Tell us your experience selling with stock photography platforms...
I have been selling my images on stock photography platforms for approximately four years.
Initially, I tried several platforms and uploaded a few dozen pics to each to see how they went. After a few months, it became clear there were two platforms to focus on - Shutterstock and 123RF.
Most of my catalogue is nature-based, i.e. landscapes and animals, because that's what I love to shoot. The landscapes seem to have the edge, particularly destination shots, (e.g: Bridal Veil Falls, near Raglan) and prominent provincial landscape features (e.g: Mt. Taranaki). I have 217 approved photos on Shutterstock and 64 approved images with 123RF and over 4 years (bearing in mind I've put in no effort for almost 2 years due to low payout rates and poor health) I made $133.99 for Shutterstock and $13.20 with 123RF.
My pic of Bridal Veil Falls has been my best-selling image. As mentioned it's a destination shot so it is popular with online and printed articles about 'Things to do in the Waikato' etc. I also have a solo/lonely tree and a colourful hot air balloon that also do ok.
Outside of stock, I have sold calendars using my pics a couple of times which was definitely worth while and I have giftware items for sale on Society6 but again, with no input in a couple of years sales are anything but through the roof!
How do you know which photos to upload for sale, what are buyers looking for?
My working career was primarily as a graphic designer so I developed a natural tendency to compose my pics with a single dominant subject using 'rule of thirds' negative space. This way the user of the image can either crop into the subject, or as a spread overlaying text on the negative space. A clear focal area and crisp focus are also a must as publishers need to maintain their reputation and professionalism.
Have you noticed changes in the industry in recent years?
Absolutely. During the initial COVID-19 lockdown, Shutterstock had a remuneration review and not surprisingly the contributor remuneration per download dropped drastically, i.e. A 'Subscription' download dropped from 25cents (U.S) to 10cents per download. This was an insult and kick in the teeth to me as a photographer. Shutterstock does have other download types that obtain a higher payout but these are seldom achieved. I have not bothered to make any uploads to their platform since that time - about 18months.
What do you like about Excio’s image library?
The recent development and release of Excio's unique PhotoTokens system have given hope and a huge lung full of fresh air to this industry. The ownership and sale of the PhotoToken assets will give rewarding remunerations to photographers, whilst still offering a competitive deal for image buyers. It is great to be part of a community-based platform where all contributors are allies rather than competitors and I'm impressed with the quality and variety of imagery. Also, Excio's commitment to supporting nonprofit charitable organisations is an excellent bonus!
Would you recommend other photographers try to sell their images?
I would not discourage anybody from doing anything they were considering giving a go... especially if it's to do with photography!
In my case, submitting images to stock photo libraries is secondary to the reason why I take photographs, so I feel I have nothing to lose other than the time it takes to upload.
However, I believe anybody wishing to sell their images this way as a primary income source would need to make it more than a full-time effort. This is due to the amount of competition, low remuneration, the time needed to research current trends, etc.
What are your plans for the future in regards to selling your images?
Thanks to an operation last year, my health is improving, and now, having just reviewed my submitted images to Excio’s image library, I feel invigorated to pick up where I dropped off a couple of years ago - that is a want to earn some passive income from this hobby that I can't live without!