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I'm Shooting Fashion, Beauty & Products - Your Feedback Is Appreciated


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On 26/08/2022 at 23:31, PhilHalfmann said:

Greetings everybody.

 

I'm shooting mainly fashion & beauty in the US & Europe and I'm curious about your feedback.

 

Here is my portfolio.

 

Thank you

 

No idea why the portfolio link didn't work: https://www.alamy.com/portfolio/774919.html?pn=1#

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My guess is that this type of photography would not do too well here but if you did lifestyle photos that showed people doing things, such as applying skin care creams and lotions.  Sleep issues…partner issues.  These are the sorts of things that publications and web articles need to illustrate.  Having minority models is even better.

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I'm with Michael here. You're so close and yet so far away. You have very good models; get them doing stuff. Not only beauty but typical stuff ... just walking down the street with a grocery bag could bring in sales. 

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I would say that your work is worth more than the pittance you will get on Alamy.

 

Allan

 

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You're welcome Phil. I for one am looking forward to seeing how you and the models you work with combine great styling with lifestyle. Keep us posted!

 

BTW - the combination of great style and lifestyle is something of a holy grail in stock and high-end commercial photography. If you can pull it off regularly, you'd be at the top of the game.

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I understand Brian & Michael. You basically suggest that the models need to be showing "activities" using every day products/tools/devices.

 

I didn't previously shoot with the purpose of stock photography as I shoot mainly for brand's social media marketing purposes. They pay me, I shoot.

 

As I am new to stock photography maybe you can share your thoughts/opinion?

 

Let's assume I, or anybody else, could pull it off to shoot high-end commercial photography regularly...in general, what's the average income/picture/year?

  • $50
  • $100
  • $250
  • more?

Let's say you take 100 of your best pictures...I'm asking because it needs to be financially viable to shoot for stock.

 

It shouldn't be too complicated shooting models doing stuff...but the majority of the pictures in my portfolio have a minimum value (cost) of $350/picture...somebody has to pay for:

  • photographer
  • creative director
  • hair & makeup
  • wardrobe styling
  • model
  • food & drinks

If I have all the financial risk and work shooting stock then what's an acceptable & realistic income potential? I'm not asking for 100% certainty as none of you is God I assume.

 

Again, you feedback is appreciated!

 

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This might help, not the same as you shoot but gives an indication of how many images are required and what returns there are/could be (bear in mind you only get, at the most, 40% of those totals in your back pocket)

 

 

Edited by Martin L
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42 minutes ago, PhilHalfmann said:

I understand Brian & Michael. You basically suggest that the models need to be showing "activities" using every day products/tools/devices.

 

I didn't previously shoot with the purpose of stock photography as I shoot mainly for brand's social media marketing purposes. They pay me, I shoot.

 

As I am new to stock photography maybe you can share your thoughts/opinion?

 

Let's assume I, or anybody else, could pull it off to shoot high-end commercial photography regularly...in general, what's the average income/picture/year?

  • $50
  • $100
  • $250
  • more?

Let's say you take 100 of your best pictures...I'm asking because it needs to be financially viable to shoot for stock.

 

It shouldn't be too complicated shooting models doing stuff...but the majority of the pictures in my portfolio have a minimum value (cost) of $350/picture...somebody has to pay for:

  • photographer
  • creative director
  • hair & makeup
  • wardrobe styling
  • model
  • food & drinks

If I have all the financial risk and work shooting stock then what's an acceptable & realistic income potential? I'm not asking for 100% certainty as none of you is God I assume.

 

Again, you feedback is appreciated!

 

 

I'm afraid to say that you are late to the game.  10 plus years ago, I would have said that you would easily get a nice return on your investment of time and money but that is pretty much gone now.  With digital photography being relatively easy and cheap to produce images, for a hobbiest, along with "micro" agencies selling photos for near zero dollars, it is hard for an agency like Alamy to command higher pricing.  I know fewer and fewer people who can earn a living strictly from stock, you have to have another source of income or retired and this is just fun money.

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51 minutes ago, PhilHalfmann said:

it needs to be financially viable to shoot for stock

 

Hi Phil,

On the upside, you're in the US so you're going to be earning more on average than Alamy contributors in other territories.

 

However, it's a completely different business model than what you're used to. Clients approach stock photo websites because they don't want to pay the costs of hiring a photographer etc. for a specific shoot. I'm sure some other Forum regulars can correct me, but it is almost definitely not worth hiring models for stock purposes. The highest average most contributors will see here is ~$30 per sale. And many images in most people's catalogues will never sell. You could certainly try to beat that with a concentrated portfolio of really well composed lifestyle images. But that would also require a lot of time to set up the images, which you won't see as a financial return from stock. Rare images can still command a premium, but with stock, an image can generally sell for anything. And the trend for years now is downwards. Sorry for the downbeat answer, but that boat sailed a long time ago.

 

Just as an example - bearing in mind my portfolio is nothing like yours - on current trend I'm probably going to earn a gross of $2500 this year, with a net take home of $1000. On a portfolio of 4250 images, circa 200 licenses.

Steve

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55 minutes ago, PhilHalfmann said:

I understand Brian & Michael. You basically suggest that the models need to be showing "activities" using every day products/tools/devices.

 

I didn't previously shoot with the purpose of stock photography as I shoot mainly for brand's social media marketing purposes. They pay me, I shoot.

 

As I am new to stock photography maybe you can share your thoughts/opinion?

 

Let's assume I, or anybody else, could pull it off to shoot high-end commercial photography regularly...in general, what's the average income/picture/year?

  • $50
  • $100
  • $250
  • more?

Let's say you take 100 of your best pictures...I'm asking because it needs to be financially viable to shoot for stock.

 

It shouldn't be too complicated shooting models doing stuff...but the majority of the pictures in my portfolio have a minimum value (cost) of $350/picture...somebody has to pay for:

  • photographer
  • creative director
  • hair & makeup
  • wardrobe styling
  • model
  • food & drinks

If I have all the financial risk and work shooting stock then what's an acceptable & realistic income potential? I'm not asking for 100% certainty as none of you is God I assume.

 

Again, you feedback is appreciated!

 

Phil,

 

My Response and opinion: The questions you have asked above cannot really be answered with anything except for what has already been written.  Over the years there were VERY EXPERIENCED photographers with large studio operations and support staff.  Some worked with the major photo agencies at the time.  The photographer would provide the models, setup and ideas for a photo session and the agency, if interested, would advance the photographer a portion of the costs, that advance would be deducted from licensing of the images.  There were also agencies that would just pay the photographer a fee to produce images and then they owned the images.  There were news photo agencies that would pay a portion of the expenses of producing story and then the agency expenses were deducted from the licensing of the images.  I assume that there are still agencies or libraries still working that way, but I am not doing it like that anymore.

 

While I have mostly worked in journalism, print magazines, I have made news images that have licensed over and over during the last decades, many were shot while on assignment for magazines.  Wish I had a lot more of those.

 

Good Luck,

 

Chuck

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The days of stock bringing $350 per image per year (pipy) are long gone, if they ever were there.

 

~20 years ago, if you had a contract with Getty/Stone/Corbis/Jupiter/etc, you could do $50-100 pipy. These days, if you get $10-20 pipy at G..y/S..rS..ck you are doing great.

 

We have ~$5 pipy (not on Alamy) with produced images, which is probably much better than statistics for a vast majority of Alamy contributors. However, our production costs are much, much lower than $350/image: no models, stylists or creative directors. Our market is editorial, not commercial.

 

So no, you are very unlikely to be able to recoup $350/image production costs with stock, and definitely not on Alamy.

 

In the early days, a lot of stock images were outtakes from assignments. Is that still an option with your assignment contracts? Can you piggy-back with some stock frames at the end of a commissioned shoot?

 

GI

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Thank you everyone for sharing your thoughts/opinion.

 

Here are a few things I noticed while reading your responses and reviewing your portfolios.

 

1. many pictures I see here on your portfolios do not include people

2. I understand that most stock photography “clients” are looking to hire modern time slaves - they want a Porsche for free if they could

3. I don’t expect to recover the cost of production in just 1 year

 

 

In my opinion, and please correct me if I’m wrong, there are “tiers”/categories with regards to the "difficulty" of producing a high quality picture:

 

1. People photography - because it requires a model release and a team of 5 people to produce the picture whether everybody gets paid or not (tfp shoots) and a lot of pre-planning

2. Architecture photography - because it requires special lenses/equipment and you need to be familiar with how the sun (light source) is at a given time during the year

3. Product photography - depending on the size & consistency of the product complexity can vary from simple to very complicated

4. Landscape photography is often times a matter of being at the right time at the right place since you are not in charge of the light source and/or diffuser (clouds)…and the “correct angle”/perspective can make the difference

5. Animal photography

 

My question is, with regards to stock photography, which tier/category sells the “best” over time?

 

I understand it is less expensive, time consuming and easier to shoot for categories 2 - 5…on the other hand, if it’s easier to shoot there will be much more competition for the “same” picture…e.g. how many different clouds, sunrises or sunsets do you need to photograph?

 

So wouldn’t it make more sense to produce pictures that other photographers cannot simply copy/replicate?

 

 

 

The cost of production doesn’t have to stay at $350/picture…it can be adjusted accordingly…that’s not the main issue.

 

My expectation is, and correct me if I’m wrong, I can make money with a stock picture for at least 10 years (meaning you will have continuous downloads over a period of 10 years).

 

So let’s say I still produce a picture at $350/picture but I have a revenue stream expectancy of 10 years. That means I would need to make $35/picture/year to break even.

 

Is that realistic time frame to earn money or a pipe dream?

 

Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts/opinion!

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2 minutes ago, spacecadet said:

To cut to the chase, you won't achieve anything close to the RPI figures you mention here. Not even 1%.

 

Thank you for swift responding.

 

It would be great if you could elaborate and explain your reasoning...why are photographers shooting stock if you can't make at least $10/picture/year? Or are most "stock photographers" doing it as a hobby instead of shooting with purpose?

 

Thank you

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21 minutes ago, PhilHalfmann said:

Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts/opinion!

 

Hi Phil,

Contributors do sell images from e.g. 10 years ago, so yes you can have long term repeat sellers. I do find though that recent images sell much better. Alamy encourages frequent uploading of diverse subject matter.

 

I think you've got the wrong idea about stock and people. It's very rare for model released shots with people to be used for advertising campaigns. It does happen, and likely you'd be better at it than most here, but the problem is that you're guessing the end requirements of the client, you're not getting a brief from them. Most images with people in will be sold as editorial, so there's no need for model releases, and thus no need for expensive model hire, assuming you've got e.g. willing family members (or general members of the public in e.g. a street scene). Alamy is pushing diversity, so it may be worth investigating that with models, but it would still unlikely be worth your while. You'd be much better following gigphotostocks suggestion and doing some stock photos on at the end of your assignments.

 

Any fancy 'fine art' landscape imagery is probably best off on a personal website, you wouldn't be able to command higher prices for that type of imagery on a stock website - although you might get a lot of repeat sales if it's an image that gets used a lot.

 

I also think you're overthinking with regards to the quality of photo needed for stock. Good quality photos may sell well, sure, but I don't think you need e.g. tilt and shift lenses to be successful photographing architecture.

 

It can be very random what sells, the only advice I'd give about subject matter is that holiday / travel images don't particularly sell well unless they're very very good because the market is saturated with them. Your best bet is probably to keep a look out for stock photos - look for stock agencies in photo credits. You'll get a better idea about the market doing that.

Steve

Edited by Steve F
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Phil, I'm sorry, but somebody has to deliver the bad news and I'm stepping forward.

 

First, the categories you use and list aren't the ones we use in the stock photo business. Instead try: "lifestyle" instead of people. Most stock lifestyle photographers (including me when I did it back in the nineties)  work with just a single stylist. Second on the list would be "still life," we don't call it "product" here. Still life is often said to be the most profitable category and that's easily true in my case. To this day, most of my Alamy sales are still life.

 

Architecture requires expensive equipment and serious camera skills but doesn't command much as stock. Finally, your "animal" category should be higher. It includes pets, wildlife, and captives. All have different markets and requirements.

 

Landscape is part of travel and it's exempt from all the rules of business. It will always pour into agencies in gigantic amounts without regard to profitability or cost of production. It's a hobby that could generate a few pennies and has great - almost romantic - appeal. 

 

BTW - you left out sports. It's a separate category too.

 

Next, I'm going to say you're completely wrong in assuming an image can generate revenue for ten years. If it doesn't sell quickly when it's first uploaded, it will start sinking in the rankings and be buried by new images.  Sales from older images happen, but they'll be a pleasant surprise.

 

Finally, you ask "why are photographers shooting stock ... ? And the answer is that compared to a couple of decades ago, they aren't. Most of what comes in is travel. Steve says that it's very rare for released people shots to be used in advertising. Thirty years ago, this wasn't true and I believe that the reason many young commercial photographers try stock is some mixture of past legends and agency hype. In the end though, there's another legend and it was never true - that in stock, you do the shooting and somebody else does the marketing. The fact is, photographer metadata is a major part of marketing and always has been. 

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12 minutes ago, Steve F said:

 

The $64,000 $1.05 dollar question! 🤣

 

Good grief! This thread has got me thinking!

 

I've both encouraged Phil to shoot and told him directly that he has no chance of making money at it. There has to be more to it than hobbyists and dreamers, I think.

 

More later.

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1 hour ago, Brian Yarvin said:

Architecture requires expensive equipment and serious camera skills

 

I stand corrected. Sounds very niche, published in architectural magazines?? 

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I'm one of the hobbyist photographers.  I started with Alamy at the tail end of when money prices were good.  Text book sales were the most lucrative at $180.  I would get one of those every 5 weeks or so, and other prices were good.  Well, no such thing as text book sales anymore.  The price calculator is a joke, so don't go by that.

 

Alamy's stated fee per image is $30 average, with them taking 60-80% depending on what tier level you are at.

 

I stopped uploading for almost 2 years as it wasn't worth it, but have uploaded a few this year as I still love shooting and have to put the images somewhere.

 

Jill

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11 minutes ago, Steve F said:

 

I stand corrected. Sounds very niche, published in architectural magazines?? 

 

Steve, very niche yes, but much more than architecture magazines. Think the entire construction industry and interior decorating, both residential and commercial. It's a huge market. 

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4 minutes ago, Brian Yarvin said:

 

Steve, very niche yes, but much more than architecture magazines. Think the entire construction industry and interior decorating, both residential and commercial. It's a huge market. 

 

I shoot some architecture for a couple builder clients.  I like the break from photographing people, which is 95% of what I do.   I have to admit, that I am okay at it but no where near as good as those who shoot nothing but architecture.  Yes, they do use perspective control lenses and mostly shoot tethered to a laptop so they view their images in greater detail, as they go.  They may get four to eight shots in a day done, and they are spectacular photos.  whereas my builder clients like what I do because I shoot a lot in a short period of time and get what they need for marketing.  No PC lens and no tethering to a laptop.

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