There was a time when being a professional photographer procured images of someone taking wedding pictures or family portraits. Most professional photographers were historically reduced to capturing other people's significant life events.
With the advent of the Internet and digital communication, professional photographers have an exciting avenue to travel. Most businesses and government agencies publish websites and blogs. Their online presence is enhanced, of course, by relevant photography. But businesses and government agencies are busy managing their operations. They don't want to hire an occasional photographers.
This is where photographers can make money selling their photos. Photographers, though, can't go business to business soliciting their services.
There are several companies who connect photographers to companies in need of stock images. Some of the most popular stock photo selling websites are PhotoShelter.com, 123RF, Shutterstock, Fotolia, Dreamstime, Bigstock, and DepositPhotos. Some of these eCommerce platforms claim to have more than 40 million stock images for sale. It's big business, and if you're a photographer, it's something to consider if you want to make some money selling your photos.
PhotoShelter is a great eCommerce site for photographers. They allow their photographers to personalize a website to showcase their work. They also offer photo enhancement tools. In order to sell your photos through them, though, you have to pay a monthly service subscription. There are three subscription levels, Basic, Standard, and Pro. The Basic subscription is the least expensive, at $9.99 per month, offers the least amount of storage space, and doesn't allow you to sell your photos. The Standard subscription is the next level, priced at $29.99 per month. The Pro subscription has a tremendous amount of storage space, but the fee is $49.99 per month. Photographers are paid their commissions almost immediately after an image is sold through PayPal.
Get details at photoshelter.com
ShutterStock is one of the highest volume paying eCommerce stock image sites. They pay contributors approximately $.025 - $0.30 for each image that a buyer purchases. Payments are made electronically once per month, and only if the photographer has accrued a minimum of $75.00 in royalties. Payment by check is an option, but only when the minimum accrued royalties reaches $500.00. Their contributor site information is basic and difficult to navigate. Their earnings schedule is difficult to understand. They offer a great list of guidelines that every aspiring contributor should read before submitting images for approval. Aspiring contributors are invited to submit 10 photos for initial approval. If they are rejected, they must wait 30 days before reapplying.
Get details at shutterstock.com
This company isn't one of the highest in volume, but their site offers easy contributor navigation. Contributors must pay a monthly subscription fee, starting at $38.00. Commissions payable to contributors are derived through a table of subscription levels. Commission payments start at 30%. To apply to become a contributor, photographers are asked to submit an initial 10 images.
Get details at 123rf.com
Fotolia claims to pay commissions up to 63%. They don't have registration fees or portfolio management fees. They offer a "credit" structure for payments to their contributors. When a photographer's images are sold he earns credits. Photographers can cash in their credits at specific thresholds. Payment is made through PayPal or MoneyBookers. Fotolia has a robust website for their contributors full of tips and photography information.
Get details at fotolia.com