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The market of stock photography is a business which can generate a constant income for a photographer. This doesn't mean that you'll leave aside other artistic projects. On the contrary, a constant income can give you the freedom to follow your dreams. Many think is quite easy to do stock photography, but the reality is different. Stock photography agencies need high-quality images and a certain perspective, which isn't always easy to achieve. You'll have to enhance photo quality by any means, and this can be expensive (for example, you may need studio equipment and lights). You'll also have to study in order to have your images approved, and this can be challenging.
Deliver High-Quality Images
When it comes to image quality, stock photography websites have no mercy. Your images have to be clean, sharp, with perfect exposure and white balance. There is no place for blurring, artistic effects, and crooked images. Stock photography is used by websites, advertising agencies, blogs, and many other businesses for illustrating their work. They will buy only high-quality images.
Stock photography agencies like Getty Images, iStock, and ShutterStock, and even the smaller websites, require high-resolution images. They need to edit your photos and they cannot do that if you upload small images. Large photo sizes are also needed for print. Besides, a client will pay more for a high-resolution image and you'll gain more money.
Stock images are usually bright, with a white background if possible. Images with shadows, with red eyes or underexposed, won't be approved. If you do product photography, try to use at least one or two sources of light. Your subject has to be in focus, highlighted, and in a visible spot.
A noisy image will be rejected. If you used a high ISO or digital zooming, try to clean the noise using a top photo editing software. Otherwise, there is no point in submitting it. To be sure your images are noiseless, take a look at them in full size.
Stock images are used to sell things or services. They need to be crystal clear, glossy, and stylish. Perfect contrast, shiny colors, bright faces, and clear focus are all part of this type of photography. Use tripods, fast shutter speeds, good lighting sources, and enhancing filters to sharpen image. Deliver optimism and your images will be approved.
Choose the Right Subjects
Stock photography is used in many industries and so it covers a large area of photographic subjects. But some of them are most likely to be approved. For example, Getty Images has around 100 results for Picasso, around 70, 000 results for egg, and around 250, 000 results for baby. Do a quick survey on the website you are interested in and find out what subjects have more results. Shutterstock, for example, has an image search engine based on artificial intelligence, which will give you the best possible answer.
Of course, this doesn't mean you have to change your work area. If you do newborn photography, you won't change to food photography in a minute. But even in your area, you may get a clue of what type of photos are needed. Stock photography is a good market for pictures featuring products, food, people, specific elements of nature (for example, flowers, rain, forests, seasons etc.), general landscapes (for example, mountains, oceans, sunset etc.), and architectural elements.
Keep It Simple
Usually, in stock photographs, there is only one subject. Heavy, crowded images are not approved. The main reason is that an image which is equally about dogs and cats will neither satisfy a client looking for dogs, nor a client looking for cats. So choose only one subject for each image and make it the star. Use a shallow depth of field if you have a background to blur (or don't use a background at all). Put yourself in the client's shoes when labeling your images. In order to sell your pictures, you need to match the right image with the right client. Keep in mind that a satisfied client will return.
Stock photography may be a good practice and an easy income. It has fixed rules and offers feedback, and this is a huge help on a learning curve. It also gives you the possibility to have a client with many demands and expand your area of interests. It may not be an easy job, but it definitely is rewarding.