Most popular images - why, when, how

Every person who is at least half serious about microstock will, at some point, open the page that lists the most popular images on Dreamstime.

It is a well-known fact that we inspire from each other's successful images, but what works for some not always works for others.

In this blog I will try to pick some representative images and shed some light on why the images in question are so popular, when they were taken and how they reached this spot.

Let's start with the best sold image of all times, a photo by Bellemedia.

- the why is obvious, well composed, natural looking business image

- the when is offered by the very old ID of the image, sometime in 2005

- the how is a combination given by the very sought-after subject covered by very few images and the momentum offered by the time when this image came online.

Being on vacation is one of our favorite times of the year, so evidently it makes a great photo

, as this bestseller can stand witness.

- the why: subject is vacation, in a tropical place with blue waters and idyllic palm tree hanging over the ocean. The feet hanging from the tree are impersonal yet they make you imagine being there.

- the when: around 2005

- the how: as it was the case with the first image, the photographer had great foresight and great eyes for stock imagery. Uploading an image on a sought-after subject made it a great hit, given the time when it was uploaded.

The idyllic marriage on the lovely beach.

- the why: again, the subject is great, the image is natural, the beach is lovely and the tilted horizon makes things look out of a fairytale. The color of the sky contrasting with the pure white of her dress and the tanned skin makes this image even more desirable.

- the when: around 2007

- the how: subject is working together with models and the setting to put this image on top. This image is still selling as well, simply because it is stunning and well-made

© Iofoto
Family day at the beach. A perfect shooting opportunity.

- the why: family images are a popular subject, but what makes this different from others is the natural feeling of the whole image, the simple beach, not a fancy resort beach, the simple family in shorts and t-shirts, the beautiful warm light of the sun at sunset and hearty smiles of the people in it. They look like a great family

- the when: around 2007

- the how: it's natural, hence it sells, the colors are glowing, yet they don't burn your eyes, the people are enjoying themselves, yet they don't put on fake ear-to-ear smiles.

This is one of the first large group of people images seen online.

- the why: The large group of people was a fairly new idea, not too simple to make unless you had a big studio or great computer skills and knew something about good isolation of subjects. This is well lit, well composed and has copy space, which is important.

- the when: around 2008

- the how: this images has a very large array of application, thus making it successful was not very difficult. And being one of the first on the market to bring such images online was also a plus.

Of course there are so many successful images with just as many stories to discuss. What I am aiming at with this blog is to show people how an image can get there, why, and even when.

Bring the novelty into microstock - it is difficult these days, I know, but the world is always changing, new trends appear, others leave the limelight. Be prepared to bring your ideas online at the right time, it may be as important as the concept itself. Last but not least, learn to combine creativity with business.

Good luck and good shooting.

Questions are expected and welcomed.

Photo credits: Bellemedia, Iofoto, Kelliem, Radovan, Yuri_arcurs.

Your post must be written in English

April 14, 2010


Mulţumesc! Foarte bine!

In spite of just trying around we should more look on photos which were already successful and got inspired from them.

April 13, 2010


Every image has a story. Thanks Ioana for your article!

April 06, 2010


I like the article :D

April 03, 2010


I just spotted the differences between the shadow on the Yuri Arcurs photo and the real people (15/21). I wonder why he chose to do that... In any case, great skills in post-prod.

April 02, 2010


Very interesting article and educational. I am still musing over your statement / claim that ' that there is no such thing as art photography ' which I read in your blog summary. When I create an image rather than just shoot one [ eg in the street ] surely it is an artistic process.

April 01, 2010


As always, fantastic post Ioana.
And I absolutely agree with Lightkeeper: most of the time uniqueness is what makes an image sell

April 01, 2010


Actually this  Red Velvet Theater courtains  is the second best sold images of all times. No people in it, and there are others. But yes, usually, people images are bestsellers.

April 01, 2010


Thanks, Ioana for the blog, it shows once again that the best selling pictures are those depicting people.

March 31, 2010


Thank you Ioana, for writing another very thoughtful blog. It is rather takes time and thought to pull together an image that appears natural and spontaneous.

March 31, 2010


Thanks Ioana, as a new member to the Microstock arena I always find it very helpful to read an expert's point of view. I have to say that only on Dreamstime can you find such a warm, freindly and resourceful community, I really do feel so comfortable about being here :o)

March 31, 2010


Well, as I explain, concept, how you make it and the time you uploaded are the key to successful images.
And I choose only people images because they cover a large range but there are images that are very successful and have no people in them. Click the most popular link to see them.

March 31, 2010


so ... the next logical step would be this shot :
- large group of people in wedding gowns having a nice walk (and kisses) in the warm summer light near the ocean ... maybe some palm trees hanging in from each side would be a plus ... (the bare legs are optional)

... just kidding ... all these three images were unique in some (or more) ways at upload time ... I think this is the key ...

March 30, 2010



March 30, 2010


Thank you this is useful!

March 30, 2010


Great article,thank for sharing us:)

March 30, 2010


Excellent blog, thanks! Interesting that they are all people shots.

March 30, 2010


Very well done analisys! Really interesting :)

March 30, 2010


Great blog, thanks for sharing the info - very interesting read indeed :)

March 30, 2010


great blog thanks for all the good advice.

March 30, 2010


Thanks very much for this interesting and useful article!

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