Part I and Part II have been going over very well thus far, so now we are onto the third installment in this series, focusing on selecting photographs which will both be accepted and excel. I won’t be covering many actual photograph techniques; I’m assuming you know the basics by now, this will be more focused on image selection, ideas of shooting and using older images.

Referencing Part I in the series, Can you capture images other than your immediate surrounds? was asked. A quick search on iStockphoto for the word keyboard results in an astounding 7,428 files. If a designer can’t find what they need in all those files, they should quit their job! What I’m really saying is, your chances of making money from a stock photo of a keyboard is very low, there are simply too many already online and more than likely, a stock site will reject it for this very reason.

So what should you be submitting? Good question, but it is one step ahead of where you should be. Start with digging through your hard drive to see what you have available. You don’t need to go out on a special shooting mission to capture images worthy of being sold as stock; often times life experiences provide the best photographs. Take for example this photo of a young girl in a field; you may have a very similar photo from a day at the park with your children. That particular file has been downloaded nearly 2,300 times! Another stunning photograph is this mosque in Turkey which you may have shot while on vacation. These all make great stock photographs that designers will want to use.

Photographs that generally do very well in stock are:

  • Business related
  • Children
  • Objects with isolated white backgrounds
  • Unique locations
  • Photos with copy space in them

Again, dig into your hard drive before you set out to conquer the world.


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Business related
. Anything that has to do with business is usually a pretty hot seller. This can be anything from photographs of an empty board room at your office to two men in suits shaking hands. If you can’t convince your co-workers to sign a model release for the photo of them shaking hands, shoot them from the shoulders down. Tip: make sure that you can digitally remove any company logos on visible watches. If you do not know how to do this, ask them to remove their watches prior to shaking hands.

Children. This is a no-brainer. Children make some of the best models because they can be used for some much in the marketing world, and make some great faces. If you are a parent, you will be signing the model release for your own child, so it is your choice to use them or not. When shooting children, yours or others, make sure they are not wearing any name brand clothing or have any copyrighted images on them, say Winnie the Pooh. Photographs of children that are not cluttered also do best, so look for ones that were taken where the child is the main focus on the image and nothing too distracting is in the background. Tip: No children of your own? Ask your friends to do a trade with you, offer to take photographs of their children and give them a CD of the images for them signing a release form. Most parents jump at the chance to have a budding professional take photographs for free of their beloved children.

Objects with isolated white backgrounds
. You probably don’t have any of these on your hard drive, but they can be some of the most valuable to designers. It allows them to easily insert the object into any design they are working on without extensive work. There will be an upcoming article dedicated to just this soon.

Unique locations
. Turn your vacations into a chance to make money! Just like the photo from Turkey above, going on vacation will give you the opportunity to take some amazing photographs, and cash in on them. Tip: Get up early and catch whatever city or location you are at for sunrise one day. You will need a tripod to do this effectively, but the morning light can be some of the most beautiful of the day.

Photos with copy space in them. By copy space, I mean enough room for a designer to put in whatever it is they need to, such as text or other graphical elements. Copy space could be as simply as a little more sky in that photo of a cityscape than you would normally shoot or this photo of a winding road. Designers will often use an entire photograph as a background to a larger graphical element, so consider giving them a little bit of space to work with.

In summary, go through your hard drive or CDs of images, look at past vacations or the first few years of your children growing up, these often make great images to sell. When you go to work, take your camera with you; see if you can capture a few images there. Next time you are on vacation, consider the images you are shooting won’t only be used for your enjoyment; you could be sharing them with the world and helping pay off that trip at the same time.

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