in Insights, Interviews, Stock Performer

How did your forecast turn out? We ask Steve Cole

Steve Cole has been a leading stock contributor ever since he started producing stock before microstock even started. producing great content in large volumes. Back in 2013 we spoke with him and asked him how he saw the industry evolving. This is what he said:

With the advent of digital cameras there are more stock photographers in the market than anytime in the history of mankind. Almost anyone with a camera think they are a photographer, some actually make it, good for them.

It’s also going to be more crowded and more competitive than ever, using every resource you can get to give you and your images an edge is imperative. Stock Performer for me is part of those resources, it’s an extension of my business. You cannot be successful if you cannot analyze your inventory.

I also see the video market growing at a steady pace. That’s one area we focus on with most shoots.If we are producing a shoot with models, locations etc… we may as well shoot video too. That’s one reason we do not shoot with flash or strobe anymore, we use LED or tungsten lights and shoot video and stills at the same time, time is money.

We reached out to him again 7 years later and during the current global pandemic and want to share his thoughts with you.

How do you feel about your forecast back then?

I feel my forecast was spot on. There are more creative photographers now than ever before, and better resources to make shoots happen. It also seems the new photographers are better adapted than the first RF stock photographers including myself.

When I first started shooing RF stock my first 500 images were all still-life and then I gradually moved into lifestyle and concept people shots. I believe today’s photographers have a better understanding of creating stock assets most likely because it’s easier to gain marketing research and ideas via the internet.

How have you experienced the industry in these past 7 years?

The increase in new photographers has made it harder and harder to make money in the stock world, a lot of photographers are making it happen, but they have to constantly shoot a high volume every week. Some have even added full-time employees, or they constantly hire freelance help to achieve the high volume. 

High volume production has never been an interest of mine. I only do small high-quality production shoots of what I hope will fill a missing gap in the market, I believe that less volume and better planning on shoots is far more important than “just a bunch of photos”. My stock portfolio has always been under 10,000 assets with well over a million downloads.

Couple on horseback taking selfie.

Did your forecast help you out?

My forecast was expected and planned for from a business perspective, well in advance of the increase in the number of stock photographers who, as it turns out, are contributing great photos and videos.

Where do you think the industry is moving next?

I feel the industry will continue in the same direction, with a few high production photographers leading the way while spending a lot of money producing on shoots. I predict there will be a small percentage of highly successful producers in the marketplace, and a ton more very talented low production photographers filling the gaps.

How do you see it playing out and how are you preparing for it?

I feel “Stills” are where most sales will be made with video slowly rising in sales but will always lag behind in sales and will be that way for many years simply because stills are more marketable. I’m planning to do just a limited number of small concept shoots & I’ll be spending more of my time on the golf course and riding my road bike!

How has the current coronavirus crisis affected your stock photography business?

Interestedly enough my stock sales have remained fairly consistent throughout this crisis, of course, actual stock production shoots have been very minimal at best. Not being able to travel or even go out on local shoots some businesses still have to market their services or products and having access to stock photos and video via the internet is a no brainer for them.

And how and when do you think things will get back to “normal”?

I feel things will slowly get back to normal this fall, on the other hand this chaos has also generated a new way of life for a vast majority of people, new business and opportunities for business will evolve creating a need for new still and video stock assets.