Is Stock Photography a Good Source of Passive Income? That Depends on You

While there’s been much ado about the death of stock photography in the wake of AI-based imagery, there are still many photographers earning passive income from the trade. Just how are they doing that, though?

Full-time stock photographer and videographer Luka Ažman made this video that shares a few tips on how he makes money on his stock images and video.

First, it’s important to distinguish the passive income of stock photography, where you upload an image to a service and it generates revenue over time without further input from you (i.e. you can be asleep and people can buy your images and make you money) versus active income, such as freelancing or working for a newspaper or magazine as a photographer, where if you don’t work, you don’t get paid.

Ažman notes that many images and video that he uploads follow a curve. At first, they’re not purchased much, followed by a period of decent sales, and then a tailing off as the image gets purchased less and less.

Part of the reason for this, Ažman surmises, is the opaque algorithms governing these sites. Sites want to reward active contributors by pushing their new photos forward, but at the same time, want to keep popular, older photos at the forefront since they’re, well, popular. Therefore, it’s important to get thrown into the mix often by constantly uploading new photos, lest you get bumped by the algorithm.

A better tip than shoveling photos non-stop onto a site is to research new and emerging trends, such as activities or items that don’t have a lot of stock photography available to illustrate them. Ažman throws out an example of a unique activity he found that hasn’t been truly discovered by the stock photography. Looking for keywords can be helpful here, he says.

While it may not be as lucrative as it used to be, there’s still some money to be made with stock photography work. Check out Ažman’s tips above, and if you’re a stock photographer yourself, share some of your tips in the comments below.

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