How to Take Successful Stock Photos

September 15, 2009 | Mark Goldstein | Photography Techniques | 21 Comments | |
How to Take Successful Stock Photos Image


11. Try to keep abreast of emerging trends to maximise your sales. For example, you should submit holiday-themed images months in advance. Other trends are harder to predict. Shutterstock's 'Most Popular Images' page can also be a helpful tool for spotting trends, as it enables you to view the top 50 images downloaded in the past week or of all time.

12. However, do not simply study and emulate the images in the 'Most Popular Images' section. This approach results in overcrowding the library with a particular 'type' of photo - for example, an artistic shot of a USB cable. While it is good to be aware of what sells, originality and quality are equally important.

13. View the entire image at 100% before uploading to ensure there is no noise.

14. Submit as diverse an image selection as possible, especially for images slated for the lifestyle and corporate categories. Varying ethnicities in your models helps cater to buyers from all over the world.

15. Always submit the highest quality megapixel image possible. Doing this ensures that clients will have the widest range of uses possible for your imagery, from billboard display to simple web display.

16. A commercially viable image must be free of copyright and trademark issues. Never source images from a search portal and then upload them as your own. This is against copyright and is illegal. Only upload images that you create yourself. Did you buy a CD of images? Buying the CD does not make you the legal copyright holder of the images in that CD. Do not upload those images as your own. Additionally, be careful using elements that you did not create. Some fonts and elements that are free to use for personal use are not intended to be used commercially (at least, not without the original artist's consent). Be conscious of where your elements and fonts come from.

17. Uploading an entire batch of images from a particular shoot (instead of editing properly) is not only unprofessional, but will make finding your best images even harder for our reviewers to spot. We review thousands of images a day. Only upload the very best that you have in your growing collection. We will review what you think are your best.

Bonus 18th tip: Have fun creating your images. If you enjoy what you're doing, it will show in your work.

How to Take Successful Stock Photos

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photo, photography, best, money, stock, good, successful, How to Take Successful Stock Photos

Your Comments

21 Comments | Newest Oldest First | Post a Comment

#1 kathramirez

I am always longing to know how to shoot stock photos perfectly. Good thing I found your post here. It gives me valuable information I can surely use in my photography class. Thanks!

1:24 pm - Wednesday, September 16, 2009

#2 cyborg

how to capture pics of moving objects?please let me know.

3:14 pm - Wednesday, September 16, 2009

#3 Premium Finance

wow nice photo!! and nice tips for budding stock photographers

6:14 am - Thursday, September 17, 2009

#4 hagen

Basic “tablestakes”. Missing several critical points to making successful stock images:

simple theme/story message, simple yet captivating image, clear subject (actual or implied), capable of taking text/captions etc within the border of the image (clear negative space) and must speak to the observer not you so look critically at your image

cyborg: three types of motion for you to research: implied, blur and panning (credit to Harry Nowell - look up his stuff - great work).

4:30 pm - Thursday, September 17, 2009

#5 Martin Metcalf

I just saw the photo of the runner on a billboard at a Sports Psychology conference I was working in SLC.  Great article.  Thanks for the tips.  Now to get more “Stock” focus in my shooting. - MM

1:41 am - Friday, September 18, 2009

#6 cit journo

For an easy way to make money off your photos and videos, try checking out

Sign up is free and you can upload an unlimited amount of news-related photos and videos, which they will sell for you to media outlets around the world.

Comission is up to 75% of the sale price, which is amazing!

I read on the site that their partners with Agence Frence-press, which is the 3rd largest news agency in the world, so they’ve got considerable street credit.

If you’ve got any exclusive shots from breaking news stories, this is exactly the place you want to sell them for you. You can even download an iPhone app to upload images directly and immediately from the scene. Android app is on it’s way.

Check them out, sell your news photos and videos:

4:57 pm - Friday, September 18, 2009

#7 gadgets

Is it usually allowed to upload the same image to multiple stock sites? Or is she just upload different images to different sites?

2:00 pm - Thursday, November 5, 2009

#8 Mac

Nice clear explanation and tips. Thanks!

12:42 am - Saturday, December 12, 2009

#9 San

to Gadget

you can upload one image to many stock sites

2:28 pm - Tuesday, February 2, 2010

#10 blue

very helpful. thanks!

2:51 am - Thursday, February 25, 2010

#11 Stock Picks

These are just stunning stock picks! I don’t know if I could ever be that good on my own. That’s just pure talent.

7:32 pm - Thursday, April 29, 2010

#12 Alan Stockdale

I have always found that take a good look at your image and ask yourself does it tell a story if it does it will most likely sell.

2:09 pm - Thursday, April 12, 2012

#13 Royalty Free Stock Photos

your pics are very stunning awesome work dude

9:43 am - Monday, August 27, 2012

#14 Chris

Very nice images and great way to get stock images.

6:07 pm - Saturday, December 15, 2012

#15 Veer @ Sell Stock Photography

Hi Mark Sir,

I search for Google How to Take Successful Stock Photos and i see your site nice post for stock photo this is very informative for me.
you are right Use a dedicated macro lens for the best results.

6:22 pm - Sunday, July 21, 2013

#16 Dmitriy Aseev Stock Photo

Keep in mind that stock photography is much more than microstock…

5:17 pm - Wednesday, October 16, 2013

#17 MD Yusuf

Taking Photos number 6 it’s cool. Fall in love

6:49 am - Friday, January 24, 2014

#18 Josue

Very Nice Stock Picture.. I hope to get to that level soon!

9:24 pm - Thursday, October 9, 2014

#19 Jessica Lillis

Taking Successful Stock Photos is not easy task. This article is very informative as if anybody follow he/she can do better. Keep it up!

12:05 pm - Saturday, May 23, 2015

#21 Eric

Good useful tips. I’ll give them a try.

12:23 pm - Friday, September 25, 2015