A Quick Guide to Stock Photography
Photographic stock agencies are websites people visit when in need of a photograph or artwork to use without going to the expense of hiring a photographer; alternatively they are where photographers go to submit photographs licensed for specific uses.
There are two usual types of licensed photograph sold at these sites:
Royalty Free (RF): These are where someone pays a one off fee in order to use the image multiple times (within limits set by the agency). There is no time limit on when the image can be used. There are no exclusive rights held and the image can be sold multiple times, to different users.
Rights Managed (RM): These are where a specific usage for the photograph is specified when the image is purchased (e.g. images in a book, or for use in an advert etc.), these usually have a higher fee to the buyer as they will only be used once, with exclusive rights, and will only be allowed to be used for the specific purposes of the contract, but they cannot be sold again.
There are two main types of agency selling stock photography, the normal stock photography sites such as the world famous Getty, the major supplier to most news agencies, these specialise in the more lucrative end of the market and require high quality images and larger files; or there are the new Micro-stock sites, such as Big Stock Photos or Dreamstime who specialise in large numbers of cheap (usually around $1) images. This micro section of the market is usually filled with much larger volumes of work, and from all types of people, not just professional photographers. Many more links can be found on the fatphotographer website.
These agencies do all overlap and each has its own rules on what will pass and what will be rejected, so if you are supplying images, it is vital that you check the submission guidelines prior to submitting photographs.
Those looking to buy will be shocked by not only the amount of images for sale but also the quality of those images. The top agencies are VERY strict when it comes to submissions and will reject images that have even a hint of noise or that are not pin sharp.
If you plan to try to sell your work then it is worth knowing a few things first:
Numbers mean everything by this I mean that the more images you have uploaded to any one stock photography site the more likely you are to make sales (obviously quality will help). Those who make real money from stock sites have tens of thousands of photos (or more) uploaded. I once read that on a certain site, the average number of images you needed loaded to make one sale was around 100. At around $1 per sale, you can imagine why you need so many to make money.
Quality Control. As previously mentioned it is important that your images meet the standard of the agencies requirements, so noise or artefacts etc need to be removed in post processing. Also check that they are the size that is required and that they are well composed.
Key Words. These are possibly THE most important part of uploading images to stock photography sites as this is how people will be finding your images! My advice is to make sure your keywords are plentiful (although some sites have limits) and accurate to the image.
Often stock is seen as an easy way to make money, but to do it well takes a lot of time and good knowledge of the stock site you are using. It is also a very saturated market these days (since the advent of digital I am lead to believe) and some types of image are so numerous that they are no longer accepted! So please don\’t think you will become rich over night by loading a few images, simple fact is you won\’t.
About the Author
Having been a birdwatcher all my life and an amateur for much of my adulthood I decided it was time to start using my writing skills to show others what I have learnt, and so my global web resource www.fatphotographer.net was born, (much of my writing can be found there).
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