Im slowly working through my back catalogue and have uploaded 1500-2000 pictures in the last couple of weeks since I joined, with a good number more to come. Everything is passing quality control. I have low expectations as Im my own worse critic. My pictures are technically competent though lack the wow factor, and my photoshop skills are ok at best. 

 

With 255 views, no zooms, and no sales so far, is this something that could provide an income supplement or am I barking up the wrong tree? Any advice or constructive criticism would be welcomed. 

 

You have a lot of images where the caption is "National Trust Wales". Are you aware of the whole fuss that National Trust have kicked up with regards to images on their property?

I strongly recommend reading these two threads:

 

Personally, any images taken inside an NT property, I would delete straight away. Any images that are taken outside on NT property (i.e. you paid to get entry) and can be identified as such, I would also think about removing. Pictures taken on NT property that could be anywhere (e.g. three sheep in  field), I would re-caption and re-keyword to remove any mention of NT.

Edited by Matt Ashmore

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1 hour ago, NYCat said:

 

You need to do lots of work on captions and keywords. Lots. "Animals of......" for a batch just won't do. I think you know that. Also, when I got into the keywords I saw things like "cottage" on a peacock. The animals should have scientific names as well as common names. You are just wasting your time if you don't keyword and caption properly. It is a pain in the neck. Believe me, I hate our current Image Manager but it must be done. Your lovely images will never be seen.

 

Paulette

Thanks. I think it was batch processing as I have put so many pictures on in such a short space of time. I need to go through individually. Not sure I can think of 50 words for each picture though.

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