Sunday, April 29, 2007

Why microstock photography?

I had always wanted to do stock photography when I bought my first SLR back in 1997. However, the barrier of entry was skyhigh for the traditional stock photography.

Firstly, you have to shoot slides, and only slides. Slides give you vibrant colors, great details when enlarged, but at the same time, the tolerance for exposure error is low, at most +/-0.5 stops, while for film it is about +/-2 stops. You need to have really good skills, and that skill can't be obtained other than by practising more. The cost of slides and development will already cost you a bomb!

Secondly, the traditional stock agencies would require you to have at least a few hundred ready photos in your portfolio before they will even consider assessing your photos. That is very demanding, not for the pros, but for someone like me, a hobbyist.

Luckily with the proliferation of the internet, the microstock industry was born. You can just upload your photos from the comfort of your computer, minimal handling cost, which makes microstock a perfect area for a hobbyist like myself to participate.

For traditional stock, you may sell a few photos a year, at prices ranging from a few hundred bucks to a few thousand bucks, but on average, the income is about $2 per photo per year on the entire portfolio. For microstock, the payout for each photo can be as low as 14cents, but the number of sales is high, eventually, you will get about $2 per photo per year as well, if not more.

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