Understanding Stock Photography as a Business
So I picked this image on purpose because it's a new picture that I just took, and I like it. And, um, it's also something that is very much a, uh, What's the word I'm looking for? It's universal. So the thing about stock imagery is there's not a whole lot of resale value in complicated food. Some of it works. Some of it doesn't. What you really want to be looking for is iconic food things that are, um, regional or ethnic that have resonance with particular people. Um, and you also want things that are universal, like cauliflower or broccoli or carrots or soup, generally chicken soup or something. But the reality is that the simpler the image and the more beautiful it is, the more likely it's going to resell. And the more complicated it is, especially convoluted kind of recipe work that you'd end up doing so. My suggestion in that workflow is when you're making pictures off a completed dish that you know it may not have resale value. Take pictures of the component ingredients as you go...
, and then you have a battery of imagery that goes with your package and you have a battery of imagery that you can use for stock resale. So that's the other thing is that you kill two birds with one stone. You're acting as a stock photographer, making your own work while your client is footing the bill for the overall shoot. And then you can always give them added value by giving them a couple of those pictures, outtakes or seconds that you're not going to use for your own stock but working the work for the package, you could send them those pictures. So now you're giving added value to your client. Plus, you're creating another revenue source for yourself. So it's a really smart way to do business, especially once you're set is already there. And you recognize things that are simple and beautiful and work that makes sense. Remember that stock is a volume business. If you don't get a lot of imagery in stock, you're not gonna make money. You need to remember that the more you pour in, the more you're gonna get out. Not only does your image we have to stand out, it has to be voluminous. There needs to be ah lot of it. You need to be prolific to make money in stock. It's important to understand that food trends change rapidly, and if you're staying abreast of it by watching the magazines and looking at websites and looking at cookbooks, you look at both style and content. You can add value to your work day and your workflow by creating imagery that fits into that landscape, and then you have something else that sellable. The other thing is, um, contracts and percentages. You need to might be mindful that again. You're partnering with somebody a stock agency, and there are very different ranges as to what kind of percentage they take on imagery. It's usually pretty high. It's usually pretty high 50% or more, so you need to be mindful of that and not be put off by it. And that's why it's a volume business because you're not making a tremendous percentage on the imagery. Um, so the more you get out there, the more you can sell. But you also need to be mindful of what they're charging for your pictures because there are some agencies out there that is selling imagery at a dollar or two or five or 10 and you're getting 40% of that, and at the end of the month or the end of the quarter, you get a check for $37 your imagery is now over exposed. You need to understand that the Web traffic that that agency gets will directly affect your profits. So if they are not driving a lot of traffic to their, um, to their agency online. So brand names matter, right? My stock is with Adobe right now, and that one of them primary reasons I went with them was because everybody knows who they are, even though it was a new agency. So it's important to understand that if you want exposure for your stock, the company that's repping it really matters, and then the ah, the competition, not just the competition among people who have imagery in your agency but other agencies out there. The Web is just filled with imagery. It's everywhere. So you need to understand that if you are imagery to isn't going to stand out, so don't send things that you don't think have market value. If you look at it and you say that's a really good image, I know that resells I got a hot dog that is just gonna blow it out of the water this summer, get it out and get it in the market. But also look at the competition and look at what other people are putting into stock is there is an awful lot of bad photography out there.