How to Start a Stock Photography Business

Aamir Kamal
Photo byUnsplash

In the 1980s, when I was still using film, I experimented with stock photography. However, it didn't take much investigation—which was also more challenging back then—to find out that the time and money required made it unworkable for me. Hundreds of slides had to be printed, labeled, mailed to various agencies, and then you had to cross your fingers.

So it was simpler to learn about and get started with stock photography when I switched to digital photography in 2004. A quick Internet search and a few minutes of signing up with agencies later, I was ready to go.

But things have altered once more. Digital cameras are getting better and cheaper as time goes on. My first DSLR camera is outperformed by cell phone cameras.

In addition, everyone is a photographer today. The main stock agencies soon started running social media commercials with the slogan "Make Money From the Pictures on Your Hard Drive" not long after I started. Even while that isn't always the case, it does open the market to photographers from all over the world.

And the industry is still dominated by that way of thinking today. The biggest agency, Shutterstock, receives 1.5 million photographs per week. That's a lot of competition even for someone like myself who is just getting started. A lot of newbies are still trying to break into stock photography, judging by the inquiries I read on the boards.

How do you begin today then?

I was successful in 2004 and continue to be successful now after making my first transaction on day one. With the exception of a minor dip in 2008, my earnings have soared throughout the years, and in the midst of a pandemic, I experienced two of my greatest months ever.

I'll thus explain to you how to establish a stock photography business now. Warning: It won't be from the cat photographs you have saved on your computer's hard disk. You'll have to put in some effort. It won't be simple or quick. But if you take this advice, you can be successful.

The actions listed below are what you must take in order to be successful in the stock photography market of today. The first two can be completed in either sequence, but you must complete them both before moving on.

Learn Photography

The three pillars of photography are skill, art, and science. You transition from a passion to a job when you decide to become a stock photographer. You don't simply go to Home Depot, buy a few tools, put a sign on your truck, and start calling yourself a plumber. And just because you have a beautiful camera doesn't make you a photographer.

Fortunately, you don't need to spend years or attend college to study the profession of photography thanks to the online learning resources available today. You still need to learn it, though. Although it will take time, the work will be worthwhile. It will determine whether anything succeeds or fails. Believe me.

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