Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Micro stock vs Traditional stock

I decided to explore the Micro stock business. As most of you know I sell images through Alamy. Alamy is a traditional stock photography business. Photo editors search for images they need to accompany articles in magazines, illustrate text books, for novel covers and corporate reports. The images are licensed as I designate. Use is one time, if used again another fee is paid. The fees earned are based on size, placement and usage. 
Micro stock is quite different. The images are royalty free. This means they are paid for once and the buyer is free to use again and again. The fees paid are drastically less. Fees paid are as low as $.20 to a few dollars per download. Some may sell in the $30 range. The more images you upload the more potential sales you generate. Buyers are encouraged to download more images or purchase a CD of images even if they do not use them right away. In both cases you retain your ownership rights. You are licensing the use of your image.

I see very good images on the Micro sites. These images could sell for higher fees on traditional stock sites. Micro stock images are not snap shots. Micro stock sites have very strict standards and reject images readily. I recently opened an account at Dreamstime. They allow you to upload right away, your images are placed in line to be reviewed. I submitted 7 images. 5 were rejected. Rejections reasons were quality, not the type of image the site sells, or technical editing problems. You need to submit high quality photographs. It takes hard work. Some sites require you to submit examples before they accept your work for upload. What sells? Just about Everything!
Here is one of my micro stock shots: pink erasers.....

So who uses micro stock? Designers, advertisers, and trendy venues all buy from micro sites. I believe most of the images you see in web advertisements come from micro stock sites. I do not believe that magazines have moved this way yet.  Traditional stock is by no means means dead. Micro stock is a growing market and should be explored.

As professional photographers we need to get paid for our work. I believe very few truly earn a living through micro stock sales. I will be very careful about what I submit in the Micro field. My best shots will remain at Alamy to earn higher income. However the internet is changing everything. So I will learn the Micro side of the business and submit to add to my income.
Is Micro stock for you? Only you can answer that question. Use your search engine. Type in Micro stock and you will get a plethora of results. Take the time to view the images. Ask yourself if you can make images like you see. Consider your time spent on shooting stock. Do you have high quality shots in your files? If you decide to try it make sure to read the submission requirements and follow them exactly. You may find micro stock is for you!

Everyday presents a new photo opportunity… so keep looking and shoot!