Reasons Why You Should Give Up and Quit Stock

posted on 31st of july, 2010

Reason One: Competition. DreamsTime is saturated with images and the deluge of new images covering the same topics continues to keep coming in. Multiply that over all the other stock agencies and there is little chance for your images to sell. At least often enough to make it worthwhile.

Reason Two: Even if you produce top-notch stuff, the ever-growing and saturated database is going to prevent you from being discovered. Great keywording isn't going to matter. It would be considered fantastic placement if your image came up on page nine out of 500, but how often do buyers actually get past the first three pages of search results? The best stock images will never sell if they are not found.

Reason Three: You need professional grade equipment. Minimal bare-bones lighting equipment can cost $2000. Don't even think about the cost of the camera. And if you do make the investment for a nice camera, a digital camera is like any other type of electronics these days: It's obsolete in six months. The low end equipment is not good enough any more because of the competition factor.

Reason Four: Too many people are copying good ideas. We all peek at each other's portfolio. We see what the best selling images are. Someone comes up with a good idea and others will produce equivalent images in order to grab a share of the sales for a concept. There may have been plenty of sales to go around in the past but now there are too many contributors looking over your shoulder which makes it tough to get ahead.

Reason Five: Virtually every concept has been covered through virtually every possible angle. Whatever you do, even if you thought of the idea on your own, it's already been done by someone else.

Reason Six: Theft. The internet and technology has made it too easy to steal images. DT and the other agencies fight against this, but are their efforts good enough? Some battles you just can't win.

Reason Seven: The internet has made it too easy for professional photographers to distribute their material. Commercial photographers are constantly doing shoots and they have hundreds of "extras" they can throw out onto the internet. Multiply that out and its tens of thousands of new images being available each month compared to your ten. Your efforts have been defeated merely through sheer numbers.

Reason Eight: It's just getting too hard. Because of the saturation of new images, stock agencies can demand higher standards of quality. You need to have professional grade skills with photo editing. The learning curve is too steep to be on the same level with professionals who have spent years learning Photoshop and other software packages. There is no way for you to keep up.

Reason Nine: It takes too much time to grow. Even if you are demonstrating some success, the time and effort isn't worth the bother. A few images here, a few images there, a couple of good ideas, you get some sales, but between your day job and other responsibilities, there are better things you can do with your time.

Reason Ten: This is the biggest reason of all for why you should quit stock: You are unable to find ways to overcome the reasons listed above. However, if you do, then you shouldn't quit. This blog is intended to give you a reality check. :-) One way to overcome anything is to know what you're up against and then find solutions to the obstacles.

Comments (52)

Posted by Flexigav on January 15, 2011
I like your thinking! Royalty free microstock is not an industry you can make an income from that is worthy of your time input! It might be good for some supplementary income out of your passion, but you will struggle to make returns that meet your cost and time input, let alone make profit! Even one hour in post production to remove trademarks from an image has to be worth at least U$40 worth in time. To cover this time you would need 80 down loads at 50c a download and that's only to cover your post production time! It is for enthusiast's seeking to help pay for their passion, being very selective in what they submit! Professionals desire income from royalties they can estimate!
Posted by Sepavo on January 15, 2011
This is disheartening yet enlightening!
Posted by Driley on January 08, 2011
Great blog - love it! Sums up everything I'm learning to like about stock photography!

My basic 2.5 year old DSLR camera Vs other people's monsters, basic photography skills Vs. professional photographers, no free time Vs. people who do this for a living, tiny amount of images Vs millions of others taken by said photographers with said hardware.......yet people still find my images and see them worthy of their $0.42 subscription price tag!

The challenge is huge.....but that's why we like it!
Posted by Gwhitton on January 07, 2011
My camera will be obsolete in 6 months? Come on. Nikon and Canon don't even produce new top line cameras that fast, and one of my lens is from the 80's and remains one of the best lens you can own. The fact is that one of the reasons there is so much competition, is because except for certain situations my Nikon D90 can produce just as good a quality, or at least the quality that is needed for print, as a D3. Only if I am shooting at night, a photo the size of a building, or at a fast paced sporting event do cracks begin to show. And the gap in the future will only close further. The whole story of microstock is the fact that you don't need a million dollars of equipment anymore to produce a good product, so the market is open to thousands who didn't have a chance in the past.
Posted by Davidwatmough on August 30, 2010
Why are you still here? Please do another blog giving the explanation. It cannot be money since the income doesnt cover the cost of camera depreciation or lenses or tripod or petrol. My view is that its a lesson in photography by the back-door [ reasons for refusal , competition with others to do better etc ]. One cover image for a magazine earns me about $75 but I cannot do enough of these outside my area of expertise. David.
Posted by Meryll on August 27, 2010
Yes, sometimes I also feel down loosing so much time for a few $ monthly, think if I am crazy, would I do another job for so little... but on the contrary it makes me glad if any of my picture is being sold. In fact it is more about the joy of using or appreciation of my work than about revenue and I find this quite addictive. Moreover, there is the dream that maybe one day... Can you dream? :-)
Posted by Wayfarer on August 25, 2010
So may reasons to pack it in.
But I say - keep going, produce the best you can and believe in your work!
Posted by Fleyeing on August 24, 2010
LOL Fleyeing, thats actually quite true. However, you might earn 43$ again next month from DT by doing ... nothing. Darn I lost it. They didn't buy my story. They're not quitting at all. :-p
I think it's an addiction. ;-)
Posted by Phakimata on August 24, 2010
Don't give up. There's no reason to stop. Just make sure you keep improving and to make progress.
One thing to keep in mind is that images have a half-life. Styles, wardrobe, etc. become old fashioned and buyers always need to have a new look on an old idea. When you see what sells well and then imitate that image using different colors, slightly different pose etc. that image might sell better (at the moment) as it is more current.

Posted by Alanesspe on August 24, 2010
Well you are totally right , too much, too many copies, too much photoshop, too many images. I truly believe that only 0,1% can make some money if they are produce new creative images, when you copy others you are already finished.
Posted by Swamin on August 23, 2010
after reading this blog, I or anyone will not be quiting for sure.

good writing tough. don't lose your hope Wisconsinart.

this is a LEARNING experience. :)
Posted by P0temkin on August 23, 2010
LOL Fleyeing, thats actually quite true. However, you might earn 43$ again next month from DT by doing ... nothing.
Posted by Fleyeing on August 21, 2010
I found a great way to make money by microstock the past 2 months. Yes, you can do it too! I actually made more money in a single day than during the full month of July on DT (a whopping 43$).

Here is how it goes. Don't waste hours of your time to postprocess a few images that will earn you 0.35$ max size now and then. Don't upload!

I painted my apartment the past month myself, avoiding the 9 euro minimum wage per hour. On an 8-hr working day that is a saving of 78 euro, double the earnings of a full month on DT! You don't even need expensive gear like a Canon D5II and strobes. A paint roller and a container will do. :-p
Posted by Wisconsinart on August 21, 2010
I think this is the last time I will use the reverse psychology approach. :-)
Posted by Neerajarora on August 21, 2010
You seems disappointed by the sales. It might be your over expectation before joining the stock photography. In my case, I'm too much optimistic. The points you have raised are applied in are daily life. For each job or contract or customer thousands people fights but still I and you have a job or business. I would like to refer one blog posted on DT itself:
Kindly go through it and will see that still there is hope. even if photographers are increasing, even if all ideas are covered (which I do not agree, earlier I though same thing but when I see getting sold my pictures I got motivation that not all the ideas covered :) ) the user of photographs are also increasing. If there are 100 million photographs available on stock websites, there are 1 billion customers. So, don't give up, the speed of sale might be slow but once you are geared, it will grow vertically.
Posted by Ptoone on August 20, 2010
While many of these issues may seem hard to overcome, having a distinguished and consistent style will help in overcoming such issues.
Posted by Davidwatmough on August 19, 2010
Well I found that early on my acceptance ratio was a mere 20% now its 60% because submitting to DT raises ones game [ hopefully the ar will go on rising ] I also came to the conclusion that the income fails to cover costs of camera and lens and storage media. Its not a business but better than submitting to magazine competitions and getting your work bucketed.
My suggestion is offer some images to magazines as cover shots and get about $100 for one accepted image. But keep submitting to DT as well. David.
Posted by Biggssiener on August 18, 2010
Posted by Martinedegraaf on August 18, 2010
Oh No.... are you serious about this???

Now you've got me all depressed and sobbing....
No more room for dreams on dreamstime any more??

naaah.... ;):D
Posted by Cteconsulting on August 18, 2010
Well, I only read your blog posting as linked. You did not provide any other disclaimer on what the reader should do, so I did not realize your intent was then for us to read your ENTIRE blog so that we would understand your point. So, my original comment was only related to the original link you provided.
Posted by Wisconsinart on August 18, 2010
Are you serious? What are you going to do after these ten reasons?

It's apparent I should give up on satire. :-)
Posted by Almaterra on August 18, 2010
Are you serious? What are you going to do after these ten reasons?
Posted by Novembergale on August 11, 2010
Hmmm..... Is the glass half full or half empty? The world is our audience and we will continue to come up with fresh ideas, make sales, and have fun. I'm staying. Nice blog article! ;-)
Posted by Photojay on August 06, 2010
Love this! So over the deep end that it is impossible not to see the sarcasm, yet some people still missed it! I will tell you one thing, this definitely got you some exposure! A crowd begets a crowd, right? ;) Keep it up!
Posted by Bradcalkins on August 06, 2010
Hmmm - I think One, Two, Four, Five, Seven, Eight and Nine all variations of the same thing: a lot of talented people are doing this!
Posted by Brettossman on August 06, 2010
Just like any business, to make this a business, you MUST market yourself. You can't expect tons of customers to find you, just because you posted on here. Won't work that way.

My marketing wheels are already turning. :-)
Posted by Viktor50 on August 06, 2010
Gmargittai says is right and I agree with him...."One should not look at this as a business"
Posted by Wisconsinart on August 05, 2010
Cheer up and continue uploading.

I figured a few would miss the real point to all this. It's not about being depressed, it's about knowing the obstacles of the stock industry. But you have to recognize them in order to succeed.
Posted by Gmargittai on August 05, 2010
Yes all your points Wisconsinart are correct. Basically there is only one point. There is so much competition, so many wannabe photographers like you and me and the others :), it's nearly impossible to get discovered. One should not look at this as a business unless you are Yuri Arcus.
For me being part of DT and having my pictures reviewed and critiqued for free, beats any day just loading them up to Flickr or other sites and then watch for comments. Been there done that.
There is no better endorsement than somebody paying money for your art, even if only a few cents. It still humbles and excites me when this happens.
So my advise to you. Cheer up and continue uploading. If you do this for 2-3 years already and still not a millionaire, it probably not going to happen.
Posted by Wildmac on August 04, 2010
This is a good reality check for anyone that joined recently thinking they could get rich quick.
But for us addicts that would be taking loads of pictures and painting and enjoying making images even if we weren't selling them, there is no thought of quitting ;)
"Hope springs eternal in the human breast" - Alexander Pope

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Photo credits: Emberiza.

About me

My greatest passion is landscape and fine art photography. However, stock does provide a challenge in itself. I enjoy coming up with new ideas and concepts and learning new techniques. In the end, each compliments the other. The things you learn from one can apply for another and you grow with the craft. I have over 30 years experience with different kinds of art and freelance endeavors and have yet to become tired or bored with finding new ways to exercise the creative side of me. Thank you for visiting my profile and I hope your time here will be a reward in itself. I am located in Wisconsin... [Read more]

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