Saturday, December 16th, 2017

Stock Photos That Sell

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If you want to make money with stock photography you’ll have to follow some basic guidelines, no matter if you shoot for a micro stock site or a traditional stock photography agency.

Shoot photos that sell

That’s by far the most important point. Would you pay for an image of your neighbors mother-in-law? Or of his dog? Of course not! No one would, perhaps not even your neighbor himself.

Likewise professional photo buyers don’t care for that kind of images. What they are looking for are photos that illustrate concepts, like career, relationship or retirement. Business related photos generally sell very well. Photos of handshakes sell well because shaking hands is a universal, widely understood idea that can be used to illustrate negotiations, contracts, treaties and even things like breaking-up or divorce.

Travel photography can sell well if it can be used to illustrate concepts. For example, a photo of the Houses of Parliament in London can be used to illustrate democracy or governmental topics.

Avoid legal pitfalls

Most stock photography agencies have strict rules regarding images of people (if the people in the photo are recognizable), property (if the image of the property can lead to its owner, e.g. a license plate on a car), and trademarked logos or items anywhere in the image. If in doubt, don’t submit such images. If you want to sell images with recognizable people in them, all agencies will require you to provide so called “model releases”. A model release is a document with which the photographed person permits you to sell the image without need of compensation. Obtaining a signed model release from ordinary people is next to impossible, so you might be better off to either weed those images out or hire professional models.

Keywording is the key to success, literally

No matter how good your photos are, they won’t sell if no one can find them. All stock sites let you tag or keyword your images. A good approach to keywording is to answer six simple questions for each image: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?

For example, let’s suppose you have a bunch of nice healthcare related images, shot in a hospital. Answering “Who?” you might find “doctor”, “nurse”, or “patient”. Answer “What” to come up with “lancet” or “stethoscope”. Answering “Where” yields “hospital”, “waiting room” or “theatre”, while “When” gives “morning”, “afternoon” or any other time of day or year. Ask yourself “Why” to evoke concepts like “sickness”, “comfort” or “patience”. Finally “How” can refer to the photographic technique involved: It could be “black and white” or “monochrome”, it might be “blurred” et cetera.

Keep the noise down

Always keep in mind that the end user of your image may want to print it out eventually. The larger the print size the more noticeable noise will be. Noise is induced by your digital camera’s sensor and is something digital photographers have to live with, much like traditional photographers had to live with film grain. Generally speaking the smaller (area wise) the sensor size and the higher the ISO sensitivity the higher the noise will be.


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Where there is no vision, the people perish.
Proverbs 29:18

The earth is the LORD’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.
Psalm 24:1-2

He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains. They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches. He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
Psalm 104:10-13

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Matthew 6:26

How many are your works, O LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number living things both large and small.
Psalm 104:24-25

Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.
Ansel Adams

When you photograph people in colour you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in B&W, you photograph their souls!
Ted Grant

While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see.
Dorothea Lange

When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.
Ansel Adams

Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.
Henri Cartier-Bresson

You don’t take a photograph, you make it.
Ansel Adams

Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.
Matt Hardy

Nothing happens when you sit at home. I always make it a point to carry a camera with me at all times…I just shoot at what interests me at that moment.
Elliott Erwitt

Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.
Imogen Cunningham

You’ve got to push yourself harder. You’ve got to start looking for pictures nobody else could take. You’ve got to take the tools you have and probe deeper.
William Albert Allard

If I saw something in my viewfinder that looked familiar to me, I would do something to shake it up.
Garry Winogrand

I always thought good photos were like good jokes. If you have to explain it, it just isn’t that good.
Anonymous

Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.
Ansel Adams

It can be a trap of the photographer to think that his or her best pictures were the ones that were hardest to get.
Timothy Allen

 


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