Camera on Tripod
hhach / Pixabay

According to Forbes, Instagram is considered the “Best social media platform for customer engagement.” One billion people use Instagram, 500 million are daily active users, uploading 100 Million photos everyday.

Instagram has not only helped create a niche – smartphone photography,- but has given individuals and businesses an opportunity to engage directly with their followers. It’s a hub where budding photography talent is now discovered.

A passion for photography, a dedicated Instagram audience, a committed photo posting, are signs of a successful business model. – How do you cash into this business?

A common thread runs through stories of successful photographers world over; from America to Asia, Europe to Australia, Middle East to Africa, photographers share one common trait – passion.

Brian – a media student from Kenya – epitomizes this love for the camera, at the age of 10, in a chance encounter with a Kodak point and shoot camera, captured a beautiful photo of his mother. A new passion was ignited in him. His love for shooting photos quickly became an obsession, in college, this obsession is fast becoming his profession. Brian has a huge following on Instagram.

Having a large Instagram following, shooting exquisite photos at friend’s birthday parties, capturing beautiful images at weddings, posting distinct landscape photos, creating unique mixed media compositions, is all great, but may never put money in your pocket, unless you know how.

Have you been bitten by the Entrepreneur’s bug, and are wondering how to monetize your love for light? Like Brian, are you in college pursuing your passion, yet photography seems to be hard wired in your DNA? Instagram’s phenomenal success has proved that images capture our imagination – validating that ancient maxim, – a picture is worth one thousand words. – Better put, your photos may be worth a fortune.

The following questions and their answers,will launch your photography business. You will generate income, pay bills, and who knows, probably become world famous.

  1. What is Stock Photography? – Who is a Microstocker?
  2. How do I launch my photography Business?
  3. How do guarantee that my photos will sell?
  4. Which licence rules do I need to know?
  5. What type of photos sell and how do I shoot them?
  6. What submission requirements should I meet for my photos?
  7. Which Stock agencies will sell my photos?

I will answer the first four questions in this article, and the last three in a subsequent article.

However first things first; Are you a businessperson? Successful photography is a business, do you have a business mindset? Look at photography not as a hobby but as a business.

Acquire necessary business skills, learn how to run professionally run your photography business.

1. What is Stock Photography? – Who is a Microstocker?

Stock photography is a business model where anyone can sell their images through a stock agency. A stock agency sells licences for use of images uploaded on their website, anybody can upload their images, if accepted they go live on the agency’s website.

The agency handles, hosting, marketing and selling of the image. When an image is sold, the agency pays a percentage of the sell price to the photographer. Depending on the licence an image can be sold several times over to different buyers.

Microstockers are image producers who upload their images on a stock agency’s website. Microstock business is highly competitive, it’s open to anyone who can shoot beautiful photos, your image will be competing against thousands if not millions of other images.

Successful Microstockers, are not just great photographers,they understand and apply the principles shared in this articles.

2. How do I launch my photography Business?

Have a business plan. In a sea of competition, those that are prepared succeed. Have short term, middle term and long term goals. Your talent and experience in photography will help get your foot in the door, strategy will give you a seat at the table of success.

Inculcate efficiency in everything that you do, learn what works and what does not. Microstock is a numbers game, shoot as many images as possible, set a time to shoot images everyday. Shoot authentic fresh images that depict your personal unique style, do not be afraid to experiment.Buyers are always looking for fresh image ideas.

You have an option to be a jack of all shoots, shooting everything in your viewfinder, or specialize. Specialization works better, become a master of a niche, shoot images in this niche, whether its wildlife, landscapes, families, businesspeople, food, flowers, homes; whatever your imagination conceives

Some of your images will be accepted others will be rejected, have an honest self analysis, learn from every feedback you get from stock agencies, art directors and image buyers, learn from your successes and failures.

Consistency, consistency, consistency; upload your images daily, weekly, monthly or on any time scale you may choose. The trick; – remain consistent. Consistent submission will give you a higher ranking on image searches.

3. How do I guarantee that my photos will sell?

Successful sales people get into their buyers mind, think like your buyers. Buyers buy authentic photos, what emotions does your image invoke? Does it communicate a message, what is the message?

Index your image, use keywords that correctly define the image, help buyers find your image. Appropriately, and correctly describe details of the image to help search engines find it.

Post processing determines your image’s quality, it’s like packaging a product. An attractive package, helps sell a product. Get rid of noise and granularity look at your photo under magnification. Remove all copyright material, logos, labels, basically anything that has a trademark. Designers want images that have space around them, do not crop your image too much.

Upload images in JPEG with minimal compression, upload as many images you possibly can. Diversify your uploads with several Stock agencies websites.

4. Which licence rules do I need to know?

Stock agencies sell licences for the use of images from their websites, each licence commands a different price. As a seller of images, familiarize yourself with these licences. Here are four common licences:-

  1. Public Domain – Images uploaded on public domain can be downloaded and used freely.
  2. Royalty free(RF) – This licence gives the buyer perpetual rights to use the image commercially without restrictions, on paying a one time fee.
  3. Rights Managed(RM) – This licence gives the buyer a one time right to the commercial use of an image, it’s renewable on consequent uses.
  4. Exclusive – This licence gives the buyer rights to use the image exclusively, meaning it cannot be sold to anybody else.

All this licences command different prices. When uploading know which licence you are uploading your image under.

In the next article we will tackle the last three questions: What type of photos sell and how do I shoot them? What submission requirements should I meet for my photos? And Which Stock agencies will sell my photos?

If you have been wondering how to launch your photography career, shoot and sell photos, make a perpetual passive income, the information shared in this article will set you on the path to success.

Read more: How and Why 3 Blind Photographers Create Their Art