5 Stock Photographer Success Stories [2024]

Updated: November 19th, 2023
Become A Stock Photographer

A stock photographer creates a wide variety of high-quality photos and licenses them out to individuals, businesses, and organizations through stock photo sites. This allows many different customers to use your photos for web content, brochures, advertisements, presentations, and more in exchange for royalty payments.

As a stock photographer, you retain ownership of your photos while selling licenses for their various commercial uses. With each photo download, you get paid a royalty fee. Top stock photographers make a full-time living through licensing fees across their robust galleries of creative, useful images.

To be successful, focus first on building a diverse, striking collection showcasing your best photography. Study top-selling images on leading stock sites to understand what subject matters, styles, and technical executions garner the most demand.

Target popular neglected niches and leverage platforms like Shutterstock, Stock, and Adobe Stock to upload your growing stock library. With abundant high-quality and keyword-optimized images in your portfolio, your work can start getting discovered and driving passive licensing income over time.

Here are some real life success stories of starting a stock photographer:

1. Product Photography Studio ($540K/year)

Tsour Lee Adato, the founder of Pro Photo Studio, stumbled upon the idea of starting a product photography business when a client asked him to shoot one of their products. He quickly realized the potential of product photography and became obsessed with honing his skills. Today, Pro Photo Studio is a profitable business with a diverse range of clients, including prestigious brands like Starbucks and Versace, and plans to expand to multiple cities.

How much they make: $540K/year
How much did it cost to start: $5K
Current team size: 6


How I Started A Commercial Product Photography Business

Pro Photo Studio founder Tsour Lee Adato shares how she turned a $5k investment into a business that services over 500 clients annually and makes approximately $350k per year with plans to expand and become a 7-figure business while offering advice to fellow entrepreneurs to always be innovating, learning and growing, and not to undervalue themselves.

Tsour grew the business to $45K/month
It cost Tsour $5000 to start the business
Read by 14,437 founders

2. SvenStudios ($72K/year)

Steven, a wedding photographer based in Adelaide, Australia, started his business by combining his passion for photography with his teaching background. After gaining a following on DeviantArt and attending business conferences, he focused on online marketing and creating a strong brand. With an average of 30 weddings per year, Steven's business generates a six-figure income and stands out for his unique, genuine approach to capturing couples' special moments.

How much they make: $72K/year
How much did it cost to start: $60K
Current team size: 1


How I Started A Career As Wedding Photographer That Generates Over 6 Figures Per Year

This case study is about a wedding photographer in Australia who earns over six figures annually by keeping things simple, offering transparent pricing, and focusing on online advertising with an effective website and SEO strategy.

Steven started SvenStudios over 10 years ago
Steven grew the business to $6K/month
It cost Steven $60000 to start the business
Read by 7,883 founders

So... can you actually make money with a stock photographer?

Of course. There are millions to be made in this industry.

But how?

  1. Research real, profitable businesses and see exactly how much money they make.
  2. Study exactly what works, and what doesn’t.
  3. Take action, because now you have the roadmap.

Join Starter Story and build your next big thing:

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3. Two Little Monkeys Photography ($24K/year)

Getting pregnant with twin babies, Samantha wanted to document as much as she could about her kids. She wasn't set on a particular career path until then, and immediately saw photography as the viable option to pursue.

How much they make: $24K/year
How much did it cost to start: $2K
Current team size: 1


How I Started A $2K/Month Newborn And Family Photography Studio

How a single mother went from starting a newborn and family photography studio with just a Canon 40D - risking everything after a turbulent time as a teenage mother - to achieving steady growth of 5-10% YoY.

Samantha started Two Little Monkeys Photography almost 13 years ago
Samantha grew the business to $2K/month
It cost Samantha $2000 to start the business
Read by 5,617 founders