We stock shooters are facing some huge challenges, and things certainly aren’t as easy as they used to be. But opportunities still exist. To succeed we need to be targeted. We have to know our target audience, know how we can reach them, and know our unique strengths that make our work right for that market. There are a number of photographers and stock entities that we can turn to for inspiration.
I look at the work of Colin Anderson and can’t believe that he won’t continue to do well. He knows whom he wants to reach…the image buyers who recognize quality and have the money and willingness to pay appropriately for it. Colin is creating images that others without his creativity and DRIVE just can’t. He has learned how to use 3D and combine it with photography to create his unique vision.
Dan Heller takes an entirely different approach. He also knows whom he is trying to reach and how to do it, and is being rewarded for his work. Dan leverages his unique knowledge and insights into SEO, the Internet, and sound business practices to bring his images, and those who want them, together.
Blend Images is another inspiration. Blend has identified a niche, the celebration of ethnic diversity, and is not only serving that niche well, they are also providing their photographers with unmatched resources and a great community. Blend is thriving for its efforts.
On the Micro side you have the example of Yuri Arcurs who has the vision, work ethic, and organizational skills to become a stock photo powerhouse. Not everyone is suited to the kind of phenomenal output (while maintaining quality) that Yuri manages to accomplish, but Yuri has mastered it.
Tom Grill is a master at determining where the holes are in the stock agencies and then filling the holes with amazing efficiency. He understands and exploits the data from his sales reports in order to pinpoint exactly where he needs to put his energies in order to maximize his profit.
The point is that there are many different ways to succeed in stock photography. As individuals and companies we each have to know our own strengths, know who our market is, and figure out how to match our strengths to that market. We then must have the drive and perseverance to follow through on that effort. What are you best at? How can you distinguish your work from that of others? Who is the most suitable market for that work? How can you best distribute to that market? Answer those questions and the rest is just elbow grease and belief in your self.