Making money as a stock photographer Nov 2019

Yesterday I published my video earnings for November 2019, but what was the rest of the story? As I expected, yesterday was a very slow day (which makes 3 in a row as Thanksgiving in the US makes a big dent in my sales). However, the month as a whole was great – I ended up with $3418. I have to recognize that there were a few one-offs this month. A sale on Fine Art America earlier in the month helped, plus I managed to finish all 8 outstanding restaurant take-out photos for Snapwire and get them all accepted in the month. No wonder I am feeling bloated, but the $280 from that exercise certainly helped. I could here the payment for the photos, not the contribution to buy the food itself. So here is my usual graph:

How much can you earn from selling stock photos and videos in 2019?
Earnings from stock photography and videos month by month

I was worried whether I would beat some of the previous year highs and I did manage that this month. Perhaps there is still a little life in this business!

For those new to my blog, here are my file counts on the main agencies:

How many photos or videos do you need to make money in stock photography?
Number of assets online at the various stock agencies in November 2019

And, to complete the graphs, here is one that shows the relative earnings from photos and videos over the past years:

Which is best for earnings - stock photos or stock videos?
Relative earnings between stock photos and videos through November 2019

So what were the highlights for November? Obviously video helped a lot with earnings of $487 plus those images of delicious food for Snapwire! This particular one looks pretty unappetizing – supposed to be a club sandwich:

Turkey Club sandwich on wheat bread

I think something must have gone wrong with the ordering of this particular sandwich! For those travelers among my readership, this looks like a typical British sandwich, although perhaps with a little too much meat!

I had some particularly good high priced sales in the month. I used to think that Alamy was the place for high priced sales, but I am really struggling over on that agency with total sales of just $90 net this month. However, this one sold for a net $36.

Is medicare accepted at all hospitals? Stock photo illustrating the refusal of a medicare card by a doctor looking for cash payments
Example of a composite stock photo about acceptance of Medicare at hospitals

This is one of my composites. Me in my blue scrubs (courtesy of Amazon) and stethoscope with some cash in my pocket refusing my arm holding a medicare card set against the background of an empty mall close to my home. I’ve used this mall a number of times as an out of focus background for hospital or school type shots. It is always worth having these sort of shots available for creating new stock photos.

The best seller of the month must be this relatively boring shot of a sunset over the ocean which sold for $115 on Adobe Stock:

Vertical stock photo of a sunset over the ocean in Maui
Sunset over the ocean in Maui

Firstly, it is a vertical shot (which don’t seem to sell very well these days) and the sky is pretty boring, but perhaps it made the grade with lots of copy space for a front cover of a magazine somewhere? But I will certainly happily take the earnings!

Sticking with boring photos (and there is a message here), I sold this one for $73 on Shutterstock:

Stock photo of a simple glass of golden beer in a plastic party cup and isolated against a white background
Beer in plastic cup isolated against white

There are many shots of beer in glass glasses, but when I took this back in 2013, there were far fewer in plastic for outdoor events. Over its life, this one has sold 650 times on Shutterstock alone for $527. So boring is good if it meet a need from buyers!

But this one takes the biscuit:

Stock photo of a replacement bulb for christmas tree lighting set isolated against white background
Replacement bulb for Christmas tree lights against white

This one sold on Shutterstock for $71. I think I took this in 2011 and it has only sold 52 times on Shutterstock, but I’m certainly glad it was in my portfolio for this buyer’s needs!

I received a request for a copyright buyout on Dreamstime for this image of a Christmas tree outside the Capitol building in Washington DC. I thought about all the effort involved in removing it from endless sites and declined the offer, but it then sold for $20 on Dreamstime. I’m not sure what the copyright might have been worth, but $20 is OK for an RF sale.

Stock photo of a decorated xmas tree in front of the Capitol dome in Washington DC at Christmas time
Christmas tree in front of Capitol dome in Washington DC

I talked about my experiments with the AI driven sky replacement with Luminar 4 earlier in the week and stressed how keeping your own library of sky images was a good idea for the future. Lo and behold, someone bought one of my high definition stitched skies from Adobe for $26. This one is 8500 pixels wide so would happily fit in any replacement project.

High resolution sky over a calm ocean suitable for any sky replacement composite photo
High definition stitched sky suitable for Luminar 4 sky replacement

Incidentally, I have been watching a few videos about Luminar 4 and playing with it some more. It is pretty much a Lightroom/Photoshop replacement program with library functions plus some of the layer effects that you can get in Photoshop. I don’t think I will change at this point, but if you haven’t invested much time in LR or in learning Photoshop, it might be worth investigating.

Well that completes my round up for the month. I hope you have some money left over from the Black Friday sales – I managed to get an Ipad Air in the few hours that Amazon mis-priced it from $30 off to $100 off – it is supposed to arrive on Tuesday. And my trusty Epson Pro 3880 printer finally ran out of ink and so I have a replacement set of refillable cartridges coming in the week as well. Not sure either of those will earn their keep in new stock income, but there you are! Happy holidays to you all as we hopefully sell lots of images and videos in December!

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