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Guide to Stock Photography

Stock Photography Guide

When I started discovering the world of stock photography, I realized that it was a world fulled of frequently-asked questions and clashing opinions. In this post, I will try to assemble my own ideas to try to help you choose whether shooting stock photography is for you.

Exactly what is stock photography?

Stock photography is the sale of photos and images, typically through an image library that were taken without a particular customer or use defined. Typically (there are exceptions) individuals include their work to an online collection / picture library so that prospective consumers can browse the images and buy one if it matches their existing demands. Possible clients search the library utilizing keywords that match their requirements. If you browse, you will see stock images everywhere, from publications, newspapers, internet sites, book covers, posters, calendars and postcards and much, much more.

Who can be a stock photographer?

This is commonly an eye opener which has numerous traditional photographers reeling. ANY INDIVIDUAL can be a stock photographer! Stock photography is faceless, the picture does the talking.

OK, now I’m interested what pictures should I take?

My best recommendations is browse at magazines, books, leaflets, posters, advertising, and websites etc. Do not simply think locally either as stock libraries offer images around the world. There are books, websites and publications for practically every topic. Maybe you have a leisure activity you might specialise in or you travel a lot, the world actually is your oyster. I have the tendency to look about when I’m out taking photos for enjoyable and see something and think “I can envision a picture of that in a post about., or a book about …”.

Design and home releases.

One major thing to think about is that you can not sell pictures that have identifiable people or items or trademarks in them without written approval. For people this is called a design release and for logos or property, it is called a home release.

These releases are generally a written file stating that you have authorization to use the topic, be it live or inanimate in your image for sale or advertising. The Expert Photographer magazine site has some sample release forms to download.

Accrediting images.

There are two main means to sell your images. Accredited and Nobility free.


Certified sales (sometimes described as Rights Managed) are where you buy an image that is priced to reflect the usage … A licensed list price is identified by several things such as:.

Aristocracy Free.

Nobility cost-free pictures are the most typical sales alternative on microstock agencies and have become hugely popular on macrostock companies likewise. The cost on nobility complimentary sales (also referred to as RF) is based upon the image size. Royalty complimentary has virtually as numerous arguments about it as microstock. The drawback of nobility cost-free is as soon as you sell the image the buyer can do whatever they want with the image and you don’t get informed who the customer is or what the image is going to be used for.

Editorial photography.

Editorial sales come under the umbrella of Certified sales. The main difference is that for editorial sales, a design or home release isn’t really required. The most obvious usage of editorial photography is information. An editorial image is a real representation and not an advert or endorsement, just a relevant image. An example that springs to mind is this … During the financial crisis all over the world, the media was full of pictures of high street banks commonly with a photo of the front of one bank and its sign. Since the image was relevant to the story and a real representation a property release would not be needed. If however, a company wanted to purchase a picture of a bank indicator to utilize for marketing then a home release is required. An additional example is … A lady wins a medal at the Olympics. An image of the female for a news story wouldn’t need a release, but if a brand wanted to use an image of her because she put on X brand name fitness instructors to promote them then a model release is needed.

So which sales model should I make use of?

My reasoning on this is that images that are easy to reproduce I have the tendency to sell as nobility complimentary and less easily to reproduce ones I sell as certified. This seems to be a more usual practice for macrostock shooters. Other individuals who shoot microstock and macrostock commonly put their aristocracy free images on the microstock websites and their certified images on the macrostock companies. It is perceived as bad rules to offer the same aristocracy free images on both macrostock and microstock libraries as a customer would be rather upset to find he as paid $240 for an image he can of bought for $5 elsewhere.


Whichever library you pick you are going to need to keyword your images. This is providing words that link to your image so that a prospective client can find it. Bad practice is to include irrelevant keywords or copy other people’s keywords from similar images. It can commonly pay to remember alternative spellings too, local spelling variations and common spelling mistakes. Keyword abuse can lead to the library forcing your images to the bottom of the stack making it much harder to get a sale.

Exactly what sells?

The most common asked but least addressed question. Some photographers refuse to say due to the fact that while others have no idea they are making the money. I do not genuinely know myself however I believe good selling classifications (if your photos are good of course) are lifestyle conceptual and travel. A great deal of images used for advertising etc have people in them doing way of life activities, it is much harder to get fantastic images of individuals doing things which are model released or conceptual ideas so this is where there is a bargain of money to be made, much easier targets are far more saturated so your image needs to be all the much better to stand apart of the crowd, these images tend to fetch less of a bounty.