Change Maker: David Sherry of Death To The Stock Photo

Allison Haag

| Mar 11, 2016

When I first discovered David Sherry's work, I had a problem. I was publishing a 3,000 word blog post and needed a header image to do it justice. I was desperate and seriously considering doodling the image just to have something original until I bumped into Death to the Stock Photo.

Death to the Stock Photo is exactly that, the end of eye-numbing "photography" of business people in white collars clicking buttons. David's images are strikingly gorgeous, full of color and meant to inspire. Growing Death to Stock from the ground up while sharing valuable work with over 200K subscribers, David's business is changing our standard for images online.

Here's his story...  

1. Tell us what you do in 2 sentences: 

I help organize a bunch of artists to create beautiful media for a community of makers. The community takes that media and turns it into blogs, websites, businesses, art and other amazing creative projects they’ve dreamed up! 

2. At what point did you decide the traditional 9-5 office job wasn’t for you? 

I think I always knew that was the case, except I just had no idea what that meant. It wasn’t until I saw some peers around my age already purusing life outside the 9-5 that I realized I could do it myself, and how I could potentially go about that. 

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3. What did you do next?  

Haha I struggled. For about a year and a half out of school I tried different directions in a variety of different types of work. I “freelanced” meaning I did whatever work I could. Marketing, photography, video, copywriting... 

4. What was the hardest part? 

I think the first year or two you’re constantly thinking it’s the wrong move, and you basically flip back and forth between being elated and thinking that this could be the end (melodramatic, I know). So the inconsistency is very difficult, then you look at friends who have very consistent seeming jobs and lives and you wonder why you’re doing this at all. 

5. What has been the best part of running your own business?  

The amount of time I’m able to work on myself, as well as the platform it gives you. You’re able to meet and interact with so many interesting people through the business. You have this vehicle in a brand which can break down barriers for you and get you in the room with people you’ve always wanted to be around. Or let you try something you’ve thought about for a long time. 


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6. Why did you start the Funded Photographers Project? 

It had gotten to the point where the platform was big enough (somewhere over 200k subscribers) that we felt it was time to share that with others creating beautiful work. Plus, we totally know how it is to want to pursue a side project without having the time, money or push to do so. So the Funded Photographer Project helps artists do exactly that. 

7. You went on a 5-city photo adventure road trip. Tell us about this - where did you go? How did it affect your business?  

Yes! We’ve been lucky enough to go on two trips of this sort; crowdfunded from our audience, and passing through 5 different locations to shoot photos for those that backed the trip. For the business it was great to involve our audience, and to even meet some people in each location! All in all I think it was a good deal for everyone. 

8. What is your best photography advice to a complete photo novice?  

It’s not as hard as people might make you think, and even starting with your iPhone can be a great way to jump in. I can’t tell you how many people I know who started on the iPhone and now shoot with DSLRs.  

9. Why do you think images are important? 

I think they convey a feeling in a split second that can hit you with an emotion, an idea, a memory…

David Sherry, founder of Death to the Stock Photo, shares how he started his business and a few free photos for you to use on your website.

10. What are your plans for the future? 

I’d like to keep doing what I’m doing. I’d like to keep meeting great artists and help them produce great work. 

11. What advice would you give to someone starting to generate income independently? 

You have to start really small. You have to do something consistent, as shipping regularly can really help you develop and make progress. Try not to get sucked into all the metrics and remember that your job is to change someone for the better. That by providing value, connection, good feelings (whatever it is) you will get those back in return. 

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Allison Haag is a Product Designer at Teachable who pulls design inspiration from her worldwide adventures.