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11 hours ago, Michael Ventura said:

 

Phil, like you, the vast majority of my income is from assignments, mine though are almost all regional magazines with a comparatively low day or shoot rate, but I shoot a lot.  There was a time when stock was easily 50% of my income and I thought I could retire or fade away from the assignment by just relying on stock.....no such luck.  My stock revenue is now only 5% of my income and I am working harder and have more stress than I have ever had, to make up for the lack of stock revenue.

 

Hi Michael,

 

Thank you for sharing.

 

When you work on the "free market" it's going to be a struggle - for sure - but that's life. Everyone strives for "security" as if we were a protected species. If it was easy, everyone would be self employed.

 

I believe if you have a diverse portfolio with 5,000 - 8,000 pictures that sell (not pictures you haven't sold in 6 months) then you may be able to retire...probably not in the US or western Europe...but there are countries like Thailand or the Philippines where the cost of living is a fraction. With $2000/month you are a nobody in the US or Europe...not so in e.g. Thailand or Philippines. 

 

On the other hand, you don't just wake up and have that kind of portfolio...it may take you 10-15 years to get there...most photographers will never get there. For me it's similar to sports...everybody wants to be a professional athletes...maybe 1-3% succeed in the long run and can "happily" retire...and by that I don't mean in pain like a Dirk Nowitzki.

 

I feel most photographers will shoot what "comes natural to them" and they will upload to stock whatever their assignments / interests / hobbies were. That's not the same as shooting with the clear purpose of stock photography. 

 

What about if you don't just shoot whatever you like but what makes money? And what makes money? Whatever has a great "profit margin"...with that in mind, what's better to shoot? A shirt with a profit margin of $20 or a diamond with a profit margin of thousands? 

 

If you can make 1 cent / day with selling a picture then you' make $3.65/year...to keep it  simple, let's say you make $3.50/year/picture...doesn't sound unrealistic.

 

That means you need 1,000 pictures that sell regularly to have $3,500/year...so if you had a portfolio of 5,000 selling pictures then you look at $17,500/year...if you have 8,000 selling pictures you make $28,000/year.

 

With that kind of money you cannot retire in the US or Europe...but in other parts of the world you can. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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42 minutes ago, M.Chapman said:

OP - It looks like you already know all the answers.....

 

Mark

 

 

Yes if the answer involves shooting for microstock with the ultimate ambition of retiring in the Third World. 

 

It takes all sorts....

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On 29/10/2022 at 07:04, PhilHalfmann said:

 

 

 

What about if you don't just shoot whatever you like but what makes money? And what makes money? Whatever has a great "profit margin"...with that in mind, what's better to shoot? A shirt with a profit margin of $20 or a diamond with a profit margin of thousands? 

 

If you can make 1 cent / day with selling a picture then you' make $3.65/year...to keep it  simple, let's say you make $3.50/year/picture...doesn't sound unrealistic.

 

That means you need 1,000 pictures that sell regularly to have $3,500/year...so if you had a portfolio of 5,000 selling pictures then you look at $17,500/year...if you have 8,000 selling pictures you make $28,000/year.

 

With that kind of money you cannot retire in the US or Europe...but in other parts of the world you can. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You make it all sound so easy.  Just shoot what makes money.  Heavens, why didn't I think of that?  How silly of me to shoot all the stuff that doesn't make money.  Come on, it just ain't that easy.  Competing on an individual platform with 305 million images not to mention all the other images on all the other platforms with their millions upon millions of images.  I think that may just have a bit of an influence on numbers of sales and the value of the rights sales to those images.

 

No one is getting rich these days selling their images for stock.  Only a very few can depend on it for the main source of income.

 

Jill

Edited by Jill Morgan
Increase number of images on Alamy
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17 hours ago, PhilHalfmann said:

I believe if you have a diverse portfolio with 5,000 - 8,000 pictures that sell (not pictures you haven't sold in 6 months) then you may be able to retire...probably not in the US or western Europe...but there are countries like Thailand or the Philippines where the cost of living is a fraction. With $2000/month you are a nobody in the US or Europe...not so in e.g. Thailand or Philippines. 

 

The thing with the cheap countries is that if you live like the lower-middle class or poorer, it's cheaper than the US, but trying to live as you would in the US, it's not cheaper than cheaper parts of the US or Western Europe.  The really rich in these countries (I live in Nicaragua) are really rich.   If anyone treats you as if you're special on $2K a month, they're hustling you because they can't hustle the really rich citizens of those countries.  You've got the desperately poor and the people who got rich exploiting them in a lot of these places. 

 

The other thing is that people use stock for a range of things, and predicting what will or won't license is not always trivial.  People who have the most repeat sales do harder to get animal shots, including underwater critters.  The people who don't hire photographers to work with their art directors are looking for cheap or parts for composites.   Or they're specialists in rather hard to photograph things or have special knowledge of a subject area.   Or special access.

 

Is anyone making $2K a month year in year out on stock with a portfolio of under 10,000? 

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On 28/10/2022 at 08:13, PhilHalfmann said:

 

It's difficult to say when you sell pictures for only 2 years...is it not? The question is not if I can sell a 10 year old picture once but if I can sell a picture continuously for 10 years in a row.

 

This is where I've seen some Alamy photographers get multiple repeat sales:  excellent photos that were non-trivial to photograph: a polar bear cub in mid-leap, a sea otter on his back dozing, various sea critters that seem to be useful for getting multiple licenses.  

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18 hours ago, PhilHalfmann said:

If you can make 1 cent / day with selling a picture then you' make $3.65/year...to keep it  simple, let's say you make $3.50/year/picture...doesn't sound unrealistic.

Quite a few Alamy forum members share their sales statistics. For most, the numbers come out to < $1 pipy NET for a portfolio of thousands or even tens of thousands images. Could you do better than $3.50 pipy? The answer is certainly yes, and, judging by your photos, I think you already have most of the skills.

 

18 hours ago, PhilHalfmann said:

I feel most photographers will shoot what "comes natural to them" and they will upload to stock whatever their assignments / interests / hobbies were. That's not the same as shooting with the clear purpose of stock photography. 

 

What about if you don't just shoot whatever you like but what makes money? And what makes money?

Exactly, figuring out what makes money is called market research. Demand: who are the clients (advertising agencies? magazines? book publishers? Fortune 500 companies? local churches? local small businesses? non-profits? etc), what images they use and how much are they paying for them? Supply: everybody who has a camera or somebody with a special knowledge about the subject matter, unique style, access to a special location, special photographic technique?

Such market research is much easier to conduct if you specialize. Additionally, it can get you into a market with a more favorable supply/demand ratio.

 

Check out Corey Jenkins: https://www.coreyjenkinsphoto.com/. He started producing stock about 10 years ago by shooting his friends working out in a rough-looking gym, using fairly minimal lighting equipment. Now he gets flown around the world on assignments. I have to assume he now makes more money on commissioned shoots, but he's also got a sizeable and sellable stock collection.

 

Then, there's people like Monty Rakusen: https://www.rakusen.co.uk/. He's spent many years shooting industrial photos, working out issues of access to generally hazardous locations, etc. And yes, people skills. He's got a collection of 12,000 stock images. I am sure he's doing much, much better than $3.50 pipy.

 

The people above do not shoot NY storefronts. Of course, there's nothing wrong with shooting NY storefronts, but they are not going to return > $1 pipy.

Well, there are a lot of storefronts in NY and the costs of shooting them (if you are in NY already) are pretty much negligible, so maybe there is a good return on per-effort basis. I do not know, I do not shoot NY storefronts.

 

While stock is and has always been a numbers game, images do sell individually. A great image (the one that satisfy the needs of many clients) will be picked up almost every single time over many not so great images. I wish I knew how to produce only great images. However I do have some that sell quite often and that knowledge does affect what I shoot.

 

Ultimately, we all shoot what we like. Can you figure out if your passions/interests/hobbies could be aligned with some favorable photographic market per above?

 

Brian already mentioned lifestyle images. Is that something you would enjoy shooting? If so, you seem to already have the skills to produce lifestyle stock for commercial uses. You know how to produce images, you understand your production costs, you understand lighting, you know how to work with and direct models. Could you figure out a way to trim your production costs significantly from $350/image? Can you be your own creative director? Come up with a lifestyle theme, invest in a location, makeup artist, models and spread the costs over many images? Pick an agency and see how they sell over a year. Make you own conclusions based on your own data.

 

18 hours ago, PhilHalfmann said:

you may be able to retire...probably not in the US or western Europe...but there are countries like Thailand or the Philippines where the cost of living is a fraction. With $2000/month you are a nobody in the US or Europe...not so in e.g. Thailand or Philippines.

 

Well, as you grow older, you might want to stay closer to your kids and grandkids. You might want to have an easy access (ie short driving distance) to fairly advanced health care facilities and have the means to cover the costs, ie savings, insurance, universal health care, etc. You might want to live in a place where neighbors speak your mother tongue and have the same cultural background as yours...

 

GI

 

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3 hours ago, giphotostock said:

 

 

The people above do not shoot NY storefronts. Of course, there's nothing wrong with shooting NY storefronts, but they are not going to return > $1 pipy.

Well, there are a lot of storefronts in NY and the costs of shooting them (if you are in NY already) are pretty much negligible, so maybe there is a good return on per-effort basis. I do not know, I do not shoot NY storefronts.

 

 

The cost of shooting a NY storefront may be low, but the effort is not easy and trivial. Sometimes it takes massive patience dealing with traffic, parked cars, garbage bags and other obstructions, massive crowds and general chaos, and (prior to the normality of people taking smartphone photos in public) confrontational store owners.

 

 

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9 hours ago, giphotostock said:

You might want to live in a place where neighbors speak your mother tongue and have the same cultural background as yours...

 

Or not.  My advice to anyone wanting to move to another country is visit first and go back home and figure out if you like the place you saw.  Then rent for a year, or forever if you're not fluent in the local language.  A good landlord can take care of repairs easier than you can unless you have plumbing and electrical skills.   Housing isn't as liquid in some places as it is in Europe or the US, especially in countries where people discuss politics by lobbing rock or bullets at each other.  A friend of mine, who has lived outside her home country more than two thirds of her life than inside it, has rented since moving here.

 

The problem for a relatively poor freelancer is that you have a relatively limited travel range and if the place has had tourists or traveling pro photographers, every cathedral is represented in Alamy's collection.

 

I think people take better photographs of things they know something about.   Being able to talk the talk gets access to people who are themselves knowledgeable about their fields.  Knowing what things are is critical. 

 

When success is rare as it is with publishing books or being a very well-paid photographer, everyone who's been successful didn't do it the same way everyone else who was successful in the field did it.  The technical quality of the photographs matters (you've got that), the choices of subjects matter.   My first book editor told me never to chase the market.  What's showing up in print was new over a year ago when the editors bought it.  Web time lag is shorter, news next day.  Humans get tired of styles and want novelty.

 

Given your goals, I don't think anyone of us, even people who are high earners, can tell you how to make the most money at this. 

 

Photography is weird.   I had a feeling about one photograph of nothing but water in a Nicaraguan street gutter, and put it in my Alamy port the first go around here, and it licensed.  

 

 

 

 

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On 30/10/2022 at 13:39, Rebecca Ore said:

 

Or not.  My advice to anyone wanting to move to another country is visit first and go back home and figure out if you like the place you saw.  Then rent for a year, or forever if you're not fluent in the local language.  A good landlord can take care of repairs easier than you can unless you have plumbing and electrical skills.   Housing isn't as liquid in some places as it is in Europe or the US, especially in countries where people discuss politics by lobbing rock or bullets at each other.  A friend of mine, who has lived outside her home country more than two thirds of her life than inside it, has rented since moving here.

 

The problem for a relatively poor freelancer is that you have a relatively limited travel range and if the place has had tourists or traveling pro photographers, every cathedral is represented in Alamy's collection.

 

I think people take better photographs of things they know something about.   Being able to talk the talk gets access to people who are themselves knowledgeable about their fields.  Knowing what things are is critical. 

 

When success is rare as it is with publishing books or being a very well-paid photographer, everyone who's been successful didn't do it the same way everyone else who was successful in the field did it.  The technical quality of the photographs matters (you've got that), the choices of subjects matter.   My first book editor told me never to chase the market.  What's showing up in print was new over a year ago when the editors bought it.  Web time lag is shorter, news next day.  Humans get tired of styles and want novelty.

 

Given your goals, I don't think anyone of us, even people who are high earners, can tell you how to make the most money at this. 

 

Photography is weird.   I had a feeling about one photograph of nothing but water in a Nicaraguan street gutter, and put it in my Alamy port the first go around here, and it licensed.  

 

 

 

 

Well Rebecca and all,

 

First, I have not read the entire thread, but I do "sort of" agree with Becca and will add that it pays for the photographer to know the subject.  Be it location or person to be photographed.  There is more to making a "licensable image" then just pushing a button or being there.

 

Chuck

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I ran across a Yuri Arcurs story a couple of weeks ago.  He seems to be successful and would be someone to possibly emulate.  He has over 200k images on alamy.  You may want to check out his images.  https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo/?comp=1&mode=0&name=Yuri+Arcurs&pseudoid={C40BA280-9932-4CC6-A2CA-A0DCC19772C3}&sortBy=relevant&st=11

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On 01/11/2022 at 01:18, Johnnie5 said:

I ran across a Yuri Arcurs story a couple of weeks ago.  He seems to be successful and would be someone to possibly emulate.  He has over 200k images on alamy.  You may want to check out his images.  https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo/?comp=1&mode=0&name=Yuri+Arcurs&pseudoid={C40BA280-9932-4CC6-A2CA-A0DCC19772C3}&sortBy=relevant&st=11

Totally agree .. Yuri Arcurs is one of the highest earning stock photographers in the world. His work is on every major micro stock site. Well thought out people / lifestyle photography, all model released. A lot of thought and production goes into his shoots. Not easy to acheive .. and a huge amount of work.

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21 hours ago, wilkopix said:

Totally agree .. Yuri Arcurs is one of the highest earning stock photographers in the world. His work is on every major micro stock site. Well thought out people / lifestyle photography, all model released. A lot of thought and production goes into his shoots. Not easy to acheive .. and a huge amount of work.

 

 

His is not really a business model that many others can follow - he was certainly a phenomena of his time with staggering sales records. But that was a decade ago and no idea if he has been able to sustain that. Running ever faster to stand still I should imagine until it goes beyond a point to be worth doing it.

 

The thing with fashion and lifestyle is that it changes so quickly.

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8 hours ago, geogphotos said:

His is not really a business model that many others can follow - he was certainly a phenomena of his time with staggering sales records. But that was a decade ago and no idea if he has been able to sustain that. Running ever faster to stand still I should imagine until it goes beyond a point to be worth doing it.

He still seems to be doing pretty well .. he has his own agency now and supplies around 16 others. With at least a couple of hundred images and videos across those it will still be a big business. He's been big into video for many years which is probably the growth part of his business. Obviously a difficult business model for anyone to follow particulary now but Phil was looking for ways to make stock images from his fashion and people photography and could do worse than looking at the type of images that Yuri and his team shoot. It's 'factory' stock but with enough images across several agencies it will make a living.

I think we are all running ever faster to stand still ..

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5 hours ago, wilkopix said:

He still seems to be doing pretty well .. he has his own agency now and supplies around 16 others.

 

He's an agency then, and the rules for agencies working through Alamy are different from what individual photographers face.

 

 

 

 

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13 hours ago, geogphotos said:

"I think we are all running ever faster to stand still.."

 

I'm more in the strolling around with a camera camp 🤪

I have a very fast bicycle..... and new skis

 

Chuck

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On 27/10/2022 at 13:07, PhilHalfmann said:

 

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

It's about numbers. If you have been doing stock for 10 years or more and have tens of thousands of images, if they earn $1 each per year you can make tens of thousands of dollars. If you add a few thousand more every year...
If you are starting from scratch and producing a small number of images that cost money to set up, you're right, it probably won't be financially worthwhile.
I used to do some studio images that took a long time to produce. I don't any more.

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