How To Sell Stock Photos Efficiently

stockbookcover_362lOver the past 5 years, the number of people who own a DSLR (professional or consumer) has exploded as they become more affordable and trendy to own. However, the amount of people still using the cameras in full auto mode is huge!
Once you break away from auto and start to use the more creative modes such as manual, aperture priority and shutter priority, you can start to produce images that really stand out from the crowd.
Now that your images are more professional looking, they are more attractive as commercial images which means you can start to make money from them!
You can train to be a wedding photographer, a portrait photographer, commercial photographer, property photographer or even a stock photographer.
Most of these industries require a large investment in equipment, advertising and time set aside for meetings, displays, album, book and slideshow creation and usually only earn money once.
The latter of the above list is stock photography…something many people think is either out of their league or reserved for the professional photographers but it is an industry that continues to pay dividends on images for as long as they are for sale.

Learn How To Sell Stock Photos

In the past, it was virtually impossible for the amateur or beginner photographer to break into this field as the criteria for acceptance was fairly strict. Then, around 2004, microstock was born.
Microstock gave us not only affordable, high quality stock images that anyone could afford, but it gave many amateur photographers the chance to earn money using just their DSLR camera and lens.
Photographers from all walks of life, some professional, some amateur and many beginners jumped at the chance and started uploading images. Some of those beginners are now full time, professional stock photographers making a very nice living from selling their images.
The industry is still growing and the opportunity is still huge for anyone wanting to get into stock photography. You can work at your own pace and know that the more effort you put in, the more you could earn.
For a great resource which covers everything you need to know to get started in stock photography, check out How To Sell Stock Photos by Nick Stubbs.

Check out How To Sell Stock Photos

2014-10-10_2151Personally, after learning how to correctly take the photos and how to process them in order to be sold, I started to rapidly make money from the microstock business. Here is a screenshot of the sales I made with one image.

Moreover, I was then contacted by a large multinational company regarding the purchase of one image with exclusive rights. Exclusivity automatically means more money, and a large company gives you visibility. Then, visibility will increase your fame and you will be able to ask more money for your images. Isn’t that just great?

Note: this image was uploaded to fotolia.com, the forth largest microstock company there is! To give you an idea, below is in top 5 largest and most visited photography stock websites:

Top 5 Microstock Agencies:

You can upload your images to all of them and start gaining money from different sources at once.

Now that you know all of this, there is no reason not to start learning how to sell stock photos.

Click here to begin!


Inayat Ali Shah, a passionate photographer from Pakistan, is sharing his personal insight on photography as an art and a hobby. I decided to post this article because I felt touched by the way he speaks about this common passion of us all.

Let his words (and his pictures) inspire you as they have me.

Off To WorkPhotography, like most things in life, is a synthesis of science and art. Part of it is very definite, measurable and quantifiable and follows principles, edicts and rules. The other part is elusive, nebulous, intangible and refuses any lucid and coherent definition or characterization.

Let us take the human eye, If we isolate the eye from the brain and could tap what the eye see’s before the brain perceives. All that you could see would be a cone of 50 degrees out of the eye. A circle of vision demarcated by a circular boundary. Analogous to standing in a pitch dark room and shining a torch and only being able to see what the torch illuminated. But that is not how your mind perceives it, your mind perceives it as one continuous vista and continuous panorama. The brain stitches myriads of these circular images that the eye itself catches, fuses them together. It’s not only just a single panoramic screen image that is fused together by the brain, it’s a panorama of volume, it’s a panorama in space. Everything is in focus from the tip of your nose to the far horizon.

Whistful EyesIntense ObservationWhat the human mind perceives and creates from these countless hundreds and thousands of individual image captures by the eye is a seamless, borderless, integrated vision, flawlessly fused from left to right, from top to bottom, from to back. But this image, the mental picture, the ensemble of images if then further filtered by the mind, objects refusing to render and register in the mind, irrelevancies removed, mental associations seeing things that may not be there, enhancing the desirable and diminishing the irrelevant. If one could actually could compare this mental vista of two people staring at the same scene, I doubt if both would sense and identical image, I doubt if the image could inspire identical thoughts or trigger identical emotions or spark the same intellectual processes.

Mischief In His EyesA camera at best can capture only part of one of the myriads of images that the brain churns through brain faster than the speed of light.

The Art is to be able to perceive, identify, to see, that single image. The single image stripped embellishments, trappings and superfluity created within the mind. That single image that is the core, the essence of what you see. That will say what you want to say, speak as you wish it to seek and will trigger the mind of the beholder exactly as you wish it.

The Science is to know your camera, your tool, to manipulate, to control, to be able to capture that image exactly and precisely as you want it. Capture and preserve what your mind saw.

About Inayat Ali Shah:

By profession, he is an Avionics Engineer. However, photography grew to his heart more than a hobby. Now It’s also a part of his life. “I am now 55 years old but have had a camera with me since I was 7. My fist camera was my father’s old Kodak Box Brownie, albeit I was never able to take a single decent picture with it. I learnt black and white film processing techniques when I was 13. I cannot imagine what life would be like without a camera. If I were to put myself into a ‘Box’, and define myself as a photographer, I would call myself a humble “Backyard Documentary Artist”.
His photography evolved from simple snapshots of people and surroundings during travels, to artistic settings of things he sees and experiences. “I just do the same things I did when I was a child, only better.”

You can see his photo gallery here: http://inayatshah.deviantart.com/gallery/

In my photographic journey during the past year, I discovered that the most difficult thing in nature photography is to photograph a flying insect. Everyone loves macro shots from the small world, but they go “wow” when they see a well-done photograph of a flying butterfly, dragonfly, bee, or any other insect.

The difficulties of photographing flying insects

There are several reasons why taking a photo of a flying insect is a hard thing to do (a challenge bigger than street photography!):Flying insect

1) The small size of the insect will make it difficult for your lens to focus on it. More than enough times, the focus will fall on the flower, for example, – a bigger and steadier subject.

2) You need to get close to the insect in order to take a proper photo with blurred background (narrow DOF) and capture the details of your subject. You don’t want the insect to be a small dot on a large area of green grass, right? The problem is: when you get closer, the insect gets scarred away. I’ve literary spent hours chasing butterflies.

3) The insect is flying! So, it is a moving subject. Moreover, their flight patterns are erratic. Since you are very close to your subject, the movement will cause the focus point to change quickly, and, since you are in macro mode, your DOF is very narrow. This means you will loose the focus quickly.

Despite these obstacles and problems that you will encounter, clear crisp photos of lying insects can be obtained. What you need to do is applying at least one of the following suggestions.

The solutions for photographing flying insectsFlying insect

1) Don’t run after the insects. Let them come to you. This means, you should just settle down next to the most beautiful flower from the field. If you can find one that is still full of pollen, then there are good chances bees and other insects won’t delay long before they come. But, if you saw, let’s say, a rare butterfly, you need to go after it. Take silent steps that won’t disturb the ground more than the wind does, and, try to anticipate where it will fly next. In the same way, observing the pattern of a dragonfly’s movements is a difficult thing to do, that requires a lot of patience, but it can increase your odds considerably.

2) Use a macro lens with a teleconverter. This will ensure you can keep a safe distance in order not to scare the insect away, and still provide the necessary zoom in order to obtain a decent DOF.

3) You can forget about using a macro lens, and use a close-focusing telephoto lens instead (up to 400 mm). This is harder to do due to the difficulty of focusing on the right subject, which brings us to solution number 3.

Flying insect4) Use manual focus instead of automatic. This looks like an easy statement, but, since we are talking about a moving subject, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Basically, I found myself asking: where am I focusing when the insect isn’t yet in my frame? I have the insect coming into the frame, but I only have time to trigger the camera when that happens. Experience taught me that I have to anticipate where the insect will be when I will click the button, and, that this area is usually a little behind, or in front of the flower. Therefore, I focus on the flower and then move a little, keeping in mind where the focus area is, and I only push the button when I suspect the insect entered that area.

5) If you feel that you can’t anticipate the position of the incoming insect (let’s say you don’t have a waiting flower to relate to), then a fast autofocussing camera is a must. Let’s see Scott Fairbairn’s explanation on this: “Select the center point, continuous or servo AF, and use “focus” point expansion, but only to the points immediately surrounding the middle point. If you use too many points then you run the risk that the camera will focus on the background instead of your subject. To minimize this, I try to position myself so that I have as clean and uncluttered background as possible. I also prefocus at a distance that gives a subject that takes up about 1/4 the frame. Any larger , and it becomes very difficult to find in the viewfinder.” – source

albina-in-zbor-mare-16) You need a high frame rate of at least 6 frames per second. There is no guarantee that your first shot, or maybe third, will be the lucky one. Our mind is not like a computer that can calculate the speed of the insect and other variables in order to decide with precision when to shoot. Moreover, if you are are unprepared, and miss the moment, your insect will be gone – set off for another destination, another flower. As a result, it’s best to set your camera in continuous shooting mode and capture as many consequent shots as you can from the moment when the insect entered your viewfinder.

7) You also need a fast a shutter speed to get away with given the lighting conditions and avoid motion blur of your subject (suggestion: don’t go below 1/1000 sec). In some cases, you won’t be able to avoid the motion blur of the wings, but, you at least need the body of the insect to be crisp clear. Depth of field is very narrow at these magnifications, so you need to avoid a wide aperture (suggestion: f8 ).

In conclusion: there are a lot of factors to be considered in the complicated equation of flying insects photography. Even the most experienced photographer might miss setting up some of these factors, especially if he sees a rare specimen and goes under time pressure. Learning to quickly preparing at least several of these factors will increase your chances. And, don’t forget, it’s also a matter of instinct. Follow it!