Is Stock Photography Worth The Trouble?

Posted on 1/18/2013 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (2)

Recently, a writer for Nikon Pro magazine asked me a series of questions in preparation for an upcoming article on the stock photography market.  I have no idea how much of what I had to say will be used, but the questions were very appropriate for a readership of photographers with professional equipment who hope to make a little money from the images they produce.

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Copyright © 2013 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-251-0720, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


  • Bill Bachmann Posted Jan 19, 2013
    Jim.... I know you mean well, but there are still opportunities for people to succeed in stock. You always make it sound like the sky is falling!

    I am with many multiple agencies, as you know. About 1/4 of my agencies sold more for me in 2012 than in 2011..... and I made more in 2012 on total. Was it as much as the "Golden Era' of 1990s and early 2000's --- no. But it still is substantial money.

    You seem to scare everyone into Microstock. Yes, more sales (if you want to call making 20-50 cents a sale) but they can NEVER reach the numbers I make in total revenue in those tiny sales. Before I wrote this, I checked --- I had over 20 sales in 2012 for over $2000 each! (two over $12,000 each).

    Yes, far more smaller sales on the reports, but I do NOT sell in Microstock. You can not succeed in Microstock plus it hurts your pride (and your value as a photographer( to know you are giving your pictures away for one dollar. I do wish you would realize you are NOT the only voice in this industry. There are positive people still.

    You are my friend, but I am not into "gloom & doom". There is an old saying from Henry Ford that I live fully following....

    "People say they CAN'T and they are ALWAYS right!"

    I choose to live positively and it has paid off handsomely. Just have people look at my website to see some of the best selling images.

  • Todd Klassy Posted Jan 21, 2013
    I'm all in favor of gloom & doom. We should be persuading more people to avoid the photography industry. More opportunity for the rest of us.

    But you highlight another point. The most you disseminate your images through microstock companies, the more they are used. And the more they are used, the less attractive they are to people who are willing to pay top dollar to use them.

    If Getty sells the same image (50 cents) Bill does ($2000), Getty would have to sell it 4000 times in order to reach that same sales volume in terms of dollars.

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