Wondering if stock photography is for you, but afraid to take the plunge? You’re not alone. Many photographers feel the same way, but with a few tips and tricks, you can soon overcome your fears and be on your way to becoming a successful stock photographer! Although my journey as a hobbyist has taken me into the miniature painting realm, I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of stock photography.
In this article, I put some ideas on paper about how I overcame my early hesitation about stock photography.
Want to try your hand at selling your miniature and wargaming photos? Sign up for free! 💴
Read on below to learn how I’ve combined my miniature painting hobby with stock photography. If you’re interested in seeing my stock photo collection, here’s my online portfolio.
What is Stock Photography?
Stock photography is simply taking photographs of topics or activities that can be used by others for commercial purposes. For example, a company might use a stock photo of a group of people working together in order to sell their product as being teamwork-oriented.
The best stock photos communicate ideas, concepts, and stories. If you like telling stories, or sharing ideas, then the challenge of using your camera to do that is unmatched.
Stock photography takes your love of visual story-telling, of imagery, and asks the world if they would like to pay you for it.
At least this is what I think about stock photography.
Why Would You Want to Do Stock Photography?
There are a few reasons why you might want to get into stock photography. Perhaps you want to make some extra money on the side; or maybe you enjoy taking photos and think it would be a fun way to make use of your hobby.
If you’re still on the fence about stock photography, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- It can be a fun and rewarding experience!
- You can make some extra money while doing something you love. Note that it takes work, and you won’t make a lot.
- It’s a great way to improve your photography skills. You can learn a lot about different photography techniques.
How Much Can You Make With Stock Photography?
If you’re taking up stock photography for the money alone, you’re in for a disappointment. While it is possible to make some extra cash with stock photography, you’re not going to get rich quick. In general, you can expect to make between $0.25 and $5 per photo sold, depending on the site you’re using and the type of license purchased.
So, if you’re thinking about becoming a stock photographer, don’t do it for the money. Do it because you enjoy photography and want to make some extra cash while doing something you enjoy! As a hobby, learning how to take photographs that people want to pay for is a great skill to have.
And who doesn’t want to learn more about something they enjoy doing? Your camera is a gateway to capturing amazing moments, whether they’re for yourself or someone else. For my miniature painting work, I capture photos to share with clients, document my progress, and simply share with others in the community.
Of course, many of the photos I captured for this site use the skills I learned from dabbling in stock photography!
Why Would Someone Be Afraid of Taking Up Stock Photography?
There are a few reasons why someone might be afraid of venturing into stock photography. Maybe they’re worried about not being good enough, or maybe they’re worried about the competition. Whatever the reason, it’s important to remember that everyone starts somewhere.
Stock Photography Fear
For myself, I was worried about not being good enough. I wasn’t confident in my skills as a photographer, and I didn’t want to put my work out there only to have it rejected. I also didn’t have very good equipment….a used Nikon d700.
Though in hindsight, this was quite sufficient for stock photography.
I also worried about the competition. It can be daunting to see all of the amazing work that’s out there, and to think about how you could ever measure up.
But again, everyone has to start somewhere. And the only way to get better is to practice and learn from your mistakes.
So if you’re feeling hesitant about stock photography, here’s where I suggest you start.
Sign up with a stock photography agency. I use Dreamstime because I found their requirements to be less stringent than some of the other agencies. You can also get started with iStockphoto or Shutterstock.
Start small. Don’t try to take on too much at first. Just start with a few images that you’re confident in, and submit them to the agency.
Get feedback. Once you’ve submitted a few images, see if you can get some feedback from the editors. This will help you to understand what they’re looking for, and what kinds of images are selling.
Practice, practice, practice! The more you shoot, the better you’ll become. And as you become more confident in your skills, you can start to branch out and try new things.
Tips for Overcoming Fear of Stock Photography
It can be pretty scary putting your photos up on stock sites for the world to see. Here are a few tips to help you overcome your fears of starting up your stock photography journey:
1. Do your research
Before you start submitting your photos, it’s important to do your research. Familiarize yourself with the dos and don’ts of stock photography. This will help you to avoid any common mistakes, and will give you a better understanding of what kind of photos are in demand.
2. Start small
As I mentioned before, it’s important to start small when you’re first getting started. Don’t try to take on too much at once. Just submit a few photos that you’re confident in, and see how it goes from there.
3. Get feedback
If you can, try to get some feedback from the editors of the stock agency you’re using. This will help you understand what kinds of photos they’re looking for, and what sells well.
4. Practice, practice, practice!
The more you shoot, the better you’ll become. And as you become more confident in your skills, you can start to branch out and try new things. In this vein, try not to get bogged down with equipment. It is better to use whatever camera you have on hand and can afford than worry about getting the biggest and best stuff.
Time behind the viewfinder is more important than your equipment!
5. Join a community
There are tons of stock photography communities out there, both online and offline. This is a great way to get feedback on your work, to meet other photographers, and to learn new tips and tricks.
6. Have fun!
Remember, stock photography should be fun! Don’t take it too seriously, and don’t be afraid to experiment. The more you shoot, the better you’ll become, and eventually you’ll start seeing your photos being used all over the world.
7. Be patient
It takes time to build up a portfolio of sellable photos. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results right away. Just keep shooting, and eventually you’ll start seeing your hard work pay off. I didn’t start seeing any sales until I had uploaded and shared more than 200 photos! Keep at it.
8. Perseverance is key
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! The most successful stock photographers are the ones who never give up, even in the face of rejection. So don’t be discouraged if your photos are rejected at first. Just keep shooting, and eventually you’ll get the hang of it. As above, stick with it and be patient as you build up your portfolio of photos.
9. Keep learning
There’s always more to learn, so never stop learning! There are tons of great books and tutorials out there on stock photography. And the more you know, the better your chances of success will be.
10. Embrace different
One of the best things you can do for your stock photography is to learn to be different. There are millions of stock photos out there, so it’s important to find a way to make your photos stand out from the rest. Whether it’s through your unique style, or by shooting unique subjects, there are endless ways to make your photos stand out from the crowd.
It’s one of the reasons I tried my hand at the miniature photography niche. There aren’t a ton of great images in this area and I had a special leg up as a hobbyist who works with scale models and wargaming minis. Embracing the miniature painting hobby has amplified what I’ve been able to do with my photography.
So there you have it! These are just a few tips to help you overcome your fears and start your stock photography journey. Just remember to have fun, and to never give up.
Examples of My Stock Photos That Sold
As a miniature painter and hobbyist, I take a lot of photos of my work. I also enjoy taking photos of my tabletop games while I’m playing. When I visit conventions or trade shows, I’ll always have my camera with me.
Here are a few examples of images I’ve captured over the years that I’ve successfully sold as stock photos. They happen to also be some of my favorites.
You’ll notice that some of them are of my games or miniature painting; whereas others are more generic images I took when traveling to different places. All of these pictures have been sold as stock photos.
So what do you think? Want to give a shot? If you’re curious to know if you have photos that could sell as stock photos, sign up with Dreamstime or another stock agency.
How I’ve Combined Miniature Painting and Scale Models in My Stock Photography
Miniature painting is a great way to get creative with your photos. You can use it to add visual interest to your photos or to create unique scenes. One way to combine miniature painting and taking stock photos is to use miniature paintings as your subject or as part of your backgrounds in your stock photos. This can add a level of whimsy and fun to your photos, and it can also be used to add color and dimensionality.
Another way to use miniature painting in your stock photos is to create scenes with miniature figures. This can be a great way to show off your skills as a miniature painter and can help you create interesting and eye-catching photos.
Here are some bulk pre-painted miniatures you can use for creating miniature scenes for your photography. To change their poses, simply dip them in hot water to make the plastic more pliable.
Again, if you’re looking for creative ideas for your stock photos, consider using using scale models and miniatures; even those your paint yourself!
Lastly, you’d be surprised how few stock images exist that convey tabletop gaming in a realistic and down-to-Earth way. Most stock images of wargaming hobbies and other tabletop games make everything look too perfect, almost like a polished Hollywood production. For the commercial realm, that’s fine.
But for personal and independent use, I think it gives the hobby a bit of an unrealistic sheen. It’s one of the reasons I love using miniature painting in my stock photography; because I can more accurately represent the hobby and show it in a relatable way.
Overall, if you’re looking for ways to add more creativity and dimension to your photos, commercial or otherwise, consider capturing your miniature painting work with your camera! Don’t know what camera to use? Try your smartphone.
Stock photography is not for everyone. If you don’t enjoy taking photos, or if you’re not willing to put in the time and effort required to be successful, then it’s probably not for you.
But if you’re passionate about photography and want to know if your skills with a camera could turn into a viable business, then stock photography might be the perfect fit for you.
Stock photography won’t make you a lot of money, a sad amount really, but it can give you the opportunity to grow your skills, to meet other passionate photographers, and to see your work potentially being used all over the world.
So what are you waiting for? Go out there and give it a shot! Who knows, you might just surprise yourself. If you want to learn more check out our growing article collection about miniature photography and other photo genres.
Are you interested in photography, or want to get better with your camera? If you’ve tried stock photography or found this article helpful, I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below!