How to Take Stock Photos Outdoors

(Camera settings: f/4, 1/125th sec, ISO 400. Lens: 55mm)

What greater joy is there than combining your passions and then making an income with them? This is why I’m always telling you to take your camera on your adventures, both near and far.

If you’re planning any trips to national, state, or even city parks this summer, you’ll love this month’s Snap & Sell Photo Club Roadmap, on Parks and Recreation. Members – you can find it on your member page starting right now!

This month’s Challenge is extra-special. It’s written by my photographer friend Sarah Ehlen, who’s a former National Park ranger with her own photo guide business in Glacier National Park (check out her website here).

Sarah loves to spend time in the outdoors… and the photos she’s taken while out exploring parks are some of her best-sellers as stock. See some of her park stock images, below.

And remember that as a Snap & Sell Photo Club member, you get an entire Roadmap guide to shooting this subject for stock – including what keywords to use. If you’re not a member yet, go here to try it out and get in on this month’s Challenge.

— Bonnie

Turning park photos into side income
By Landscape Photographer, Sarah Ehlen

Imagine spending a leisurely day exploring a beautiful park and coming away with saleable photos. Sounds awesome, right?

Well, for stock photographers this is easily possible.

Some of my best-selling stock photos were taken in parks or natural areas. I love that I can bring my camera along on adventures in these places and come away with photos that buyers love.

For example, here’s one that I took while backpacking with a friend in Glacier National Park. We were walking down the trail, and both stopped to photograph a beautiful waterfall in the distance. Afterwards, I asked her to turn towards me and I snapped this shot below, which has become a great seller in my stock photo portfolio.

(Camera settings: f/4, 1/125th sec, ISO 400. Lens: 55mm)

On a different trip, I took this next shot, which also became one of my best-sellers. It was taken during a float down a river in Montana. My friend was resting on the shore and I quickly lined up my composition so that I could include both his boots and the boat in the background. (I placed my focus point on the ground so that the boat and the logo on the seat would be slightly blurry. Remember, legible logos are a no-go for stock photography.)

(Camera settings: f/1.4, 1/1600th sec, ISO 200. Lens: 23mm)

To my surprise, even a very straightforward shot of my own hiking boots has sold well. I took this image during a break while on a hike by myself. While I was resting, I looked over at my worn boots and thought it might make for an interesting photo. Here, I used a shallow depth of field and careful composition to again avoid any logos being visible.

(Camera settings: f/1.4, 1/250th sec, ISO 200. Lens: 23mm)

My top-selling stock photo was taken at Lake Louise, in Canada’s Banff National Park during a winter visit. I think one of the reasons it’s done well as stock is that it’s a somewhat unique take on a very popular destination. There are countless photos of Lake Louise, but perhaps this one stands out because I focused in on an interesting detail that makes the viewer feel like they are there looking out at this beautiful scene.

(Camera settings: f/5.6, 1/125th sec, ISO 400. Lens: 55mm)

I hope these examples give you a sense for how simple it is to capture sellable images while you’re playing outside!

My best advice is to keep it simple, be ready to capture real moments, and be intentional with your compositions. It also helps to head out with friends that don’t mind being your model!

Find a park, grab your camera, and have fun exploring!

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