The challenge of being successful stock photographer, is it possible?

Participant ,
Aug 23, 2021 Aug 23, 2021

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If someone wanted to do only stock photos, what would be the steps to be able to live from it 2021? Is there many who are living from stock photography? It feels like that for most of the photographers this just is an expensive hobby and then they get only little back of their own investmnets from these stock agencies. That's why I try to divide my question into sections. Kind of a checkpoints between your currecnt situation and the final goal. 

CP 1.
Be able to earn back the costs of taking photos or doing images or videos by other ways. Sometimes you need to travel to your photography destinations, which sometimes costs something. Also you are a subscriber of CC and you wanna earn at least 10$ monthly to be able to pay Adobe photoshop and Lightroom. 
Side note: I myself decided that I don't wanna subscribe to CC before I can at least earn that 10 $ monthly, because it would just endlessly add into that cost of this hobby without me being able to earn anything  from it. So I bought Affinity Photo. I know it's not as good as Photoshop, but if I cannot earn the CC price montlhy, then there is no point subscribing it. 

- Your next goal is to earn your camera gear price back by selling photos or other images in Adobe stock. You have an old camera body and some sort of a lens. Not the sharpest one, but okayish and some sort of a tripod. So, goal is to earn back in long term $ 1300 + additional 1000$ that you paid of your editing PC. 

- Your final goal is to earn minimum, 1000 $ monthly from Adobe Stock, to be able to pay your living costs and be able to eat something.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 24, 2021 Aug 24, 2021

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Unrealistic! To earn $1000/month means you have to sell over 3000 photos/month. To do this, you need alot of top photos that are in high demand. Several thousand contributors are competing agains you. You also have to earn your placement in the finalized search result listings. It is aq long hard way to go. Up to $50/month is reachable in the beginning. 

I too do not like the idea of subscriptions. But, most of the time I can offset these cost with offers and awards that Adobe offers.

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Participant ,
Aug 24, 2021 Aug 24, 2021

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Thank you for the clarification. That's also what I was afraid of after doing few months of hard work with this thing.

It sadly makes this whole micro stock business model feel to be a little scam, because we are in an impossible situation. We have to do unrealistic investments to be able to earn only very little of those back. Also, doing quality graphical work takes lots of hours to be made, so our hourly wages from that work will become awfully low. 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 24, 2021 Aug 24, 2021

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It sadly makes this whole micro stock business model feel to be a little scam,


By @aartturi

It looks like you need to look at the definition of the word "scam": https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/scam

 

To be a successful stock shooter living only from this, you will need a huge database of high-quality pictures and contribute to many stock vendors. If you want to do photography for a living, get paying customers and contribute as a side effect to stock.

 

As for the tools you use, if you take a subscription or not, that is up to you. I am a long-term Adobe Photoshop user, and I can confirm that the $10/month subscription for Photoshop and Lightroom are currently bargains. Also, subscribing to the all-apps is a bargain compared to the old model where you paid the software and did regularly updates.

 

The times when you could get rich from stock photography are long gone. You need different resources and stock may be one of them.

ABAMBO | Hard- and Software Engineer | Photographer

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Participant ,
Aug 24, 2021 Aug 24, 2021

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Yeah, I didn't mean the "scam" in it's literal form. I was talking about something that might look very good at first glance and the negative sides of it maybe are not being talked very much. So when someone test it themselves, they realize that the impressions they had, maybe from marketing etc. are maybe not as realistic as they  believed.
It's hard to imagine in what scale this business runs, but I believe quite big amount of new people join monthly and upload something here. Later they see that no one is buying the photos which they used to be proud of. 

Sorry for not being very clear with this. I'm not native English speaker, so I do speak little broken English. 

I used to be master collection subscriber, but I had to stop it, because I realized that in my current situation it's not worth it. I would of course subscribe again if I first figured something where I could use those tools without it being net negative.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 24, 2021 Aug 24, 2021

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quoteI'm not native English speaker,(...)
By @aartturi

Neither am I.

 

Your business model should be built on being a photographer and not a stock photographer. If you have other resources, you can do stock photography as an add-on.

ABAMBO | Hard- and Software Engineer | Photographer

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LEGEND ,
Aug 24, 2021 Aug 24, 2021

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I would say that your equations are not typical. To be successful as a stock photographer, it helps if you are already a commercial photographer, or at least photographer with commercial experience. A keen persistent amateur may also succeed (by some definition of success). But these are people who are, by definition, already keen or professional photographers, already doing the job. Such people will already have invested in equipment, will already have suitable software. They do not have to cover the costs you mention because they are already incurring/have already incurred them.

 

Adobe aren't under any obligation to make their stock outlet a complete viable career, covering both setup costs for a newcomer and living expenses, any more than a supermarket is (for example) obliged to cover someone who wants to be an apple grower for their costs of buying land, planting, waiting 5 years, harvesting, etc. etc. Their obligation is to their customers and shareholders; this obligation implies - like almost all big business - squeezing their suppliers. Many suppliers go out of business, but that's not a problem so long as a sufficient number remain supplying. When the supply can't be satisfied, they will look at paying more to suppliers. I don't say this is a good thing, but it's well to understand that this is how things are, whether you are supplying photography or apples.

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Participant ,
Aug 24, 2021 Aug 24, 2021

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It kind of makes sense, but if you are a commercial photographer, it's hard to see many real reasons to start fighting of cents in places like micro stock websites, expect if you are in quite desperate situation. Not getting clients or something. Or if you did, that probably happened years ago. 

Some people might have because of some reasons already a library of thousands of photos their own that they are allowed to upload here.Still it feels quite big leap of faith to actually start uploading those all here.

I think many "big names" of this business started as amateurs, maybe around 10 years ago when this was way less competitive and easier to get started. During these years they might have gathered huge libraries.

I agree very much with you about those shareholders etc. Those are of course the people they want to please. In fact, for the stock website owner it mignt be good situation if everyone in their suplly chain just uploads only some good quality photos and then never earns enough to get their money out from the system, so that money could also be used for something else. 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 25, 2021 Aug 25, 2021

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I think many "big names" of this business started as amateurs, maybe around 10 years ago when this was way less competitive and easier to get started. During these years they might have gathered huge libraries.


By @aartturi

There are no big names in stock photography.

ABAMBO | Hard- and Software Engineer | Photographer

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Participant ,
Aug 25, 2021 Aug 25, 2021

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There are contributors who sell more than some other contributors.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 25, 2021 Aug 25, 2021

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Yes. You'll see them in your contributor account.

ABAMBO | Hard- and Software Engineer | Photographer

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 24, 2021 Aug 24, 2021

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Don't quit your day/night job.  Stock is a side-hustle  -- an ancillary way to earn extra income from photos you have on hand or will have in the future.  I would not hang my hat on Stock as a means of earning a living, however.  You'll make more as an Uber driver.

 

Nancy O'Shea, Adobe Product User & Community Professional
Alt-Web Design & Publishing ~ Web : Print : Graphics : Media

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Participant ,
Aug 24, 2021 Aug 24, 2021

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That's little shame. It really makes very big part of all generic photography to be almost pointless excersice, of what is coming to work opportunities with that. 
And those which still are working as a career plan, such weddings and sports etc. are also having quite much competition. 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 25, 2021 Aug 25, 2021

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And those which still are working as a career plan, such weddings and sports etc. are also having quite much competition. 


By @aartturi

Competition is part of our life. And if you want to avoid chasing the customers, offer better service for less money than your competitors, than you should do a risk-less job. Get employed and let your boss chase the customers.

 

BTW, I would starve if I would need to earn my money as a stock photographer.

ABAMBO | Hard- and Software Engineer | Photographer

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Participant ,
Aug 25, 2021 Aug 25, 2021

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This is just my opinion, but I think making everything cheaper is not a proper marketing plan for our services. It's just undervaluing our own product and only a sign of the desperaton the photographers are in with. Of course I understand that people are tempted to lower their prices and "if I use worse tools and old car, maybe I can make it work" -type of calculations. And there certainly are "too many" photographers and designers. The CEO of one company where I used to work said "everybody are graphical designers". I think that was little bit an insult to graphical designers... 

In the end of that "lower the price" -road, there is the same problems as we are having with the stock photos.
Somebody always is ready to take the photos as a "hobby", for free, just like we are here uploading our work to these stock sites as a "hobby", to get some cents back. And then some other folks are uploading quite much similar photos for free to free stock sites where only the site owner earns from ads.
Adobe is trying to fight this with the same "tools", and part of their catalog is given away for free after they paid of those. 

I know some old news photographer whos been talking for years of where this industry is going.

If you are doing some work, it's completely okay to earn from it properly. And I think these stock agencies are going to wrong direction with ther "lower the price" -plans. I am quite much sure that very big amout of the buyers are designers themselves who are selling some products to their own clients.  Products like websites. So if the website costs, let's say 2000$, who cares if there is 5$ more to get some quality photo as a header? 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 26, 2021 Aug 26, 2021

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This is just my opinion, but I think making everything cheaper is not a proper marketing plan for our services.

============

All things being equal, Adobe Stock actually pays better royalties to contributors than most other stock houses. Your success will vary  depending on the quality & variety of your Stock portfolio.  To get more sales, you must commit to submitting more content in high-demand keyword categories.  Knowing what customers want is a big part of being a good Stock Photographer/Designer.

 

Good luck!

 

Nancy O'Shea, Adobe Product User & Community Professional
Alt-Web Design & Publishing ~ Web : Print : Graphics : Media

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Participant ,
Aug 26, 2021 Aug 26, 2021

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Yeah, I agree with that. I have an account in multiple sites and Adobe sales pay more than most of the other ones. I believe Adobe have put their analysts do some work to calcualte the max producing price for photos which the customers still are ready to pay in this kind of time we are living.

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