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How many of you are shooting stock?
Old 03-10-2006, 11:51 AM   #1 (permalink)
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just read an article in "Picture" magazine about "shutterstock" and how they run their biz and was wondering how many of you are spec-shooting for the purpose of uploading to an online stock company and, if so, is it financially rewarding to any ntoable extent?
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Re: How many of you are shooting stock?
Old 03-10-2006, 12:57 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I just started in January:
istock port

It hasn't been that great financially yet. $9 in royalties so far, woohoo. There seems to be a consensus that things start to get the snowball rolling around 500 downloads. It has been harder to get images accepted than I originally anticipated though. iStock was recently purchased by Getty which adds a touch of legitimacy. Purportedly there are users making a couple grand a month on the site, but you need thousands of high quality, hi demand images to be in that croud. They do list the types of images they're looking for, and not looking for here, it's actually a kinda funny read.
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Re: How many of you are shooting stock?
Old 03-10-2006, 01:03 PM   #3 (permalink)
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you might check out shutterstock.com if, for no other reason, than to peruse the abundance of unmemorable amateurish images that are, apparently, making someone some dough.
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Re: How many of you are shooting stock?
Old 03-10-2006, 01:24 PM   #4 (permalink)
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are you saying something about my stock port? [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]
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Re: How many of you are shooting stock?
Old 03-10-2006, 03:48 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I'm on iStockPhoto and Crestock. I've been on about a month and earned 1.60 on iStock. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img] One of my images was image of the day on Crestock.

I applied to shutterstock, but something weird happen and I never got approved and my account disappeared.

I have a photographer friend whose been doing it for a while and make a couple hundred a month on a good month. You do need a lot of images, and glamour doesn't sell well.
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interesting list but...
Old 03-10-2006, 04:48 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I notice that on the list of images they've got covered, none indicate images with people in them, while the ones they need seem to all call for people. Could it be because the ones "with people" need model releases, and that usually means paying the models? How would you pay a little league baseball team? Especially if your stock site was willing to license it for $20 (give or take)? I hate to sound like a grinch, but these sites are not the way to get rich in stock photos. They sell by the pound (500 downloads to make enough to pay your RENT?). How are you supposed to pay for production expenses? Sounds like the old saying "I lose money on every sale, but I make it up in volume."

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basics
Old 03-10-2006, 05:39 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Stock can be very financially rewardable. Like high 6 figures. But you gotta play the game.

Game?

All roads in stock sales lead through one of two companies, Getty and Corbis. Everything else is mini sales. If you are not with Getty or Corbis, its not happening for making a living off stock.

Next is subject material. You gotta shoot what the stock buyers are buying. Duh!
Big duh, but its real hard for folks to understand. Shoot what people are buying.


As you mentioned, stock is almost all spec shooting with fairly high production values, almost always a MUA, decent models, clothing and locations and props. Its not hard to drop $ 2,500 for a day of shooting with 2 models, a location, MUA/hair/catering, etc. Many models (the good ones) demand high money for stock images because they know you could possibly sell it for thousands and they get nothing more and they also can have problems with future clients.


Say you sell a stock image to a hair company, the model would not be eligible for a high paying commercial for a competing hair company because of the stock shot she did for you 3 years ago. It can piss off agencies big time because their girl looses a $ 10T national hair ad cause she made a few hundred from you. So most agencies wont provide stock models.

Now the bad news for GG folks, very very few glamour images are bought. So while the number is not zero, its not much more than that.

Stock is about emotion, situations, real life experiences, angst, despair, joy, mothers and children, couples, senior citizens, beauty...all kinds of real life situations. There is almost no demand sexy nekkid chicks.

Here are some decent sellers:








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Re: interesting list but...
Old 03-10-2006, 05:40 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Well I don't have a great big bag of 1000's of stock images to submit to Corbis or Getty. I tried over at tssphoto.com but alas was told (in more words) to take a hike. So lets see, I could either:
Give up or

Shoot and shoot and shoot and sit on the images hoping I'm headed in the right direction so they'll someday sell through the "proper channels" or

I could shoot and put the images on a micro payment stock site where I get feedback, see what sells and put a little coin in my pocket.

When ever I hear that micro payment stock devalues photography a couple of thought go through my head. The first is why should I stop so some "real" stock photographer can make six figures working for a Getty or Corbis? The second is that micro stock has opened up the market. A web designer with a $1000 budget for a medium sized site isn't going to drop a quarter of that on one image. I credit places like istock (along with PS and digital photography) for making it possible for the web to not look like it did in 1998.

Why do you think you have to pay people for model releases? TFCD, then the cost of the CD is recooped on the first low-res download. FWIW I hear there is a "regular people" trend going on in stock as well.

I'm not trying to get rich in stock phototgraphy. I'm making a little bit of money while learning in between weddings, portraits, or anything else people will pay me to shoot.
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People get what they pay for
Old 03-10-2006, 06:46 PM   #9 (permalink)
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i'll use "adult" as an example of something that is similar to the stock biz. there are plenty of companies who will give away layouts to magazines in return for an accompanying article on the flick the layout came from. in other words, it's a 20-sheet (sorry... old school terminology) from the "action" shots from the set. but most of the so-called action shots are simply captured with an on-camera strobe. shooter who are a bit more quality-conscious put the strobe on a stroboframe or similar just to get some distance between the light source and the lens and slightly improve the images.

but now, suddenly--and i'll use a personal example that's happened to me--a company finds out there are some magazines who will pay them 2 or 3 thousand for the layout. wow! it's like found money for the manufacturer. but there's a catch. the magazine wants the images to be of higher quality-- lighting, more dramatic angles, better locations. so then, when this company comes to me and says, "hey, we need you to make the action shots look as good as the glamour (artwork) shots," i say, "whoa, big daddy. that means i've got to now "light" the actions shots. i didn't hear anyone mention more money for jimmy!"

their answer is usually, "what do you mean?"

of course, my answer is then, "what do you mean what do i mean? that's more work for me. way more. that means i've got to do special lighting and take more time. and you want me to do that for what you're already paying me??

well, they do. but it don't happen, but they then get upset with me. it's a freakin' vicious circle. there's no free lunch. not for me and not for them and not for people thinking they're simply gonna upload a bunch of crap to some subscription stock company and make a living off it.
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shooting stock
Old 03-10-2006, 06:59 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Before I comment on a couple things in this, you might want to check out a long post I made on March 3 - a couple weeks ago. Do a search for "want to shoot" in the Main forum and you should see it. It builds off some comments of Glenn Usdin who does know what he's talking about and should help you understand the types of images that sell in the MAINSTREAM stock business.

[ QUOTE ]
When ever I hear that micro payment stock devalues photography a couple of thought go through my head. The first is why should I stop so some "real" stock photographer can make six figures working for a Getty or Corbis? The second is that micro stock has opened up the market.

[/ QUOTE ]

It is getting harder for even the top pros to get rich in stock because of Royalty Free and microstock site, and believe me, no one is getting rich there except the owners of those sites. Stock originally was a product of outtakes or test shoots that were considered "leftovers" and were turned over to traditional film-based stock agencies to squeeze some extra $$ out of the work. Over the last 20 years, the stock business has changed such that buyers expect top quality images, and some photographers spend considerable money producing shoots for that business. While you certainly have the right to try and sell images as stock any way you can, just know that these sites HAVE had an effect on the stock business, and no serious shooter will sign with them.

BTW, some stock agencies, like Corbis and Getty, actually produce shoots specifially for stock, even helping in the production costs. They know what sells, and basically go into partnership with the photographer on those shoots.

[ QUOTE ]
A web designer with a $1000 budget for a medium sized site isn't going to drop a quarter of that on one image. I credit places like istock (along with PS and digital photography) for making it possible for the web to not look like it did in 1998.

[/ QUOTE ]

That is part of the problem. Clients have an unrealistic expectation of what design work should cost. They got it possibly from the early days of the web when images were stolen, and therefore, really cheap. Now they get them from RF disks, but of course they run the risk that their competitors will use the same images, and the cheaper the images are priced (and the more often they're download and used) the more likely that will happen in the future.

[ QUOTE ]

Why do you think you have to pay people for model releases? TFCD, then the cost of the CD is recooped on the first low-res download. FWIW I hear there is a "regular people" trend going on in stock as well.

[/ QUOTE ]

Really? Why don't you shoot some models and/or "regular people" and ask them to sign a all-rights blanket model release in exchange for a CD (that they can only use for their own use) and let me know how it goes. Many models and "regular people" today are aware of what the potential for these images is, and expect some sort of real compensation or a percentage. Many models especially, have an unrealistically high expectation of what fair compensation should be. Besides, even if you could con someone into such a deal (no fee), would that really be fair to them?

[ QUOTE ]
I'm not trying to get rich in stock phototgraphy. I'm making a little bit of money while learning in between weddings, portraits, or anything else people will pay me to shoot.

[/ QUOTE ]

Nothing wrong with that, you just sounded frustrated because your images weren't being accepted and therefore not generating income. I'm trying to explain what you're up against, and why almost giving it away is not a good idea. Think of it this way. With all the folks running around with automatic digital cameras these days, why should someone hire you to shoot their wedding? As more and more people become adept at using digital cameras, you could expect the rates people are willing to pay to have their wedding shot, to drop. How low are you willing to go on a wedding before it becomes unprofitable for you?

Regards,
Andy Pearlman
Andy Pearlman Studio
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