How to take stock photographs

Sometimes we get keen amateur coming to out Nottingham photography studio and one question they often ask is how they can start making a bit of extra cash. 

One solution is to do some stock photography.

So, can anyone simply go, take photos and sell them on to those stock photography websites?

The typical answer that you’ll normally get is generally a shrug and a resounding exasperated sigh. Many wishful camera owners come in this market woefully unprepared and that sometimes rubs professional photographers the wrong way.

Let’s actually answer this question.

Let’s take a quick look at the major thoughts that go into taking stock photography. Here, it’s not really about your social media presence, it’s primarily about your skills as a photographer.

Are my stock photographs good enough?

If you’re currently hoping that your mobile phone will be your weapon of choice, then no, your photos are not going to be good enough!

It’s not that mobile phones can’t take great photos, they definitely can. It’s mostly the concept that you are sending those photos to professionals in a field that has professionals.

You want to stand out from the thousand other images out there and the results that your mobile phone can give you when compared to a professional camera will definitely make you stand out… but not for the right reasons.

Great, I took some photos with my camera. Am I done?

If you believe your work is done, it’s definitely not.

Suffice to say that the amazing photos you see in magazines are most of the time literally more than meet the eyes.

Start reading about professional photo editing software and see how they can make your great photos even better. This is a normal process; there are times that you want certain colours to pop more and there are times where you want to illicit a different emotion than what the pictures currently convey.

Can I shoot everything I see?

You could shoot everything you see as long as you’ve thought about it. Stock photographers are not just running left and right with a mind-set of quantity over quality.

They specifically decide their subjects.

You need to remember that the purpose of stock photography is to sell a product or service.

Can your pictures convey such need?

Are your photos conveying emotions?

Can your photos mean something?

I’ve figured what to shoot, am I ready?

Never forget the light.

In fact, you should always think about the light.

Light conveys ambiguity and it conveys emotion. An apple on a sunny day looks delicious while an apple at night might feel dark and mysterious. It might be a very simple tip but never forget the light.

If you’ve followed all of these steps then congratulation, you’re at least on the right track. Selling your photos online will require tremendous effort in a very competitive market but you have nothing to lose. Don’t put all of your eggs in the same basket, although websites such as iStockPhoto and ShutterStock are the most well-known, listing them all would require another article on its own. Make it your next step: start researching stock photography websites.

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