Ushico’s case

Ushico has been working as a professional photographer, mainly taking photos for advertising and editorial use, since the very beginning when she started her career with PIXTA.

Soon, she started having thoughts about changing her working style in the near future because she took marriage and having a child into consideration at that time. Therefore, she found earning income regularly through stock photos very attractive.

What made you start shooting stock photos?

Ushico: I registered with PIXTA around February, 2010. Before the registration, I was quite depressed because the sales amount from my original job had decreased dramatically and my clients stopped working with me one after another. Then, my boyfriend (my husband now) suggested that I try shooting stock photos if I had some free time. This is how I started shooting stock photos.

How much money do you make now?

Ushico: Approximately, the sales for 2013 amounted to $200,000.

Do you have any tips for improving and increasing sales?

Ushico: One of the main reasons why I have been effectively getting good results is that I have been accumulating experiences in framing a good composition and shooting with varying themes in my works. On the other hand, many photographers, in my opinion, specialize in certain limited themes. I make it a rule to take photos with a variety of themes.

I often look at magazines and posters on trains as reference for composition everyday, which I can try making the most out of it when I put it into practice on shoots.

I also try to take photos regularly because I become less adept if I stop shooting for a while. I think that this applies to all kinds of jobs. Therefore, I think it is very important to take photos constantly as well.

Please give advice for other contributors!!

Ushico: First of all, enjoy taking photos. I think your photos would attract much attention and sell well if you enjoy taking them, whether you are a professional or not.

However, if you want to make money, you have to invest a certain amount of money into taking stock photos, and to provide high quality photos by researching what the hot-selling images in the market are.

Xiangtao’s case

Xiangtao worked for a financial company without any knowledge about photography initially. He started his career as a contributor of PIXTA in 2007, and creates a lot of stock-photos that sell very well using his business experience and marketing ability.

What made you start stock photography?

Xiangtao: I happen to know PIXTA when I was trying to apply for a contest for karaoke video clips held by GYAO!, a Japanese video sharing webservice. I was trying to find photos for image synthesis on PIXTA at that time.

Initially, I only had interest in the business of uploading and selling videos and photos. Then, I tried uploading some photos to PIXTA that I had taken before, and I earned $60 that month. Since then, I have been taking photos as a PIXTA contributor, as I thought there were few rivals at the time.

How much money do you make now?

Xiangtao: Approximately, the sales for 2014 amount to $150,000.

Do you have any tips for making lots of money?

Xiangtao: Here are the 5 points to think about when taking photos that sell well.

  • To whom should I sell my photos?
  • What should I sell?
  • What resources should I use to sell my photos?
  • How should I make my photos different from those of other contributors?
  • How can I increase my income?

On top of this, I regard this as very important to build the whole business model, taking those points listed above into consideration, so that I can keep working on it and improve continuously.I believe we should aim to get good results from stock photos not in the short run, but in the long run such as the year.

“The year” suggests we have to continue the whole plan of shooting and selling photos for a long term.You cannot compromise any one of those 5 tips if you want to keep shooting stock photos successfully.

YNS’s case

YNS was born in Tokyo in 1969, and is a professional photographer. Since he graduated from university, he has taken photos mainly for reportage and portrait for magazines and advertisements as a freelance photographer. He also belongs to the Japan Professional Photographers Society (JPS).

What made you start shooting stock photos?

YNS: When I was a university student, I originally planed to start shooting stock photos after reaching a certain age – since I had seen my photographer seniors taking stock photos (on film). After a while, the market started needing more digital RF photos as most people had switched their film cameras to digital ones, and I started to put my digital RF stock photos on websites of several photo agencies. I got to know PIXTA around the time, and they had just started running their business.

How much money do you make now?

YNS: I do not earn as much as I would like to from PIXTA, so I would like to make more in the near future. Recently, I have been more serious about microstock photography than ever before, since it is becoming the recent trend. At the end of 2014, I actually earned about $40,000, which is approximately twice as much income as what I earned at the beginning of the year with PIXTA. I will put in more effort.

Do you have any tips for making lots of money?

YNS: I think it is most important to find out exactly what type of images fit your shooting style in order to sell more. Many photographers tend to choose to work on the type of photos that supposedly sells best on stock photo agencies. However, most of them do not choose these types of photos just because they want to shoot them or are quite good at them; and they can also cost quite a lot too.

Moreover, there are already many hot-selling photos on the websites of these agencies. Alternatively, I am sure that it is much better to explore some themes of photos which you are really good at, or themes that aren’t too mainstream or common just because they are hot-selling themes. If your photo becomes a smash hit in a field that nobody has been working on, you can almost dominate that stock photo field. Using this method, I have been trying to work on photos that can potentially become smash hits one after another.

Please give advice for other contributors!!

YNS: I think taking as many photos as possible is the most important thing for any genre of stock photos. Therefore, primarily you need to increase the number of photos that go through reviews and stay on sale at a stock photo agency.

My recommendation is to set uploading 1000 images as your first goal. I am quite sure some of them would have sold by the time you’re reaching that goal. After this, be sure to increase the number of images similar to photos that are already selling well. You will find out what are the best types of photo that fit your shooting style in this way.

A stock photo usually sells intermittently as a product for a relatively long term, such as 5 year or 10 years, once it is sold. I am sure the shortest way to success is to increase the number of your stock photos on sale, enjoying the whole process. Don’t rush; “Constant dropping wears away the stone”.