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Stock Photography Tips

For photographers who want to make money and gain fame, stock photography offers the best opportunity. However, you first need to learn the art and craft of taking stock photography worthy pictures. Here is where these small tips will work for you. Happy stocking!


Money is in volume

Agreed, stock photography is a pittance, compared to advertising photography that costs a fortune. But again, this is a game of volume. You can sell the same picture for several hundred dollars repeatedly. Though the profits won’t come pouring in short term, it will in the long run. To maximize your earnings, upload at least 2000 of your best pictures. Remember, it’s a game of volume. The more pictures you have, the more chances there are of people finding your pictures.


Photography gear

Investing in good gear separates you from an amateur. And on some occasions, what your picture may lack in focus might be made up with sharper photos. And here is where a good camera lens works like magic. So here’s the golden rule. Try to pour back all your earnings from stock photography into beefing up your photography gear. The better pictures you click, the better your chances of earning big time. As to resolution, the more you downsize your image, the sharper your photos will be. So a 12.1 MP picture if downsized to 5MP, will ensure that the bits in the frame that seem blurry will indeed look clear when scaled down. If you cannot afford expensive zoom lenses, invest in cheaper prime lenses that work in manual mode. But if you can spare a little more money, you would do well to own auto focus lenses because focusing can be an issue with weakening eye sight or photography that demands quicker reflexes.

In addition to a good DSLR camera, here is what your gear should look like: a reflector, a diffuser, external flash, 4GB flash memory, 70-200mm lens or a 24-105mm, 15mm fish eye, 50mm macro and a lot of strobes.


Creating contrast

Photography is about creating great contrasts through creative lighting and the best use of colors in the subjects, background and props. A good stock photo is all about simple composition, proper exposure, decent lighting and sharper images. To make this happen, be sure you have enough lighting and prime lenses.


Look for news pictures

Anything that makes your eyes pop, makes for great photography. And that could mean anything from a bus crashing into the flyover or a famous monk caught sneezing and so on. It could even be a fat man gorging on ice cream or a skinny girl basking in the sun with a fat boy friend.

Evergreen subjects

Shots that are related to business, computers, happy families, lifestyle and romance generally sell really well. One way of finding out what sells is to keep a watch on consumers and what they want. And who is the consumer, but you. So watch yourself, and see what everyday situations lend themselves to good stock photography. It could be a shopkeeper with several baskets of red tomatoes or cyclists lining up along the length and breadth of a major thoroughfare.


Plan your shoots

The best way to play it safe is not to reinvent the wheel. Which means, shoot like a pro by looking at similar photos already up on sites like Getty Images, Shutter Stock and so on. This will help you get an idea of how to light up and compose your subject, and also guide your subject on how to dress and pose for the shoot. Once you’ve got the foundation in place, experimenting with it should be easy. And since this is commercial photography, download a model release form from any stock photo site and print it out, so models can sign it after the shoot. The standard routine of cleaning lenses and formatting the CF-cards is mandatory. And yes, do go though the camera settings like image size, image format, metering and so on, to ensure a smooth photo session.


How to shoot

Don’t bother uploading and refining bad photos that lack composition, lighting and theme. Save your time and employ it only on quality photos that have higher chances of success. And yes, always shoot in RAW format.

Some of these handy tips will go a long way in ensuring a higher percentage of success with stock photography sites:

-Ensure that your pictures score high on sharpness, composition, subject matter and theme. Avoid too many rejections, because a bad start will only demoralize you.

-It’s a well-known principle, but needs to be reiterated anyway: always overexpose in cloudy weather and underexpose in sunshine.

-Try and shoot pictures in low light below ISO 400. If you can’t get a decent picture at this ISO, change the location, add extra light or go outdoors where there is ample light, and re-shoot.

-Always use polarisers when shooting under sunshine. No Photoshop tool can give this kind of natural effect.

-Avoid going manual focus. The best way for many photographers has been auto focus where you can adjust the focusing area inside the viewfinder.

-Maintaining camera hygiene is extremely important. Which means, cleaning lenses and sensors after each session, if necessary.

-The hood is very important to taking pictures. Just that little bit of cover from direct sunlight goes a long way in ensuring contrast. Never shoot without a hood.

~Zahid Javali