Sell Stock im­ages

Even in a sat­u­rated mar­ket, if you can come up with the right shots, there’s money to be made sell­ing stock im­ages

NPhoto - - FEATURE MAKE CASH WITH YOUR NIKON -

Learn what it takes to sell your pho­tos to stock im­age sites such as Getty

the idea of sim­ply up­load­ing a bunch of im­ages to an im­age li­brary and wait­ing for the money to roll in sounds great, but it’s not the re­al­ity of how to make money from stock pho­tog­ra­phy. The mar­ket for stock im­ages is more about shoot­ing im­ages for spe­cific themes and ideas, rather than sim­ply ‘pretty’ pic­tures.

The mar­ket for stock im­ages is al­ways chang­ing, and it is worth look­ing at im­ages al­ready on the var­i­ous sites. How­ever the best way to make your im­ages work is to make them rel­e­vant to how im­ages are used by com­pa­nies and the me­dia, rather than copy­ing ex­ist­ing ideas of what makes good shots.

There has been a shift to­wards im­ages of ‘real’ peo­ple, rather than per­fect mod­els in ar­ti­fi­cial poses il­lus­trat­ing themes like ‘busi­ness per­son’, although there’s al­ways a mar­ket for good-look­ing sub­jects. There has also been a shift to­wards ex­pe­ri­ences, rather than places and things, although great shots of beau­ti­ful lo­ca­tions can still be saleable on these stock li­braries.

The mar­ket on these web­sites is al­ways chang­ing, so be aware. There has been a huge rise in the num­ber of mi­cro­s­tock li­braries, which of­fer im­ages for web­sites and small busi­nesses for a few pence. This model re­lies on vol­ume of sales, rather than high value, to make money, so you need to be aware of this be­fore de­cid­ing on which spe­cific im­age li­brary to use.

For most of the larger photo li­braries, such as Getty, Alamy and Shutterstock, you’ll need to ap­ply to be­come a con­trib­u­tor. The pre­cise process varies be­tween dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies, but you nor­mally have to up­load three or four im­ages for eval­u­a­tion. These im­ages are then as­sessed for tech­ni­cal qual­ity, and whether your im­ages are suit­able for their li­brary.

Should your ini­tial sub­mis­sion pass, then you can start up­load­ing your im­ages to the site. You can just start up­load­ing your ex­ist­ing shots, but that’s

There has been a shift to­wards im­ages of ‘real’ peo­ple, rather than per­fect mod­els in ar­ti­fi­cial poses il­lus­trat­ing themes

not nec­es­sar­ily the best way to make money from stock pho­tos. Un­less you’ve al­ready been shoot­ing with dif­fer­ent themes or con­cepts, rather than sim­ply nice pic­tures, then your shots are un­likely to sell among the plethora of ex­ist­ing im­ages on the site.

To have a real chance of cut­ting through the masses, your shots need to be able to il­lus­trate ideas and metaphors that the end-users are likely to need. This isn’t easy to do, but it’s worth try­ing to step back and think about how to il­lus­trate more ab­stract ideas such as love, growth or en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues.

Many li­braries pub­lish ‘wants lists’ or up-com­ing trends, which can be use­ful to steer the type of im­ages that you up­load. An­other way to stay ahead of the com­pe­ti­tion is to keep a cal­en­dar of up­com­ing events over the next year or two – use this to iden­tify what themes and ideas they may be look­ing for.

So, rather than sim­ply sup­ply­ing a land­scape im­age, try to in­clude some peo­ple ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the lo­ca­tion – mak­ing it more rel­e­vant to peo­ple look­ing to il­lus­trate a story or cam­paign than the land­scape alone. How­ever, be aware that in­clud­ing rec­og­niz­able peo­ple, build­ings or land­marks in your im­ages can limit their use as these types of im­age can­not be used for ad­ver­tis­ing or any other com­mer­cial use – un­less the per­son or owner of the build­ing has signed a re­lease form ac­knowl­edg­ing that they are happy for the im­age to be used com­mer­cially.

Some li­braries won’t ac­cept im­ages with­out a re­lease form. Oth­ers will ac­cept them, but they will only be for what’s known as ‘ed­i­to­rial’ use, lim­it­ing the num­ber of sales and the money that they can make. Sim­i­larly, don’t in­clude any lo­gos or rec­og­niz­able prod­ucts, as these will be copy­righted, and stock li­braries will not ac­cept them.

Along with strong, rel­e­vant im­ages you also need to be able to add ti­tles, key­words and cap­tions that will al­low peo­ple to find your pic­tures. Don’t stick to the ob­vi­ous de­scrip­tive words, as you’ll find that key­words that de­scribe ab­stract emo­tions (such as ‘love’), con­cepts and ideas will make your im­ages much more saleable.

Keep­ing up with all the dif­fer­ent trends on stock li­braries is just as im­por­tant as shoot­ing the pho­to­graphs in the first place

Rel­e­vant key­words and cap­tions will help get pho­to­graphs found by po­ten­tial cus­tomers much quicker than poorly named ones

Us­ing your pho­to­graphs to il­lus­trate ab­stract emo­tions such as ‘suc­cess’ can be a real money-maker on stock im­age sites

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