How to Take Successful Stock Photos

September 15, 2009 | Mark Goldstein | Photography Techniques | Comment | |
How to Take Successful Stock Photos Image

Microstock is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. As businesses are actively looking for cost savings, the benefit of sourcing stock images from subscription-based image libraries is increasingly apparent. Equally, photographers are realising that this is a valuable source of additional income.

Shutterstock is the world's largest subscription-based online stock image library with over 7 million images in its collection, growing by over 70,000 images weekly.

The company attributes its growth and success to two important factors.

The first is Shutterstock's popular and innovative subscription plans, which encourages multiple downloads.

The other is its unique 'crowdsourcing' model, whereby photographers submit their work and are compensated each time a subscriber downloads their image.

How to Take Successful Stock Photos

Here are Shutterstock's top tips for budding stock photographers:

Taking Photos

1. The purpose of stock photography is to help sell or promote a product, service, or idea - it isn't enough to take a technically sound image. The image needs to sell itself.

2. Spend time browsing through other successful images in Shutterstock's collection to learn the characteristics of a good stock photo before submitting.

3. Avoid rushing out and capturing anything that looks interesting without considering the following elements: framing, focus, composition, noise, lighting, and keyword selection. Plan ahead; visualise the scene beforehand and take a couple of test shots.

4. Consider your subject and use the right equipment to create your image. Planning to shoot a detail of a flower? Use a dedicated macro lens for the best results. Since equipment can be expensive, think about what you like to take pictures of and try to purchase gear that will allow you to make the most of your creativity.

5. When creating images with models (whether hired for a shoot or family members) you must submit Model Releases. Model Releases protect you as the photographer as well as the agency representing your work.

6. Do not submit dark or muddy travel pictures or 'snapshots.' Photos with heavy shadows from the on-camera flash are generally not well-suited for stock. Learn to look at light and how it falls on your subject. If using the sun as your main light source, consider this: A landscape view will vary throughout the day according to the position of the sun in the sky. Try visiting your scene at different times of day to see how the light changes your perspective on the scene overall. You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that shooting in the early morning or early evening is dramatically different than shooting at midday. Also, make sure your images have a clear topic and focus.

How to Take Successful Stock Photos

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