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FAQ

 You can find answers for your Frequently Asked Questions about Stock Photography. If you have more questions for this FAQ, please let me know.

What is microstock (or stock photography)? 

The main article provides a detailed answer to this question. Let us briefly repeat the key points: 
Stock photo agencies (also microstocks or simply stocks) are special sites where everybody can sell their photographs and illustrations. 
Registration at these sites is free and quick (you may need a document like passport). 
Investment in this business are minimal, especially if you have already a good camera and some photos or you're already familiar with Adobe Illustrator or 3D software. 
You upload your images, they are checked and come up for sale. 
For each work sold, your account receives some money, which you can then convert into cash.

How much can you earn on stock photography? 

You can earn from a few dozen to a million dollars per year or more (check the example of Yuri Arcurs http://www.microstockdiaries.com/yuri-arcurs.html). Of course the income depends on a lot of factors. One of the most important is the number of photos in your portfolio and frequency of uploads. To be more specific I can give an approximate amount for a hypothetical average stock photography submitter. This is $1000 per 1000 photos in your portfolio per month with weekly upload of about 50 new photos. Of course, this income will appear after some monthes of work with microstocks. Lots of people are disappointed with relatively low earnings because they wait for immediate profit. It would be a little bit strange to expect a serious income uploading a few dozen works to some minor stock photo agency. So I can give some advice - try different directions, examine examples of successful stocker, be more flexible and more active - and you will be able to receive such income, which you consider necessary. 

Is it difficult to start working with stock photography? 

The correct answer is no. It is very simple. First you will need to spend 15-30 minutes to register for 2-3 photo stock agencies (for example, Dreamstime, Fotolia, Shutterstock). The registration process is described in the article. Then process some photos and send them to look at the results (will they be accepted or not, will they sell or not). At the same time you can read some articles and resources about stock photography. Sign up for other important agencies. 

Can I sell the same work on different stock photo agencies? 

Yes. If you do not sing any agreement of exclusivity, you can upload your portfolio to all profitable photo stock agencies at the same time. So you can earn more.

Can I work with microstocks using a cheap compact camera? 

Yes, actually you can try. Many photographers started to work with stock photography using very inexpensive cameras like the Canon PowerShot or Nikon Coolpix, and they could even manage to earn enough money for buying some more serious equipment like DSLR cameras and good light. But you should remember that you will be limited in capabilities compared to the DSLR's (like Canon 500D) and therefore you probably will have more rejects because of the image quality. Compact cameras generally use very small sensors, which lead to stronger noise, even at the minimum ISO. Also, the optics quality will be quite average and many compact cameras don’t provide users with RAW format (which offers great opportunities for photo processing). 

What camera (with the price less than $1000) would be better to buy for the stock photography? 

You can look at the new entry-level SLR cameras - Nikon D5000 and Canon 500D. Nikon has a great sensor, the same as in more expensive 300D, 90D. It is possible to capture video, which also will be useful (yes, stock photography agencies sell videos as well!). Canon uses the same matrix as in the 50D and it also has video. You will start with the kit lens (18-55mm) and then purchase a better lens. 
You can also buy a camera from the previous generation (Canon 450D or Nikon D60), it will be less expensive. You’ll be able to spend a little more for a good lens like a 50/1.4 or for a cheap macro lens. 
Of the minuses entry-level DSLRs - ergonomics (the big arm can go bad), low "rate. In the pros the price and weight. 
Even more serious could be saved if you buy used phototechnics - you can find the camera a higher level (eg, Canon 40D or Nikon D200), enough for a macro lens. 
I recommend this site. 
When purchasing be sure to check the camera and lens. 

What subjects should I shoot for stock photography agencies? 

Please look at the page Portfolio or just visit any microstocks and examine the top sellers. 
Briefly the most common subjects are: 
different objects isolated on white (fruits, vegetables, office stuff, water, flowers, tools, sport equipment)
landscapes (famous world sightseeings, beautiful beaches, mountains, forests, meadows, hills, deserts) 
textures (cloudy sky, grass, walls, water)
people (happy smiling people, beautiful women, businessmen, working people)
vector and 3D images

I passed the exam on Shutterstock but my portfolio is still empty 

Just wait until your images will be indexed. This process can take some days. First of all images appear in Newest First, and only then - in the Most Popular. Change the type of sorting in the top drop-down list View. Later your images will be able to be searched by keywords. 

What is on demand and how it differs from the subscription sale? 

On Demand (Demand, also) - the type of sales at Shutterstock. It can brig from $ 0.81 to $ 2.85 depending on the resolution and submitters level. In fact, it is also a kind of small subscription, but the buyer can download photos when he wants, with no restrictions on the number of purchases per day, without the risk of "burning" limit. Look here. Shopping on Demand, it is more expensive than ordinary subscription, they occur less frequently. 
Sales by subscription - the type of sales. Analogy - cheaper by the dozen. The buyer pays a certain amount (per month, per year) and can download daily a limited amount of work. For example, 25 images of any resolution per day (Shutterstock). The buyer may not fully use all the limit. Submitters receive small fee (from 25 to 39 cents on Shutterstock) regardless of the image size. 

What is an extended license? 

Enhanced (Enhanced license, ED) - the type of sales with enhanced rights (eg, use of for thousands of print, web templates, etc.) to the buyer, while maintaining full rights to the work of the author. It brings a lot of money (for example $ 28 for each sale of this type at Shutterstock), but it happens quite rarely 

What is batch and reject? 

Batch - party, series. Often, for convenience and saving time submitter process upload images by batches from 2 to 100 (sometimes more) photos. You should put different images (no more than 2-3 of the same series) into one batch because if not inspector can reject photos for the repetition and similarity. 
Reject – if your image doesn’t match the requirements (quality, content, lack of model release, etc.) inspector can reject it.

What are BDE, BME and BM? 

BME and BDE - abbreviations Best Day Ever and Best Month Ever - the best day (or month, respectively) on the number of sales or the amount of earned money. 
Bestmatch (BM) - the sorting algorithm for image search. Those pictures that best match the search query will be on the front pages of results and will be better sold. Periodically stock photo agencies "improve" algorithms and change the order in the search results. 

How to convert your earnings to cash and withdraw money from the stock? 

There are several ways. All the major photo stocks support payment system PayPal and Moneybookers (MB), as well as payment by check. 
How to work with MB? 
1. Go to Moneybookers.com. 
2. Read the instructions, articles and sign up. 
3. You should have a Visa Classic card and a bank account 
4. Verify your address, card and bank account in Moneybookers. 
5. Enter your Moneybookers address into photo stock agencies accounts. You can start working. 
6. When you receive money to Moneybookers you can withdraw them to your bank account or to the plastic card and get cash from the nearest ATM.

 

© 2009 Microphotostocker