Does Anyone Sell Pictures?

39 replies
Just curious. I like taking pictures and I thought I could make a website and sell my pictures. Does anyone do this? Do you think it would be profitable?
#pictures #sell
  • Profile picture of the author Benny L
    check out shutterstock.com
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  • Profile picture of the author MartinPlatt
    iStockPhoto is where I get mine, yeah there are a few around.

    Having said this, the better pictures are the ones that look more natural, less posed or professional, less 'perfected', so there might be a market for that (not that I'm slighting your photography skills!)

    Or you could maybe do them to order, if you can get a reasonable turnaround time?

    They'd be unique at least, and if they're comparable in price, I'd certainly have a look.
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  • Profile picture of the author RusselRoy
    There are websites that you can download your photos to thier website where viewers can purchase copies of your pics. They pay a fee per download and you receive a royalty per download. Check out the following sites for more info.

    Stock Photos, Royalty-Free Images and Vectors - Shutterstock
    Royalty free images, photos, vectors and videos on Fotolia
    Stock Photos: Download Stock Photography And Royalty Free Images By Dreamstime
    Stock Photos, Royalty-Free Images & Vectors | Bigstock
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  • Profile picture of the author TimothyTorrents
    Thanks, but I was mainly wondering if anyone here sells their own pictures on their own websites and whether or not that would be profitable. I will check out those websites as well.
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    • Profile picture of the author cititoru
      Originally Posted by timbonitus View Post

      Thanks, but I was mainly wondering if anyone here sells their own pictures on their own websites and whether or not that would be profitable. I will check out those websites as well.
      It's pretty hard to sell them on your own website when the stock photo websites have millions of photos to choose from, where with your own website you coulddn't compete with them. BUT, as a graphic designer, I have stumble upon a couple of websites where the photographer was selling his/her pictures.
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      • Profile picture of the author Dave Espino
        You would need a TON of traffic to make this work and a loyal and growing fan following would help a lot, too.

        Unless you have some kind of specific niche that you can dominate AND are amazing at (and even then, people can likely find the photos they need on a stock photo site for less money) then I would be looking elsewhere for a business opportunity.

        Even adding your photos to a stock photo site would require hundreds (maybe thousands) of photos uploaded in order to make a full time income.

        On a similar, but slightly different note, I have a friend who has uploaded over ten thousand video clips to stock footage sites (and he is a great videographer) and is barely making a full time income. So it really is a numbers game - it can be done, but you have to go where the traffic ALREADY is.

        I hate to sound discouraging because that's not my nature - it's just not a very realistic proposition and I would hate for you to start something that will not bear enough fruit.

        How about creating an info-product about how to create quality images? Or a photography product for niche markets?

        Dave
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  • Profile picture of the author Karry
    Selling stock photography on your own website is a losing proposition. Even back in the "good old days" of stock photography, being listed with a stock agency was a better choice financially than selling on your own unless you were already a known entity.

    You can sell your photography as microstock through agencies. You have to apply with sample images to be accepted. Also, the images you submit have to meet specific technical criteria. You also need to follow the buying trends to supply the type of images that buyers want; otherwise, you won't make money.

    It was recently reported on Selling Stock that several of photographers who are the largest providers of microstock images said their revenues for 2012 were down by 25% to 30% compared to 2011. Based on current trends they expect revenues to be down 35% to 45% in 2013 compared to 2011.
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  • Profile picture of the author EfanBruder
    timbonitus,

    Selling as your own stock agency is pretty much out the window, I'm sorry to say. The market is flooded with cheap crap, 90% of your potential clients can't tell good photography from bad, and no one looks beyond microstock or the major stock agencies.

    Now, if you've got a few thousand solid photos, you can make some money through the major stock agencies, but virtually no one is making enough money to keep afloat through microstock, as most of the production has moved to poor, eastern european countries.

    As a photographer, your money-makers are weddings and high school seniors. I made a decent living on that alone working out of a basement in a town of under 10,000 people with no website and no traditional advertising. Babies & children are really only an option to stay-at-home-moms who have direct access to the children's mothers through play groups.

    It feels good to say that out loud! You get torn to shreds on photography forums when you mention it.

    The other option is the one I'm currently experimenting with: becoming a wall-art provider. I'm modeling my business on Peter Lik (Peter Lik USA - Fine Art Photographer and Luxury Photography) and having a bit of touch-and-go success. My systems are all over the map, and I'm having trouble profiling clients. If you want to see what I'm doing, I'm at Efan Bruder (NSFW)-- though expect major site overhauls in the next few days & weeks.

    I'm having a bit of a beer-summit with a couple of other photographers I'm friends with, as well as a gallery owner or two, and if anything comes of that, I'll be happy to keep you updated.
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  • Profile picture of the author MKCookins
    You can submit your photos to I stock photo and receive a commission anytime someone uses your picture.

    On your website - you have your links transfer your visitors to i stock and have them purchase it from there.
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  • Profile picture of the author NewRiseDigital
    Sell your photo's where the audience is, so stock libraries are your best outlet. I Discovered the FOAP app for the iPhone recently Foap (or look up foap on the iPhone App Store which is an app that lets you take pictures with your iPhone and upload them directly to a marketplace for sale instantly. It's a cool idea and another disruptive use of mobile...
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  • Profile picture of the author FostinWD
    photodune.com is another option
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  • Profile picture of the author TimothyTorrents
    Thanks for the responses! I guess I will forget about selling pictures for now.
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    • Profile picture of the author papeter
      Originally Posted by timbonitus View Post

      Thanks for the responses! I guess I will forget about selling pictures for now.
      Don't be influenced by the comments on this forum, yes they are all valid, but there is a spin on this. Read my post and do your due diligence. Just to tell you that I am currently working on an art-photo gallery website where I shall be selling pictures.
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  • Profile picture of the author Writer7
    You have several ready made options if you want to sell images as a small photo agency, best of them is Photoshelter (also Zenfolio, Smugmug, etc.) For around $10/month you have enough space for about 2000 images and e-commerce enabled site. But it is only a start - you wont make a single sale without establishing your own brand and massive marketing efforts.
    Photo agencies are divided - microstock (iStockphoto, Shutterstock, Fotolia, Dreamstock, ...) and macrostock (Alamy, AGE Fotostock, Corbis, Getty,...). The problem with both is a huge amount of time you need to prepare the images (post-production, cleaning, editing, retouching, adding metadata, etc.)
    As other already said, it is a numbers game - I have access on several forums and it is common for photographers who have 2-4k images to gross $150-$500 monthly (net is about half of that amount).
    If you spend your time and energy (but focused) on some other online business your income should be considerably better.
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  • Profile picture of the author HorseStall
    Starting your own site may be a bit of overkill there are a number of stock photo sites that let photographers sell their photos.

    Here are some you can try.
    My favorite stock photo website is Royalty Free Stock Photos

    stock photo directories:

    Royalty Free Photos for Web Design

    Another site list can be found here:
    Microstock Photos

    Goodluck
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    • Profile picture of the author papeter
      Where I live in the UK I have seen small photographic exhibitions held in our local library where local photographers show off their work. Prices seem quite high for prints...approx £75 for a medium size print. You can get £90 to £150 for a canvas photograph.

      Actually when you think about it, timbonitus's idea is quite sound. If your work is different to the norm and is pleasing and would good hung on a wall, your prints will sell as long as you price them competitively and you present them nicely. Do NOT charge for postage, you print on high quality paper stock and canvas (which is popular you can sell for more money) offer some frames as well.

      Stock photo libraries really are no competition as they mostly sell their stock for use on websites, for brochures, to advertising agencies, etc. They don't really cater to the consumer market. Plus they will not physically delivery prints.

      There are many broker type sites who will sell your prints for a small fee, this might be the best route to take initially before embarking on your own site.

      Hope this helps.
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  • Profile picture of the author seobro
    Don't get me started, I could talk all night on this one. Back in the 90's there were chances to get in for a budding young photographer - yes young. Those days are like so gone. Stock agencies up the standards every year. A lot of my top photos that bring in money... Well, they would not accept them now. Perhaps that is not the only problem we have as many people who used to use stock photos for blogs, but not any more. Stock is simply to expensive. Remember corbis with their dirty dozen special promo. It was 12 photos for $12, but they want $50 each now. Bloggers now use photos from FLICKR and other similar services. Istockphoto with their VETTA killed the goose. It no longer lays golden eggs.

    Has Microstock Photography Had Its Day?
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  • Profile picture of the author goingup
    Realfaststockimages dot com is a good way to go. but you could also sell images in places like Etsy, depending on they image type. Why not go so sites like those, that already have a lot of traffic built in? Anyway, etsy is a place where you sell all kinds of art and images, but you'd have to experiment and or research what will sell. Realfaststockimages is more about compliling images from the public domain and submiting them to stock photo places, but also teachs about your own images as well(how to figure out what kind are selling and so forth)
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  • Profile picture of the author jibran123456
    which type of images you want ?
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  • Profile picture of the author TimothyTorrents
    I didn't expect to see this thread back on the front page.

    In case you guys are wondering, I don't have a website up yet, I was just wondering if this could work out.

    I figured I am not the best photographer out there so maybe I should consider a different niche like artwork.

    Do you think selling prints of my art would be a good idea? I am not a professional artist but some people might like my drawings...

    Does anyone here sell art? How is that going?
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  • Profile picture of the author kawaii
    It's definitely possible to make a full time income out of stock photo.
    I think I have read some where that an asian guy make over $100,000 a year just
    by submitting stock photos to different sites.

    And it's passive income, which mean you just have to set it and forget it.
    Easy Peasy.
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    • Profile picture of the author papeter
      Originally Posted by kawaii View Post

      It's definitely possible to make a full time income out of stock photo.
      I think I have read some where that an asian guy make over $100,000 a year just
      by submitting stock photos to different sites.

      And it's passive income, which mean you just have to set it and forget it.
      Easy Peasy.
      PEASIER SAID THAN DONE!!!
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      • Profile picture of the author RKeele
        Try posting them with Fotolia.com. That is where I buy all my stock photos from.
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  • Profile picture of the author Entrecon
    My father-in-law does photography and sells it online. He doesn't make a ton of money, but he isn't trying. He has carved out a niche of taking pictures at local school sporting events and has also taken some pictures along a river where many people canoe.

    His base site is photomichigan.com, but he is managing selling the pictures to people using photoreflect.com. I know he checked out a couple of other similar services, but I can't recall which ones they are. At he end of the day with fees, costs, and usability, Photoreflect won out.
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  • Profile picture of the author betterwtveter
    I have a buddy that majored in art and he has a website that sells his photos and paintings. If you have a fan base in the social network, a website that is optimized is a very powerful tool for photos and painting.
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  • Profile picture of the author TimothyTorrents
    I am assuming once you have a fan base you can pretty much sell anything.

    I am quite sure The Oatmeal makes a lot of bank selling his comics, even I considered buying a couple just for fun.

    I guess the key lies in building a strong fan base by properly advertising your website.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason_V
    Tim,

    Let me chime in on this conversation for a moment.

    I read every post that people have left. The people saying that "you can't do it because the sales of stock photos are down" etc...Are missing the point.

    Stock photo companies are B2B solutions. Some people would say "well some people only use stock photos on their blogs that are non-commercial" Doesn't matter, just the fact that someone has a website makes them in essence a business owner. Their website though perhaps not created for monetary profit, doesn't mean they're not running the site for some other intangible commodity. (Ego, position themselves as an expert, etc....)

    Okay so now we've established that stock photo sites are for B2B purposes.

    Now, let's break down what people have said about those who submit their photos to these sites and "make hardly anything or no money."

    Let's face it, these people are doing it the lazy way.

    Yes, I realize that it's always smart to put the desired product into the right marketplace. However, it's still the lazy way. In this case, stock photography sites, these are buyers markets. Stock photography sites aren't sellers markets.

    What do I mean?

    Well let's say I have an internet marketing product to sell, it would make sense to put it into the WSO section, right? I have a desired product and I'm putting it in front of hungry buyers. So, this is the same as putting your images at a stock photography site, right?

    Nope....

    The WSO section is a sellers market. It favors the sellers over the buyers.

    Let's take eBay for an example. That's another perfect example of a buyers market like the stock photography sites. Sure people can make money by listing stuff on eBay, but it's the lazy way.

    Why do I keep saying "it's the lazy way, and what do you mean?"

    Ahh, now that's the million dollar question that only Efan brought up.

    The people who submit to sites like these, instead of doing what you are talking about, don't want to put the work in to market themselves and their product.

    The big key, that only Efan brought up is you can differentiate yourself by instead of being a B2B seller of photographs, become a B2C, or business to consumer, seller.

    You're on track to a USP thanks to Efan and my post.

    I'm going to even go so far as to say, that even if you wanted to sell your photos as B2B to the same market that stock photo sites serve, you could still do it.

    You would have to come up with a USP though that differentiates you from those sites and the thousands of "lazy asses" that submit their photos to their sites.

    You would have to get aggressive with your marketing and carve out a niche. That's the non-lazy ass way

    Most artistic people are shit at marketing. That's why they take the lazy way.

    That's why people list items on eBay, instead of just building an ecommerce store of their own and do some SEO and marketing.

    I could go on and on, but I think by now you get the picture.
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  • Profile picture of the author hirechrisgunn
    Thanks Jason - I agree. These days when you have a product or service that you want to be successful, but it's already out there, you need to take a personal 1-on-1 approach. If you can't sell to them, consider asking them for photos. You should be thinking of the niche of people who dominate the percentage of stock photo sales and cater to them. You're already in a marketplace where they spend a lot of time.
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  • Profile picture of the author desultory
    About the nature of the images should be able to sell.
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  • Profile picture of the author NataliaF
    I really like your idea, but I am afraid people are so much accustomed to such directories as shutterstock and others that it would be hard to make a good profit using your own website.
    On the other hand, there are lots of websites which offer paid wallpapers, let's say.
    But still, I've never bought wallpapers, not sure whether many of others do.
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  • Profile picture of the author JSL Publishing
    Check Etsy.com

    Cool chicks too

    Originally Posted by timbonitus View Post

    Just curious. I like taking pictures and I thought I could make a website and sell my pictures. Does anyone do this? Do you think it would be profitable?
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  • Profile picture of the author SuperKristen
    If you take pictures using smartphone, you can check this out www.scoopshot.com/app/
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  • Profile picture of the author greenzone
    I do sell images at artistwebsites
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  • Profile picture of the author sbevil
    If you are interested in marketing your pictures i suggest that you do a course on the subject this will save you a lot of time in doing your own research as there can be pitfalls if you don't know what you are doing things like protecting your rights to your image etc. etc. this would be a good starting point.

    http://www.camerabiz.net
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  • Profile picture of the author BlindRabbit
    I know a guy who does it and does well out of it. The secret is building up an understanding of what people (who eventually become repeat customers) have an appetite for. It took him about 7 years before he finally built up a large enough customer base and developed a feel for what is it people are willing to pay for.

    The surprising thing was, when he showed me photos that sold and the ones that didn't sell - I pretty much guessed wrong each time. That's knowledge you gain that comes with years of trial and error.

    I am quite fond of statistics so thought if I could get enough data together I could make predictions on saleability. I could get together a collection of photos that sold well and build up a statistical model to help me choose photos to sell.

    You can look at the top selling photos in Shutterstock for example and get a feel for what people are on the lookout for, also you can view the top keywords for photo searches.
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  • Profile picture of the author Robert Bridgen
    Yes I sell prints and my own photos as well I have my own website and also belong to a group as well

    well worth it take a look
    Robert
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  • Profile picture of the author thatjc
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