Advice for a stock photographer/Illustrator?

What’s the best advice you would give to a new stock photographer (new photographer)? What kind of things are hard to find that you need, aside from the fact the search engines are totally WACK. Instead of fussing around with other photographers - I figured I’d come here, and just be blunt with it. & Hello, newb to the forum as well. Would love your feedback. :slight_smile: Thank you very much! :slight_smile:

If you are new to photography, I’d work on learning the craft of shooting first and worry about selling stock later. The quality of images on sites like iStockphoto or Shutterstock has really gone up over the years, and you can get some great images there. If you’re wanting to sell stock and make any money, you’ll have to produce images that stand out. Also, as you shoot more and learn more, you might find a photographic niche that appeals to you. If so, that would be a natural area to specialize in and build a stock collection.

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From past experience there is a limited number of current and believable accessibility imagery on rf stock sites. Think wheelchair bound people that are actually wheelchair bound doing normal things. (Not just posing at the top or bottom of a staircase, on a hill with their arms raised, or depressed looking)

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I’ve had a lot of experience with microstock photography, and it’s not a path I recommend.

The microstock industry now has many websites, and they’re glutted with millions of images, mostly garbage, keyword spamming, etc.

In my opinion, the only way to make income from microstock is to do pretty much nothing else. Remember, you only earn a few bucks from each download. If you create enough good photographs and post them, eventually you will rise high enough in the searches to start getting downloads consistently.

The higher quality stock agencies are extremely selective, and only feature photographers with many killer images.

As a new photographer, I suggest you explore many different subjects, discover which you like best, then target a niche and follow that path.

Remember, this is just my experience. I did once, however, win Image of the Week at Istock, when microstock was still new. :slight_smile: This image was downloaded 470 times. She said modestly.

My clients are demanding more diversity in people photos. It’s been a constant conversation for the last 15 years, but lately has been intensifying. The photos in stock libraries tend to be very white.

This is what one client recently told me, regarding images of girls engaged in sports-type activities… “half of the women’s Olympic gymnastics team is African American, but when you show us photos to use for our gymnastics, it’s always white children. Half of the women’s ice skating team is Asian, but you show us nothing but white children ice skating. An African American woman is the lead dancer of American Ballet Theater, but every photo you show us for ballet is white children. We need our marketing to reflect what American really looks like.”

So, non-white people. Non traditional families. Families and couples who are mixed race. Persons who are differently abled where the lack of ability isn’t the theme. IMO there’s opportunity there.

Like DocPixel, I used to do microstock, and it’s not something I’d recommend these days.

I started uploading to iStock in 2005 to fill in some of the downtime from my graphic design business. I sold my first image a few hours after uploading and then was selling multiple images every day for the next couple years. It was a really decent income.

I would read their message boards and everyone was so giddy about how much money they were making and how easy it was, and talking about how they were entertaining the idea of quitting their jobs to do iStock full time. All that started to collapse around 2012. Read the message boards these days and no one says anything like that. It’s mostly pissed off people.

When I started, I think they were around 5 million images. They are probably around 100 million now. Just iStock. Unless their search algorithm favors you, and puts your images in the front, you’re out of luck. I made my money when the search returns placed me in the first few pages. Now I’m hundreds of pages away from the front, and when people do find my images, iStock is giving them away for pennies through subscriptions. I stopped submitting long ago, when my new images wouldn’t even get views, let alone sales.

My guess is that in order for it to work, I’d need to concentrate on niches and market directly to them. For instance, develop a lightbox of a few hundred images that would be useful in the marketing of say, a marijuana dispensary. Then market the lightbox directly to dispensaries through a blog, email, print. My placement in the search returns wouldn’t matter at that point, and I’ve done a service to the buyer by filtering out all the irrelevant images iStock would show. Theory.

I don’t use a photo based on the photographer’s name. It’s all about the image and how big it will go.

I do however avoid images by people using really strange aliases. My clients do not like putting a photo credit into their educational museum that might be something like ieatcrap/stockimage.whatever.

A lot of times too, we have to actually contact the photographer in order to get a release of some sort. If you are hiding behind an alias, we won’t look too hard and move on to some other image. Also be aware of your contact info and keep it up to date. I’ve had people call me after reading my year old RFI, wondering if the offer was still available. Yeah, no.

BTW, nothing looks faker than a diversity photo that represents one of everything. Those are so lame.

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Thank you all very much for the replies. They were very helpful. I’ll leave this up, and maybe get some more. I’m definitely at the phase of trying out many different things. I do love the idea of candids, that’s for sure.

Just be sure to get all your paperwork in order. A lot of times, my clients will require a model release on posed images containing recognizable people. And be aware of any branding visible in the image, either in the background or on the model’s clothes. That is also no good.

And another thing… single subjects isolated on white are popular, because they’re useful. They can easily be combined with other images by designers.

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Well, I just had to pop back into this thread to see. You’ll be happy to know I’ve gotten a new camera, and have honed in on some skill. I’m now seeing the past areas of my portfolio that - while sell… I see them with new eyes now. When once I was very happy with high acceptance rates - now that I am moving onto work with other companies outside of microstock industries - Now I’m disappointed with the certain lack of quality control I’m finding with certain markets.

First of all, you should know what types of photographs are popular.
Submit your photos more than one agency. If your photo rejected, point out the reasons of rejection.
That is for the future when you will submit same type of photos.

Here’s a good video I ran across on the topic.

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