Exploring the natural and built environments through photography
One of the photo endeavors that has forced me to improve as a photographer has been licensing photos to micro-stock photo web sites. Even though most of the significant services have tens of millions of photos available, they’re actually relatively selective! All of the agencies have some sort of vetting process before you are even allowed to submit photos for sale, and even then, each submission is reviewed prior to being added to the site.
When I first became interested in selling micro-stock, I investigated several different sites, including istock, shutterstock, and bigphoto. In the end, I chose to work with shutterstock. You may or may not choose to offer photos exclusively to a single site, or post to multiple sites. For me, it was too much work submitting to multiple sites, so once I was accepted as a contributor to shutterstock, I’ve stuck with them.
Each submitted photo is reviewed for content (is it marketable?), focus, lighting, color balance, composition, noise/sharpening, and other qualities to ensure the image is the appropriate quality for their site. Even after several years of developing my technique and getting a lot better at processing, my success rate is still well under 100%. Nonetheless, I always value the feedback when a photo is rejected. Occasionally, there is a technical problem with the photo that I can correct by going back to my original raw file and re-processing. In the end, I’m usually happier with the re-processed photo, and can re-submit with the correction for another review.
If you’re interested in selling your own photos, I highly recommend Shutterstock. Although the per-download royalties are not as large as other services – they more than make up for it in quantity of downloads due to their subscription-based service for clients. By following the link to my Shutterstock gallery here: BKingFoto on Shutterstock, you can select “Become a Contributor” at the top of the page to begin the application.
Micro-stock sales may or may not ever contribute any significant income to your bottom line, but even if it doesn’t, I’m sure it will make you a better photographer!