I hit 1000 sales of stock photos this week! I'm very happy with how things have progressed over the last 10 months that I've been doing this. I've got 945 images online, and have sold almost 400 of them at least once. One image, of water, has now sold 21 times! Here is the first sale over 1000, along with the water image:
So far the benefits I've received from taking part in stock photos:
1. Real dollars. I've made money selling my photos, enough to upgrade my camera to a 40D and still have money left over for a high end lens. To put it in perspective, I'd have to work about 40 hours a month at a minimum wage job to match my current monthly stock photo earnings...
2. Validation. Every advanced amateur probably has people in their life that constantly tell them they should be a pro, or sell their work. The reality is that most will do much better at their day job. I put myself in that camp, but it is somewhat validating to be selling photos. Someone other than friends and family are voting with their dollars! I've placed in contests and had some photos published in magazines, but it has never paid the bills like doing stock does.
3. Technique. While stock photography is clearly commerical in nature, the review process has boosted my technique. I make no claims that it comes close to fine art, but there is nothing wrong with getting paid to learn to get sharper photos, declutter backgrounds and make things more eye catching.
4. Community. Although this blog is OK, I can now access a much bigger audience in terms of sharing information, with the stock photo community. As well, you really feel you are helping people, in the same way I was helped initially by the community. To date I've had a couple of comments on this blog, but a posting on the message boards at Dreamstime gets immediate feedback and answers.
5. Purpose. I've never really been big on the pursuit of fine art in my own photography. I'd much rather have great photos of the kids on the wall. Stock photography has given me another outlet for my hobby that doesn't just result in thousands of shots on the hard drive. Getting paid as well is that much more motivating. It keeps me from running out of ideas - with stock even the most mundane subject can be a seller.