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Starting Out in Stock Photography

Updated on January 4, 2013

So, you consider yourself talented behind the lens of a camera, and you're thinking about selling some of your photos online. Be prepared, as you will face many challenges getting your work online. Most royalty free stock photography sites require you to fill out an application and submit your images for approval, before you can start contributing and making money. Once you are accepted into a stock site, every photo you upload must be inspected for quality before it is available on site for purchasing, and usually you have to wait in queue with everyone else submitting images. Not to mention all the time you spent working on perfecting your shot before uploading! With that said, stock photography can be a great second income or even a full time job once you have a decent collection of photos online.


Photos That Sell

In order to be a successful stock photographer, you really need to consider what kind of photos you should be contributing. Royalty free sites are filled with photos of pets and flowers, and although nature and landscape shots are beautiful, and do sell from time to time, they are not commercial enough to earn you an income. The real money makers are product, life style, and concept images. Companies are always looking for images related to business, some of the best selling photos are people using laptops, cell phones and other personal devices. Holiday shots also do really well, Christmas, Easter, New Years, Thanksgiving, etc. Almost every company changes their image over for the Christmas season. The best advice is to search stock site libraries and see what is selling well. Use this as a guideline for your work, and add your own artistic twist to it. Sure, there are hundreds of photos of Easter eggs on there, but your version may sell just as well or better. Be creative.

Stock Photography Sites

Probably the most popular and widely used stock photography sites on the Internet, also the hardest to get into, but once you do, the opportunity to make money here is great. As a contributor, you will earn 20% the sale of your work, and you have the benefits of being part of a photography community as well, where you can write blogs and participate in the forums. There is also incentives to become exclusive to this site, like rank of your images, percentage of earnings, etc.

Shutterstock is also very popular among photographers and consumers. You will earn 25ยข per image sold. Not very much, but once you have sold a certain amount, the amount you receive goes up.

This site also offers affordable images for the consumer and offer 50% of the royalty fee on each image sold.

Fotolia is a social marketplace for royalty free photography allowing professionals to legally buy and sell stock photos and illustrations.

These are just a few sites out there to contribute your blood sweat and tears to. Do your research before choosing which one you will join, or maybe choose to contribute to a few of them. Hope you found this helpful, and keep on shooting!

How to Sell Stock Photography Video


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    • Lazer317 profile image

      Lazer317 6 years ago from Canada

      Yes, agreed. It's very time consuming, but the payout can be worth it if you stick with it. You do have to have quality photos though, for sure.

    • Adventure Colorad profile image

      Adventure Colorad 6 years ago from Denver,CO

      Don't forget to mention that it is a lot of work. I have been with Istock for about four years and there is a definite relationship between the amount of work and high quality photos that you upload and the amount that you make.

    • profile image

      Lynn S. Murphy 6 years ago

      Interesting. I don't plan on doing this however, it is good to know.