commercial writing

Stock Photography: An Art, a Craft, a Technology, or a Business?

One of the frequently asked questions around Photography and Stock Photography in particular is, whether someone working in this field is an artist, a craftsperson, a technolgist, or a business owner. For arguments sake, let us pretend that we do not know that tax authorities believe this is a commercial endeavour, hence a “business”, and let us approach the question without the bias of tax laws.

Stock photography, let alone photography in general, is very much at home in the Arts field. It is quite evident that without some artsy approach, there is little chance of producing good and salesworthy results. Even for repro, infrared, or engineering photography, one might argue that there is still some degree of an “artistic eye” necessary.

Equally many ingredients in stock photography are derived from the crafts area: not only is your camera and other equipment a tool, but lighting, creating a set, and shooting a technically usable photo are undoubtedly what a craftsperson does.

In the day and age of photography as well as video production going increasingly digital, technology aspects are getting increasingly important in all these fields. Even in the age of film, there were lots of technical aspects to keep in mind, from film speed to mixing the right baths in the darkroom to using the correct set of brushes and scissors if you happened to be retouching. Little can you do as an aspiring photographer today, if you don’t know about computer storage media, USB standards, computer file systems on one hand or ISO settings or sensor noise, and many more — ideally on a sound basis of “old-style” knowledge, above –, on the other in order to make good use of these aspects and produce results that have all the features you want to influence using these aspects and settings.

The business aspect: it is present in everything you do as a photographer, particularly as a stock photographer where you primarily want to sell your work, and to the maximum number of prospective buyers at that. In order to succeed with that part, a thorough understanding of both artistic trends as well as marketing, particularly internet and social media marketing, are essential.

So, in summary, Stock Photography is All of the Above. Working as a stock photographer includes myriad ingredients from Arts, Crafts, Technology, and Business aspects.

Depending on the scale ow one’s own stock photography endeavours, one or the other may have a bigger share in the overall equation. From renting significant floor space in a business park to pursuing a micro-scale commercial and object photography business literally from the kitchen table, everything is included in the broader meaning of Stock Photograph — and don’t forget, the cost-reward-ratios can even be a lot better for smaller-scale operators. It all depends on one’s personal style and also on finding a niche and how to work it, from Yuri Arcurs Photography, Aarhus, Denmark or Joshua Hodge right down to the little guy.