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Successful in stock photography?

How do you get successful in stock photography?

Answer = Have a BIG portfolio of high quality images and in ALL different categories.

What images sell in stock then? - Almost everything. People, food, nature, animals

I have sold images of open doors.... Yes, a open door, a few times.

The stock image market is NOT about having a "great mind-blowing" shot, its about simplicity and versatility. How many companies and magazines need a beautiful waterfall with a nice sunset in the background? - Not so many actually, its a small market.

Who do you aim images for?

How many companies and webdesigners need a nice looking male smiling for their website support page? - A lot i'd guess.

Shoot conceptual images, images that can be used for MORE then one purpose.

This image can be used for a lot of different things.

It could be used as a person welcoming you to a website/restaurant OR he might be pointing/holding your latest product. Only your own imagination is the limit when you have access to stock images.

Most stock image are shot on a completely white background which give the buyer the opportunity to add their own background to the photo if they want. Its very simple and quick, it can transform the image to what ever you want. Changing the mood, location and purpose of the image.

Photo credits: Matthiase.

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August 29, 2013


Great blog!
Great tips!

August 21, 2013


I think we must learn to think from the perspective of customer.And the customer who comes here wants cheap and affordable images immediately.Time has passed when an image banal,simple and uninteresting like a banana on white background or tomato,or an apple generates a lot of sales.The site is full of such images!The world is changing.We are a consumer society, we should not forget that.Everything you eat,dress,etc. sells!Of course you can continue to shoot what you love but not always what you like and sell it.And I gree with you:"Shoot conceptual images, images that can be used for MORE then one purpose."Conceptual and commercial images,not beautiful and sweet or cute images for stock if you wanna sell.:)Cheers:)!

August 20, 2013


I certainly agree that all kinds of things sell. For me, I've found that the things I love to shoot, like travel and especially nautical images, have made a lot for me. So have abstract backgrounds. There are over a million hits for "abstract background" which would have discouraged me if I thought about it, but since I love playing with macro lenses, lights, textures, etc., I've continued to produce them and they sell nicely for me. On DT they have earned me more than any other category.

My next best category is travel, especially nautical images. There are nearly 25,000 lighthouse photos here on DT, so the competition isn't quite the same as for people and objects isolated on white, or for backgrounds, and one of mine is currently on page 1 if you simply search "lighthouse." My best-selling one has over 300 dls between DT and other micro sites, and most of them topped 50 DLs in a short time. I've found many of these travel images in magazines, on travel websites, in newspapers here in the US and abroad, and have licensed them to calendar companies too. Not something a designer might need, but certainly something that is a popular travel image. In fact, between all the sites I'm on, lighthouse images have earned me way more than backgrounds despite the fact that I have only about 15 of them online.

Though designers can always use objects isolated on white, those types of images generally have not been big sellers for me. My best selling "on white" image is a wind turbine - it's had a little under 150 dls, so half of my best lighthouse seller, and it has only earned me a fraction of what each of my top lighthouse photos have, since the lighthouses are far more likely to result in ELs. My other on whites have under 20 dls, so they are not big sellers for me.

I guess my point is that it's easy to generalize about what you should shoot for stock, but DT's clients are so varied that it's easy to find a niche that works with the kind of things you enjoy shooting.

I think your image certainly offers a lot of possibilities and I can see you've really thought it through. Your instinct to shoot lots of different categories is a good one I think. With millions of images it's hard these days to become know for just one specialty, so having a lot of strong images is the way to go.

Good thought-provoking article!

August 19, 2013


I agree with you for the big portfolio and for the pictures of all categories. I'm beginning so my portfolio is still small but I can't decide what to focus on so I just shoot anything that grabs my attention.

August 19, 2013


Oh, I agree with Gmargittai. It's sometimes irritating to see how many similar isolated pictures of people with slight changes in gestures are approved. Hundreds of these photos with zero downloads. And then you try to upload a series of a subject with completely different setups, lighting, etc. and they get rejected for having too many similar ones that will compete with each other. I don't mind having two of my pictures competing with each other as long as the buyer buys one of mine!! :)
Don't these photos of people were the only difference sometimes is a slight different smile compete with each other? Ahh, so many things about stock are still a mystery to me...

August 19, 2013


"How many companies and webdesigners need a nice looking male smiling for their website support page? - A lot i'd guess."

DT data base of 18,000,000 or so photos is full of smiling males and females. Most of them have zero downloads.

There is more to it than just a smile and a white background.

August 19, 2013


I agree with Your post. ;)

August 19, 2013


Are you speaking as a buyer ?
No im speaking as a contributor to the people who just started out in the stock business. I know people who still are pussled about why their "best shot" aren't approved. Stock photo aren't about the unique and best shot.

August 19, 2013


Good to know Eliane - I thought that too! I agree to "have a BIG portfolio" but I reckon you also should focus on what you are good at and what you like taking photos of - I still want to do this with fun in a few years time :)
Yeah, i haven't found my niche yet, im still figuring that out;)

August 19, 2013



& also the model looks nice!

August 19, 2013


Great point about the mind blowing shots. Those may well be the most unhelpful for graphic and layout folks.

August 19, 2013


Good to know Eliane - I thought that too!
I agree to "have a BIG portfolio" but I reckon you also should focus on what you are good at and what you like taking photos of - I still want to do this with fun in a few years time :)

August 19, 2013


Having recently bought a studio, shooting on white is the thing I'll try to do shortly. My husband, who works at an ad company is telling me that gray is better as it gives the designer the chance to to cut and paste without having to deal with an already badly isolated shot... I always thought the whiter, the better.

August 19, 2013


Are you speaking as a buyer ?

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