How Small Stock Photo Royalties Add Up to Big Checks

My background is in computer science.  But when the economy started going bad, I came to realize that I was really “burning out” on the high stress environment of deadlines and problem-solving.  And, while I enjoyed the creative aspect of making well-written software, there's a limit to how creative you can be.

Meanwhile, I've always been a photography enthusiast, taking photos on vacation, at family events, and outings.  Sometimes making a pest of myself getting shots of everyone!

So, I decided to go into businesses for myself and follow my passion for photography.

Working for myself, doing something I love, didn't seem like work at all.  I started doing professional photography for a local band. I made posters for them and was seen by local businesses who had me design ads for their stores.  However, I'm an “artist” not a salesman and found it difficult to get photography projects and difficult to “sell myself” to potential clients who might need a photographer.

That's when I talked to a friend who was a graphics designer and used a lot of stock photography in his work.

Until then, I'd never heard of stock photos, but he explained how he used them and suggested that my talents lend themselves to stock photography.

I was skeptical, at first.  I felt my work was worth more than the small royalty I would earn as a new stock photographer.  And, things did start out slowly for me, because I held back my best stuff.

Looking back, I think that was a mistake.  But I just wasn't sure about the idea of selling a lot of images for a small royalty.  Now that I see it works, I don't hold back!

I’ve come to find that, over time, things will sell and I can make more from a stock photo with many downloads, than I could trying to sell a printed piece individually -- and with much less effort.

My plan was to do photography projects and rely on stock royalties as a base.  But, by having a large portfolio, over time, I've been able to make enough in royalties so that I don't have to stress out too much about finding other projects.

I spend more time thinking about what kind of stock projects might be fun to explore and finding models to play various roles.

I'm sure many photographers are focused on how to make more and more money.  But, I've had the best luck focusing on what is fun and interesting and creative.  And I think it shows in my work.  I often shoot with a sense of whimsy.  So, it's more like a chance to go out and play make-believe than going to work on some “project.”  I love it!

Here’s one of my earliest uploads.  Just a simple pile of gold coins…










Today, my style of photography for stock is a little bit “cartoonish,” with exaggerated facial expressions. I like getting dressed up and playing a role.

Here’s me as a nature man…














And here’s me as a pirate…










[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.  Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]

One response to “How Small Stock Photo Royalties Add Up to Big Checks”

  1. Raymona Pooler

    Thanks for sharing your photos. I havent thought much about myself as the model. I will give it a try. I just got 21 photos excepted in Bigstock and also Dreamstime. I am so excited and I give my thanks to IL magizine for all the help. It took some time but just dont give up and you will succeed. It took me 1 year to get excepted but now Im off and running.

Leave a Reply