I love hearing about Breakfast Stock Club members’ experiences with stock photography.
So, when BSC member Valerie Haas mentioned that she had nearly doubled her stock photo income in one year, I was all ears!
Check out our interview below, with Valerie’s top tips for increasing your stock photo sales…
How To Double Your Stock Photo Income
Interview with stock photographer, Valerie Haas
Bonnie: Could you tell us a little about your background?
Valerie: I feel very lucky that for the past 6 years I have been fulfilling my dream of living in Europe. While photography did not play a role in deciding to quit my job and move to Germany with one suitcase, it has allowed me to earn a side income along the way. I take every chance I can to explore local towns and historic landmarks on weekends, and with a background in music, photography gives me a creative outlet to feel engaged in this European life.
Bonnie: How did you get into photography, and what do you like to shoot?
Valerie: My photography background was basically non-existent until 2009 when I read a few Breakfast Stock Club newsletters and thought, “I can do that!” Immediately I grabbed my cheap point-and-shoot camera and headed out to the orange groves next door, which became my first stock photo submissions. While my favorite photos to shoot are of nature, food photography has become a favorite of mine recently—despite requiring patience to snap a few shots before digging in!
Bonnie: When did you get started with stock photography?
Valerie: I started submitting to Big Stock Photo in 2009, but it wasn’t until 2012 that I began uploading consistently and adding more agencies. At the time, I still had no Lightroom experience and most of my photos were getting rejected. But as I kept reading BSC emails and practicing the advice for lighting, focus, keywording, etc., eventually I began collecting paychecks.
Bonnie: I understand that you nearly doubled your stock photo income last year. That’s amazing! Can you tell us how you did that?
Valerie: Yes! The biggest factor was joining two new stock agencies in late 2016—Shutterstock and iStock. Images began selling quickly on both sites, which is what motivated me to upload even more in 2017. I took the subjects that were selling and created photo shoots in my backyard of the same subjects with different angles, colors, and perspectives (like you recently wrote about here). Now when buyers find a photo of mine they like, they are more likely to also buy other versions of the same theme.
Bonnie: Could you share a couple of photos that have done well for you as stock?
Valerie: I think these two have sold well because they fulfill both a general and specific niche. The little bundt cakes could be used for buyers specifically needing a kugelhopf cake from the Alsace region of France, or simply baked goods/bakery/bake-off concepts. The cornhole board photo can be used to specifically represent the game of cornhole or lawn games in general.
Bonnie: Has anything about your journey with stock photography surprised you?
Valerie: My most beautiful, technically-sound photos are surprisingly not the ones that sell. Stock photography is about fulfilling a need, so if the buyer needs that photo, it doesn’t necessarily have to be perfect (but of course the better the quality, the more it will sell!).
Bonnie: Any additional tips you’d like to share for finding success with stock photography?
Valerie: I have found the best way to succeed at stock photography is consistency. When I maintain a regular schedule of shooting and uploading, I see ideas for stock everywhere. But when I allow myself to get lazy or say “I don’t have time,” my skills decline… and so do my sales.
Bonnie: Do you have any advice for someone just getting started with stock photography?
- Read and practice all the tips and knowledge BSC has to offer. The monthly challenges are a great place to find inspiration as well as set deadlines for yourself.
- Find a subject you enjoy photographing. The more you enjoy it, the more likely you are to pull out your camera and start taking pictures.
- Do NOT give up! It took me years to get accepted to agencies like Shutterstock and Alamy, but now I am regularly collecting paychecks.