Getting Started In Stock Photography

Perhaps you’ve been taking photographs for years but haven’t yet found a way to make the leap from hobbyist to professional.

Take heart.

The digital revolution and growing popularity of online stock photography agencies have given hobbyists and professionals alike a convenient new market for images. These agencies not only give photographers a wider audience for their work, but also offer the opportunity for them to gain extra revenue from their photographs.

While stock photography agencies have been around for years, more recently there has been a proliferation of microstock agencies. Microstock photography is distributed almost exclusively online. Royalty-free images at these agencies are sold for a low price. Though commissions generally range from 25 cents to $20 per downloaded image, the low price of images encourages a higher number of downloads.

Here are the website addresses of some of the more popular microstock agencies:As with most endeavors, the amount of time you’re willing to put into stock photography directly influences how much money you will be able to earn. Be willing to dedicate a substantial amount of time to growing your portfolios. Taking photographs is only the start. Before submitting them you must also edit them and add titles, descriptions, and keywords. I’ve found that adding this information to the file in Photoshop before submitting it saves a considerable amount of time.

Here are a few other things to keep in mind if you want to be successful in selling stock photography:

Remember that both quantity and quality matters. You will likely find that the amount of money you earn is directly proportional to the size of your gallery at each microstock site. It isn’t just the quantity of photographs accepted that matters, though. Your photos should be both unique and practical to the advertisers and designers who will be using them. When submitting a photo ask yourself, can this be used to market something? Does the composition lend itself well to print or online ads? Have I left room for copy? You should also scrutinize your photos at 100 percent before submitting them. Be on the alert for problems like digital noise, artifacting, and incomplete isolation of objects from backgrounds.

If you want to learn what type of photos are selling, visit a few microstock photography sites and check to see which images are currently the most popular.

Lastly, be patient and persistent. It can take quite a while to build up your portfolio. Don’t worry too much if some of your photos are rejected. Since different agencies have different standards, chances are the photo that is rejected at one site will be approved at another. Instead of becoming discouraged, use rejection notices as guides for improving your technique and editing skills.