Happy #TravelTuesday one and all! It’s that time of week again – kicking off 2k18 with #HybridDaveTuesdays right here on ScottKelby.com I’m going to impart some knowledge I’ve picked up from my journey in stock photography with an aim to help any of you wishing to start a journey of your own.
My personal experience lies largely with Getty Images, but I’ve recently explored Adobe Stock, too, and once you’re done here, you can learn a lot more about Adobe Stock in the KelbyOne classes by Terry White.
So, how much can you earn from stock? Well, it’s all dependant on just how good your images are, how well they can be found by those who need them, and how many images you can supply. Let’s break down each of those points to see how to make the difference between pocket money and salary gains.
How good are your images?
This speaks for itself in many ways, but to be specific it’s worth noting the following ‘Quality Control’ factors which come into play, and also that if you don’t hit them consistently, you may risk jeopardising your position. The application process is stringent enough with some agencies, and it’s not worth risking what you’ve achieved with a questionable shot. These ‘Quality Control’ factors include sharpness, resolution, over-processing, and many other similar measures.
Another consideration within this category is the suitability of your images. When submitting, you should think about the application of the shot and it’s relevance, determining, as a result, the likelihood of it being purchased and better yet, continually purchased.
Can your images be found?
One of the most important skills when it comes to the submission of stock images is their keywording. Look at it this way – if you want people to buy your photos, the customer must be able to find them! It’s so obvious, but so overlooked and keywording is a skill in itself. Take this example:
I’m a marketer looking for stock images of car materials, and I’m based in the UK. You’re a stock photographer based in the USA, and you have some photos that match what I’m looking for but in order for me to find them when I search the agencies images, you need to have keyworded them correctly. I’m looking for aluminium, and you’ve got a great shot of a sheet of worked aluminium. In order for me to find that image, you have to assume that I’m searching for my spelling. If your photo is also keyworded al, metal, material, shiny, silver, grey, gray, and any other related terms you can think to use, then your shot will be found more frequently in more searches, thereby being exposed to a greater audience and have more sales potential.
Are you submitting enough images?
The chances of your images being found and sold, even with excellent keywording, is still slim amongst the immense plethora of competition. Adobe Stock alone has a library of some 90 million images ready to be licenced! Anybody in the industry who makes a substantial income from stock photography has masses of photos and keeps up to date with demand and trends. By the way, food and sports make the biggest sales. ;)
The journey into stock photography can be packed with setbacks, but if you work hard and focus on overcoming those setbacks, you really can earn from stock. Think of it this way: you may as well submit the photos you’ve already taken anyway and turn it into some cash! Here are some quick-fire extra tips:
With keywording, practice and absolutely nail it! Look for traits and emotions, too. Basically, think like a buyer rather than a seller – think of what people could be searching for in order to return your image to the top of the pile.
Your critical eye isn’t always right. I’ve said before when writing about Instagram that it’s often the case that the photos I like don’t perform as well as I expect and, conversely, the photos I don’t like so much perform much better than I anticipated. Photographers really are their own worst critics. This applies equally to stock photography – you’ll find that photos you don’t like so much will sell time and time again. The big one for me is the photo below, entitled “Parisien Taxi,” which seems to appear on every single monthly statement I receive.
To my eye, its technical qualities are there, but in terms of creativity, I don’t like it. My point is that it sells and as I’ve said, maximising your reach through compiling a large library of stock will be the difference between making enough for a coffee and making enough for a new lens.
Be aware of brands. My first encounter with this issue was a lucky one really. I had an image up which was of a hand on a guitar fret. The machine head had a Fender logo on it. Fortunately, the client had made their mind up that my image was the one they wanted and the agency dropped me an e-mail requesting that I remove the logo and send it back. That tweak made me a $1,000 sale, and the image was used on a billboard in Michigan, OH. The reason for this is that commercially licensable images mustn’t contain brands or trademarks.
Supply the demand. Take a look at the market, and you’ll find both clues and instructions as to what’s hot right now. If you can quickly put a shoot together based on these generic briefs, then there’s money to be made!
So, now that you’re armed, go get yourself into stock and start making money while you sleep!
Let me know how you get on; I’d love to see the links to your stock portfolios! As always, I’m happy to help, and you can reach out on any social platform – find me at Hybrid Dave.