Web Ways; Selling Stock On The Web; Royalty Free, Rights Managed, And More Page 2

Rights Managed Stock Photography
Rights managed stock photography requires unique contractual terms every time the photo is used. In addition to obvious factors such as the quality and distinctiveness of the photo, other factors are commonly involved in setting a price, including print run, size on the page, and exclusivity.

Stock Photography Websites
Royalty free is by far the most popular licensing method used on the web, although some sites sell both royalty free and rights managed photos. For a photographer new to stock photography, royalty free is definitely the fastest way to get started. Once photographers have had success with royalty free licensing, the advantages of rights managed licensing can then be explored.

All stock photography sites have reviewers that will examine your photos before they are published on their site. Of course, the quality of the photo is a primary concern. For example, a photo with noise would likely be rejected immediately.

Since most sites use the JPEG format to accelerate download time, another cause for immediate rejection is JPEG artifacts. Photo dimensions are another important issue to stock photography sites, as most sites charge more for larger images. Also, keep in mind that a buyer may want to use your image in a full-page magazine ad or book cover printed at 300dpi, which simply would not be possible with a small photo, so it’s important to supply stock photography sites with photos large enough to meet their clients’ needs.

© 2010, George Peters, All Rights Reserved

Another important factor in determining whether a stock photography site will be interested in your work is the uniqueness of your photos. Photos of pets and children are in ample supply, so try to set your photos apart from other similar photos being sold on the same site. There are many tips and tricks. For example, buyers may want to use your photo for placement on a new background. This can make photos with neutral or solid color backgrounds particularly appealing.

To get a sense of how a photographer might work in the microstock business I spoke with George Peters
(www.istockphoto.com/georgepeters) who works with iStockphoto.

Anthony Celeste: How did you get started in microstock photography?

George Peters: I had been buying images from iStockphoto for a couple of years for my design business and decided to submit images three years ago. I was accepted as a contributor and have been selling photos and illustrations ever since.

AC: What do you feel are the pros and cons of the microstock business?

GP: Microstock is not for everybody. You really need the right personality to succeed at it. It really helps if you are self-motivated, determined, and, above all, resourceful. Do you have the type of personality that can walk up to a stranger at the beach and get them to sign a model release?

AC: If you had one piece of advice to give to those considering trying the microstock business, what would that advice be?

GP: Consider very carefully whether you are a good match for it. You have to put enormous up-front work into it to build a large, strong portfolio. You have to invest a lot of unpaid time before you will realize whether or not it will work for you. If you decide to go for it—throw yourself into it completely—no half measures.

AC: Continuing on this concept, if you had one piece of advice for someone working in microstock and struggling to make sales, what would your advice be?

GP: I think one of the biggest reasons for sluggish sales—assuming the contributor is at least a moderately capable photographer—is the lack of understanding why images sell. I have always had a very good feel for this because of my design/advertising background. It’s not so much about “pretty pictures” as it is about “communication.” I consider myself a communicator first, a designer/photographer second. I try to discipline myself to always ask the following question before I trip the shutter: what is it I’m trying to communicate and how do I get to the essence of that?

AC: In the press, microstock has been both praised and damned. My approach here has been to do neither, but to instead inform photographers that this business and artistic opportunity is available to them. What do you feel has been responsible for the bashing that we sometimes see when microstock is discussed in the media?

GP: I think people bash microstock because it led to a drop in photography pricing. It’s a threat. It’s probably been a difficult transition for many photographers—many of them were extremely well paid.

AC: Where do you see this industry, and your place in it, five to 10 years down the road?

GP: I can’t speculate on where this industry is going to be five to 10 years from now. You just never know what’s coming. Take the Flickr Collection at Getty Images for example. It’s exciting. I could view it as a threat or bash it, but if I look at it objectively, it’s pretty damned interesting. I love many of the images, especially the ones that aren’t professional. It truly is a fresh new perspective full of pure authenticity. It teaches me that a good photograph is not about technique at all—it’s about capturing the essence of a moment in a way that the onlooker can identify with. And anyone can do it. I like to wander through the images. It keeps me on my toes—being on my toes is a good thing.