While photography is certainly a fun hobby and can lead to great personal fulfillment, it is also a high-skill profession that thousands of people use to pay their bills every single day. Not everyone can be a photographer for Sports Illustrated or Glamour but that doesn't mean that you can't make a good living from photography. Microstock photography, for instance, is a relatively new concept and a great way to make a little extra cash.
What is Microstock Photography?
In order to understand microstock photography, you should first understand "stock" photography. Stock photography refers to photographs that are licensed for a wide range of uses. Some examples of stock photos are universal images like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco that could be used in magazines, calendars or any other published material.
Microstock photography is similar, only the images sell for less and can be uploaded by anyone with high-quality material. Essentially, you make as much money as possible by selling many images at a lower cost. Fotalia, Shutterstock, and iStockphoto are all great websites for this purpose.
How You Can Get Started
Getting started with microstock is easier than you think. You'll need a basic shooting and editing setup, but nothing that would break the bank. You'll need a digital SLR as well as some photo editing software (preferably free) like Paint.net or until you're ready to move on to a more robust professional version.
Once you have the gear in order, all you need to do is shoot a bunch of photographs to prepare for the initial application process. If you want your images to sell, focus on subjects that are easy to sell in markets like business, home decor or other lifestyle themes. Try and bring something to the market that a person buying photographs would be looking for, but wouldn't be able to find elsewhere. It is important to remember that your images cannot contain copyrighted or trademarked subjects, and if they feature a person's face you'll need a signed release from the model.
Before you upload any images, check out the site and see what types of photographs they offer as this will give you a good idea of the types of images that will likely sell. Once you have a solid portfolio, choose a site (or sites) you like and start submitting your photos for review. When applying, read the training materials and site requirements beforehand so you'll make sure that your portfolio fits within their guidelines otherwise your application may be denied.
How to Make Money?
Unlike regular stock photography, microstock is all about quantity. The more photographs you upload, the better you'll do in terms of cash. There are people that make thousands a month working in microstock, but it is important to note that these people also use it as their full time job and upload hundreds of photos. If you can commit this sort of time to the job, the potential for income is really limitless.
Always start small so you "test the waters" before investing a lot of time and effort into uploading images before you know if it will be a good fit. If it looks like microstock photography will work for you and you have the time and effort to upload a lot of images, then gradually increase the amount of time you spend on it. If microstock photography doesn't seem like a good fit, keep looking for other photo opportunities that are better suited for you. Remember that photography is supposed to be fun first, so always do what works best for you!
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