Stock photography is a popular genre because it offers the possibility of earning more money. To attract clients to your work, you need to look at the world from a designer's point of view. At the same time, you can use stock photography techniques to improve your own work and learn about new photography genres.
1. Take Photos as Often as Possible
Stock photography doesn't go hand in hand with perfectionism. If you want to give clients more photos to choose from, you need to give them lots of options. To achieve this, you should take photos regularly.
If you're not sure where to start, you can try challenging yourself with a photography project. A few popular examples are the 365 Project and the 52-Week Project. These challenges encourage photographers to take photos every day or at least once a week. You can also look for different themes to represent in your pictures.
You might not be in love with every photo you take, and that's okay. If your images are high-quality art with good compositions, send them to the stock photo agency anyway. You might be surprised by the results.
2. Shoot the Same Subject From Different Angles
Variety is very important in great stock photography. A client might like the subject in your photo, but not the setting it was photographed in. They might want a different angle.
You can provide this in advance by shooting from different angles. You can even use different apertures to give your clients more options to choose from.
3. Don't Be Picky
You can be picky when you choose pictures to showcase in your portfolio. You shouldn't be picky when you upload your pictures to a stock photography site.
It's likely that your editors will look at your submissions from a very different point of view. They'll want to see images that would look good on book covers, album covers, websites, etc. Keep this in mind the next time you ruthlessly delete your outtakes.
4. Shoot RAW
It's likely that you'll be editing or colour correcting the images you take. An image that's even slightly edited can make a huge difference in the stock photography industry.
To preserve your image data, you need to shoot in RAW mode. This will make it easier for you to edit the colours in your pictures without ruining them.
5. Be Aware of Annual Trends
Stock photo agencies tend to release annual trend lists every year. You can usually find these in your agency's blog. If you can't, you can look up popular keywords on Google.
For example, a few of the most popular trends in 2019 were futurism, minimalism, and politics. If none of these themes interest you, give them a shot anyway. You might discover a new favourite photography genre. If not, at least you'll get some experience (and make some money because of it, hopefully).
There are trends that never got out of style, like family and authenticity. Agencies are constantly on the lookout for photos that represent these timeless themes.
6. Avoid Brand Designs and Logos
Great stock photography doesn't feature any recognisable designs or brand logos. Even a photo with a small logo will be rejected.
This might seem obvious, but it's very easy to overlook if you're photographing a bunch of objects at once.
7. Leave Your Comfort Zone Once in a While
It's important to be good at what you do, especially in stock photography. However, you should be open to trying out different techniques and styles once in a while.
This will make you a more flexible and open-minded photographer. It will also provide you with lots of opportunities to express yourself in interesting ways. For example, if you're a landscape photographer, try taking minimalistic photos of people. What you know about landscape photography might help you make the perfect portrait photos for stock photo agencies. You won't know until you try.
The best way to get out of your comfort zone is to experiment with different photography genres. This can be portrait, fashion, macro, landscape, aerial, etc., photography. The goal is to make the most of your opportunities and resources.
8. Experiment With Different Lenses and Accessories
There are lots of cool lenses and accessories for photographers who want to get creative. Polarising filters can help you take stunning landscape photos. Fractal lenses can distort your pictures and make them look surreal.
If you can't invest in camera gear right now, you can make your own DIY effects using everyday objects. Things like cellophane, sunglasses, and paper bokeh filters can all make a huge difference in your stock photography.
9. Sign Model Releases Immediately After a Portrait Photoshoot
Model releases are a must in stock photos that feature people. If there's a recognisable face or body in your pictures, you'll need a model release. This will ensure that nobody sues you for using their face on a company's products.
Even if you're photographing trustworthy friends, you need to provide a model release. This is also the case for self-portraits. A client isn't going to ask whether a photo is a self-portrait or not. What matters is that they have the proper rights to use it.
To avoid delays and misunderstandings, ask your models to sign model releases immediately after a photoshoot. Make sure they're aware of their rights and limitations when they do this.
10. Create Space in Your Photos
Many companies look for negative space in photographs. Negative space is exactly what it sounds like: a bunch of empty space in an image. This makes room for titles, designs, and other things that are important to a company.
Keep this in mind during all of your photoshoots. You might have to shoot from a lower or higher angle than you're used to. You might even have to shoot from perspectives that feel wrong to you. As long as there's negative space and an appealing subject, you're good to go.
Stock photography has been around for many years. Its popularity isn't likely to decrease any time soon, which means it's a great genre to pursue if you want to earn a little extra money.
Nobody is guaranteed to earn thousands of dollars immediately. However, consistency and patience can bring you closer to taking great stock photos and getting recognised for them at the same time. Don't forget to enjoy taking pictures in the process!