Selling images on your own website, to an agency, or to a company is what we call stock photography today. There are microstock agencies such as Shutterstock, Dreamstime, or istockphoto out there that you can sell your images to and as the Photographer, you receive a small profit over time. No matter which way you decide to go, it is clear that there is some money to be made in stock photography. The key is knowing the best way to pick stock photos that will sell. Once upon a time I majored in Photography and I can assure you that the reason I chose to change my major to Business was because of my concern for income. Although photography remains being a big part of my heart and life, I would have definitely reconsidered changing majors had I known about the ability to bring in income from stock photography. Today I’m able to enjoy both the business end and the artistic end of Photography. Here are some tips I put together to help anyone who is looking to get into the business.
1. Invest in your new stream of income
Quality is everything in your images because you are looking to sell an image not be graded in your Photography 101 class. While it’s true that there is the occasional image on your iPhone that looks like it was done professionally, that will hardly qualify as the tool you use to take pictures that you are looking to make money from. Invest in a camera that will only produce the very best images. A digital SLR purchase should be in your near future if you don’t already have one.
2. Quality check your images
Make sure you blow your images up to full capacity to check for “noise.” Noise is any grainy or pixilated area found within your image. Any images that contain noise in any part of your image will most probably be rejected by an agency.
3. Become a Photoshop Guru
For more than enough reasons to be mentioned in one article, you should take the time to learn Photoshop inside and out. Not only is this by far the most used software by Photographers but also for people who are not in the business. Photoshop allows you to edit the quality of your images and also play with a wide variety of filters and colors. Your image becomes a canvas and Photoshop allows you to make a work of art out of it.
4. Get financially smart quickly
You have to remember that there are the shots that we like and then there are the shots that are marketable and can sell across a variety of industries. If you are looking to create a portfolio for a gallery opening, then yes you would go for shots that came from your keen and artistic sense. However, if you are looking to sell images, then you want to focus your clicks a bit more towards the business end of this particular art form. Pick images that can be relatable to specific industries. Maybe you want to take pictures of cupcakes today for people who are looking to build websites for their bakeries.
5. Use Psychology for your target images
If you are a Photographer you are creative so use that creativity to put yourself in the shoes of a client or agency and get a better understanding of what they will like or need. If you are the owner of a travel agency looking to upgrade the images on your website, what would you look for? What would be considered an appealing image that will capture the website’s visitors?
6. Play a game of scroll and stop
The biggest advantage of selling stock photos is that you have the same human sense that triggers your target consumer. The sense of sight. Scroll through your shots when you’re done taking pictures and play a game of scroll and stop. Some images are going to move you more than others. The images that make your eyes stop means it triggered you. Whether it was the actual image itself, the colors, the lighting or something else that captured your attention more than the others makes that shot a keeper. The second thing you’re looking for is the feeling it ignited when you stared at it for more than 10 seconds. That’s a seller!
7. Know who to approach when it’s time to sell
Take some time and do some research in order to find out what other people who are in the stock photography business are saying. There are many blogs and articles out there that will provide a good sense of direction for you. There are many reasons why an agency may reject your image so make sure you submit your images to several stock photo agencies. What one may not need or like another one will.