Patterns and textures are widely used in design, and this is why photographers want to have a collection of images of this sort in order to sell as stock. Anyway, since stock sites now have a massive library of these types of images, you need to think about shooting very original textures in order to get your photos accepted and make sales.

First of all, let’s see what’s the difference between pattern and texture. While these two terms are used as synonyms in photography, there is a difference: one is repetitive, while the other one is not. For business purposes, this means you should seek to obtain patterns, not just textures.

Pattern – a repeated decorative design (regular and intelligible form or sequence). You can multiply the image to obtain an infinite bigger image.

Eg.DSCF6067 DSCF6016_ DSCF6026

Texture - the feel, appearance, or consistency of a surface (not necessary repetitive design!).

Eg. flat DSCF6048 DSCF6033 DSCF6019_

Eg. with depth DSC_5672 DESERT scoarta_muste

This means that a texture can be a pattern, and a pattern has a texture. You hear about wood texture, but not about wood pattern.

In texture photography, it’s all about patterns, colors and depth. To obtain a nice texture, you just need to find interesting patterns, apply vibrant colors and good contrast and sharpness. Not every texture makes a good photograph, but with time and practice you will develop an eye for what works and what doesn’t. First, if you want your picture to be artistic and appealing, there has to be some depth which will allow for shadow.  Shadows create the look of dimension, without which your texture will appear flat. For texture photography, I recommend this article here, while I will continue talking more about pattern photography.

Outdoor textures and patterns are easier to photograph, and there isn’t much to say about this. You can find them all around: human made (such as brick walls) or natural (such as tree stamps).

In the case of indoor pattern photography, however,  things are much more complicated. Many photography beginners believe that pattern photography is easy: there is nothing to compose, the subject is clear, and there is this misconception that there aren’t many possible mistakes when shooting a pattern. This means you don’t have to think creatively as much as for other kind of photography types, but you need to think technically a lot.

How to photograph indoor patterns

When those apparently simple pictures are downloaded on the computer, and viewed at at full resolution of the big screen, the technical errors show up. So, this is what I’m going to talk about: the technicalities and issues that come with pattern photography.

1. Indoor conditions have poor lighting

It’s important that you use a tripod whenever possible to avoid camera shake. Also, need to try and illuminate your pattern evenly, meaning that you need to avoid strong lateral lights (like the light from windows). An image that is darker on one side, and gradually lighter on the opposite side, is a poor pattern.

Software solution: use highlight/shadows adjustment to brighten the shadows and darken the lighter areas. The image will then become flat, but sometimes, this is exactly what you aim at. Here’s how I did it for one of the surfaces I photographed (click to enlarge):


2. The edges of the frame may be subject to distortion

The best lens for shooting patterns is a 50mm prime lens. This lens will allow you to shoot with as less distortions as possible. Still, in the end, you might want to crop the outer frame of your picture. The pattern looks best towards the middle of the frame. Think about it: the distance from the sensor towards the center of the image is slightly different from the distance you have between the sensor and the outer sides of your frame. What you get is a prismatic perspective over your pattern, and, this prism will have a larger angle the closer you are to the subject. In conclusion: if possible, avoid being too close to the patterned object, and crop the edges.


4. Automatic focus doesn’t work on patterns

The reason why automatic focus doesn’t work on most patterns is simple: the sensor cannot find a distinctive element to focus on. There are two ways in which you can get past this inconvenient:

  • Focus on a subject at the same distance as your pattern, lock the camera, then move back to your pattern.
  • Use manual focus for the estimated distance.


3. A part of the picture might not be in focus

The camera must be perfectly, and I repeat that: perfectly, parallel with the patterned surface. A wrong angle not only causes a different illumination, but also might change the way your subject is captured in the narrow depth of field (assuming you have a narrow DOF due to the small distance from the pattern). A large part of your pattern will gradually “step” out of focus.

What you need to do is following (apart from shooting perpendicularly on the surface): use the aperture that allows you the maximum depth of field. If you can’t get perfectly parallel (it’s rather difficult), then you can crop the edges and cut out the slightly out of focus areas if you are using the narrowest aperture. However, there’s a problem here: with a narrow aperture, your shutter speed will increase. If you think about the poor lighting of indoor conditions, a long shutter speed is a big issue. In this case, if I can’t use a tripod, I increase the ISO number.


The shooting perspective also gains you a lot of distortion if you can’t keep your camera perpendicular on the patterned surface. A tripod with an air bubble comes in handy for such situations. In the below example, the patterned surface would have been perfect if the angle between the tiles would have been a perfect 90 degrees. Perfection is hard to achieve, and you should not get frustrated with this. You can skew and crop afterwards.

testing-perspective skew

What patterns do you have at home? Look at the furniture, textiles, floors and carpets. I wanted something rustic, not very saturated, so it can be used as background (or adjustment layer) for something else.



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, 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: