Its been 7 years and a week to be precise that my journey in stock photography started. It has been with success, failures, saturation and probably a rebirth of me as a photographer in the end. There were moments of celebration where there were ocassional SR-EL or EL sales and also the frowns of subscription sales and low RPD months. What probably was an additional source of income came close to become a secondary source of serious income and stayed that way for quite long. Had I concentrated more and continued with the same pace and vigour, stock photography might have ended up becoming my primary source of income.
Before starting stock I wasn't a serious photographer but surely was a good one. Being an artist its kinda not hard to get into any kind of creative stuff. I owned a simple Nikon F55 SLR and was happy with it. I casually joined stock when I found I could actually earn from my photography. Wasn't looking at it as a main source of income but more as a quest for myself. I thought maybe if my photography gets approved and going beyond that 'gets sold' , it will mean that I am a good photographer. Scanning pics and submitting them proved to be a disaster!! There was a lot of loss in quality and other aspects since high-end scanners would cost a lot more, not worth for a hobby.
Times changed and moved to digital. A very basic camera from Canon called Powershot A410 at 3.2 MP. Sounds too less now, but was quite decent for me in those days. Rather, the best selling shots even today happen to be from those camera. I was basically a very artistic photographer back then I feel. I didn't limit my creativity when clicking pictures. A good image was priority than sales. After a little success in getting good sales I bough a Canon S3 IS. Uh ummm more success. Eventually I was one of the best selling contributors from India, but something was bothering me. I was thinking of money and salability of the photograph before clicking it. My creativity was taking a backseat and businessman was riding the camera.
I started to notice isolated photos with white/black backgrounds. I was jealous at their number of sales and started to use softwares to isolate my objects from pictures with a white background with little success. I realized that it’s a very crude method. I thought of it and then decided that the better way to go ahead was not just with a D-SLR but with some basic studio equipment as well. I bought a D-SLR first and after a year studio equipment. Yahoooooooo! More success.... and maybe err.. temporary sales.
5 years down the line after joining this industry as a contributor I realized that my creativity and enthusiasm in photography was almost dead if not completely dead. There was a 911 call from the artist within me to wake up and do something about it. My creativity being rusted in some area of the gray cells was bothersome. That’s when I decided to take a major break. I stopped shooting completely. No stock... no casual shots.... nothing. I needed to blank out of the space of photography to really get back into clicking for artistic satisfaction instead of money. I was convinced that it was this artistic side which will bring back not just a difference in my photography but also good sales. also its important to know that by 2011, the stock in the stock photography agencies was heavily saturated with same concepts, same images and sometimes also same kind of people. Something new was needed and is needed.
Now here I am after 7 years. With a two years break before this moment. My lovely son Aum was born which obviously triggered a frantic effort of clicking his images. I overdid it!! Something like 20 DVDs in 6 months. First time parenting is hard but also teaching. Also comes a lot of responsibility in raising the child and also raising more money for it. So there I go, have to starts shoot again with the businessman in the backseat and artist in the driver's seat. Have to start slow n' steady. I am sure that creativity will give me more sales. But there is one more important thing. Technical requirements like less noise, good contrast n' colors and fascinating new concepts are the most important things in stock. Trending topics and products also are very important considering editorial images now being accepted now.
For those who added me as their favorite photographer, I am sorry that didn't keep up to your expectations in last 2 years. Now I am in the process of clearing out some stock, but soon will be flooding the agencies with new images.... which surely/definitely won't include my son's images. Another important lesson I learnt about having friends/relatives images in here, its better to pay models and have those. Maybe will go for more objects, life (street life) and yeah some creative stuff but not with studio lights. I probably got turned off more because of setups. I prefer what happens naturally and quickly. Also I prefer using Canon SX50 to carry around and shoot instead of a DSLR. This gives more flexibility to click events if they suddenly unfold infront of you, because these become the best sellers. By the time you take you and SLR, focus, frame, etc, the situation changes or your unsuspected subject start suspecting you.
I owe a lot of success in here to Dreamstime. Its not only the first agency I submitted to but also the only agency that I interact with in friendly terms. The team is not just efficient but also humanly, a quality that I respect and consider the most important in todays world. A special thanks to Serban Enache who started this agency, Carmen Pietraru who has always been very polite and patient with my silly queries, SID to TECHIE who can handle any technical stuff, Erin who has always been quick to respond to my MAYDAY requests for my own images, and many more whom I haven't been intereacting or rather bothering so frequently. I wish all other contributors here with a lot of success and a lot of sales. Hope you learn something from my experiences or what I shared. They might not seem right to everyone, but I just felt that it would be good in sharing what worked for me!!
Just as an ending note to inspire fellow contributors struggling with sales... for my record in 7 years I've had on average 4500 or more uploads with only around 3500 due to 1000 photos removed on models requests and also non-saleability. I have sold more than 12,800 photos on DT itself and earned $21,300. No point in mentioning other agencies you can average it out. I don't know if these stats of mine are inspiring or disheartening but might be useful for your calculations from my portfolio. God Bless!
Photo credits: , Nikhil Gangavane.