The big question that hangs over your head about stock photography is ‘Can you make it a rewarding full time job?’ One of our renowned photographers, László Lőrik, has very much made this into a reality. Working as a freelance photographer, he’s made stock photography his main job.
László shares with us the story of his early beginnings, when stock photography was the new kid on the block and has stuck with it for a decade. His images reveal what’s come of it and here are some of his thoughts on how to make stock photography work for you if you’re interested in the industry.
László, tell us a little bit about yourself and your professional background.
I was born in Budapest, Hungary. As I grow up, I felt that I had to move closer to nature. After a couple of years working in Budapest, I moved to Tata which, by the way, is one of the most beautiful towns in Hungary. I started photographing about 20 years ago.
When did you get into stock photography and what has your journey been like?
I started stock photography at 2009. I have no clue what it was, I just upload my images and wait for the money… and soon I realized what is the requirement of a stock photography.
Is stock photography your main job?
What would you say are contributing factors to a stock photograph that sells well?
In my portfolio the best sellers are: landscapes, real people, storytelling images, backgrounds and textures.
How much can photographers expect to make when just starting their career as stock photographers?
As I see the market is still the same as in the past years, but the numbers of uploaded images continue growing. So now I think it’s a little bit harder to stand out from the crowd and sell the same amount of images.
What have you learned so far from working with stock photography platforms?
I learned a lot. If I want to sell a large amount of images, I have to be able to change. It’s important to react to market expectations, and learn the different needs of the diverse stock agencies.
You have a wonderfully curated collection on Depositphotos. What is your image selection process like?
If the images meet the technical requirements (sharpness, noise, size) and there is something more than just a file, that is the image to select to upload.
What makes a winning photograph? Does it directly reflect how successful it will be in terms of sales?
It is hard to answer. As I see at different stock agencies, there is no recipe. Somewhere a landscape sells well, somewhere a Christmas themed background.
What are some themes and topics that are personally close to you?
I like to be in nature, travel a lot and explore new places. These travel images are my favourite. But I like to work with people with the same attitude.
How do you choose your concepts for photoshoots and what is the process like from conception to execution of a series of photographs that you upload?
First I check my resources and try to find the right place and/or the right people. I think it is important to have fun during the process, so I try to choose a concept that I enjoy and has value for stock agencies. Briefly, chose location, take photos, do image processing, upload.
If there are a lot of images in a series, I just upload the best ones, and if I see the images are selling well, I upload more images from the series.
Are you surprised at your top selling image? Which photograph is it and why do you think it’s become so successful?
Yes, it is an image with a highway at sunset. I think the key is that the image looks well in every size. It can be useful for blogs or full size backgrounds at websites, etc.
How would you say you’ve grown or changed as a photographer since you started working with stocks?
I became more open minded, and now focus more to storytelling and not just documenting.
Do you have any advice for fellow stock photographers that are just starting out?
There are lot of good images at every agency, so do not repeat the same images over and over. Try to be unique, try to express yourself and do not forget about market expectations and the actual image trends.
Your #1 tip or words of wisdom:
The camera is just a tool, the photographer creates the image. Be brave and use your smartphone if you do not have the camera with you.
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