Why stock photography is not a hobby

Okay, so it's been a while since my last post and, if you recall, my last DT blog was fairly negative in calling out people who do not pay for using stock images. That I'm afraid is a perennial problem, which isn't likely to go away any time soon. And anyway, I like to think that my posts are more about helping and entertaining people than moaning about stuff I can't control! So, with that in mind, I wanted to write a short piece on stock photography. It's something I've wanted to write for a while now, but life just kept on getting in the way and my creativity hit a brick wall!

Brick Wall Background

I got into stock photography just over a year ago now. At the time, I remember thinking it would be a good way to develop my skills as a photographer and maybe even earn a bit of pocket money at the same time. Both of these things I'm glad to say are true. When I look back at some of my old images--photos I thought were true masterpieces *err cough*--I get a creeping, cringing feeling shuddering through my bones. And then I laugh at myself...a lot! I like to think that my skills have come a long way in a relatively short space of time. I've learnt a lot, which I'll share with you in future posts. I've also had some measured success in sales (perhaps I shouldn't mention that this has primarily been elsewhere!).

Coin Collection

When I started uploading my photos to DT, I never really thought of it as anything more than a hobby that might one day pay for itself. Perhaps many of you hold the same humble ambition. Fair enough. But you shouldn't think like that. Not if you actually want to earn money from your hobby. Rather than uploading every snap you take because you think it's pretty, or you're just happy it's in focus, it would be best to sit back and try to think like a buyer before you even pick up your camera. Sure your photo might be aesthetically pleasing. But what purpose does it serve?

Emu Bird Large Close Up Head Face Vertical

Don't get me wrong, I've uploaded my fair share of hopeful snaps. Just check out my portfolio here to see that for yourself. But more recently I've been trying to think about who might buy my photos and what they might be used for. My photography and my workflow are evolving as I'm learning more about myself, my limitations and the stock photography business. The most important thing I've come to realize is that even though I squeeze in my hobby--my photography--around my 'proper' job and family, it doesn't make it any less of a business enterprise.

Carpentry Tools Wood Work Project

Now when I have a spare 5 minutes, I don't just grab my camera and run out the door with no idea of what I'm hoping to shoot. Like most of you, I have very little free time, and so it is crucial that I use the time I do have effectively. Rather than taking a haphazard approach to stock photography, and wasting time in the field, I think of a concept that I'd like to create. It might mean that I take less photos, but the ones I do take are all the better for it.

Luggage Suitcases Platform Baggage Vintage

For me, stock photography is a learning journey; not necessarily about getting the right camera settings or best composition, those lessons are best learnt on image sharing sites. The journey is more about learning how to manage my own enterprise. My own business. It might be small now, but it's growing. I know that most of you who will read this are also hoping that your hobby will become a profitable one. You might not admit it to yourself yet. But the sooner you treat stock photography as a business, the quicker you'll improve and the greater the chances of increasing your sales will become.

As always, thanks for reading :)

Photo credits: Jennifer Jordan.

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June 29, 2016

Carlosrojas20

i agree with you!

June 29, 2016

Photographycornwall

Hi Jennifer / Qiwoman01 glad you enjoyed the post!

June 29, 2016

Qiwoman01

Thank you, Jennifer! Well said and very true!

Jennifer

June 15, 2016

Photographycornwall

Thanks so much for your kind words Deming9120 so glad you liked the article and my portfolio :)

June 15, 2016

Deming9120

Outstanding portfolio and great tips!!!

June 11, 2016

Photographycornwall

Thanks so much Saulute123! The suitcase image is one of my favorites...for now at least :)

June 08, 2016

Saulute123

Very good article! I love photo with suitcases :)

June 07, 2016

Photographycornwall

Thanks Generalul2015 - glad you liked it :)

June 07, 2016

Photographycornwall

Thank you so much for your positive words Mengtianhan - I do appreciate it!

June 07, 2016

Photostock2015

nice article

June 06, 2016

Mengtianhan

Very seriously read your BLOG, and other people's comments, do not know that there is no honor and you become friends, you are very serious, I want to learn from you!

June 05, 2016

Photographycornwall

Hey, thanks Keremgo! Glad you liked it and thanks for the follow on Twitter - always nuce to connect with other D-Timers :)

June 05, 2016

Photographycornwall

Thanks for commenting Debora @Epicmagnagraecias. I'm sorry I missed your blog post :-/

June 05, 2016

Keremgo

Great article - many thanks for sharing your enlightening thoughts.

June 05, 2016

Epicmagnagraecias

I had written something similar although I don't think there's a way to learn how to improve if you don't upload and you get refused with good reasons for. A business is a regular earning and stock photography could not be this on a huge agency with more than 10 million users... anyway I agree with you it is a good way to improve.

June 04, 2016

Photographycornwall

Thanks for your comments Pamjreynolds - I wish you the best of luck!

June 04, 2016

Photographycornwall

Hi Rhbabiak13 - glad you liked my post. I wouldn't want to sway your decision either way. It certainly looks like those who opt to be exclusive with DT sell more images, but I guess that should be expected in return for contributor loyalty. I haven't sold much with DT, but then again I haven't put as much effort in here as I have elsewhere...yet! I'd be interested to know what you decision is :)

June 04, 2016

Photographycornwall

Thanks Felzum - glad you liked the post!

June 03, 2016

Pamjreynolds

Food for thought there Jennifer, many thanks

June 02, 2016

Rhbabiak13

Very encouraging! Thanks for writing. Still trying to decide if it's worth it to be exclusive with just Dreamstime. Your post makes me wonder.

June 01, 2016

Felzum

Hi,

Thanks for share your experience in DT. Its a great article. Starting your own business is a great way to control your financial situation. With DT when we open the DT account we Start an Online Microbusiness.

Thanks

June 01, 2016

Photographycornwall

Thanks Rickdeacon glad you liked it :)

June 01, 2016

Photographycornwall

Thanks Bjfirestorm :)

June 01, 2016

Photographycornwall

Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment Stan020. Your point, though, does indeed back up what I've said in the blog post. The images that you've uploaded to DT are not just snaps - they all have a concept, a use or a message open to interpretation. Even better, you're utilizing new technology which buyers are crying out for: namely authentic "iphone" type images. So you are subconsciously (if not consciously) taking photos with a buyer in mind. I'd say that makes you an excellent stock photographer, which is why your sales are good :)

June 01, 2016

Photographycornwall

Thanks Cammeraydave :)

June 01, 2016

Rickdeacon

Nice article, and finally a blog that actually has some writing in it rather than just a bunch of images

June 01, 2016

Bjfirestorm

Thank you! Good info.

June 01, 2016

Stan020

Well I do a lot of Point and shoot with my smart phone lately..... That is in that short 5 minutes.....(soms also dedicated shooting sessions). And guess what , lots of sales in the stock market overall..... so the numbers and figures do not match your ideas....I do like it when i am in the dedicated modus though....But it doesnt matter for my sales numbers....

May 31, 2016

Cammeraydave

Well Said !

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