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Make Money Selling Stock Photos

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Stock Photography Community

The Microstock Debate Rages On

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Yesterday I came across an interesting conversation via Twitter, debating whether or not microstock has "cheapened" the market for stock image sales. Here's the original post on Tony Blei's blog Black Star Rising: http://rising.blackstar.com/microstock-is-a-great-deal-for-buyers.html. From Tony's perspective, many photographers have sold out by going to the "darkside", selling their images for pennies through microstock. Read the comments at the bottom of his post - as this is where the conversation begins to get interesting. I'm not against the view of many "pros". They present several valid points.

In today's blog world the debate continued on Digital Photography Tips and Techniques: http://dptnt.com/2009/08/the-microstock-photography-debate/. This conversation takes another perspective that microstock is pretty much a natural progression of our times. The availabilty of good digital cameras allow lots of amateur photographers the ability to produce great images - and they want a market where they can sell their work. Therefore microstock agencies are a part of the equation that, most likely, would have happened anyway. Another point presented on this blog was the fact that the publishing industry is not in good financial shape these days, with many magazines looking for ways to cut costs. Of course, they will look for less expensive photography to keep their budgets in line. Microstock fulfils this need.

So here's my two cents on the debate. Many years ago I was a professional photography with a studio, RB 6x7 portrait camera, medium format cameras for weddings, tacky props for high school seniors, high overhead and thousands of paper proofs that cost a lot of money to produce. Yes, I enjoyed my profession but hated all the "stuff" I had to deal with - photographers-for-hire that didn't show up for weddings, battery packs dieing during a ceremony, high lab bills, blah, blah, blah . . .

I left the studio behind, became a marketing professional and once again enjoying my day job. But I still wanted an outlet to show and sell photography. Not to pay the bills - but to feel the same enjoyment I had thirty years ago as a young photographer when someone wanted to pay for my images. For me microstock is ideal - all electronic with no fuss or muss, I can work as little or as much as I want, plus I see some spending money coming in from "passive income". I'm sure this will not be a popular opinion with many professional photographers - and I completely see their point-of-view, having once been from that side of the tracks.

But damn - I love the idea of putting my images out there on a global stage with someone else selling the work, plus having the ability to develop my own market through social media. This was never even a possibility when I was a professional photographer.

So yes - the world has moved on. And it's your choice to embrace the new - or not. For me, microstock is the perfect outlet.

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