When I first started, I did a bit of stock photography for a number of reasons.
- I needed experience posing and understanding how I looked under different kinds of light
- I wanted to network and…
- I had no pictures! For me, it was a great move- I was selective about who I worked with and ended up making some fantastic creative friends in the process.
What’s stock photography?
Companies that require lifestyle images but might not have the budget (or need) to produce an original shoot for a given project, so they go to stock image banks like Getty, Corbis, and Shutterstock to purchase limited usage of images, or to buy images outright.
Pros of Stock Modeling
For a new model the number one benefit of doing stock is getting frames. Learning what works and what doesn’t: light, angles, emotions… it’s a great time to play, make mistakes, and find your process. (You’ll see in the top left photo I’m wearing jewelry AND have a hair tie around my wrist! Rookie…
There’s a constant demand for fresh, relevant images, so from a work perspective, booking stock work is relatively easy. Search stock photographers through local casting networks or stock banks and submit your portfolio.
Often with stock shoots, you can also negotiate getting a new headshot or another look for your own use. Having a beautiful professional headshot taken while you gain valuable experience is a great trade, and because the shoot isn’t client-driven, there’s not a lot of pressure… so it’s pretty fun too.
Cons of Stock Modeling
Your agent won’t like it. At all.
Agents aren’t crazy about stock because you’re essentially giving your image away, and it’s their job to protect and sell it.
You have NO control. (I mean zero…)
When you let your image be sold to an image bank—it can be used for any kind of article or brochure. I’ve been lucky (as far as I know anyway) but you can end up having your face plastered on something you don’t want to represent, like this recent-viral article on the downside of stock modeling. Sigh…
Plainly: stock doesn’t pay. There’s no day rate, no renewed usage, no buyout. You’re usually paid an hourly or flat rate and sign away all rights forever.
It’s a career choice and a judgment call if you decide to do stock. I did it, but I worked with Tanya Constantine; she’s a seasoned stock photographer and I trust her completely. Our work together got me my first North American package deal and my cover- in the same year!
If you’re not represented and need photos, stock photography modeling might be a great way to get in front of the camera and see what you can do. Make sure you select a stock photographer the same way you’d select any shooter- pick someone whose work you admire and vision you trust.