Canon 5D, 28mm - 1/200s, f/10
Is Stock Photography Worth It?The world of stock photography has changed a lot over the years and is an area that many feel has had it's day in terms of being a useful pursuit for earning a financial return for a photographer. I don't think that's the case however. I got started in stock after a long period of overseas travel in the 1990's, a submission of photos to the stock library of Lonely Planet Images—subsequently sold to Getty—was my entry into the world of photography as a profession. Most photos I take have potential as a stock image. Without submitting to stock libraries, many good images of mine would otherwise sit in a hard drive without any potential to earn money.
I like the discipline of regular submissions to agencies as a way of directing my photographic interests and output. I dislike the way the ubiquity of photos on the Internet has devalued the worth of good images.
To decide with stock agency to work with you need to research them to decide if the imagery they represent and what you shoot are a match. If yes then make contact and ask to register with them. If they think your work suits their audience then you'll be able to start submitting photos. Those photos become available to their clients and perhaps some will sell. You will receive a predetermined portion of the proceeds.
Canon 5D, 24mm - 1/200s, f/5.6
My stock images go to three places:Tandem Stills + Motion Aurora Photos Lonely Planet collection at Getty Images.
Stock doesn't have to be your primary source of photographic income but it can be a useful adjunct and add some diversification to a photographer's income stream. Be sure to understand the licensing requirements for any images you submit that are accepted by an agency as this will determine what other options - if any - you have to use those same images elsewhere.
Canon 5D MKIII, 50mm - 1/320s, f/5
Three things will help your photos to be found and licensed:1. Choose a good stock agency that actively promotes the sort of work you shoot to clients and with staff that communicate well with their photographers. 2. Caption your image submissions correctly and thoroughly so they can be found. 3. If the agency requires that you keyword your images (which is a pain to do, let’s face it), then embrace the challenge and do so with as much relevance as you can. My biggest 'win' in this area was with Getty, surprisingly enough, I sold a nondescript photo of a 737 airplane at a remote Canadian airport for advertising use for a large sum.
Canon 5D MKIII, 105mm - 1/1250s, f/5.6
If you like Andrew's work, check out his portfolio and galleries here...