Stock Photography

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by Snapper, Aug 4, 2005.

  1. Snapper

    Snapper Member

    Mar 18, 2004
    Brighton, En
    Med. Format RF
    I'm going to be taking a 6-month 'career break' shortly, and planned to use the time to a lot of photography - do what I didn't have enough time to do whilst I was working. One thing I'm looking at is taking and submitting photographs to stock libraries, but I'm completely in the dark about this area.

    Has anyone in apug gone through a similar experience and can give some advice? In particular;

    - photograph subject matter
    - size of portfolio needed
    - sources of information
    - library sites
    - expected rates
    - is there a market for b&w?
    - general experience of it all

    I shoot mostly 6x7 transparency (when I'm not doing b&w). I guess I need a decent neg scanner, or do libraries these days expect (god forbid) digitally captured images.

    Please PM me if you like.
  2. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Sep 14, 2004
    Multi Format
    At the beginning of my career I worked for a stock house. It's extremely difficult to make a living at stock. We took 50% of all sales. Frankly, it was 50% of not much. (Although, we were strongly editorial, and less commercial- probably more money on the commercial side) If you can fill your own stock requests, you'll make more per sale. We represented a number of National Geographic photographers who were always on the road, so they didn't have time to fill stock requests. It's been years since I was in this business, but I expect that with all the amount of 'clip art' out there, it has changed dramatically. I'm sure it's become very digitized.

    I would start your research with Corbis in Seattle. See what they look for in portfolios. They seem to represent everybody, now!
  3. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

    Jun 1, 2003
    Good Morning, Snapper,

    For a period of time in the eighties and nineties, I shot stock for a small agency in St. Louis. I was teaching full time, but, of course, had some free time available during the summers and weekends. Given my time constraints, I had moderate success with the stock shooting, but I certainly never came close to earning a living at it. Some of the sales I had were, I'm sure, because I shot mostly 4 x 5 (a little 6 x 7); I'm confident that some things which sold did so almost entirely because of the format. As time went on, I realized that the time and effort involved, combined with a full teaching load, made it impractical to continue. On many a perfect shooting day, I'd be looking out the classroom window, but the following weekend would end up being rainy or stomy--discouraging to a view camera shooter. In addition, the small agency I worked with tended to have a somewhat limited local market and faced increasing competition from large agencies and on-line photo collections available either free or at low cost. It's generally conceded that being successful in stock photography requires a hugh body of work and a constant up-dating of existing photos. Some stock shooters do well with a specialization, such as scientific photography or aerial photography, but it's usually a tough business for most. I had some fun with it and made enough to add some good equipment, but that's about it.

  4. wr1000

    wr1000 Member

    Aug 5, 2005
    Orlando, FL
    35mm RF
    Stock Experience

    I have found that it is easier to represent my own work than have it represented by others. Let me explain. I am a third generation photographer, and I have what adds up to 80 years worth of well archived photography. When the internet was first coming around in the early 90's, I sought to write my own stock photo site, and it worked. Now, I never competed with the likes of the big photo houses, but the real goal was met. I occupied myself during my non-assignment down time doing photo related tasks that I enjoyed. I have spent thousands of hours scanning, keywording, and editing photos for over ten years now. I have only given away commissions along the way once, for a short while, when I was being represented by an agency. Though I was happy with the commissions that I got from that venue, I wanted to do it on my own, and I did. I myself have paid people along the way to do keywording and site building for my own project. I have found a great deal of happiness doing it, and recommend it to anybody who has the spare time and devotion to do it.

    One set of tools that I recommend comes from: This software is the platform that I built my most recent stock photo site on, and it is very powerful. I am able to manage mulitple photographers, bulk list photographs, and track sales, all in one place. I never would have been able to build such a robust package on my own, and, frankly, this is the software that I had been wanting for years. WR
  5. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

    Dec 12, 2004
    East Kent, U
    Medium Format
    Have you seen a copy of the annual publication "Photographer's Market" (2005 edition has ISBN 1-58297-277-X)? It's full of info on who wants what and in what form.

    Good luck!


    PS: As you are in England, well worth joining the Bureau of Freelance Photographers and becoming aware of BAPLA (easy to find on the web).