One of our top contributors, Logan Bannatyne, found a way to make his hobby his main source of income. It sounds like a dream, but it is possible. Today Logan shares with us his journey into stock photography, how he found success and what you can do today to edge closer to your aspirations.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your professional career.
I’m from Glasgow, but I now live in the south of England. I had originally wanted to be an actor and photography was just a hobby of mine. Something I did to earn a little extra cash while trying to find acting jobs. Although I’ve been a keen photographer since I was seven, it took me many years before I realized that it was my true passion.
You’re one of our most successful contributors, how did it all begin for you?
After a holiday to Venice I started wondering where travel guides get their photos from and if maybe they could use some of my shots from that holiday. I did some research and that’s how I discovered stock photography.
What was your first successful photograph that sold out?
The first photo that turned out to be really successful for me was a rear view shot of my girlfriend looking at the sunset in the countryside. It was taken on a weekend break and has now paid for that holiday.
How did you stumble on success in stock photography?
Just keep going! For the first year I was earning an average of $5-10 a week. When my earnings suddenly started growing as a result of a larger portfolio I realized that I could make a living out of this if I just kept uploading new content.
Do you have any insider secrets on how to make it in the industry?
Persistence, persistence, persistence!
What is your go-to gear for photo shoots?
I have a Leica M9 that I carry with me everywhere. I love how light it is by comparison to DSLR’s, the lenses are the best money can buy, it’s great in low light conditions and I just find it fun to work with a rangefinder and manual focus. For studio shoots I use a Pentax 645Z, I love medium format and if wasn’t so heavy I would take it out in the field more often.
What’s your formula for a successful photograph?
Formula for a successful photo? I wish I knew! Some of my most successful shots have been completely random. Photos of things I thought looked interesting, but I didn’t really expect to sell well. I suppose just having fun and enjoying yourself with your camera is a good formula.
What kind of returns can photographers expect to make when they get into stock photography?
Whatever you put into it. When I first started, all I was hoping for was to earn enough to pay my food bills, now my portfolio is paying all my bills.
What are your plans for the future? Do you plan on expanding your business?
Most of my pictures so far have been simple everyday scenes, I would like to do some more elaborate setups with more models, props and stylistic elements. I have also started shooting more video footage and that’s something I hope to keep pursuing.
Could you share a funny story from your professional career that taught you something valuable?
I have learned not to think too hard about concepts. Early on I wanted to create a photo of a healthy lifestyle concept.. So, I took my old worn out shoe that I used to go running in and placed it next to a bowl of salad. Running shoe + salad = healthy lifestyle! Right? No. Needless to say, that photo was not accepted by anyone. I still have a print of it to remind me of what not to do.
Have any of your photographs appeared in major publications or ads?
I have seen a few of my photos in places I didn’t expect. On a recent trip to London the first thing I saw when I exited Paddington Station was one of my photos of a woman on a bike used on a massive banner to promote a new housing development. I’ve also seen my photos in national newspapers and on book covers.
Do you have any advice for aspiring photographers?
Don’t worry about not having the latest and best equipment, just go out and create with the tools you have and enjoy what you do, if you don’t enjoy yourself the most expensive camera in the world won’t get you great photos. Although it’s boring, don’t ignore your admin and legal tasks, always get the necessary model and property releases.
What’s been the biggest mistake you’ve had to learn from during your career?
I’ve made a few mistakes. One lesson I’ve learned is not to buy cheap equipment if you think you’ll be able to afford better stuff in the future. It’s better to save and wait that little bit longer if it means the difference between getting quality gear that will last for years or something that needs to be replaced soon after purchase.
Your #1 photography tip or words of wisdom:
Have fun and take pictures of the things you enjoy!