Ian Baugh from my album maker, Queensberry, recently posed a question to me about the role my stock photography takes in my wedding photography business. It’s not unusual to find that most wedding photographers also photograph other things. Commonly wedding photographers are also portrait photographers, some are landscape photographers but it is rare to find a photographer who only ever professionally photographs weddings.
For me stock photography is a great fit with my wedding photography. Stock photos are images I take speculatively that I later sell for people to use in advertisements, magazines, online, wherever. I do well from it and in a global ranking of around 40000 photographers I am in the top 200.
Wedding photography can be hard work. You’re dealing with people, their emotions, high drama and high fashion with the added layer of difficulty that the characters in front of the lens are not models plus the lighting, weather and locations are often completely out of your control. If it gets stuffed up, there are no second chances, no reshoots. But they are also extreme days of fun and delight. And I love attending weddings.
Stock photography, on the other hand, allows me the flexibility to photograph what I want, when I want. I can pick and choose my models and locations. I can use lighting rigs to overpower, replace or mimic the sun. If it doesn’t work, I can chalk it up to experience and learn for next time. Stock photography though takes a lot of planning, self motivation and perfection. The images need to be perfectly lit, perfectly posed and perfectly focussed. Every time I shoot it costs me money and although I hope the images sell, there is no guarantee that they ever will.
For me the worlds of wedding and stock photography intersect with me being able to practice and perfect new ideas and techniques for weddings through stock photography. From there much of my stock photography portfolio includes wedding inspired imagery.
From a financial perspective weddings are seasonal. I can be run off my feet for a few months and then have no weddings at all for a a period of time. The stock images continue to sell year round, 24 hours a day producing a passive income that evens out the financial highs and lows.