Stock Photography and a Nine-To-Five Job
A lot of times you hear photographers saying that a photography career is way better than a nine-to-five job. I don’t know about them, but for me to achieve success as a stock photographer has required not a nine-to-five approach, but more like a eight-thirty to seven-thirty approach…or something similar. No matter how you juggle it, and whether you work better in the morning, or better in the afternoon or better at midnight, stock photography, as a career, requires systematic, consistent dedicated time…and a lot of it.
The Worst Is Behind Us…Maybe
I used to think I was going to get rich from stock…that was back twenty years ago when I would bring in $10,000.00 a month off of a hundred and fifty or so images. Now, of course, things have changed. I think, like a new car that has just been purchased and driven off the lot, the worst of the drop in stock photography value is behind us. We are settling into a new paradigm…micro stock prices are going up, RF and RM have taken huge drops, and none of the industry looks quite as rosy as it once did…even to a lot of micro stockers. But perhaps the worst is behind us. I still very much believe that I can continue to make quite a nice living from stock photography (actually, a part of me is still planning to get rich at it...what gives with that?). But to do so will probably require that nine-to-five mentality…at least in the sense of having the approach and the discipline to regularly produce images and to produce images that are both unique and needed in the market.
Diversification and Regular Investment
In the other “stock” world, financial experts counsel diversifying and contributing to your investment regularly. The same advice applies to stock photography. To be successful to the point where you can earn a good living requires consistently producing images day in and day out…in researching the market to understand what to create, where to put it and in what business model...and so forth. I am always planning ahead, by at least a couple of months. Right now I am setting up a November shoot in Thailand. I have already shot the raw materials for the next two weeks worth of imaging, I am planning a shoot in three weeks that also involves motion, spent yesterday shooting images and getting props for photos that I probably will be able to start imaging on in a month or so…and oh yeah, I am kind of double-booked because I have enough greeting card images in the works to keep me busy through the end of October!
Being My Own Boss.
It isn’t just me either. A great example of a tremendously successful stock shooter who approaches the business with discipline and consistency is Tom Grill…who has told me that he plans his shoots a year in advance! Everyday I think to myself how fortunate I am to be my own boss and to get to work when I want. Then I get to work by 8:30 in the morning and leave for home by 7:30 in the evening. When I get home I usually end putting in another hour or two of internet work before the evening is over. In addition, rare is the week-end that doesn’t see me spend at least a half day working. But hey, the number of hours I put in pale compared to the likes of another extremely successful stock shooter, Colin Anderson...who makes me look like a slacker!
What It Takes To Succeed In Stock Photography
That is what it takes to succeed in stock photography. Treating it as a business…with discipline and consistency. It takes putting your heart and soul into it. Succeeding in stock photography is not for the feint of heart. It requires monetary investment, faith that what you are doing will work, and huge amounts of time and energy. And I can’t imagine doing anything else that would reward me as well or satisfy me as much.