So, you have the tools, you have the skills, you have the time. What else do you need in order to be successful in stock photography? The concepts! Concept photography is the best selling stock photography. But which concepts to shoot? How to find inspiration?
One option would be to browse the website for most popular stock photos, you'll find some great concepts there, but that won't help you much. You would just copy them and, most likely, you won't get as much success as they did, being the first.
Another option would be to browse our top stock photographers and learn from their portfolios. That won't help you much either, because you'll end up copying them and most likely you won't be as successful in a short time.
My recommended option for you would be to read magazines. Read lots of magazines, whenever you have the chance, in the subway, in the train, at home, on your lunch break, read a lot! Buy them, borrow them, take a sneak peek over someone's shoulder when reading a magazine, whatever, just read them.
Why magazines? Why not books?
Well, books will help you also as they develop your imagination more than magazines, but they don't have that much variety of concepts like magazines do. You could read a whole book and remain with only few concepts in mind. It's good for you and you should do it, but it's not as efficient for your stock photo activity as reading magazines on any topic, from glamour to IT.
Magazines have lots of articles, lots of authors, lots of concepts and, usually, lots of photos. And let's not forget, lots of adverts. So, while you're reading and gather concepts, you also get to see what photo editors actually like to buy and use. You can also find articles without photos, and then you can check for yourself why: because of space reasons, or because the editor wasn't able to find the right image to illustrate it?
Which magazines to read? First, ask yourself what you like to shoot more and choose magazines on that topic. But don't limit yourself. If you like shooting people, don't just buy a tabloid, think deeper, buy a magazine on psychology for instance. Here's a hint: search for schizophrenia and you will find just a few results that could really illustrate this concept.
Why not more? It's not an unknown concept, but it seems that photographers don't take it into consideration much. I mean, you don't just think at schizophrenia when thinking of topics, you need a hint. An article in a psychology magazine would be a good one.
If you prefer reading on your tablet, you also have the opportunity to find good concepts. in newsstand apps. Check them out, see how images are actually being used, this way you can "listen to your customers" and provide them better images for their needs. Just read and you will see that there are still lots of uncovered topics in stock photography, lots of niches waiting to be filled.
Another important aspect you should keep in mind is that unique and interesting concepts may be out there, but they are not actually there. My advice is that once you find your great concept, keyword it! For instance, try searching for EBITDA. Yes, there are photos between those 1 million business photos on Dreamstime that can be used to illustrate EBITDA, but none of them have this keyword, so they're not there for this concept.
Of course photographers won't usually think about it, but an article in a business magazine would help finding, creating and keywording this concept, right? Business photographers out there, ask yourself, how many business magazines have you read lately?
Another example: how would you illustrate this article on private equity? I know you could use some business photos related to the subject, but how fast and how relevant? Because searching the database for these keywords won't get you much. Things are moving on fast forward for such a big editor, sometimes they find the right illustration, and sometimes they don't.
I'm sure Financial Times would have something to say also about missing concepts, about business microstock photos that sometimes they use, sometimes they don't.
The topics in microstock world are far from being covered. We just need to think outside the box. That would translate in "go outside the stock agencies and fellow contributors' portfolios when searching for concepts to shoot." Stop copying, start creating.
And magazines are, in my opinion, the fastest and easiest way to find new concepts. Read them! Plus, they could use some readers too.