What happened to photo stocks? Have the old-timers crowded out the newcomers? Point of entry

There are so many photo stocks in this word. In short, for those who are not in the subject, photo stocks are resources where you can upload your photos, videos, vectors, etc. for subsequent sale.
Today we will talk about how things are as of 2020.
There is personal experience, because to this day I am lazily loading something on the selling sites. We will talk about this and many interesting subtleties further.



Stock photo stocks came out in earnest in 2003, with the introduction of the top-end and now Shutterstock. Yes, back in 2000, the second powerful competitor, iStock, was born, but with the advent of Shutter, everything went much more fun. These two stocks “made the wind” in the world of photo content and its sales.
In parallel with them and later, all sorts of depositphotos, bigstockphoto, alamy, dreamstime and a dozen more appeared. There were actually 3-4 photo stocks selling.

I would also like to say about Fotolia. This photo stock was confidently in the top three, but then turned sour. Over time, it was bought by Adobe.

Point of entry

The entry point collapsed somewhere in 2010-2012. The most “cream” was – it was “pouring” photographs from 2006 to 2010. Firstly, the niche was not mastered and many simply did not even hear about it. Secondly, every year professional / semi-professional equipment became more accessible and the factories for burning photographers were already overcrowded by 2012.

The “cream” consisted in the fact that there were few people, full of unoccupied thematic niches, excellent conditions for authors (every year the photo stocks became goons and cut the percentage of sales). Having a portfolio of 5000+ photos in the category of portrait or subject topics, the author easily received $ 1000-1500 / month from one photo bank. Given the fact that there were a few more – figure it out for yourself.

But there were also disadvantages (although, for me, these are advantages). Strict criteria for taking photos, exam, complex design and tagging with keywords for each photo, low upload speeds (even by ftp), passport for registration.

Personal experience


Getting on the Shutter was an emergency call for me. I never considered myself a photographer, and with my humble Canon 1000D and a pair of lenses, I shot a family and landscapes with butterflies. I am a person interested in many types of activities, I decided: why not.

And so, I started to storm 2 top – Shutterstock and iStock (now getty images). I stuffed bumps, got experience. The year was 2012-2013, i.e. I fell into the sunset of this whole newbie topic. Less than six months later, I got upvoted on the top two, and on the rest of the heels I got through easily.

I turned around what and how, took a closer look at what niches I would pull. People are one of the best-selling categories to this day, but there are so many problems with licenses from those you shoot, game. I chose the niche of subject photography. I made a light cube and go ahead and take pictures of apples and various objects. While delving into all this, enthusiasm diminished. Then came the first sales. Funny, 30-40 cents. There were also $ 2-5, but very rarely.

On photo stocks there are several types of licenses for a purchased photo and the price depends on it.

I twitched to a portfolio of 500+ photos and got tired. The competition in those years was already wild. Old people from 2005-2006 sat and giggled like young people vomit and rush. And what about them, they have portfolios, a name, their regular customers.

So I twitched and realized that this was not my topic. This is really a job, and photography should be fun. Over the years, second-class photo stocks collapsed, some are still there, but there are practically no sales from them. Even Russian photo stocks tried to launch, but that was more for laughing. The same Pressfoto, there was a projectile back in those days.

I felt sorry for all this to throw, and I stopped pouring photos from the DSLR. I also dabbled in video banks like Pond5, etc., but it didn’t take off, because the quadrocopters jammed everyone with their flights.

Now, I sluggishly add photos from my mobile phone (imagine, they even buy them), but this is no longer purposeful, but at the same time. I share something on Instagram or Facebook, why not duplicate it on the stock, if some landscape is beautiful. What’s funny is that mobile photos have been selling lately, and everyone has a couple of photos in their portfolio that are taken the most. I have a toad on a water lily, a toy cat and dinosaurs. It’s all funny. I quickly realized what was happening and poured.

Why is it harder now, it’s time to “dry the oars”


It’s simple:

  • competition (units + vehicles);
  • relaxation of quality requirements and relaxation by these authors;
  • the percentage of sales is less and less (sometimes it reached a couple of cents);
  • certain and popular niches, in which many do not have the opportunity and desire to shoot, are crammed in abundance with authors;
  • If earlier a portfolio of 5,000 photos brought substantial income, now we need 3-4 times more.

These are the main criteria by which this attractive hobby will turn into a routine.
Yes, I do not argue, a sensible and stubborn will take his place under the sun, but he will quickly create his own website / studio and will work and earn money there.

I know some stockers who hung out on one of the best Runet forums in this topic – Zastavkin’s forum, left the stocks and started selling directly. Selling a photo for $ 200 and getting $ 10-15 from it at best is demotivating. It’s like YouTube and its extortions, the same thing.

Tips for beginners


For those who are not yet in the subject and want to try themselves in this business, I advise you to start exclusively with Shutterstock and iStock (now getty images). These are two leaders who actually sell something there. The rest turned sour. There were promising ones, but alas and ah.

By niches. People, subject, vector, sensible video – it sells well in the appropriate quality and portfolio size. You need to forge a lot and often. Pouring and pouring. There are also narrow topics, such as old people playing golf, etc. Also shoots normally. Landscapes, animals and the whole collective farm are for home archives. On the drains, this is not aloe. Although, they can buy a dog.

In general, if you have enough patience and skill, you can make another income item, but as an additional one. To live off drains is not the beginning of the 2000s. Now you have to plow. Yes, I’ll tell you, and throwing 5k photographs – this was still a hell of a lot. I threw 500 so far – waved. Now they accept everything. Previously, up to 80% of the content was cut from the batch. Either oversharp, then sharpness, composition, or just PMS from the moderator. Now, such a game is accepted that a person who has entered, in order to buy something, will have to spend a lot of time looking for the necessary and really high-quality material.

Simplified downloads and keywords. Now you can pour directly from the cell phone. I inserted a photo, and it itself pulls the key for you. Pressed 2 buttons and vzhuh.

This is from the photo, every mom’s paparazzi is here. The vector is much more difficult and less competitive. Here, at least some kind of brain is needed and Adobe Illustrator cannot be mastered in two clicks. This is where you stand out. Vector cool buy.


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