Photography Lesson's From The Starting Line

Hate me all you want, I am one of them

by guest blogger (c) Delme Thomas for the PhotoBizCoach

About two months ago I decided to focus my attention to all the money making opportunities surrounding photography that I had running around my head each day. Having done a lot of reading and research my game plan was crystallized and an action plan drawn up. Typical of a corporate dude. While I may not have the daytime advantage to commit time to this process and can only focus on this in evenings and over weekends, the fact that I have exposure to business in terms of setting up brands, marketing strategies, sales tactics and the ability to identify opportunities,network and exploit them, hopefully makes up for this deficiency. Its all about sweating this digital asset that I have lying on various hard drives and generating residual income, which works while I sleep and work.

One of the ways to make your images actively work for you and provide a passive income is to have your images up on stock libraries which span across the world. While you may not make a mint in the beginning, as it is a volume game, you are still getting some form of income for images that otherwise would not be doing anything. Top stock photographers in the world make millions and that’s dollar millions not South African rands millions. It all sounds a bit easier than that, which I learned the hard way. Having selected www.istockphoto.com as the start of where I wanted join, soon realized that I had a huge amount of information to process before having to write a test, which I only passed on my second attempt.

Next is to submit a panel of three images to them and then wait for the email to come back and give you the results, I must admit that this round took quite a few days to receive notification form them. The news what not good, I had to wait a few more days before being able to resubmit a panel as some of the images in the panel where too similar in topic not content and they are looking for how diverse a photographer you are. Lesson number one, pick images from different aspects of photography. Having complied the second panel went in and a few more days passed.

Bam, only one image accepted, the rest where rejected for either artifacting or the “appearance” of a filter or manipulation of some sort. Lesson number two, do not enter an image that you have cropped more than normal, as when viewed at full size, as they do, then artifacting becomes apparent. Lesson three, was to not enter images that could be construed as having being manipulated as they will be rejected as well.

So the next two images where presented and accepted. What a glorious day for me and achievement. I have not been schooled in stock photography and attempted this process with standard images that I have taken over the past few years. This process nearly took me two months

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Once accepted you can enter a limited amount of images over a certain time frame and I though this allocation I have is small, how wrong was I. None of my images are key worded. So after some intense Googling, I found a way to get the top keywords for the type of images that I had and the proceeded to copy, past and synchronize with the rest of the gallery. So upload time again, when the image is uploaded, you have to go through all your keywords and clarify them to ensure that they conform to the image as well as a clarification process to ensure that that words are also specific.

Lesson number four, get the keywording process correct, the next mail I got was to reject some images because some of the key words where not suitable for the image presented. You need to get this one so right as this is the key to directing a potential customer to your image so don’t take it too lightly.

Additional sources of revenue from all of this is their referral program, where you can earn either credits, commission or cash from referrals which you point to the site and they register and purchase on the account. Why not, while you are out there doing your bit for promoting your images either via your blog, website, email, Twitter,Linked In or Facebook, why not catch these additional sales?

The commission structure starts off sort of low and build based on volume, yet you could also be an exclusive contributor in order to earn out at a higher rate, but the pro’s and cons of that is for another article. I have decided to register with a handful of images as each agency serves a different market in different geographical areas, while being global, certain markets and countries have their favorites.

I hope this article helps you if you are considering getting involved in stock photography.

About Delme: Born and bred in South Africa, I have had a fascination with the arts all my life. At the end of high school I had to make a career decision as to either follow my creative passion or enter into the corporate world, I entered into the corporate world. In 2007 I took the bold step of investing in camera equipment and so my photographic journey started.

Comments

  1. Christine Bory says

    Thank you for the precious information. Nothing equals the sharing of experience. As a 43 y-old newcomer in the photography business I treasure anything that will help me along the way, that will save me time and headaches. Can't wait for the "pros and con's" of exclusive contribution you talk about. Good luck on your photo business,
    C+

  2. says

    Yes, this information is useful. Mini-Stock photography in NOT a good business for the professional photographer. Mini-stock is a total rip off. Check your cost of doing business and the return on your investment for the thousands of images you will need to submit to earn a few hundred dollars per year. If you look at it, your first year's earnings will probably NOT pay for the time spent making your submissions or getting accepted. Your time will be better spent marketing you professional business and getting better paying work.
    Further, mini-stock has flooded the market with cheap images that takes away from the earning potential of the professional by lowering the perceived value of an image.
    If you want to help the photographic profession, boycott the mini-stock bottom feeding industry..