Sell Stock images
Even in a saturated market, if you can come up with the right shots, there’s money to be made selling stock images
Learn what it takes to sell your photos to stock image sites such as Getty
the idea of simply uploading a bunch of images to an image library and waiting for the money to roll in sounds great, but it’s not the reality of how to make money from stock photography. The market for stock images is more about shooting images for specific themes and ideas, rather than simply ‘pretty’ pictures.
The market for stock images is always changing, and it is worth looking at images already on the various sites. However the best way to make your images work is to make them relevant to how images are used by companies and the media, rather than copying existing ideas of what makes good shots.
There has been a shift towards images of ‘real’ people, rather than perfect models in artificial poses illustrating themes like ‘business person’, although there’s always a market for good-looking subjects. There has also been a shift towards experiences, rather than places and things, although great shots of beautiful locations can still be saleable on these stock libraries.
The market on these websites is always changing, so be aware. There has been a huge rise in the number of microstock libraries, which offer images for websites and small businesses for a few pence. This model relies on volume of sales, rather than high value, to make money, so you need to be aware of this before deciding on which specific image library to use.
For most of the larger photo libraries, such as Getty, Alamy and Shutterstock, you’ll need to apply to become a contributor. The precise process varies between different companies, but you normally have to upload three or four images for evaluation. These images are then assessed for technical quality, and whether your images are suitable for their library.
Should your initial submission pass, then you can start uploading your images to the site. You can just start uploading your existing shots, but that’s
There has been a shift towards images of ‘real’ people, rather than perfect models in artificial poses illustrating themes
not necessarily the best way to make money from stock photos. Unless you’ve already been shooting with different themes or concepts, rather than simply nice pictures, then your shots are unlikely to sell among the plethora of existing images on the site.
To have a real chance of cutting through the masses, your shots need to be able to illustrate ideas and metaphors that the end-users are likely to need. This isn’t easy to do, but it’s worth trying to step back and think about how to illustrate more abstract ideas such as love, growth or environmental issues.
Many libraries publish ‘wants lists’ or up-coming trends, which can be useful to steer the type of images that you upload. Another way to stay ahead of the competition is to keep a calendar of upcoming events over the next year or two – use this to identify what themes and ideas they may be looking for.
So, rather than simply supplying a landscape image, try to include some people experiencing the location – making it more relevant to people looking to illustrate a story or campaign than the landscape alone. However, be aware that including recognizable people, buildings or landmarks in your images can limit their use as these types of image cannot be used for advertising or any other commercial use – unless the person or owner of the building has signed a release form acknowledging that they are happy for the image to be used commercially.
Some libraries won’t accept images without a release form. Others will accept them, but they will only be for what’s known as ‘editorial’ use, limiting the number of sales and the money that they can make. Similarly, don’t include any logos or recognizable products, as these will be copyrighted, and stock libraries will not accept them.
Along with strong, relevant images you also need to be able to add titles, keywords and captions that will allow people to find your pictures. Don’t stick to the obvious descriptive words, as you’ll find that keywords that describe abstract emotions (such as ‘love’), concepts and ideas will make your images much more saleable.
Keeping up with all the different trends on stock libraries is just as important as shooting the photographs in the first place
Relevant keywords and captions will help get photographs found by potential customers much quicker than poorly named ones
Using your photographs to illustrate abstract emotions such as ‘success’ can be a real money-maker on stock image sites