How to Take Stock Photos That Sell

If time were no object and all budgets were limitless, I’m sure most creative professionals would personally hire a photographer for all of their projects. Unfortunately, there isn’t always enough time on the clock or money in the bank! To quickly satisfy their editorial needs, many people choose to use stock photography. It’s immediate, affordable, and effective. But with such a varied audience (and knowing that these pictures could be used in one of a million ways) how can stock photographers satisfy their customers’ needs? If you’re wondering how to take stock photos that sell, scroll down! We have just the tips you need.

How to Take Stock Photos That Sell

How to Take Stock Photos That Sell

Take good photos. Simple, but oh so true! Before you start analyzing your content, focus on taking beautiful photographs. Purchase a quality DSLR camera. Take a photography class on Skill Share or check out some free videos on You Tube. Think about lighting, composition, focus, and theme. Study the work of great photographers and figure out what makes their work so interesting and effective. Start with the basics, and always strive to improve your work.

Set Yourself Apart. If you want your photos to stand out from the pack and sell well, you’ve got to have an angle. You have to shoot with a niche in mind. What makes you unique as a person? What do you have unique access to that others don’t?  If you simply do what everyone else is doing, your photos might fade into the crowd.

Consider tags carefully. When you submit tags for your photos, take your time and think about the wording your customers will use when they search. Be both general and specific. If you’re including “tree” as a keyword, be sure to specify the exact type of tree, for example “pine” or “dogwood.” If you’re using “pot roast” as a keyword, also include general terms like “food” and “dinner.” Remember to be honest, however, and don’t include unrelated but popular keywords. Finally, always double-check your spelling!

Learn about your customer. First, realize that some sites focus on attracting specific customers. If you’re submitting to a stock photography site that focuses on travel photos or Christian photos, be sure to tailor your photos to that niche. If the site isn’t overly specific, start researching. Which photos are most popular? Which are ignored? Common stock photography themes include portraits, lifestyle, still life, landscapes, travel, and food. However, don’t shoot a certain theme just because it’s popular. Focus on your own passions and be true to yourself.

Learn from your successes and failures. If you contribute to a website that offers statistics, take advantage of them! This is one of the best ways to learn about your customers and the photos they’re hoping to find and purchase. Study the stats to learn what your customers love, what they like, and what they ignore.

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Success in stock photography will take time, but if you build your library, hone your techniques, and learn more about your customers, you’ll undoubtedly find success.

If you’re interested in contributing to a faith-based stock photography website, be sure to check out Lightstock. You can learn more about the partnership process on our Contributor FAQ page or click here to request an invite to become a contributor.  If you have any additional questions, feel free to e-mail us at