Photography by: ©Marilyn Angel Wynn/Nativestock.com
Native American stock photography is my business. For the past 14 years my passion and career has been traveling throughout Indian Country across the US and Canada documenting hundreds of tribes.
This photographic collection of American Indian images has amassed to well over 150,000 pictures that all relate to Native America. This unique photo collection documents everything Native such as the people, traditions, clothing, food, dwellings, ceremonies, artifacts, homelands, sacred sites, festivals and more. Many Native American models are paid during a photo shoot along with receiving 50% of any profits earned from sales of their particular pictures. Most images are basic shots that depict tribal cultures while I travel throughout the various states and provinces. Many photo shoots are well planned in advance to create awe inspiring portraits and historic reenactments. This is the creative side of Native American photography
Now for the business side of stock photography. All pictures that you will see in books, magazines, CD's, posters, websites or on TV are generally licensed as stock photography. Two of the larges corporations that sell stock photos are Corbis and Getty. However, still surviving are niche image collections such as my Native stock photos which rights are purchased through my woman-owned company that I call "Native Stock Pictures". Most of my clients come from the educational text book industry and non-profit agencies using images for editorial purposes. These earnings are on the lower end compared to commercial uses by a
large company such as Coca Cola or Chevrolet. So far big conglomerates like Nike still have yet to call my studio in need of Native American stock photos.
All my photography work is on a free lance basis. Meaning that I don't get paid unless someone hires me for an assignment. My last assignment was back in February. A large portion of my photo shoots are self assigned project and have been self funded. When an individual from a business or government agency begins their research to look for Native American stock images to illustrate a project they generally will start their search on Google. Most of the time my business Nativestock Pictures comes up first place when using search engines. I also have a long list of clients who have used my photo collection for the past several years and are well aware of my photo archives. These clients include National Geographic, Houthton Mifflin Harcourt textbook publishers, the History Channel and many more who will contact my studio via email or on a rare occasion by phone. Most photo researchers will go directly to my website to use the keyword search function typing in search terms such as 'wigwam', 'potlatch', 'family' or 'trail of tears'. Some researchers prefer to browse through folders of tribes or territories or common searchers. With over 20,000 images posted online, researchers want to look until the right Native American stock photo pops out. Free research is always an option. No one else knows this collection better and I can find a nice selection of images very quickly that specifically appeal to each project or client's individual needs.
With digital photography came a flood of images available online for purchasing as stock photography. There's also a wide open price range, which is great for image buyers. Today anyone can buy a basic ho-hum microstock image at $5 each or a one-of-a-kind rights managed image with model releases from photographers who specialize in niche collections. Rates are generally calculated in the size that is requested such as web 72 dpi or up to 70 MB that can be used for a billboard. Other pricing varieties will depend on how and where the image will be used such as a brochure with a print run of 100 versus the Wall Street Journal that has a daily print run of 1 million.
Compared to just 5 years ago, today's competition for a photographer selling stock images is like being a small fish in a very big ocean. I stay ahead of the competition by being unique, digital experience, beautiful images, knowledge of subject, friendly service and fast turn around. Just being able to continue to add
excellent Native American photos to this collection is a great priveledge. Children and college students use my website to collect information for their reports. Many web browsers who want to look at photos on American Indian arts and crafts will browse over my collection and spend considerable time there. Libraries, schools and museums will request 1 hour presentations on Native American cultures and multi-media slideshows that I've produced. Recently, a few out of state galleries have contacted me in regards to having a show to exhibit my years of photographic artwork on America's First Nations.
There's no other job or commitment that I would rather jump out of bed each morning to do than to continue to shoot and showcase Native American pictures. It's a lot of hard work and expense but well worth it when I can make a modest living and receive comments of appreciation. Even though there's continuous challenges, I plan to continue bringing stock images of Native cultures and their communities to the mainstream public. To bring a better understanding of today's American Indian traditions, history and lifestyles. I hope that I've answered some of the mysteries and questions about my unique occupation. If you would like more information or have a question then just send me a comment. I'd be more than happy to drop you a line.