Stock Photography guide

Many a times we have came across the questions regarding stock photography and related topics. So here we are with some general explanation to start with Stock Photography.


1. Be a decent photographer : You don’t have to be the best in your area and you don’t need special training, You do, however, need to be able to produce decent images, and most importantly, technically flawless ones. You might have captured an epic sunset, the fairytale kind, if the picture is noisy, forget it. Make sure you know how to use you camera correctly and by this I mean avoid the Auto mode.

2. Have decent gear : It doesn’t have to be top of the line pro stuff, but you shouldn’t be shooting stock with the plastic kit lens either. Fortunately, most of today’s DSLRs offer very good image quality if properly used. Shoot at minimum ISO and, if necessary, use a tripod.

3. Do not take rejections and criticism personally : Most major stock agencies will have you submit some images for a test, to see if you have what it takes, so to speak. You send your images for approval, you patiently wait for a few days to get an answer, it arrives and the application ends in disappointment as they politely inform you that you didn’t make their roster. That’s not the worst part. Most messages include a list of technical flaws that your photos MIGHT have had, thus presenting an argument for their decision. They don’t, however, clearly point out what you did wrong and rather than leaving you with a clear sense of the areas that require improvement, you’ll be left with a sense of discouragement. DO NOT take these messages seriously. Keep sending your photos to other agencies because there are plenty to choose from. Don’t get stuck after one, two, or ten refusals. If you think about it, you’re probably a good critic of your own work and as long as you feel you’re doing a good job, keep pushing forward.

4. Study the licensing terms : This is also an important thing to look out for when joining a stock agency. I know nobody likes to readterms of agreement but this time you really should because it concerns the rights you give or hold regarding your work. Some agencies will demand exclusive rights. That means that once they bought your image, it’s theirs and that’s final, You no longer have any right to use it under any circumstances. Others are more flexible and allow you to share the rights, but only under certain conditions. Be sure to study all of these facts. Some look like they were written for lawyers so take your time and read them more than once until you fully understand what you’re agreeing upon.

5. Meet the need : There are countless images being submitted every single day by countless people. Don’t submit photos of your garden, your pets or the landscapes from your latest vacation. Rest assured, they have plenty of those. Find out what is in demand in the market right now. Most agencies will offer you guidelines to what they’re looking for. Generally speaking, try to be as creative as possible. Come up with original concepts to highlight a certain idea or situation in a universal, visual language. Use attractive people, it’s almost a sure bet . Instead of uploading 1000 average photos that everyone’s seen before, go for quality, authenticity and durability.

6. Get model releases : Every agency will require a signed model release for photos that feature people who can be recognized. Some, however will ask you for a release for photos showing only body parts like hands or feet. It doesn’t matter if it’s a complete stranger or your brother, get it signed or otherwise your work will be useless to a stock website.

7. Focus on tagging : Just like SEO (search engine optimization) is important for a blog post to be seen, tagging will make the difference between selling your photos or not. Be sure to include everything directly related to the image, as well as more general, yet still related terms.

8.Be constant : If you want to succeed in making a decent, steady income from stock photography, you should treat it like a day job. After you’ve put together a consistent body of work, keep the flow going , maybe even on a daily basis. Discipline yourself by making a schedule for each task. Have a time frame for the idea, the shooting, the editing ,the tagging and submitting. The more organized you will be, the more effective. You will then figure out the best number of photos to take without compromising quality .Make this a long term plan, not only because it will take some time before your work will start generating revenue, but also because your best work will be long lasting and bought by numerous clients for a long time.