Our latest stock photos

I think I've mentioned on here that Robert and I submit photos and illustrations to various micro stock sites.

*Warning, the following may be very boring if you have no interest in stock photography.*

For those whose eyes just glazed over, a micro stock site, is a place like Shutterstock, where people (mostly graphic designers) buy royalty free images for between $1-$50. They are different from the macro stock sites (Getty Images being probably the largest and most well known) where images are sold as either royalty free or rights managed and typically prices start around $100 and go WAY up from there.

The other difference is that most macro stock sites (like Getty) hire professional photographers, models, make-up artists, stylists, etc. While the mirco stock sites (like Shutterstock) have photographers and illustrators go through an application process, and then accept the images that they feel are up to their standards. Which means if you're not very good, they're not going to take very many of your photos. It also means that if you're an amateur, this is a good way to make a little money while improving your skills.

Both micro and macro stock agencies pay their photographers some set amount per image sale. This fee ranges for anywhere from .25 to several hundred dollars. The most we've ever earned on one photo for one sale was $28. And that only happened once!

Now that's an incredibly simple description of how stock sites work. I could go on and on, but 1) that would be boring and 2) I'm also no where near an expert in this area.

Ok, so boring explanation over, here's some of what Robert and I have been doing in the studio lately. Mainly we've been working with different models and perfecting taking portraits over a white background. These are useful to designers, as the white background ads a lot of versatility to the image. When we first started out taking photos of models, we didn't have the set up we have now, so we had to hunt around for backgrounds. This meant we have a lot of photos like this:

And it means that these don't sell very well. She's a pretty girl, but her outfit and her setting aren't clearly selling or stating anything. Compare it to this image, which can sell just about anything, by photographer Yuri Arcurs (who, by the way, is probably the top selling micro stock photographer out there):

See the difference? Now that's not to say that images without a white background will sell like crap. They don't, but the background needs to support the overall look and message of the image. Something that our random bricks weren't doing.

So now that we have a "for real" set up, I'm hoping that images like this one:

Will earn more sales. The model above, by the way, is one of our favorites to work with. She's got a great personality and is so comfortable in front of the camera. Two great qualities when you're spending 3 hours locked in an 11x19 foot studio with someone!

The other kind of image that sell really well (and that I need to make more of) are vector illustrations. They're great because designers can pull them apart, edit them, scale them to any size, etc. Our top selling vector illustration is this one:

It's not sexy, but it's handy and it's earned over $100 since it's been accepted at various stock sites.

So our goals for this year are to shoot, shoot, shoot, edit, edit, edit and illustrate whenever we can. I've currently got a backlog of at least 500 images to go through (of which probably only 70-100 will be stock-worthy, and of those, probably only 50-60 will be accepted by the sites we submit to).

The sites that we currently work with are: Shutterstock, Big Stock Photo, and Dreamstime. I'm in the process of getting us accepted and set up with a host of other sites. I really need to get us going with iStock.

Ok, I'm stocked out for now. I need to get back to practicing some fine art. I'll be thinking more about that in the coming days.



  1. That was totally a stock 101 class. VERY interesting. I really learned a lot from that, Julia! Plus I really enjoy seeing your illustrations.

    I'm pretty sure we use iStock for our work stuff and the white background is a must for us for the very reason you mentioned, versatility.

  2. It's funny, because we use iStock almost exclusively at work as well, but I don't submit there! I've been intimidated because supposedly their application process is much more strict than other places, but I think we've got enough of a variety now that we could get in.