When I first created this site I purchased the picture at the top of this page for 3 dollars. I searched several stock photography sites and looked at hundreds of photos until I finally found it. PiggyBankBuilder.com like so many other websites and publication is a buyer in the stock photography market. Most articles just don’t seem complete with out a picture. This is true for newspapers and it’s just as true for the web. Many sites have sprung up to fill this need, these sites need pictures and they are willing to share their profits with you if your work is good enough.
What does it take to get started? Well first you will need a camera. If you camera’s resolution is too low your pictures will be rejected outright. Can camera phone work? Maybe. At 8 megapixles some camera phones take pretty good pictures, but their lenses are not the best. That’s not to say that you should drop 1000 bucks on a top of the line digital SLR, not at first. I recommend a good entry level camera like the Canon Powershot S95. I own this camera, I am still familiarizing myself with it, but I am very happy with it so far. It will set you back about 300-400 dollars. If this is too high you might want to borrow a friends camera in the beginning, see if it works out and then commit to a purchase later.
As for joining these stock photography sites as a photographer, well you have to qualify. Its a serious process. You need to submit several photos, they are reviewed, and evaluated. I am a professional news videographer by trade and I was rejected from two separate stock sites. Why? I didn’t give them what they want. I went around during hurricane Irene and got some interesting news- style photographs. They were good pictures but it was the wrong venue, these sites aren’t interested in news, they are interesting commercial photography. When I looked closer at their photo catalogs I realized that. I recommend you do the same. Browse their images to get a sense of what they are looking for.
You can’t send snap shots. What I mean is, anyone can just take a picture. This one is okay, nothing really wrong with it. You need to ask yourself, “Can someone USE this picture?” Maybe? Maybe isn’t good enough. You may have a picture of the”Statue of LIberty”, but how is it any different then the 1,000,000 other pictures of it? Your stuff can’t be just OK, it won’t get approved and even if it did it wouldn’t sell very well.
Another variable to consider is permission. These stock photography sites don’t want to deal with the cost and hassle of lawsuits from people that don’t want their pictures sold all over the web. For every picture that you submit you have to include a printed and signed release form. The sites will provide you with them and they will not accept a photo with a person in it with out a signed form. Please keep this in mind.
I have chosen BigStock.com as my stock photography seller. They offer competitive prices over their rivals and they have an excellent library of images. In the coming days I am going to build a portfolio of images to submit for approval to this site. If I pass and my images are listed I will get a 30% cut of all money earned from my pictures. My favorite part about this is that I can build up a large portfolio and even if I take a break from my photography my images are still out there earning me money.
It is my hope that if I work really hard and create some great pictures that my portfolio will generate a steady second income stream for me. Down the road I may enroll with other stock photography sites to expand my reach, but right now I want to focus on BigStock.com . I will write more once I have created my portfolio, submitted it, and hopefully received approval. Wish me luck.