There was a time when if you wanted to make money with your camera, and wasn’t a professional photographer, and sell some photos the only option was the stock photography sites. Stock photography sites were new and with the internet taking off there were many people wanting to create websites and blogs and add some photos to draw in the traffic.
At this time the potential to sell a lot of photos with the stock photography sites was huge and demand was outstripping supply, which meant you could produce low quality photos that were standard and run of the mill, poorly composed and incorrectly exposed and you could still sell them. Yep, things were a lot easier back in those days.
Move forward a few years and the world of stock photography sites is totally different. With the popularity of digital photography, a large increase in enthusiast and hobbyist photographers all wanting a piece of the action and millions of images already uploaded to several stock sites selling images through stock photography sites has become exceptionally difficult.
With a saturation of images the stock photography site owners have increased their standards, which can only be a good thing, however it has meant that your photos have to be exceptional to be accepted. This is all well and good but what constitutes an exceptional photo is subjective, and what the stock photography site moderators consider exceptional a potential customer may not, and what a potential customer considers exceptional a stock photography site moderator may not. Yep, even getting a photo through the moderation on many stock photography websites is difficult.
It is worth noting that everyone has photos rejected, and whilst it is difficult not to take it personally, it is best just to let it wash over you. Even photographs that are unique and original, perfectly composed and exposed, noise free and high quality are rejected, so whether your photos are accepted or not is down to a lot of luck and also the site moderator reviewing your image. That’s right, what one moderator may accept another may decline and vice versa.
With stock photography sites now demanding more and more from contributors and the likelihood of your photos being accepted becoming more and more “hit or miss” you really have to ask yourself if the stock photography sites are worth bothering with.
Over the years I have submitted photos to may stock photography websites with varying degrees of success. I have manged to sell photographs on all of the stock sites who have accepted my images, however I have not managed to reach the pay-out threshold with all of them, which is very frustrating.
One thing I have noticed is my sales from stock sites has significantly decreased and sales are now very irregular, even though I do make some sales. Am I earning loads of money from the stock sites, no. Am I likely to reach the pay-out threshold any time soon, no. My motivation for the stock sites is at rock bottom and I don’t think it’ll ever change. I have not submitted any photos for a long time, partly because I don’t get the opportunity to photograph the top selling subjects, i.e. people, and partly because I have discovered a different way of making money with my camera that is proving to be quite lucrative.
So would I recommend trying to make money with stock photography sites? Based on my experience there is no way I would ever recommend using stock photography sites as a way to make money with your camera. Okay, I appreciate there are some people making money with stock photography sites but these are few and far between, and you’ll also find that these photographers are professionals who use photos of people who pay them for portrait shots, and when they have an abundance of willing models there is no way a hobbyist or enthusiast can compete with that.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.