What is stock photography?

Stock photography is photography available under license for various uses by various companies. It is available through stock photography agents. How it works is that suppose a photographer does a shoot and then goes out and produces the shoot. But the photographer would pay the cost of production. It’s similar to the stock market, in that it has a risk because when you shoot and spend the money and you don’t know if they’re going or not. Then the photographer sends that collection to the photo agency and their editor would review the images and choose the ones they think are the most saleable and make them available on their website. Now as the images would be sold over and over again, the agency will share a percentage with you as royalty.

Stock photography has changed significantly for a variety of reasons. The main reason is obviously that the photo industry itself is too saturated. The advent of digital photography has completely changed the landscape and now anyone can be and call themselves a photographer. If you have a camera of a certain caliber, you can take a photo and submit it. Thus, the more photographers who contribute to archival photography collections, the more photo libraries are cluttered with images and hence images can be buried in the system very easily.

Then there are algorithms, which we all know from Instagram and Facebook. What algorithms are and how they work, and how algorithms can work to fundamentally bury your content. Agencies have started doing it. They hire a photographer and then do those big shoots and they own the rights to that picture. They pay the photographer a lump sum and then the photographer will shoot the photographs for the agency. The agency would not have to pay royalties to the photographer for these images since they essentially registered the copyright. For new photographers, it is a cool thing, like a good amount of money. Although overall it isn’t fun because it was basically like that. you know you have a chunk of money and then it’s over, it’s finished.

So, if you’re shooting stock photos, find a smaller, niche agency to work with and make sure your model meets the stock agency’s agreement. Make sure you have all of your cameras up to snuff. I would suggest not spending a lot of money, especially if you are just starting a job. You already have what you would be good at and go out and shoot and have fun. Then submit the stuff to the agency and if you make money from it, that’s great.

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