Hi, my name is Viola and I’m going to be a mom, a single one but a mom and I am a photographer. I’ve had my own show for my photos and I was wondering if you can guide me to finding some websites that will buy my stock photos of Colorado and other places. I really need help so I am able to save money for baby stuff so if you can’t I’m sorry for wasting your time, I just have a very strong passion for photography.
Hi Viola. Sorry to hear about the changes that are about to happen in your life and the challenges that you are facing as you figure out how to earn money and raise your child at the same time. Worse, photography is a tough way to earn a living, and I just the other night had a long conversation with a commercial photographer who was talking about how much harder it’s become given the rise of stock photography sites, public domain photo sites like Flickr, and the increasing sophistication of modern camera gear that helps amateurs do a pretty darn good job.
Let’s talk about your desire to sell your photographs online, though. There are indeed some stock photography sites where you can register, upload your photographs and hope that someone will come along and purchase commercial rights to them. Here are a couple to check out:
There are also highly reputable sites like Getty Images that offer a wealth of amazing stock photos, but if they even accept your work at all might charge a placement fee which could be prohibitive given your situation.
Now before you go further, you also need to ask what kind of gear you have: stock photography sites require you to submit top quality pictures. A 2MB image is way too small, and even nice sunset shots of Pike’s Peak or similar are going to be insufficient. You also need to be able to edit them to remove any possible flaws, crop as necessary, and, when you do upload them, give them accurate keywords to help potential clients find them.
Finally, if you aren’t shooting and getting big data files, an alternative vehicle for you are what are called microstock agencies, where they will take terrific photographs that are even in the 2-3MB range. One worth exploring is Shutterstock.com.
To make decent money at this, however, it appears that you need to be uploading thousands of photos to these sites. One photographer whose site I dug through said that he makes $600 or so monthly from the over 1100 photos he’s uploaded. $7200/year is a nice supplemental income stream, but if that’s based on 1100 pictures and you can produce even 50 good photographs each week, that means it’s going to take you a few years before you’ll get to this level.
Again, I don’t want to discourage you, but I think it’s pretty hard to make decent money as a photographer where the only outlet you have are stock photography marketplaces. I think the real money in photography is event photography, whether it be a wedding, family celebrations or corporate events. In all of those cases, you set a flat fee and in an afternoon can make considerably more than the $500-600 you hope to earn through the stock photography sales. In fact, wedding photographers charge hundreds to thousands of dollars for a single shoot: if you could do that twice monthly, you’d be well on your way to standing on your own two feet as you move into a life of being a single parent.
I hope this has been helpful. You’ve a tough path ahead, but there definitely are ways that talented photographers can earn money with their passion and expertise. Good luck!