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What Images are in Demand by Stock Agencies?

Updated on November 11, 2012
Food images are good for stock
Food images are good for stock

Generally saying, preferences of every stock agency are different due to the system of distribution and customer market. There are also other factors involved in alteration of interest, like seasonal changes and state of events in the world. However there are a number of concepts and ways of image presentations that are in demand almost everywhere. Following this guide is going to help you shoot what is needed and will help you increase sales of your images.

Shoot every day objects
Shoot every day objects

Concept behind Your Photos

Creating conceptual images might sound like a daunting task, but every image you create for stock should have concept and send a clear message to the viewer. Naturally, it’s much easier to take photos of what surrounds you and hope it will gets sold, spend extra time to think of a concept and shoot accordingly is much wiser though.

Currently highly requested images at stock agencies are on subjects of:

  • Active people: biking, hiking, doing sports, exercising.
  • Business and finances: photos of business people, money, banking, e-commerce.
  • Emotions: depression, worry, stress, disappointment, loneliness, pain, content, happiness, joy.
  • Food: well executed with bright colours photos of prepared food as well as food ingredients.
  • Health and medicine: anything related to medicine and health, objects and photos of medical staff.
  • Relationship: photos of happy as well as sad couples, photos showing different generations of people, parents and children, interaction between people.
  • Technology: computers, e-books, tabs.
  • Travel: images of hard to reach places.
  • Workers: images of people working showing a profession.

Shoot over white
Shoot over white | Source

Shoot Over White

Designers just love photos of objects and portraits shot over white background. It gives them freedom to apply such images to design without many complications. Recently I read a blog post written by a designer, who explained that photos photographed over white background are the easiest to use, because with just a few clicks background can be changed and a text can be added. Therefore choosing this kind of presentation for your photos gives them a good sale potential.

Natural surroundings
Natural surroundings | Source

Natural Surroundings

You shouldn't limit yourself to just taking photos on white background though, don’t forget to photograph people, food and objects in its natural surroundings. It’s another good way to add naturalness to your photos. For example photograph a businessman working in his office, a painter painting in a house, a man shaving in the bathroom, meat laying on a cutting board, etc.

Composition is the key
Composition is the key

Colour vs. Black and White

Some photos just look better in mono, it mostly applies to portraits. Mono conversion can add extra mood to photos that show depression, sad feelings, loneliness, stress, emotional pain, despair etc. However portraits of business people most of the time look much better in colour.

What doesn't work in black and white is food. Photos of food look unnatural without colour, completely losing its appeal.

Use good lighting and clear background
Use good lighting and clear background


This is a tough one, because different designers have different needs. Some designers prefer ready-to-use photos, which can be added instantly to a column or a blog. Others want to have ability to choose cropping themselves to fit a layout due to the client’s preferences. In this case it is reasonable to make sure you covered needs of both sides. When possible, take one photo with a tight crop and another one with a bit different composition and include more details, but make sure these photos don’t look too similar with each other in order to avoid rejections for similarity.

Think carefully when arranging objects
Think carefully when arranging objects

Not Just Portraits

Portraits for stock should communicate a message and create associations, for example: a young person with a pile of books is associated with student, confident man in a suit associates with business, a man sitting with his head in hands associates with stress, a smiling woman touching her belly is associated with happy pregnancy. List of associations is endless and so are concepts for portraits. A sure thing, these kinds of portraits take more effort to create, but are much better suitable for stock photography.

Think of mood
Think of mood | Source

Every photo you take for stock should be thought through and planned, but it doesn't mean you can’t improvise. Sometimes I have an idea for a photo, set it all up, but what I see in my head doesn't come out looking on camera just as good, in this case improvisation helps me to find a way to make a photo work. Having at least some kind of idea what the final result should look like really helps creating photos, because stock photography is mostly about creating photos rather than taking them. Make your photos speak for themselves and you will see how number of sales of your images will grow.


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    • Dina Blaszczak profile image

      Dina Blaszczak 4 years ago from Poland

      @FlourishAnyway Glad you enjoyed the reading :)

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      Awesome information. I am doing research with my teen encouraging her to groom her talents.

    • Dina Blaszczak profile image

      Dina Blaszczak 5 years ago from Poland

      @Diana Grant I'm glad you found useful information in my hub :)

    • Diana Grant profile image

      Diana Grant 5 years ago from London

      This is just the sort of information I need, as I submitted some of my photos to a stock agency and they were rejected. Thanks, I can now see where I went wrong.

    • Dina Blaszczak profile image

      Dina Blaszczak 6 years ago from Poland

      @sgbrown Thank you for reading my hubs and voting for them :)

      @mindfuliving If you sell images at micro stock agencies under Royalty-Free licence, then you don't have any control at all. Apparently you get a certain amount of control if you sell photos at stock agencies under Rights Managed licence, but I don't have experience in this yet, so can't tell for sure.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 6 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Another very good and informative hub. I am looking forward to seeing more hubs from you! Voted up and useful! :)

    • mindfuliving profile image

      mindfuliving 6 years ago from Boston, MA

      Very informative and detailed article - thank you Dina! Does one have any level of control over what subject matter the photo can be used to advertise?