When Are Photos Like Penny Stocks? When They Sell.

The New York Times:

Earn big money taking photographs in your spare time!

It sounds like a late-night TV come-on for a phony get-rich-quick scheme. But in this case, it might just be true.

Thanks to the Internet and digital cameras, thousands of semiprofessional photographers are now selling their shots through so-called microstock Web sites to customers around the world. But it’s not like the old days of stock photography – before 2000: the price that each shot fetches is not enough to buy a cup of coffee. Microstock Web sites have turned the pricing structure for picture licensing on its head.

Traditional photographic stock companies charge several hundred to several thousand dollars per image. Microstock prices can be as low as 25 cents, and payments to photographers are even lower, often not much more than pennies per sale.

Lise Gagné of Quebec specializes in business shots, one of the most popular genres. Ms. Gagné, who has been shooting commercially for five years, earns more than $100,000 a year selling her work exclusively through iStockphoto.

Because volume matters in microstock sales, a large number of shots must be uploaded. Ms. Gagné currently has 4,900 photographs available for sale on the site and adds 5 to 20 more each week.

Photo by Stuart Isett.

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