In this modern world there are some significant changes that put a lot of photographers in the edge of a great cliff, many of them facing complete oblivion in terms of their career, while others faced what was coming, while finding a great way to continue working in their passion. In fact, the creation of new devices like the iPhone 10 and newer versions, has created a moment of uncertainty for a great number of photographers, who saw how their jobs, their economic peace and maybe their whole life started to go into a downhill.

The first years of the Covid pandemic were the worst for most photographers, in fact statistics from those years clearly show that hundreds of thousands of such jobs were lost in the globe, as a consequence of the closures around the world. It´s only natural that most of those workers found themselves in quite a harsh situation, as most of parties were suspended, as well as those events that they might found as a good fit for their profession.

But as they say in China, some crisis are also an opportunity. In particular when you factor in the impressive capacity of the human race to adapt themselves to different situations. And as some disappeared as they couldn´t adapt to what was going on, others chose a different path to continue their career, converting themselves to what is now the future of photography, the common market of photos that rule the Internet today.

This is the universe of “Stock Photos”, a concept that was there before the pandemic, but took a lot of impulse, in particular in the workers side. In particular in those dark moments of 2020, when there wasn´t any jobs, but there was the possibility to sell photos online, charging sites a percentage of what they make, and thus finding a very elegant way to avoid going under.

The top stock photos sites

There were some sites that tried to establish this concept about 10 years ago, having a good response from the public, but in a quite bounded way. In particular as the web back in 2010 and even more before, wasn´t such a regulated place on Earth to begin with, and of course there were even less people controlling it. This has changed now, and a lot, there are a lot of ways companies can track their content, with a great network of lawyers in the top capital cities of the world, just waiting for the opportunity to conduct a copyright trial.

This changed the scene quite a bit, as in 2010 most of the sold images came from news agencies like Associated French Press (AFP) or Reuters, now there are sites like Shutterstock (one of the pioneers) and many others that sell their stock photos, as well as offer a free section where people can find something to illustrate a website without having to pay an expensive photo shooting.

It works for the customer, but also for the Internet, as it regulates the usage of photos in a much more efficient way, allowing authors (mainly photographers) to track their creations back to the place someone might have stolen it, and press for them to erase it or face the wrath of the technological giants such as Google. In a side note, this regulations have also served some people that wanted their private (leaked) images out of the Internet for ever, with great results.

What´s in it for photographers?

It´s the new marketplace, but in this case in an online format, allowing them to find two things: the possibility to be recognized as an author and starting making a name for themselves with the free version of the photos. Or to start making little amount of money for every download a customer make, increasing in returns as their photos become more successful, or more shoots get downloaded.

Even when in the beginning this represents fractions of dollars, in the long run can represent a decent salary, just enough to make up for harsh times. Some photographers starting creating only for stock photos sites, while others use it as a side income to their main activity. What´s clear is that it´s a good source of income, that in many cases allow photographers to improve their technique, as they only buy photos that are technically proficient.

It´s not just a matter of uploading anything and getting money, there´s a few challenges to face before having your photos accepted, like for example perfect focus, the quality of the lens and the camera, as well as if it was taken on a phone or not. Even when today´s technology in phones is surpassing those of the mid-range SLR cameras, and approaching slowly to those more advanced equipment, for a fraction of the price.

In the future more and more stock sites will accept photos taken by a phone, as many people are using them in quite a professional way, taking photos that in some cases surpass those taken by amateurs in SLR cameras. Only time will tell, but what´s clear is that the stock photos concept came to stay, and rarely will be debunked in the short time, as the pandemic brought the need to sell cheap via the Internet, and these photos sites are a great answer to that.