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How To Make It Big As A Stock Photographer

  • 4 min read

If you’re a photographer looking to make a bit more money, you’ve probably been tempted, at least at some point, to go into stock photography. Not only is it a great way to make some extra cash but it also gives you the freedom to invest as much time as you want in it, making it perfect for both those who would like to do it part-time as well as full-time.

That being said, if you are hoping to become a stock photographer and make a name in the industry, it almost necessarily has to become your full-time job, due to the fact that the stock image industry is already overcrowded with thousands of photographers who are trying to make a living off of their stock images. So, in order for you to make it in this industry, you have to find a way to stand out from the crowd.

Calvin Fisher, owner of Pandabomb, a digital production house that specialises in photography, videography and social media marketing, has put together a guide that will help you excel in the stock photography game – and that explains how to take stock photos that sell.

Capture people being their authentic selves

The first thing you need to do is observe how people interact with one another in a socially acceptable location like a party, a public park or even a coffee shop. Plan your shots by watching how people interact with the objects around them, such as their phone, or a drink. Just remember, unless the people’s faces are cut off or obscured, you will need permission from the people who appear clearly in your shots. A great way to get their permission is to ask them to sign a model release which serves as a legal document for photographers to use for publishing.

Capitalise on what’s missing

One thing you need to know about being a stock photographer is that you’ll be competing with thousands of other photographers trying to sell their own stock images. One great way to get ahead of the competition would be to identify what subject matter companies will have trouble finding unique images for. In South Africa, there is a shortage of stock photographs available of people of colour in a business environment  as well as females in leading roles in business settings. Perhaps this is something that you can take advantage of as you build your stock image gallery. Another great way to get ahead is to do some research on what’s missing on stock photography websites and plan shoots around that.

Look out for events taking place

Halloween, New Years Eve and Valentine’s Day are all great examples of the kind of days that require stock photography. If you plan your shots around these special days you’re more than likely to capture some great imagery. Bonus points if you find people in unusual costumes or stylish outfits.

Find a suitable stock photo site to sell your images

There are dozens of stock photo sites out there where you can upload your images for sale. Adobe’s Stock Library is one of the most popular stock photo agencies used today. They offer a lot of exposure and sales for their photographers due to the massive traffic they receive online. Another site to look out for is Getty Images, their website is known for providing stock imagery to a wide range of advertising and news channels all over the world.

Follow the seasons

Seasonal imagery will always be in high demand. Especially if you capture some unique shots in less mainstream areas. Even if certain seasons, such as winter or spring, have loads of stock imagery, you can still find a niche. Try and capture some emotional moments such as a baby playing at the beach for the first time or someone making a snowman.

Whether you’ve been a photographer for more than ten years or a couple of days, following these few simple tricks and all the information in this article will get you well on your way to selling your stock images in no time.