Stock photography for beginners
November 20, 2007 2:58 PM   Subscribe

I recently received an email asking if I'd be interested in adding some of my photos to a stock photography website/collection. What should I ask, or be thinking about, as I consider this?

The email (from the creative manager of StockphotoPro, FWIW) mentions several of my photos on Flickr, i.e. the writer's clearly "done his homework" in looking through my photos, and has picked a couple good ones. But I'm an amateur photographer, I enjoy experimenting, and I'm pretty lax about taking pictures seriously, so many of my pictures are either snapshots or have the kind of subject matter &/or lighting that stock photo archives don't tend to be interested in. All this to say that if someone's shown interest in my photos, I'm probably one of hundreds of people he's sent the same sort of email to. Am I right in thinking this, or just lucky to have been stumbled upon?

I'm not averse to having my photos included in stock photography archives, but I'm not extremely interested in it, either. Of course, a little extra money/royalties would make me more interested, but will this amount to more than pennies? What should I ask him about? Or, more generally, what should someone who's considering selling [a small handful of] images to stock photography archives know or be aware of?
posted by soviet sleepover to Technology (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
1 Don't assume that a buyer won't want your images (Stock agencies are different from the actual buyers. They might not know what will sell. No one really knows what will sell.)

2. Royalty Free is basically selling 1000 copies of an image for 1$ each. Almost no limits to use. Rights Managed is selling one copy of the image for $1000 (and no one else can use the image for a certain time). That's the basics, generalized. You want to aim to sell your images Rights Managed. Because you can make more money (theoretically) and because if you sell an image Royalty Free you can never sell the image as rights managed (because you can't guarantee exclusive use if there are already many copies already out in the world.)

3. StockphotoPro would sell your images Royalty Free.

4. Royalty Free is not bad. I sell some images royalty free. It's just aiming low.

5. Some people make more money selling Rf than RM.

6. The stock world is changing drastically by the minute. Right now. As we speak.

7. You can sell images on your own through:


and others but those are the top two. Both take a small commission.

I suggest reading the forums at Alamy and Photoshelter before you make a decision.
posted by cda at 4:39 PM on November 20, 2007

I got a similar email from StockphotoPro through my Flickr account and was wondering the same thing. I wonder how many people they've contacted.
posted by platinum at 7:36 PM on November 20, 2007

I googled. They've spammed a lot of Flickr users with a plausible-sounding offer. The message is designed to make you feel special but you're one of thousands of folks who've received it.

I ignored mine.
posted by zadcat at 7:45 PM on November 20, 2007

I got one too. My momentary feeling of photographic superiority has been crushed by this thread.
posted by dvdgee at 8:12 PM on November 20, 2007

I'm on flickr. I didn't get an invitation. Already, that makes you part of an elite group that excludes me, and I'm a lovely person. So why not look into it?

A friend of mine calls this kind of thing contempt prior to investigation. You may be the next Annie Liebowicz, but you'll never know unless you look into it.
posted by wordswinker at 4:02 AM on November 21, 2007

Here is a good list of selling your photos, if become more inclined in stock photo archives.
posted by prophetsearcher at 4:40 AM on November 21, 2007

Best answer: I got the same message. I'm already represented by a larger, traditional agency so I didn't really look into it, and now I'm glad I didn't because this thread just confirmed what I already suspected.

There are two types of stock agencies, "microstock" and traditional agencies. The difference basically lies in how they pay you: microstock pays pennies or a couple of bucks per sale, real agencies calculate the price based on usage (could be $50, could be $5000) and you get paid what your images are actually worth. I just looked at StockPhotoPro and it seems like they pay more than a few bucks but it's still the same deal.

Microstock agencies are basically a scam that take advantage of amateur and semi-pro photographers who don't know what the real value of their work is. This is why this guy is targeting people on Flickr.. he knows if he were on say, the PDN forums, he would be retreating with his tail tucked between his legs. But on Flickr, there are a bunch of people like you who think it would be interesting to make a few bucks from their work and aren't familiar with the stock industry.

If your photos are good, you should be paid fair, market value for them - not a couple of bucks. Giving work to a microstock agency is just selling yourself short and contributing to an unsustainable business practice that is bad for full-time pros and anyone else trying to make money selling photographs.

I know many people think that pros shoot for Getty and Corbis and that 'beginners' can't get to that level and so they should 'start out' with microstock but that's not true. There are plenty of agencies out there who respect photographers and their rights and pay market value for images instead of preying on the uninformed, whether you're a pro or an amateur or whatever. It's your decision whether you want to go with microstock or not, but I encourage you to do a little more reading (PDN has a lot of great information) and consider a traditional agency who will pay you the REAL value of your work.

One agency that I think is great for beginners is Alamy. There's no editing process, but if your work sells you get paid a fair price for it. Others to look into (off the top of my head) would be AGE fotostock, Masterfile... there are tons of them and there is no reason to sell yourself and your work short. Do some research, make an informed decision.
posted by bradbane at 9:24 AM on November 21, 2007

A couple things to consider about Alamy. They will not tell you which client buys your images, making it impossible to get tearsheets. Also they have a pretty lame policy on payments.
posted by Sukiari at 6:49 PM on December 2, 2007

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