For nature photographers who compete in the business of licensing stock photos, the question should be asked regularly: “what should I be shooting?”
With more photographers than ever competing and the markets saturated with nature imagery, photographers should be researching the markets to assist in determining what subjects will have a fighting chance in those markets.
I ask myself this very question when I plan each year for the locations and subjects I think will succeed in the markets.
While I answered this question I also wonder just what subjects and locations I should not shoot and the easiest way was to search various websites and evaluate the results.
So, I randomly selected 5 locations that I have seen widely published and regularly online when I look at others websites. These locations are:
- Delicate Arch in Arches N, Utah
- Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota
- Half Dome in Yosemite Np. California
- Mesa Arch in Canyonlands NP, Utah
- Schwabacher Landing in Grand Tetons NP, Wyoming
While there are many, many, popular and widely photographed locations across the country, I just selected these 5 as examples of very popular locations with nature photographers.
The question is whether those in the business should go to these locations so widely photographed when the amount of images already available is substantial. I am not talking about shooting for joy or markets like fine art prints or eBooks, etc., rather the online stock photo markets.
I am also not suggesting that if you visit these locations that you wont have an image that will be licensed because I am a firm believer in: “it is not whose got the image, it’s whose got the client!’
The Search and Results
The next step I did was search three online websites and all three were Microstock sites. The reason I did this was to see how many images are available in these lower cost sites. I did not look at Rights Managed sites or individual nature photographer’s sites, just the micro sites to evaluate the competition from that sector.
- Istockphoto has 400 images
- Shutterstock has 975 images
- Dreamstime has 719 images
- Istockphoto 800
- Dreamstime 61
- Shutterstock 145
El Capitan Yosemite
- Istockphoto 593
- Dreamstime 1600
- Shutterstock 868
Mesa Arch in Canyonlands
- Istockphoto 101
- Dreamstime 309
- Shutterstock 109
Schwabacher Landing in Grand Tetons NP
- Istockphoto 1764 (Not accurate as results showed all Tetons images)
- Dreamstime 42
- Shutterstock 60
I will say that there is nothing scientific here in these results. They were not 100% accurate with some searches providing results that include images related but not the same. And I was not interested in being 100% accurate. The goal here was to evaluate the competition within the market for specific locations that are hugely popular with nature photographers.
The results say a lot and that is if you sell your work and want to shoot what the market demands, these 5 locations are real long shots. These results represent only the three of the many Microstock sites and don’t show what individual photographers and RM agencies also have in the market.
For myself, I take this as proof I need to look at my stock image plans for locations that are not so popular with photographers and instead seek more newsworthy locations since that increases demand.
If the opportunity presents itself, I will shoot every one of these locations if I am in the area but wont spend time and money to specifically go shoot them.
If you think I am right on target or full of it, please share your opinion by leaving a comment.