Exactly what is “stock photography?”

I make most of my income from what is called “stock photography.” It is, according to www.stockphoto.net, “existing photography that is available for commercial use — as opposed to assignment photography, which is custom made to someone’s specifications.” Getting paid for existing images sounds like easy money, but it is anything but easy.

I spend so much time running my stock photography business that I realized many photographers could benefit from some resources to better understand all the many steps involved in “stock photography.” One good set of FAQs about “stock photography” is found at: www.stockphoto.net/FAQ/index.php

The major trade group for stock photographers is: www.stockartistsalliance.org.

They have a simple and clear explanation of the various stock licensing models at: www.stockartistsalliance.org/stock-licensing-models.

Their guide to the business of stock photography can be downloaded starting at: www.stockartistsalliance.org/keywords.

The best place to find who the agencies actually are, is at the web sites of the two big trade groups for stock agencies. PACA, the Picture Archive Council of America, can be found at: www.pacaoffice.org. They are primarily focused on North America. Their sister group, CEPIC, the Coordination of European Picture Agencies Press Stock Heritage, is primarily focused on Europe. They can be found at: www.cepic.org.

I am not encouraging photographers to go casually into stock photography. But, if you are thinking of doing stock photography as a business, you need to commit to it and treat it like a business, with regular submissions and a long-term strategy. Before you can do that (or even get started), you need to understand exactly what stock photography is and that is why I am offering these resources. Review them carefully and then decide if stock photography is something for you.

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