There are two ways to view this.
There are some pictures which sell over and over but often for low fees – sites such as the BBC, The Times, Guardian, Mail, etc use them and have sweetheart bulk subscription deals in place with the agencies. In one of my blog posts I mentioned a bridge in Rotterdam that was in the news because Jeff Bezos wanted it removed for his new superyacht to pass through. That has sold over 50 times so far. So, route one is – Volume.
Then there are other pictures such as the one above which has sold only twice. The last time was around 10 years ago. The two sales were both to French perfume companies, within the space of a year or so, and between them brought in a gross over $5000. There must have been something in the air at the time, because no sales since then. Route two – High Fees.
Out of 80,000 pictures currently on sale I have had around 16,000 images sell – so there are plenty there lurking waiting for their moment in the sunshine. And it does happen, pictures taken decades ago suddenly find a buyer.
And of course the great thing about stock is that once an image exists it can sell over and over again through agencies all around the world without the photographer having to do any selling at all.
There is something very sweet, even though the halcyon days of stock are over, to wake up and check for sales.