Monday, April 9, 2012

The Secret Of Successful Stock Photographers

An energy saving CFL lightbulb takes the shape of a dollar sign indicating the financial benefits of
The key to earning the big bucks in stock photography lies in consistent and prolific image production...though "prolific" can mean different things to different shooters.

The Secret To Successful Stock Photography
What is the secret to successful stock photography? Create a lot of photos. Okay, maybe I should add that the stock photos need to be appropriate for the market place (meaning pictures that are needed and of a sufficiently high quality). But still, when I recently took a look at the half-dozen most successful stock photographers I personally know, the one thing they all have in common is that they are prolific. They consistently produce a lot of stock imagery.

What Kind Of Photos
Well, come to think of it, they also understand what kind of photos to make. They all vary a bit in the kind of images they produce. One of them does a lot of compositing work creating sophisticated concept photos. He actually shoots the photos himself and has a full-time in house Photoshop jockey who handles the post. Another of these successful stock photographers shoots primarily in the studio using sets, and yet another makes extensive use of her surrounding area for location lifestyle shoots. But they all study and understand what kinds of images the market wants.

Everyone Has Their Own Twist
It is interesting that everyone has their own twist on things and yet can still be very successful. Interesting and encouraging! But again, the one constant is that they all produce consistently…and produce a lot of work. When I asked one of them about how he dealt with the problem of cannibalizing his own work he responded that he’d rather cannibalize it than have someone else do it. He then went on to say that in this new stock photo paradigm where one’s work is so quickly “buried” by the unceasing flow of new imagery, it is necessary to continuously re-do ones own work.  While that seems somehow wrong to me…this guy earns a lot more than I do in stock photography.

A New Goal: Four Images A Week
We all know that guys like Yuri Arcurs produces massive amounts of imagery for microstock, but the shooters I am referring to are producing for the traditional RM and RF markets and not for micro. I might add that after giving this all a lot of thought my own reaction is to increase the number of images I produce.  Just to give you an idea, I think my new goal will be to average four images a week. Keeping in mind that I frequently spend more than one day on a given image even this seemingly modest goal could be a stretch for me.  One of the above stock shooters plans on adding a thousand images this year…what “consistent” production means to different shooters depends on the kind of images they make…and what their career goals are.

The Right Distribution Is Fine Tuning
The secret to a successful stock photo career? Do your research to understand what the market wants, then consistently produce those images. Getting those images into the right distribution channels is obviously important, but I see that more as fine-tuning. Knowing that there are many shooters who are actually doing very well in stock means that you can do it too.


carlosrestrepofoto said...

Thanks John for your insights into stock I always read your posts...could you in a future post talk more about the HOW of the correct distribution channels, that would great!
best wishes

Anonymous said...

Hi John: Would just add one important element. It's very important to have someone like Getty Images or Corbis market/sell your work. They have the most market pull in the stock industry and make the sales. The rest, no so much.

John Lund said...


I will work on that....



John Lund said...


I agree...Getty especially, should probably be in every "general shooters" mix. But there are reasons for others. I will post a blog on my thoughts on that soon.



Stock Photos said...

This is great work man , it like this . I will try this ......

Free Stock Vectors said...

I can't believe that I will be able to find these secrets of successful stock photographers. I just started doing photography and I will use these secrets to be a better photographer.

John Lund said...

Free Stock Vectors,

OK, I will look past that word "Free" in your name and tell you the biggest secret...there are no secrets...just lost of hard work.



Photographer Melbourne said...

This is great post , thanks for sharing these information . I have read your article its nice information blog....
Photographer Melbourne