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The-“Business”-of-Stock-Photography

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					The “Business” of Stock Photography

Sometimes we associate stock photography with some negative concepts such
as the photos you see in frames that are on sale at a department store or
the photo that comes in a new wallet. Sure, those images did come from a
stock photography library but there is so much more to stock photography
than that.

You can put a lot of creative energy into building a solid stock
photography library that will draw customers who need these images and
like your creative eye. Really, if you think about it, stock photography
is no different from doing a shoot for a customer. It’s just that you
are taking the photos in advance of finding the customer and you can sell
the same stock photo a multitude of times. And that last part is what
makes running a stock photography service a lucrative business to
operate.

The demand for stock photography is ongoing and increasing. But in the
economic “model” of any marketplace, supply is as important as demand.
So to compete for business you need a good, diverse supply. That means
your first step in building your stock photography business is to build
the “stock”. In this situation, quantity counts.

When you start entertaining customers, you want to be able to show them a
strong catalog not only of many genres of stock photos but of a good
variety of photos for each genre. So if the buyer is looking for floral
shots, you don’t just have three or four stock photos in that category.
You should have dozens for them to pick from. By building a large
collection, you vastly increase your chances of making a sale with each
customer you entertain.

Don’t think that taking stock photos takes the creativity out of the
process. In fact, the opposite is true. Really great stock photography
screams personality, even if it’s just an assortment of floral scenes you
are taking. The buyer is looking for a photo that seems to have a story
to it, that draws the eye and makes the viewer want to ponder the meaning
of that photo.

Sounds a bit like art photography, doesn’t it? Well, in a way, it is.
Just because you are selling the photo as part of your stock collection,
doesn’t lower the artistic value of what you are doing. And if your art
is going out the door to be used by a customer, it is still being seen by
people who will reflect on what you are trying to say with that photo.
So to you, the photographer, your artistic calling is satisfied and you
have a nice chuck of change in your pocket to boot.

Along with building a strong portfolio of quality pictures of each
category, make your categories as diverse as possible. View other stock
collections and gather ideas for the genres they have represented and of
the diversity of shots and settings they have included in their
collection. You are not plagiarizing other photographers work if you are
letting them inspire you to do your best work.
A good discipline to build your stock photography gallery is to take a
day each week and go out and build one category of stock photos all day
long. So you may do floral shots all day one week, photos of automobiles
the next and pictures of college students the next.

Now don’t forget to get your releases signed if you use human subjects.
Even if you just hang out on a college campus and talk students into
posing for stock photos. Be sure you pay them something for their work
and get a release. In that way if their picture ends up in some very
public setting because of how a customer uses it, you are protected from
them coming back with their palm up wanting more.

Finally, trust your instincts on what to include in your gallery. Your
artistic “eye” for what you like is probably pretty reliable and will
reflect what interests your customers. Once the gallery is built, then
you can go about the “business” of putting together a physical catalog to
sell from. And don’t forget the option of building an online gallery to
sell from. You will need some technical help to get your site up and
learning how to sell from it and collect money that way. But this can be
a great expansion of your successful and growing stock photography
business.

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posted:8/6/2012
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