Tip of the week: 5 Beginner's Tips about stock photos that sell the most

Media telecommunications concept

Stock photography is a lucrative business and like any other business, cash flow is important. Healthy cash flow comes from selling photos. With hundreds of amateur/hobbyists photographers uploading new images on stock agencies daily, competition for buyers gets steeper every day.

What can you do differently to get your photos into the hands of buyers?

In this article I will share five tips on how you can shoot, upload and promote your photos, to ensure that you sell and keep a healthy cash flow that will sustain your business.

How to identify photos that will sell?

Succeeding in any business starts with planning, calculated focused planning. Photos that sell are not a result of an accident, they are meticulously researched, methodically planned for and professionally executed. Buyer’s buy excellence, an excellent photo that answers to what a buyer is looking for will sell.

Stock photography has a wide inexhaustible genre. You must decide what type of photos you intend to shoot. Landscape, Streets, people portraits, foodstuff, babies, etc. It doesn’t matter what you shoot, you need to be creative. Creativity starts with your passion, but sometimes what you love may not be sellable, you need to research the market. What are buyers looking for?

Visit the contributors' page on Dreamstime to find images that are trending, look out for the monthly trending report and glean ideas from what buyers are looking for. Secondly, check your equipment, do you have the right gear to shoot the same concepts? If not, you need to first of all invest in the right equipment.

How to plan for the photoshoot

Once you have identified the type of images buyers are looking for, and are confident you have the right equipment to shoot them, then you should move to the next step which is planning.

Start with brainstorming, write down all photography ideas that you get, narrow down these ideas to what’s viable. Next, carry out your research, research about your prospective customers, what are they buying, what is it that they are asking for, what is in short supply?

Research on the current trends, read blogs, online publications, magazines, etc. get to know what’s trending, keep abreast with any new changes. Once you know what you are going to shoot, plan the shoot. Write a list of what you want to achieve in the shoot.

How to shoot photos that will sell

The equipment you have will determine what concepts you can shoot. That does not mean you should be constrained. Be creative especially with light, you can buy a basic light tent, place a few lights around the tent and have a basic studio in your house, you will shoot more concepts this way.

Stock photography is a game of numbers, the better quality photos you can shoot and upload, the higher your chances are of selling. You can shoot the same image at different angles, you do not know which angle that will please a prospective customer.

Shoot your photos with the end in mind, what images are customers interested in buying? Do not shoot images just because you like them, shoot what has the potential of selling, this is where you need to get into the mind of your customers and come up with creative ideas that will appeal to them.

How to shoot within budget

Your equipment and location will determine what you can shoot. When starting out, invest in basic equipment a basic camera and the right lenses will do, start shooting in your neighborhood.

When choosing a specialization niche work with what is abundantly and freely available in your location, this will help you to keep your expenses low by working with what is readily available.

Set aside a budget for every photo shoot. When you invest in a shoot, you have a better chance of shooting unique concepts that will sell.

Get model and property releases’ forms signed if you are shooting portraits and private property, Model releases will ensure that you can sell portrait images and not upload them as editorials.

How to prepare your images

Shooting images that sell starts with preparation, the right kind of preparation. Have props and items that you need ready. Dedicate your time and skills to shoot straight photos that are well placed in the grid, have plenty of white space.

During post-processing crop and remove grain, work on the contrast and saturation. It is easier to process a photo that is well shot. Adjust your camera's settings to shoot clear sharp images that are easily editable during post-processing.

Keywords are important. The right keywords will pull in the right customers for your photos. Keywording is an important skill that you must learn. Tag your words with the right descriptive words when uploading them.


Selling stock photos is a numbers strategy. Shoot as many images as you possibly can, upload constantly dedicate time to your daily photo shoots, time for post-processing and time for uploads.

Tablet pc

Gone are the days of instant fame, with countless entrants joining the business every day. Those that survive in the business must prepare adequately. Stock photography is a long haul business, be patient, do not expect instant sells. Over time you will see good returns, the sales may start trickling in, but eventually, you will start making some good money.

Photo credits: Scanrail, Alexandr Steblovskiy.

Your article must be written in English

October 12, 2019


Thank you for these tips..  i know ive been on dreamstime for awhile, was overwhelmed at first, but now more confident and searching all the links and now the tips..  

October 06, 2019


A great synopsis of the key aspects of success in stock photography.  Nicely done!

October 04, 2019


Sage advice; I should follow it!

September 20, 2019


@Dimamutoday. It depends on the kind of editing. A great photo may still require that you "edit" out copyrights in the image etc.

September 20, 2019


 Editing an image will only take a great photo over the edge. Don't you think so?

September 19, 2019


Good comments about conceptual ideas! I have written several blogs on this subject also so please read these as they agree with the finer points you make about successful stock sales!

September 19, 2019


Great ideas here. Thanks for writing! William

Related image searches
Sales related image searches