While photography is certainly a fun hobby and can lead to great personal fulfillment, it is also a high-skill profession that thousands of people use to pay their bills every single day. Not everyone can be a photographer for Sports Illustrated or Glamour but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make a good living from photography. Microstock photography, for instance, is a relatively new concept and a great way to make a little extra cash.
Understanding Microstock Photography
In order to understand microstock photography, you should first understand “stock” photography. Stock photography refers to photographs that are licensed for a wide range of uses. For instance, a photo of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco could be a stock photo, which could be used in magazines, ads, calendars, or whatever else the person who buys it wants to do.
Microstock photography is similar, only the images sell for less and can be uploaded by anyone with high-quality material. Essentially, you make as much money as possible by selling many images at a lower cost. Fotalia, Shutterstock, and iStockphoto are all great websites for this purpose.
What You Need to Do to Get Started
Getting started with microstock is easier than you think. The two things you’ll need is a basic editing and shooting setup but you can find these very inexpensively. You’ll need a digital SLR as well as some photo editing software (preferably free) like Paint.net or until you’re ready to move on to a more robust professional version.
Once you have the gear in order, all you need to do is shoot a bunch of photographs to prepare for the initial application process. If you want your images to sell, focus on subjects that are easy to sell in markets like business, home decor or other lifestyle themes. Try and bring something to the market that a person buying photographs would be looking for, but wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere. It is important to remember that your images cannot contain copyrighted or trademarked subjects, and if they feature a person’s face you’ll need a signed release from the model.
Before you upload any images, check out the site and see what types of photographs they offer as this will give you a good idea of the types of images that will likely sell. Once you have a solid portfolio, choose a site (or sites) you like and start submitting your photos for review. Pay close attention to the training materials and description the sites provide and make sure your portfolio completely fits within their guidelines, otherwise you may be denied.
Making Money Using Microstock
Unlike regular stock photography, microstock is all about quantity. Just remember that the more pictures you upload, the better your chance at making money. There are people that make thousands a month working in microstock, but it is important to note that these people also use it as their full time job and upload hundreds of photos. if you can invest the time needed to do the job, the income potential is truly endless.
The best thing to do is to start small and see if you can get a grasp on what works best for you. If microstock seems to be your thing and you can see yourself making a healthy profit doing it, focus more time and energy on it and upload as many photos as you possibly can. If it doesn’t feel like a good fit, try looking for other photo opportunities that are more suited to your schedule or your images. You should always have fun and enjoy taking pictures so find something that works best for you and you’ll end up shooting images that everyone will admire!