Stock Phototograpghy Do’s and Don’ts

Do's and Don'ts on two sticky notes  on weathered whitewash textured wood

If you ever feel overwhelmed by all of the information out there on how to sell your photos as stock… here’s a quick and easy “do’s and don’ts” list to follow.

Just run down the list, check off the items, and get your photos into an agency this weekend!

Stock photo do’s:

  • DO pay attention to current trends. As you browse through printed and digital media, take notice of the types of photos you see in the advertisements. You can also see what’s selling on stock websites themselves. Read more about this here.
  • DO keep it authentic. Buyers these days want photos that feel real and un-staged. Stay away from cheesy smiles or contrived scenes, and shoot real things that you’re interested in. Take your camera with you on a hike… to lunch with a friend… to the beach family reunion… and basically anywhere you go!

  • DO add the right keywords. Your photos will only sell if people can find them – and that means adding strong, relevant keywords.
  • DO send in a full-size image. Make sure your camera is set to shoot the highest quality and size possible (check your manual to find this setting). And make sure you don’t resize your photos when it comes time to submit them to a site.
  • DO check your photos for technical issues. After you put your photos in the computer, zoom in to inspect them at 100% magnification. This is the only way to spot potential technical issues (such as missed focus) that could get your image sent back.

Stock photo don’ts:

  • DON’T over-process. Edit your photos in the computer, but use a light hand when you do. The goal is to make your photo light and bright, so it stands out among others on the site — but not so much that it looks like fake. Applying heavy processing will limit the potential usefulness of an image for buyers.
  • DON’T add a watermark. Stock photo agencies will apply their own watermark to an image to protect it, so they don’t want you to add yours.
  • DON’T include logos, brand names, or trademarked elements. Try to exclude or hide these things from your shot. Otherwise, any kind of brand name or logo will need to be removed in post processing before submitting to an agency.
  • DON’T wait to start! It can be so easy to put off starting with stock photography. There are a million excuses, like not having a good enough camera or not being a good enough photographer. I’m here to tell you that you are good enough and so is your camera. Don’t let perfection stand in the way of getting started! Read more on this topic here

And last but not least…

Don’t give up. It takes time to build momentum with stock, but I promise that if you keep at it, you’ll start seeing sales while also becoming a better photographer in the process.

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