Happy summer to you!  I’ve been off on vacation for a few weeks, so it’s been kind of quiet around here.  When I started going through the huge stack of mail upon our return, I found this month’s issue of Popular Photography, and there in the upper corner of the cover was one of my stock images.

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While being on the cover was a surprise, the article it was referring to certainly wasn’t.  I had interviewed with a Popular Photography editor a few months ago about how I saw the current state of the stock industry.  They came to me looking for comment, most likely because I was one of several microstock photographers they interviewed back in 2006.  You can find that older article online at this link.  Other industry people, like Lee Torrens from Microstock Diaries, have input in the new article.

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Obviously, some things have changed since then, the biggest thing for me, mentioned in the article, was the “parting of ways” with iStockphoto, an event detailed back in this article on my blog.   As I said in the article, “contributors are tired of agencies making deals that only benefit themselves”, and an element of that “parting of ways” was my disagreement with the giveaway deal Getty Images inked with Google, laid out in this blog posting.

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That isn’t the only “deal” that has contributors outraged lately.   There’s the “free images” deal from Getty, some aren’t happy with.  There’s Fotolia’s creation of “The Dollar Photo Club”, which can be read about on MicrostockGroup forums.  It was noticed that DepositPhotos has a “subscription” program for one month that pays pennies to the contributor while putting almost $10 in the pocket of the company.  You can read a good post about some more of these “unfair trade” deals at Jo Anne Snover’s blog: http://www.digitalbristles.com/we-still-need-fair-trade/

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One of the other things that has changed since 2006, as I mentioned in the article, is the huge influx of contributors and images.  Frankly, I almost hate to browse through content at the various sites, because it is quite overwhelming how much competition is out there, and how good it is.  One thing I had told the interviewer was that the easy money from shooting random objects or concepts on a white background is gone.  There’s still a bit of cash to be had, but more success can be found by being original and not trying to sell as cheaply as possible.  Niche is where it’s at, and if you have a good one, and can find the right place to market your work, you’ll be successful.  That’s one of the reasons that Stocksy United is seeing growth while reports from other places sound very dismal.  MichaelJayPhoto has a good article on whether you’ll find success with your photography in the “stock market” : http://www.michaeljayfoto.com/beginners-guide/how-to-make-200-from-shutterstock-istockphoto-or-fotolia/

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One other thing the article talks about is marketing your work yourself.  I had mentioned to the editor that I also license my work through a hosted site at Photoshelter, as well as through a Symbiostock implementation on my own website.  The problem is, of course, getting eyeballs to those sources.  That’s where social media (free) and targeted advertising (paid) can be a real help.  Some traffic will come organically from Google or other engines, but you can certainly help yourself out by getting out into the world, socially.

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If you have any other questions about the article, feel free to leave them here.  I’m going to link to the images that were used in the article right below, in case anyone is looking for them.  Keep cool!

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stock photo: space shuttle atlantis

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stock photo: ballet dancer stretching

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stock photo: coloring easter eggs

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