Simplify to Sell Stock

Photographers and designers have the same goal: to create and/or utilize powerful images that make money. One thing that sets successful photographers apart is that they know that a simple image is almost always the most powerful image.

To illustrate, imagine that you are a designer that wants a photo to use in an internet ad that illustrates taking a vacation on a beach. There are literally millions of images of beaches to choose from. Which one is the best? Not everyone will agree but the images that are the most powerful and will sell the best are also the most simple.

Here are three great images that illustrate the concept of taking a vacation on a beach. Look these images over carefully and try to guess which one has been downloaded the most here at Dreamstime.

All three of these images were taken around the same time by the same photographer and have sold well, but one of these images is wildly successful. Can you tell which one, and if so, can you explain to yourself why it is the best seller? If you chose the second image then you are on the right track. It has sold a whopping 764 times since writing this blog! It’s secret: it is powerfully simple.

A simple image is one that eliminates all the clutter that doesn’t add to the concept the photo conveys. My motto when shooting a subject is: “simplify, simplify, simplify!” Here are some of my images that sell well and that are also the most simple:

So what are some basic tips on how to simplify a photo? Here are a few: move in or zoom in closer to the subject until you fill the frame; find a plain background behind the subject; shoot in a studio; wait for the light to highlight your subject or darken the foreground or background; use a different perspective, higher or lower; and finally use a longer lens or a wider aperture so the foreground and background blur.

The photos used in this blog to demonstrate the technique of simplifying have sold well. Since our goal here at Dreamstime is to sell our images, that fact alone is something to think about. So next time you are shooting photos to upload here at Dreamstime, try to simplify. You may find that your photos are much more powerful and sell better too.

Good luck and I hope to see you out shooting!

Photo credits: Lane Erickson, Radovan.

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December 22, 2010


I still struggle with the simplicity thing, but I completely agree with you. I have seen time and time again great sellers that are powerfully simplistic. It is going to be a goal for me to simplify my shooting next year. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your photos!

November 17, 2010


Another very useful article on Dreamstime for everyone who is still in search for answers on "what you should know about stock photography" subject ;) Thank you so much for sharing your experience and thoughts with us!
And yes, I agree with you completely on the point of view about simplicity ;D

My regards,

November 04, 2010


Just saw this article. Thanks for the wonderful tips. Very well said. Will work to improve my techniques.

October 29, 2010


good point. goes back to the old adage based on something Ben Franklin , i think, once said.. KISS keep it simple, stupid :)

October 22, 2010


So brilliant yet so simple,great images,well done and thanks.

October 22, 2010


Great blog. Thank you for sharing. :)

October 21, 2010


Great blog to help remind us the power of simplicity! Thanks for sharing.

October 21, 2010


Thank you all for your kind comments. My goal is to help focus myself in making images that will do well here at DT. I also want to pass on hints and tips of the things that I've learned in the 4 years I've been here. I hope they help others be successful.

October 21, 2010


Simplifying, a very good advice. Thanks.

October 20, 2010


Thanks for sharing this good blog

October 20, 2010


Great! Thanks for sharing! :)

October 20, 2010


nice post thanks

October 20, 2010


wow, great blog - thanks for sharing :)

October 19, 2010


Great choice of powerful, clutter free images with a simple yet strong concept - I would not call these images themselves simple, though :-)

October 19, 2010


Nice blog, thanks for sharing!

October 19, 2010


Nice blog, I agree semplicity is a good way to sell.

October 19, 2010


Great blog! It always good to have someone to remind you this things! Thanks for sharing!

October 19, 2010


Thanks for sharing this blog. Simplicity works very well for microstock photography.

October 19, 2010


I agree that the simpler the image is the easier it is to use, which means - the chances to sell it grow. I bought several times images for website design and by mistake bought few pictures which were extremely good and interesting, but not too simple, with more than one idea inside. I noticed that they were quite difficult to use in design, because they pulled off too much attention, and the site visitors would probably look at these pictures more that on the site's contents :) After this experience simplicity is my principle of choice when I search image for design. But "difficult" images can still be good for the wall :)

October 19, 2010


Your blog makes sense and the proof is in the pudding, these images are amazing and have some fantastic sales, thanks for the info.

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