Getting In The Picture: How To Sell Your Photographs, & Where
Stock Photo houses have gazillions of images on offer, and they all came from somewhere. These companies buy pictures every day, paying photographers for images sold.
You may find a niche where you can do good work that is in demand. Images serve both creative and practical needs, says Angela Stringfellow of SeniorHomes.com. ”We make a point to include photos in every blog post, because we believe readers can relate to visual images that relate to the content and it also breaks up the text”
But a caveat: Social media marketing consultant David Howard uses stock photos regularly, and he says it isn’t a gravy train. ”I presume that most photographers do stock photography as only a portion of their business – the income would be highly variable and unpredictable,” he said.
“Photographers need to look at mass-market consumer and demographic trends, to identify where marketing dollars are being spent, and choose subjects accordingly,” Howard adds
Do stock photo offerings “look like America”? I recently tried looking for images of Latinos on many of the larger sites, with very different results. One of the biggest is Shutterstock, which claim to have more than 14 million images, but that’s not everything. Searching Latino yealded 16,244 images; using Hispanic did better with 59,769 pictures.
Users have a range experiences with the industry. ”I find that the photos of minorities can be few and far between … I haven’t
seen an organized effort by any of these sites to help bring in a great level of diversity amongst the stock photos,” says Syndicate Media Group Senior Digital Strategist Mike Street.
David Howard says the situation is not so bad, but filling this niche might be an opportunity. ”Photographers might be able to add some ethnic/age variety and economies of scale by shooting some different ethnic/age groups in the same scene or set, producing similar photographs but with different people.”
If you are trying to get into these sites you should carefully study what they offer now, what you might produce for them, and their terms. The deal often varies based on how they sell to their customers, and whether you are uploading exclusively to their site.
Take every opportunity a site offers to accurately label your images. Don’t lard in every keyword that comes to mind, but basic who/what/where in your description is helpful, and increases the chance your work will be viewed, and used.
Angela Stringfellow suggests a market apart from stock photo houses: ”If a professional is seeking to generate backlinks for their photography or graphic design website, providing some photos under the Creative Commons license is a good bet, requiring users to credit them for images used for any public works. This, of course, also generates increased exposure for the photographer’s work, which can lead to more direct hires for projects outside of the stock photo sphere.”