A lot of people starting out in travel photography think they will be able to make a living from selling stock. They aim to travel the world shooting everything they see, upload it all to Alamy and carry on shooting.
Well I hate to be the one to shatter your dreams but think again. Yes, millions of pounds a year are made from selling travel stock images, but they won’t be yours.
Why? Because the market is already saturated. Do a search for pretty much any travel destination on Getty or Corbis (who distribute 50% of the world’s stick between them) and you will get thousands of hits. And most of the shots will be beautifully executed, high quality images.
But when you submit your collection of high quality travel shots they won’t be interested. You just did the search right? So you know why - their collections are already stuffed with similar images, and they’re no longer taking on contributors for traditional travel imagery. That leaves you with the smaller players who, while they are viable businesses, will never sell enough of your images for it to be a viable income to you.
So how can you make any money from shooting travel stock? Well, the stuff that Getty and Corbis will still take on, and that sells for more money, are highly produced ‘travel lifestyle’ images. You know the kind of thing – you’ve seen them in adverts, in brochures or on billboards for resorts or tourist boards – fun, active or romantic images of beautiful people enjoying a stunning location. But these images are expensive to produce – they have high production values and use models, exclusive locations etc.
So what’s the solution? How can you shoot highly produced lifestyle travel imagery without breaking the bank? Simple: shoot for high end magazine and commercial clients, make sure you retain rights to your images and then use the outtakes as stock.
Stock travel photography isn’t dead. But to make any money out of it you’re still going to have to focus on high-end commercial and editorial clients.