Stock photography is about so much more than simply taking photos.
It’s really an endeavor that combines the craft of photography with the savviness of marketing and the art of design.
To thrive as a stock photographer, you certainly need to hone your photographic skills. But you also need to think like both a graphic designer and an advertiser while you shoot.
Here are my top five tips to help you maximize your stock photo sales:
1.Include people. As much as possible, fill your portfolios with images of people – especially people doing things. Photo buyers love pictures showing people engaged with life, having experiences, and interacting. Try to capture believable, real life moments that don’t feel posed or contrived.
2. Pay attention. The most successful stock photographers keep up with visual trends. Photos that convey a popular theme, activity, or idea are sure to sell the best. Browse through a few magazines or websites and take note of what type of photos the advertisers are using. Notice the color palette used, the type of lighting, and the compositional styles. A little research goes a long way! Many stock sites even publish helpful lists of in-demand stock photo subjects. Read more about this.
3. Perfect your images. To get accepted at stock photo sites your images need to be technically solid. This includes nailing your focus, proper exposure, and accurate white balance. You want to capture the best images possible in your camera and then polish them further with editing software such as Adobe Lightroom.
4. Create variations. It’s a good idea to have a variety of images to choose from. Even during a single shoot, you can create a ton of variety. Ways to do this include changing your lens so you have both wide angle and close-up shots. You can also shoot both vertical and horizontal. Consider framing your shot with alternative aspect ratios in mind, such as 16:9 and 1:1 (square). Another option is to leave copy space in some of your images. Designers love having room for text!
You can also create variations by shooting at different times of day, different seasons, and different moods such as the examples below which have completely different vibes because the model changed her expression.
5. Be conceptual. You always want to be thinking about what an image can be used for. Photos that can be used for a wide variety of purposes will sell the best. Along these lines, photos that convey relatable concepts or elicit an emotional connection will be strong for stock.
For example, a simple photo of a road can be used to represent travel and transportation. However, roads can also symbolize adventure, journey, freedom, the unknown, moving forward, and heading towards goals. Each of these concepts have a wide range of end uses.
Bonus Tip: Don’t forget about keywording! People won’t be able to buy your image if they can’t find it. Good keywording is one of the main ways buyers will find your images and it’s absolutely crucial to selling your stock photos. Read more about keywording here.
Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be well on your way to creating more sellable stock photos!