Saturday, October 27, 2012

Analysing My Top 100 Selling Stock Photos

Under Scrutiny: A woman sits at her desk in a fishbowl under the watchful eye of several business people. 
Stock photos under scrutiny: Analysis of my top 100 selling images.

Top 100 Selling Stock Photos
In my last post I shared that my top 100 selling stock photos for the last year have averaged over $1,000.00 apiece. In this post we will look at a few more details of those hundred images and see if we can draw any conclusions.  I need to point out that not the entire top one hundred images were shot by me. The collection includes images shot by a number of other photographers who have submitted through me.

Motion Clips
Three of the top hundred photos were actually motion clips. Kind of surprising since our collection includes over 8000 still images and only a few hundred clips. A word about motion clips here. In my experience the clips are more difficult and time-consuming to produce, and return me fewer dollars.  I don’t advise making a big commitment to motion unless you absolutely love shooting it.

Rights Managed, RF And No Microstock
Fifty-seven of the images are Rights Managed. The rest are RF. We do not have any microstock images in the collection. Two of the video clips were RM and one was RF.
Trying to decide if RM or RF is a better bet, based on these results, is not as simple as it might seem. For that information it would be better to compare shoots as opposed to individual images because with RF shoots you get a lot more images accepted. What I am seeing is that great RF images can bring in just as much as great RM images…which is sort of surprising in light of the fact that the photographer gets a bigger percentage with the RM images. If you include the increase in number of selects with RF, I have to say that I would give the edge to RF at this point.  It kills me to say that because I really love RM… oh well.

People Images, Landscapes, And Weird Composites
Approximately half of the images have people in them. The rest include landscapes, still lives, and hard-to-categorize images such as abstract lights, cloudscapes and weird composites. If anything, what I get from studying the best selling images, is that it doesn’t matter what category the image falls into, what matters is that concept images have a clear message, and lifestyle images have a feeling of authenticity.

Aging Images
In another interesting tidbit I found that sixteen of the top one hundred selling photos were ones I made over ten years ago! There were many more that were older than five years…but I didn’t count how many.  Another age-related trend I have noticed is that it takes a good six months from the time I send images in until they hit their licensing stride. I have heard that microstock images have a much shorter gestation period, but for me, in the more “traditional” market, it takes a fair amount of time. I surmise that part of the explanation lays in the time it takes for the images to get fully distributed through out the world.

Multiple Model Photos
Thirty-eight of the stock photos have three or more people in them. To me that is significant. I would guess that there are far fewer images out there with three or more models, so it makes sense that with less competition multiple model imagery has a good chance of having better sales.

Odds And Ends
Eight of the stock photos have a white background. Thirteen include computers. Two have ear buds.  There were only two of what I would call “traditional testimonial portraiture”, but they were both the same woman. I know some photographers who swear that the model is the most important element…perhaps this lends credence to that theory. I might add that this particular model, a woman, has an air of relaxed self-confidence…and curly black hair (which I have also heard is a good-selling trait).

Concepts And Business
Finally, I’d like to point out that our collection is heavily weighted towards concepts and business. Trying to get really meaningful information from an image collection dissimilar to one’s own is pretty tough. Heck, even looking at our own collection the main takeaway I get is that a little bit of everything sells. I always end up with the same direction: Create well-executed images with clear concepts and an emotional hook of either humor or authenticity, and it is hard to go wrong.


Teemu Tretjakov said...

Very interesting post. Thanks for sharing. I'm a newbie in stock photography and I'm still learning the ropes.

Kind Regards,

Tretjakov Photo Gallery

Eric Wilson said...

Stock photos are really an important thing in the field of photography. Since the photos cannot be used directly for commercial purposes for copyright purposes we need to buy some of the photos from the photo stock images. You have provided a great and vast information on the stock images information. Thanks for sharing.
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