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Jonathan Mitchell Images

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  1. Hello to all fellow Shutterstock contributors! I've been submitting images to Shutterstock for a couple of years now, here and there and have a small portfolio of 500 or so images. These earn on a monthly average, about $10-15 or annually, I earn around $0.45 per image / per year on average (this has gone up from an average of $0.40 / per image / per year. Much of my portfolio is Editorial. I do very little Commercial model-released stock, though around 50% is wildlife and landscape images. I'm just curious as to how those with larger portfolios and a longer track-record with Shutterstock are doing? Especially those who have a fair bit of Editorial stock in their collection, as it helps me plan how much time I devote to Shutterstock in the future. To be frank, Shutterstock has a fair volume of sales, but I find that $0.25 and $1.88 licenses don't really supply me with enough money to cover the high cost of producing stock images. I would also be interested to hear from anyone who is making reasonable returns with a 50/50 editorial/commercial collection similar in subject matter to my own. Thanks in advance and look forward to reading any replies!
  2. Hi Nikusau, I have a long experience in stock photography back into the good old days when publishers paid sometimes $300 per image license. Getty and Shutterstock and other developments in the 'industry' mean those sales are now rare. With RF Microstock licenses, I find on average (and much of my collection is editorial), that on average I make $0.45 / per image / per year. I have around 500 images with Shutterstock, though the sales through various RF-M outlets are constant and regular, but sadly do not add up to much in terms of revenue. This makes it very difficult to even recover the cost of transport to a location where I can take some good stock photos. Hence, if you take this ballpark figure of $0.45 / per image / per year, then to answer your question - you would need to upload and get accepted around 2,000 - 3,000 images to expect an annual revenue of roughly $1,200-1,400. It is not much different on other types of sites where licensing is Rights Managed (due to the sales being very infrequent), as on Getty Images, I was getting very poor revenue and very sporadic (with almost 1,000 images). Really, if you want any sort of meaningful income from stock now, you need about 20,000 images - which is a huge amount of time and work, but then you could earn around $9,000 per year. For a better income 40,000 images would be the sweet spot. Though again this would take years to do. These figures are rough guides only, stock photography is a very obtuse, unpredictable business and sometimes images sell well when the image is not so good and an excellent one sits without a download. So you may earn more or maybe less. It may help a bit if you promote yourself on Twitter and via a blog and perhaps Instagram. A few bits of advice, is to shoot subjects that are useful to clients. If you are doing reportage, I find very generic images do OK. Population, traffic on motorways and things like that have wide editorial appeal. I find travel does not sell all that well any more, landscapes make money which is quite low. The same story with wildlife and city images.
  3. I think you also need to look hard at what revenue the contributors get, as thus far, it is not impressive and I am continuing to submit, though at $0.25 a subscription download, it does not appear at the moment to cover costs of taking and editing the pictures. In mitigation, I have only been contributing to Shutterstock since last autumn (so rather difficult to make any analysis from my statistics) and despite being a seasoned professional photographer all of my life, get 2/3 of the work I submit rejected (I don't upload rubbish pictures, because I don't have time and this further eats into my time which is limited at work as I suffer from Medium Anaemia). Hence, Shutterstock at the moment is looking like a badly-paid time drain. Though I keep an open mind and continue to monitor my sales with interest! At the moment though, I for one would love to see more cash per subscription download, which is most of my 89 sales so far. As some other contributors have pointed out, if there is no money in supplying you and we are facing inflationary costs of production, then it becomes quite unsustainable for the contributor. I have noted in recent years that there is less respect for professionals and people seem to think amateurs can supply everything they need, but this is not the case. I think you need to raise client awareness as to the fact that we are not all Buddhist lamas who can magically conjour up camera equipment, hotel accomodation and food, living in tree houses for free! Or to put more of a finer point on it...Clients get whatever they want and we are largely ignored by the agency. Which is not fair in my opinion. I discuss these pricing and sustainability issues sometimes on my new blog at http://microstock-insight.weebly.com/
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