How to Choose Images for Stock Agencies

Wunderschönes Feuerwerk

Happy New Year! Let’s kick off 2019 by getting a jump on our stock photography.

The hardest part of stock photography is getting started and maintaining momentum. It becomes a lot easier if you have a system that you can stick to.

So, over the next four weeks, I’m going to lay out a simple plan to streamline everything so that it’s smooth sailing for the rest of the year.

Stock Streamlining, Step #1: Choosing photos to submit for stock

Most of us have thousands of images on our computers. Which ones should you submit? Here are some things to keep in mind to help you quickly pick the winners for stock.

  1. Choose images that relay a message or concept in a clear and simple way. The viewer should immediately understand exactly what the subject of the photo is and what’s going on in the photo. A good rule of thumb is this: Do you have to describe a photo to the viewer for them to understand what’s going on? If so, it’s not clear.

    Remember, people buy stock photos to either sell something or illustrate something (think ads, blogs, promotional materials, etc.). Successful stock photos are useful for these purposes. For example, this image below is currently a best-seller on Shutterstock in the “New Year” category. It’s simple, fun, celebratory, and leaves plenty of space for text.

    TIP: Think less about what photos you personally like, and more about what will be useful for buyers.


  2. Only choose images of people that you have a model release for (or images without people). You have to have model releases for each person in your frame. If you don’t have a release, it’s a deal breaker for stock. As you’re choosing images to submit, steer clear of any shots that need releases (or get releases first).
  3. Try to choose a wide variety of subject matter. You increase the odds of making sales if you offer a broad selection to buyers — especially in the beginning, when you’re trying to figure out what sells the best. It also helps to think about what’s trending in society right now. If you have photos that represent popular travel destinations, food, activities, and styles, definitely include them!

    Check out the stock agencies for current trends. For example, Shutterstock puts featured stock photo collections and trending stock photo searches front and center on their site.

  4. Last but not least, only choose images that are technically correct. You might have the best photo in the world, but if it’s not properly exposed and in focus, it won’t work for stock.

Keep these tips in mind, and you should be able to quickly pick out some winners for stock. Next week, we’ll talk about the next step… keywording!

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