What Sells Images?

You've for sure heard it bandied about, here and in other places, the issue of what factors might best sell or stimulate high interest in images. The issue often arises as to whether it's key-words, or concepts, or good composition, low noise, some unique perspective, or some other combination of variables. It seems that contributors invariably obsess about some alchemy that will provide a simple answer to marketing their own images in the most favorable way.

Just do a search of the threads and you'll see that the issue routinely comes up. I'll venture to say that despite the volumes of words exchanged, nobody ever satisfactorily arrives at a list of the definitive factors that explain how to move one image quicker or better than another.

Having said that, I'll now suggest a rather antithetical yet fairly simple response: 'Shoot primarily those things you enjoy'. If you're a landscape sort of soul. . then shoot those. If you like to take pictures of people holding cell phones . . then do that. If fantastic, surrealistic photo manipulations float your boat, then by all means, do those. But for Heaven's sake, don't worry about what somebody else says is the magic bullet for success. Shoot what you love. If you do that, then its exponentially easier to accomplish the second half of that equation which I suggest is: 'Stick to the Fundamentals and pay Attention to Detail'.

If you're out in nature, or in a studio, or sitting in front of Photoshop, its much easier to incorporate the fundamentals of good photography. When inspired by what you are shooting, you are much more inclined to want to know more about effective composition of a scene, making proper exposures, using the most effective apertures and/or shutter speeds for the conditions, and lastly, in using your creative juices to render a unique perspective to a perhaps otherwise commonplace image.

So if you tend to be one who believes that any problem can be measured by reducing it to its base elements, think again. When it comes to the creative process (and creating stock images involves just that) you'll find that success is often a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

Photo credits: , Lightart.

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Great, thanks for taking the time to help us out. The gut feeling, although we invariably dont seem to listen to it, I agree is our best judgement.


Well spoken. Point well received. I enjoyed reading your article. I especially liked the use of imagery, as well as your inspirational, yet factual style. Now I shall apply it to my own photography! Thanks, Don from California.


Spoken from someone who obviously knows how to sell some images. Ill take this advice seriously. Thank you for taking the time to give your opinion.


I very much agree with what you've said here. Try to go with your feelings and not to try to please others.


Thank you for your thoughts. As someone who has very recently joined DT, I have been thinking about this a lot over the last couple of days. I'm not sure that what I enjoy shooting will typically sell, but I do know that it is more likely to be something I am proud of. That said, I would also like to use my membership here to help me go a little outside my comfort zone as well. Balance is the key I think.

Thanks, a great article.



Hello,i have a problem with photography...how are most selled?Which words are right?Thank you for help


Interesting perspective. I agree totally, shoot what you love, create that which you think is beautiful, make it pleasing to the eye, see the possibilities and pay attention to your keywords. That is sooooooo important.


What Sells Images? What Images Sell!


Although I really share your explorative position of our own approaches to photography as an expressive form, I think it is important to seek a balance between our own internal research and what the market demand. Keeping this balance is the challenge if we want that Dreamstime´s incomes becomes as an important extra one.

I really liked your VINEYARDS pictures. Thanks for your words!


Well said, Don. I'll just add though that in my experience, often the images that generate the biggest emotional response for me are not accepted here at Dreamstime. Which only means they are not stock oriented - not that they are bad images. But I do have trouble telling the difference sometimes!


Enjoying your blog,and thanks for sharing advice(from mt point of view I really need as much as I can get)Thank you


I agree with you. When you are about to take a photo, you must sense a feeling with your sunject. I think this is the first step in photography.


good advice. thanks for your suggestion!


Well said! Everyone should read it. Thank you very much for posting!


Spot on


Sometimes we forgot it! Thanks for the advice, I will keep searching good images...and the sales will come.At least, if it not ...I 'll enjoy my hobby!!


Well said & as a new contributor, I need all the advice I can get from you guys that have been around awhile - thank you & very nice photos!


Very good advice, Thanks.


Very true - life should not be about making money - we need to stop and enjoy the everyday joys. I love your photos - they are crisp and original!


I like your article, and i ever thinked that everyone gives his/her best, when photographing something he/her likes very much.
Nobody knows so well the things that makes our own passions. I experienced this on the tracks when photographing cars and bikes: I was an ex kart pilot, and i ever knew at first sight where to put myself to get the best action images.


yES dON U have rightly put it. What u are saying that one needs to be true to self. I think that is the approach i have applied and it gels. I had taken lot of landscape and head to shoulder simplest portraits and anxiously waited, waited and then gave up and started following my own instinct and woW! Now the sale is picking up. U do the right and required Karma and some or the other buyer will lurk into your contribution of photograph and will pick it up. Ya for sure.


Hi Don, I totally agree with you, and although my images may not sell as well as other submitters, I have to feel very compromised should I decide to foresake my love of taking certain images with what I feel may sell. I believe all images will sell, if they are good enough, and would rather be out there doing what drew me to photography in the first place, passion and a love for nature/wildlife etc. That said, I once again agree totally with what you say about being inspired by the images you are shooting. Good blog, and some good shots, love the lake pic...


Very true! And I think it's important to remind people of it now and then ;o) Thanks!


Great blog, and absolutely gorgeous images!


Great! I enjoy your blog.

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