How to be a better stock photographer.


Most photographers can be better. Take time to improve your skills. Read books. Try new things. Think like a designer and decide what to shoot based on what a designer might want. Think in terms of a clear subject and concepts. Abstract pictures have a hard time selling.

1:- It's a numbers game

Assuming you can take sharp, well composed, clean pictures, the more pictures you have on a site, the more money you will make. Keep working at building your portfolio. You don't have to do something every week, or even month, but keep at it as much as you can afford the time to do so. As you keep building your portfolio, you will make more and more money.

Light Design

2:- Don't let rejection stop you

Just because one site turns down your picture does not mean another one will. Don't take picture rejection personally. Find out why a picture was rejected, learn from it if it makes sense, and move on. Also, realize that a perfectly good picture will be rejected by one site and sell like crazy on another site. It is hard to tell what a site wants. If they say no to one of your pictures, think of it as a mismatch between you and them, not as a reflection of your skills. Also, remember that in some cases, it really will not make sense why a photo is not accepted. It will seem almost arbitrary. Don't give up; keep at it; get better; and keep going.


3:- Upload to multiple sites

Unless you are going the exclusive route, find several good sites and upload to all of them. It doesn't require that much more work and will dramatically increase your sales for a minimal increase in work. It's part of the numbers game. If you have a portfolio of 100 pictures, then posting on 5 sites effectively means you have a portfolio of 500 pictures. It is a great way to grow your portfolio easily. There is one catch, if a site really can't sell your pictures, it is often not worth the effort, even the small amount of additional effort, to maintain a portfolio on that site. Do a bit of research and you will get a good idea of what sites are hot and which ones are not. As a starting point, see Microstock Sites. Most serious microstock photographers are on about 3 - 6 different sites.

Golden bracelets

4:- Use IPTC to add keywords, descriptions, and titles to your pictures

By adding information about your picture through IPTC, the information stays with your picture, and when you upload your pictures, the stock photo site can automatically extract that information from the picture. This will save you countless hours of effort, especially as you upload to multiple sites. The IPTC tagging also makes for a convenient place to store photo descriptions and keywords. What better place to store information about a picture than inside the picture, and it is great that microstock sites can extract this information from your picture. If your photo editing software does not support IPTC tagging, it is worth considering getting a new one that does.

Diamond bracelet

5:- Keywords are key

Take the time to do the best job you can keywording your pictures. The keywords are how a potential buyer finds your pictures. The best keyword in the world will not make you a cent if you do not keyword it so the person that might want your picture can find it. It is not fun, but it is worth the effort. When keywording, look at synonyms you can use. One way to get ideas on keywords for your photo is to look at the keywords others have thought of for a similar topic pictures.

Black crowned night heron

6:- Edit your photos

Very few photos do not need some processing work after you take them. Take the time to learn a tool that will help you fine tune and really bring your photos to life. A good photo editing tool can be expensive, but might be worth the investment if it helps you sell more pictures. You can use a mid-level or basic tool and still get a lot of benefit. Also, take the time to learn the tool you use and understand what it can use.

Purple pearls

7:- Continue to improve your skills as a photographer

We can always learn more about taking great pictures, so take the time to learn and improve the quality of your pictures. Being a great photographer also takes a lot of practice, so get out and take some pictures. Read books. Study the works of others. Consider taking a photography course. An inexpensive way to learn is to join photography forums, contribute, post pictures, and learn from the feedback of others.

White Duck

8:- Shoot your turf

Not everyone can travel every week or month to exotic places, but you have access to things right around you that others do not, so look within your neighborhood, city, or where you spend your time and see what interesting things you can find to photograph. Some places have mountains, other places have oceans. Some places have tall buildings, other have farmlands. Some places have snow, other places have fog. Each area is unique and has its own special attributes. Take a look at your world and see what it has to offer you.

Common rat snake

9:- Know your business

Just like any business, you need to know your business. You need to know what others are doing. Keep current on what is happening in stock photography. Things change, new stock sites appear, some go away, some take off. You want to be aware of what is happening so you can be better prepared to make the right choices for yourself. Join forums, or at very least, occasionally browse through them and see what the hot topics are. It is great when people of similar interest can learn from each other.

Photo credits: Picfest.
  • Picfest
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January 14, 2009

this was interesting thanks. was on the verge of giving up trying to get images selected by this site. maybe i'll try again ... but honestly rejections are painful and personal specially the subjective reasons given of 'improperly composed, not attractive' comments however much you tell yourself they are not.


January 08, 2009

good tips... thanks for sharing but...

is keywording really that important if just selling the images here? Afterall, we "have" to pay 40ยข per image for Dreamstime to keyword our images already. I would think their keywords should cover it. Isn't this what I am paying for because they realized most of the contributers were not keywording well?


January 03, 2009

Very good common sense advice being a newbie I need all the help I can get. Thank you.


December 31, 2008

I have enjoyed reading your blog. It is very informative and well written.
Thank you.


December 21, 2008

That's a good & well-written blog :)


December 20, 2008

Great points I will no doubt use them all. And am waiting on Creativei's blog on IPTC.

Great captures.


December 20, 2008

Another great info for every photographers, I totally agree with your point 4:- Use IPTC to add keywords, descriptions, and titles to your pictures, I was just preparing a blog on this subject, might come up later, but anyways a good blog.