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Friday, 10 July 2009

Take Photos That Sell

If you want to make money with stock photography you'll have to follow some basic guidelines, no matter if you shoot for a micro stock site or a traditional stock photography agency.

Shoot photos that sell

That's by far the most important point. Would you pay for an image of your neighbors mother-in-law? Or of his dog? Of course not! No one would, perhaps not even your neighbor himself.

Likewise professional photo buyers don't care for that kind of images. What they ...

... are looking for are photos that illustrate concepts, like career, relationship or retirement. Business related photos generally sell very well. Photos of handshakes sell well because shaking hands is a universal, widely understood idea that can be used to illustrate negotiations, contracts, treaties and even things like breaking-up or divorce.

Travel photography can sell well if it can be used to illustrate concepts. For example, a photo of the Houses of Parliament in London can be used to illustrate democracy or governmental topics.

Avoid legal pitfalls

Most stock photography agencies have strict rules regarding images of people (if the people in the photo are recognizable), property (if the image of the property can lead to its owner, e.g. a license plate on a car), and
trademarked logos or items anywhere in the image. If in doubt, don't submit such images.

If you want to sell images with recognizable people in them, all agencies will require you to provide a so called "model release". A model release is a document with which the photographed person permits you to sell the image without need of compensation. Obtaining a signed model release from ordinary people is next to impossible, so you might be better off to either weed those images out or hire professional models.

Keywording is the key to success, literally

No matter how good your photos are, they won't sell if no one can find them. All stock sites let you tag or keyword your images. A good approach to keywording is to answer six simple questions for each image: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?

For example, let's suppose you have a bunch of nice healthcare related images, shot in a hospital. Answering "Who?" you might find "doctor", "nurse", or "patient". Answer "What" to come up with "lancet" or "stethoscope". Answering "Where" yields "hospital", "waiting room" or "theatre", while "When" gives "morning", "afternoon" or any other time of day or year. Ask yourself "Why" to evoke concepts like "sickness", "comfort" or "patience". Finally "How" can refer to the photographic technique involved: It could be "black and white" or "monochrome", it might be "blurred" et cetera.

Keep the noise down

Always keep in mind that the end user of your image may want to print it out eventually. The larger the print size the more noticeable noise will be. Noise is induced by your digital camera's sensor and is something digital photographers have to live with, much like traditional photographers had to live with film grain. Generally speaking the smaller (area wise) the sensor size and the higher the ISO sensitivity the higher the noise will be.

For further info about stock photography, please see my previous post your-digital-camera-is-money-maker, as well as the products below.

P.S. Due to technical 'hitch' my photography store is down at the moment. Will try to sort as soon as possible.

Photo Stock Notes

Photo Stock Notes

Photo Stock Notes

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People Shots That Sell-How to Succeed in Stock Photography