A journey to 4000 Approved Photos

Well as usual my milestone got delayed by 4 days. I wanted 4000 photos approved and online on Dreamstime by 30th September, but somewhat missed that! I remember the first photo getting approved 3 years ago after uploading some 30-40 pics! It was of children crossing the street on a rainy day, not a technically good photo but still it was something of a huge excitement. Then my first sale of a baby monkey portrait, more motivation for photography. It is really weird how I have ended up here!?!?

My photography started a year before my stock photography with a Nikon F55, analog SLR. But it was very limited considering the developing and printing costs. My first digital camera Canon A310, a 3.2 megapixel was the start of my digital photography. I was tempted by the earnings of stock photography thinking its easy money and ending up understanding later that it was not. 3 cameras and 3 years later here I stand with 4000 images online on DT with more than 6700 sales, I am still striving to improve.

There are a few tips I would like to share with my fellow experienced as well as in-experienced photographers about stock photography in particular. I am giving these as business tips as a successful contributor (if you consider me one) and not as an experienced photographer.

1.Make you portfolio special. It is more important to have buyers adding you as their favorite more than other photographers adding you as favorite. The buyer shouldn’t search for any other portfolios when he has a requirement that you are specialized in. The buyer should directly visit your portfolio for his requirement instead of making an overall search regardless of any agency. Let your portfolio have a particular subject that you will pioneer.

2.Don’t follow traditional composition rules. These images might get approved quickly but won’t have good sales as non-conventional compositions would. ( I am sure that editors would disagree to this, but this is my individual opinion due to experience).

3.While clicking a picture, imagine your composition in a photo-frame or a brochure as applicable by the subject of your image. This approach will give you the best results in nature, still-life and non-studio shots.

4.Do not upsize. For beginners, don’t go for camera’s with higher optical zoom, instead go for a camera with higher resolution and lesser zoom so you can downsize picture to the required sharpness incase they are blur. Getting crystal clear sharp pictures is mostly possible with SLRs, tripods and/or studio setup. Generally consumer cameras that we use don’t give us required sharp results resulting in rejection of the image.

5.Its not the thumb-rule that SLR is the best. Most of the non-slr’s which are often termed as consumer semi-professional cameras give better results in terms of colors because of their consumer status. Try to use all the features of a small camera and you will be surprised with the results. Believe me, my bestsellers regardless of any agency or subject have been taken from NON-SLR cameras. SLR surely improved my approval ratio due to the manual controls, but then we don’t always get the time to set those controls. It is always ideal to carry a camera all the time, and a person like me whose main profession is not photography cannot carry an SLR everywhere.

6.Do not argue with any agency about rejection of your submissions. Believe me sometimes it is more profitable to have an X image only on 2 agencies instead of its presence on all 10. The vague and different pricing structures of different agencies actually benefits us for sales when that image X isn’t online on all agencies.

7.Give your models exposure and some help. When you find your own image used for some purpose you do get happy don’t you? If you pass your discovery to your model, it makes them happy… especially if they are seriously into modeling, a printout of the usage it adds to their portfolio.

8.Keep a watch on message boards and blogs. There will be a lot of information there which will help you learn about the stock photography business. You will also find many forums and sites which track the individual sales of contributors. Looking at those graphs will help you understand seasonal trends and subjectwise sales and also which agency sells how much in which month. Its very important to know all this.

9.Prioritize your image uploads by subjects as well as agencies. Some agencies might sell a lot for images with subject X wherein some other agency might not be selling the same images even once. So check what sells and most importantly… where!

Most importantly, past experiences of other pioneering photographers are important, but avoid the trodden path… Make your own one!

Photo credits: , Steve Holsderfield, Nikhil Gangavane.

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November 05, 2010


Wonderful vibrant photos.
Good luck

November 13, 2009


thanks for the advice!

November 11, 2009


nice!! THX

November 10, 2009



November 10, 2009


congratulations ! and nice work :) !

Thomas, from France

November 09, 2009


Thank you for the great tips.

November 04, 2009


Hey Desislava, its strange that you missed it.. but good that you caught up :) All the best to you too! Love n' Regards

November 04, 2009


Hi, Nikhil! What a great blog & I have no idea how I've missed it! Congrats for your achievement and good luck in future! You're doing great!

November 02, 2009


Thanks guys. I am glad the tips in the blog helped you!

October 26, 2009


congratulations and go on with your nice works

October 25, 2009


WOW!! well done, I'm sure many of us aspire to this .... ;o)

October 25, 2009


Congratulations and thank you for the helpful tips :)

October 24, 2009


A great achievement!

October 22, 2009


Congrats!! And i Think this is useful!

October 22, 2009


Very insightful as well as helpful advice -- thank you for sharing your journey. Cheers, Marilyn

October 18, 2009


Congratulations & I wish you more success in the future. Useful blog.

October 16, 2009


@david - I don't recommend exclusivity on any site.

October 15, 2009


Wow! Congratulations, congratulations!


October 15, 2009


Congratulations! That is a big number! Can't beat it with the game still :))

October 15, 2009


What's impressive is 100 images/month average upload.

October 15, 2009


great blog, thanks for the advice and congratulations - i'd like to get to that figure some day :)

October 15, 2009


Congratulations!!! nice info

October 15, 2009


Congratulations and thanks for advices.

October 15, 2009


Wonderful achievement!!! Thanks for the info.

October 15, 2009



October 15, 2009


Congratulations again! Great blog thanks and a great portfolio too.

October 15, 2009


Congratulations for your achievement and thank you for tips, they are very useful!

October 15, 2009


Great milestone! congratulations. I'm here for some years now and maybe I'll get to 4000 in about ... 10 years more! But there might be an error of 4 years (not 4 days) or so on that date :D
Anyway, even with a small port the time also counts and I tend to agree a lot with your tips. Point 6 is one that takes time to get to, but really saves a lot of time to everyone if followed!

October 15, 2009


An impressive milestone, definitely. Congrats! :-)

October 15, 2009


Congrats, I like your portfolio, and great article.

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