Monday, September 15, 2008

Stock images worth money

As of late I have been so very busy that the time allocated for shooting stock images has shrunk to almost zero. I do enjoy the mindset of being busy, but I also enjoy aimlessly wandering around with my camera. Some questions that often arise (from others and myself) about the world of stock photography are as follows. What images are good for stock website sales? What makes for a popular stock image versus a profitable stock image? Which website should I use to market and sell my stock images? How much can you plan on making with stock photography websites?
To begin, let me say that stock image websites look at your submitted images very closely. They quickly decide if the image is actually marketable, well for their site anyway. If it passes that first test then they blow it up very large to see if there is too much noise in the image. They also look for the "tell tale" sensor dots caused by a dirty sensor on your digital camera. The submitted image must be a certain size, too, usually about 2 to 4 Megs worth of information is required. Each of the different stock websites list their own requirements. Make sure that you try hard to resist over editing, or putting vignettes on your submitted images as they frown on that. The stock websites feel that the folks that purchase the images are the ones that should decide weather to put (or not put) a vingette on an image that they have purchased. That's O.K., as it means less work for us.
O.K., so you took a great image that you believe is marketable in the stock industry. Before submitting it to one of the many stock websites, you must do some quick work in Photoshop. First, color correct the digital images that you would like to upload to a stock website. All digital images need to be color corrected to some degree, without exception. Color correction is a concept that I could not fully grasp until I watched Vincent Versace doing it in one of his famous Photoshop tutorials. You can find these tutorials here.

Here is the difference color correction can make.

Next, perhaps a fast crop or image re-size is needed. I like to apply a little noise reduction before I upload an image. This way it will be less likely to fail the first time out. There is software that I highly recommended in order to remove noise. The one that I have found to be the fastest, and the best in practice, is "Noise Ninja". You can find it here. I was turned on to Noise Ninja by an image submitting "team" for one of the large stock websites.
Then you are ready to upload your new stock ready image to a world wide website. Let's go through what that entails. First there is sighing up, or joining one of these monsters. You simply request membership under the title of a "contributing photographer". Fill out each of the blanks that are provided. They must know who you are in order to one day send you a check.
Most sites ask that you submit several images to them, for review, in order to see if your work is up to their standards. Do not worry about this, consider it a great test, and a challenge! Most of the time they like what they see, if they are truly stock images, and within several days the "congratulatory" email comes in. Then it is time to flood the "Web-Waves" by uploading your stock images to this website.
These images go through the same examination, and when they are accepted they will send a separate email to notify you. Then, the accepted images go into your portfolio, located on the stock website. After you have "logged in and pass worded in", you can review your stock images in your new portfolio. However, I have purposely skipped a step of the process.
I wanted you to get excited before I added more work. You must decide on one more thing before you even start the next process. That is how to market and sell the stock images that you have worked so hard on. Do you want to submit the images "exclusively" on only one stock website, or submit them onto many different stock websites? My advice is to choose a popular stock website, and then submit your images exclusively to that one site. You get paid more with each download with "exclusive rights", because the purchaser knows that it is an unique image found only on that one website. Placing the same images on several different stock sites may be your way to go, too, as to market it to the most folks as possible. You will get allot less per upload that way, but perhaps more uploads all together.
As the processes of uploading your images unfold, you will be required to title the images, give a description of the images, and type out some "Keywords" that define them, or that you might type into a search if you were to locate your image. An example for some keywords for the dog image (above) might be "fetch, health, exercise, ocean, play" and so on. You will also be asked to select several categories for your images. For the dog image above I might choose "pets", next I would try "health and fitness" and last of all I might select "animals". These help folks to find your image among the millions and millions of different stock images that these websites have in their inventory. Be creative and thorough with the "key wording". Pretend that you, yourself, might be the one searching for the exact same image that you are typing "keywords" for. Also, it helps to think of the current trends while "key wording". For example, if your image is of a wind mill power generating farm, you might use the words "green, alternative, energy, and source".
The last thing to do is wait. Most images sell between the hours of business, Monday through Friday, as businesses are open and looking to use the images that you have supplied. They will use them for many reasons. They might need them for a presentation, a handout, or even for a project that will be seen by lots of people. If your image is of stock quality, it will start selling.
This brings us to the next idea. That idea is "usage rights". What is the image that you up-loaded going to be allowed to be used for? You can check off the different "usage rights" as you upload and key word the different images that you want to sell. I like to allow the stock websites to do as much as possible with my images, as to get the most money out of them. I also allow people to buy the image out right, if they so desire.
Last of all I would like to share with you the potentials of stock image selling. The "hot markets" are reportedly the medical fields and the business world. Images of persons working in the hospitals of the world, or perhaps on ambulances are gold. That is what I am led to believe. Also, unique images of an offices' cube farm, or "suits" on escalators are often currently in demand. I stick to what I know. I am still a beginner at this world of stock photography, but my images are doing O.K. I love music, so that is what I photograph. My advice would to start with what you know the most about, and what you are passionate about. Photograph the dickens out of those topics. After you get your feet wet, move on to the more popular, in demand stocks.
Their are folks that make thousands and thousands of dollars every year in stock photography. They sell their images on stock image websites, and they have done very well at it. To see some of the most selling images on a website, set the search tab to "most popular" after you have typed in the desired topic of a search. They will list in order from most downloaded to least downloaded. Simply spending time looking at these sorts of ideas can actually hone your skills, and save you years of time and work, by letting you know what direction to move towards.
Most of all, have some fun!
See you next time! Feel free to subscribe to my blog! That way you will not miss anything!

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