Leisure photography is one of the most common activities. Most of us that own a DSLR camera often take it with us on a trip especially if it’s a beautiful scenic view.
What if you could use those pictures to generate a passive income stream for yourself? That is possible because most of these images are used by media outlets in their articles, that are willing to pay hundreds of dollars to use your images.
The great thing about it is you don’t require professional equipment to take pictures – although that helps in the payout. Most of us have newer and capable smartphones that can take great pictures.
What is Stock Photography?
Stock photographs are taken to be sold. The purpose of these is to be sold for a fee to provide the buyer with the right to use the image. Usually, images are sold on royalty bases where the photographer earns for each download of the image.
Stock photography now is more of a passive income. The photographer does not reach out to clients but instead uses stock photography platforms to earn money. The revenue is split between the platform, which acts as a partner to sell images and the photographer.
What kind of images to shoot?
This is my favorite because it is constantly getting updated which increases your chances. Photography about current events will always yield the most since it is related to the news.
This does not have to be a major event; it could be a local event like Climate Change rally in many major cities around the world. This would be considerably better if you reside in a major city since most of them host these events very often. You could capture a few good moments from multiple angles in an event, that would do the trick.
This category is the most difficult yet the most popular. The issue is that many people take a beautiful picture of nature, but there aren’t enough buyers, which makes it more challenging on top of serious competition.
This is also a great category because they are always in demand. These could be any images like people skiing, bicycling, playing at the park, celebrating a win, etc.
There is no limit in the category, but you must be creative with your photography as there would be multiple images of a similar thing.
With this, there is also no limit on the number of pictures that can be taken of an object or combined with multiple other objects.
However, with simple photography, there would be much higher competition and fewer use cases. Another issue is most of the images don’t become obsolete over time. An image of a jingle bell wouldn’t get obsolete over time, therefore it can be used multiple times.
Just like Nature this category is full of professional photographers capturing life in a city. It is a difficult category to compete because there are very few use cases for these images.
How much can you earn?
Let get down to business. Stock photography is great if you are looking for some passive income unless you are a professional photographer, it would be challenging to produce a reliable income through this.
Earnings are based on three metrics:
- Number of images
- Number of downloads
Ways to improve your chances:
Skill: This would be based on your knowledge of photography. Understanding multiple aspects of the scene, knowing the best shots, Including or excluding objects to improve the scene and editing it so that it is balanced.
Creativity: Making your pictures stand out of the crowd is something that will increase your chances of getting selected.
Category: As mentioned earlier, your category remains the most crucial aspect. Competitive categories would reduce your chances of selling images.
Frequency: This will increase your odds.
Quality: This does matter since most media outlets would want high definition images that look professional. Higher resolution pays more.
Platform: Every platform has its payment model. More well-known platforms will pay more but will also have more competition.
Shutterstock is the most well-known stock photography marketplace out there. For contributors, they offer between 25 – 38 cents but that depends on the license and subscription that were used for each download and the earning tier you fall in. They initially pay 25 cents but then increase to 33 cents once you reach $500. The tier rises from 33 cents, 36 cents and 38 cents for $500, $3,000 and $10,000 lifetime earnings respectively.
They allow you to keep the rights to your content, which can then be used on other platforms. Read more on their website.
iStock is owned by Getty Images, the most well-known brand selling exclusive and high-quality images only. iStock is their cheaper subsidiary to compete with Shutterstock, Adobe Stock and others. They offer commissions between 15% nonexclusive and exclusive that ranges from 25% to 45% based on the downloads.
Adobe owns the world’s most well-known photo editing software like Photoshop and Lightroom. They also have their stock photograph marketplace where sellers can post their illustration and images.
They pay a 33% commission for a photo and allow you to keep the rights to your images. This is considered more of a partnership with them. Read more on their website.
Take Away Points
Stock photography has changed over time from having a staged or cheesy image to many mature and natural-looking images. Since it became so popular, it has increased in demand which brought many professional photographers in this business trying to earn a full-time income.
Moreover, looking at earning it would feel like that is not worth the time and effort, I would agree if photography is something you don’t undertake frequently. The approach should be to assess your situation and see if it’s a fit for you or would require a lot of time.
Therefore, I recommend considering a passive approach to this. Your goal is not to make a lot of money but instead to earn something with your leisure photography. This will help you pay for some expenses like pay for your Netflix subscription over time. Eventually, as time passes by you would earn more since you would have 100’s of pictures, that would increase your odds of earning more.