Monday, March 30, 2009

What it takes to succeed in stock photography

Immense sums of money

One photographer I know tracks his sales closely because he primarily wants to know which models are selling best. In his experience the model makes or breaks the shoot. Another photographer has found that most of his sales come from scenic locations that he shoots throughout the world. For him, the location is paramount. Among the successful shooters of stock that I personally know there are an incredible range of styles and approaches. One shoots everything in his studio. Another spends most of his time traveling the world. Yet another incorporates a lot of 3D into his work. One shoots almost all portraits. All of these photographers make immense sums of money from stock photography. And they all do it differently.

Time and effort equal success

What is it that they all have in common that has propelled them to such success?
They are all driven. Like Olympic athletes, they all put enormous quantities of time and effort into their work. I routinely put in sixty hours a week, and I suspect that my example photographers tend to put far more time than that in to their efforts. I know for sure at least three of them do. The stock photographers that I know that have reached a very high level of earning eat, breathe, and sleep stock photography. I believe they are the kind of people that would be tremendously successful at anything they undertook.

Stock photographers have interest and passion

One thing that surprises me: Despite the overwhelming amount of time they put into their businesses, into their careers as stock photographers, they also seem even more knowledgeable than most people about things that have nothing to do with photography. They are well informed on current events. They have a firm grasp on history. They understand technology. They are interested and passionate about life on this planet. I have also found each and every one of these super successful photographers to be kind and generous.

Ideas, sensibilities and fashion

I guess it isn’t just one quality that is the predictor of their success. It is a combination of passion, interest and elbow grease. By being interested in life they assimilate the ideas, sensibilities and fashion of our societies' movers and shakers. By being passionate they have the motivation to continually learn and improve all aspects of their lives. And by having the drive to do the work, they are able to pull it all together to create and deliver images of value and relevance to the marketplace. This passion for life prepares them, like highly trained athletes, to have the flexibility and skill to adapt to changing situations, to intuitively know what images to produce, what changes to make to their business models.

Your success is inevitable

If you want to succeed in stock photography, be passionate and committed to your photography; be involved in your community, be interested in the life around you. Live with compassion, kindness and generosity. If you can do those things your success will be inevitable.

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