Passive Income with Stock Photography

Passive Income with Stock Photography - Taking it Personal Podcast |

#2: Passive Income Through Stock Photography with Annie Otzen

Annie Otzen is a Getty Photographer and takes stock photography for Getty Images. She has incredible talent and has had some of her images published in the coolest places because of what she is doing with stock.  Annie has so many great insights into stock photography and creating passive income for your business.

I am so excited to share my friend Annie Otzen with you all today! Annie is talking all about her experience with stock photography. Annie is a Getty Photographer and takes stock photography for Getty Images. She has incredible talent and has had some of her images published in the coolest places because of what she is doing with stock. 

Annie has so many great insights into stock photography and creating passive income for your business. I just started last year with passive income, and it completely changed my business. It’s an incredible thing to do something one time and then continue to get paid for it every single month. And that is what Annie does with stock photography.

On a side note: If you are looking to get into photography but aren’t quite ready to book clients, look into starting with stock photography! This is what Annie did actually, and she learned a lot of the basics and technical aspects of photography through shooting stock photography. Plus, it can be a source of passive income for you while you continue to practice or work to book clients. 

Meet Annie

Annie is a photographer from Sioux Falls, SD. She specializes in lifestyle and weddings, and also stock photography. She got her first camera when she was just 8 years old and now has been doing photography seriously for about the last 10 years. Getting to this point has been a slow process she says. She minored in art in school and gained some photography experience through that, though she never thought she would do photography, besides just taking photos for fun.

While at her full-time job, Annie had a staff member who was a wedding and stock photographer encourage her to tag along with him and introduced the idea of stock to her, and that is where she found a bit more interest in photography. She moved to working part-time when she had a baby and used photography to fill in the gaps. In 2016, she took her photography business full-time.

Stock Photography and Agencies

There are a lot of stock photography companies out there, and Annie started specifically with iStock, which is a microstock company. Getty now owns iStock, and Annie submits her images through them. “Getty is the largest stock agency out there and have a big hold on the market,” Annie shares.

When thinking specifically of stock photography, it really covers a lot. Stock photos are everywhere and can be used for so many things – in magazines, textbooks, pictures frames, blog posts, ads, billboards, and so much more.

How it Works

In terms of making money, some agencies just have a set price – if your photo sells or the customer buys a specific resolution or size, you will automatically get that set price for that image. Specifically through Getty, how Annie makes money is a bit more complicated. There is a Getty calculator you can use to figure out how much a photo would potentially sell for, but it really depends on what the photo will be used for (editorial photo versus billboard photo, etc). Getty gets the bulk of the money, and Annie gets a cut of it. If you are interested in stock photography, Annie suggests to do some research as every company does it differently.

I asked Annie to share a bit about the process of working with a company. She shared that to get started, you need to apply to the agency you want. Once you get started with one, that is when the portfolio building really begins. Annie says you’ll submit photos, and the agencies will let you know if they want those photos or not. They often give an explanation to the ones they reject. Once a photo has been approved, most agencies have you keyword the photos. “It is like hashtagging. You are going in and thinking what somebody looking for a photo like that would search for.”  Keywording helps people find your photos.

What Agencies are Looking For

 Annie shares that photos of children sell really well, so she has taken many photos for her kids playing at the park, for example. She also shares that she tries to follow her husband around and capture the activities and tasks he does, such as building something, working in the garden, or hunting, as Getty seems to like pictures of people out doing stuff. 

Annie shares that with stock photography or even just photography in general “you don’t have to travel across the world to create good pictures. Figure out what in your life is different than what others are doing and then photograph that, and photograph it creatively.” Look at what is around you, find inspiration, and then put your spin on it to make it different. Stock photography allows you to photograph what you want and then see if anyone wants to buy it, rather than letting someone else decide or have the photos just sit on your computer. That is a reason Annie continues to do stock photography. There is choice and flexibility, and there aren’t harsh deadlines she has to follow. And now Annie gets briefed daily with what content agencies or companies are looking for, so she can specifically take photos for those needs. That helps give her an idea of what companies are looking for, and she can brainstorm ideas accordingly. 

Selling Out or Success?

Many people don’t understand stock photography or just see it as “selling out,” but Annie sees it differently. She sees the market for it and the opportunities and choice stock photography gives her. There is creativity involved and it helps her to diversify her income and branch out. “Stock is one of those things you can add to your business and do even on your down time.” It’s a great source of passive income to help supplement. Expanding from just “one thing,” such as only doing wedding photography, is smart for you and your business. Your style doesn’t have to change, but getting out there is important. Annie thinks that stock photography specifically helps you experiment with different areas of photography you want to try out – if it doesn’t work out, you can sell it as stock. It takes time to find your “thing,” and stock photography can definitely help you explore.

Stock photography has also helped Annie become a better photographer. In the beginning, it really helped her learn the technical side of things. She also learned through the rejection of photos and used those experiences to get better. Annie has explored her creativity through it all as stock has allowed for her to express herself how she wants and try new things.

How to Get Into Stock Photography

If you are wanting to get started with stock photography, Annie suggests simply going to a website and applying. You don’t need a huge portfolio before you begin. Another great tip Annie shared was to pick up your camera everyday. She does it, and sometimes even gives herself assignments, to continue learning and get better every day. If you want to get into stock photography, you need to be taking the photos. Get out there and take some!

Best Experience

Annie reminds us that when you sell an image, they are able to do what they want with it. They may add a really bad filter or use it differently than you had in mind, but you no longer have a say. Or they may use it for something really cool. Recently Annie has had one of her images be used on the cover of the German translation of the new Stephen King novel! 

Connect with Annie

Stock photography is a great way to gain experience, build a portfolio, and earn passive income. Thanks to Annie for being a guest on Take it Personally! We hope you all enjoyed hearing her story and how she got started with stock photography. You can find Annie on Instagram and Facebook @annieotzenphotography and her website is

Browse the list Annie mentioned of over one hundred stock photography agencies!

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If I’m giving you my elevator pitch, I’m a Sioux Falls, South Dakota, brand photographer and educator for creative women.

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