Selling stock photography

stock photography

Digital photography has changed the stockphotography world around. Previously, you needed to have lots of expensive equipment and special training and to know all the right people in positions of authority. That’s all changed and now anyone who owns a reasonably decent digital camera and has a reasonable knowledge of photography can sell their photographs.

However to be successful at it there are certain things that you should know.

Learn about photography

It’s important to have a good knowledge of photography and how your camera works. Although you might have some success without training, most people who become successful at photography study and learn about it either via courses or online. It’s especially important to know about exposure and light.

Check your photos

It’s important to look very closely at the images that you are planning to send in to a stock site. Otherwise there’s no point sending them in because a reviewer from the site will certainly look very closely at them and reject them if they are not high enough quality. So examine them closely at 100% size and make sure they are completely in focus and don’t have any imperfections on them such as noise or artifacts.

To try and avoid any problems in the first place try using a low ISO setting, such as 100ISO. And whenever you can use a tripod to avoid any camera shake at all. Generally stock libraries want the focus to be very crisp, except on the occasions where the  blur has been deliberately put on as a creative effect.

Use great keywords and descriptions.

Make the description of your photo as complete as possible and use as many keywords as you can think of that will fit it. But make sure that you never use keywords that don’t fit the photo just to try and get more views, it may lead to your photos getting banned. And don’t ‘keyword stuff’ by using the same phrase over and over again, there’s no need to do it these days and in fact it will damage your chances. But do make sure that if for example you have hypoallergenic dogs photos that you label them as that so that people looking for hypoallergenic dog photos can easily find them

Try to focus on using descriptive words of what is actually happening in the picture rather than conceptual words, as descriptive words are used a lot less in searches.

Take out words that aren’t important that ‘and’ and’the’

Upload a lot of photos

Since payment is not that usually high per photo – usually about 1 or 2 dollars per photo per month, it’s important to make sure that you upload a lot of photos to try and make a decent income

Look at what images are most popular

Most of the customers looking at the site are likely to be either bloggers or designers so it’s important to think of subjects that might interest them and not submit something that nobody is going to be interested in.

Think about your niche

Stock photography is very competitive so you need to think about how you are going to succeed in it. Here’s a couple of strategies to try

Choose an area/niche that is popular and come up with a unique style for your photos that will appeal to buyers

Choose a smaller area that has less competition but still enough numbers of people to make it worthwhile submitting photos. You might try one of the less glamorous areas like for example pest control, I recently did some work for a pest control firm in Islington London.

Try free images

On some sites you can upload free images to a certain section of the site,and this is worth considering because that part of the site will get a lot of traffic and may get your name noticed by people who may click through onto your photos that are available for payment

Concentrate on larger sites

There are a lot of smaller stock image sites but they may not get many visitors and the whole process of uploading and keyboarding all your images is such a time-consuming one that you are probably better off just concentrating on the larger sites which have a greater chance of providing you with some decent visitor numbers and income


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