What are Stock Photos? How to Sell Photos Online

Making money selling your photos might sound too good to be true…

The truth is photography can be a lucrative source of income if you’re good at it. There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to photography. It’s not just changing the aperture to adjust the exposure, keeping your desired shutter speed in mind.

What are Stock Photos? How to Sell Photos OnlinePhotography takes knowledge to be decent, practice to be good, and talent to be amazing. You have to know the rules of photography, know the tricks and hacks, and have an interesting imagination to get the best shots.

Luckily, you have the interest, and hopefully, the drive, to get all 3. Otherwise, why would you be reading this? Maybe for a friend or family member…but that’s not really the point. The point is that anyone can find their balance of the 3 and take awesome photographs.

Oh, and one thing of note, your smartphone’s camera probably won’t cut it. If you have at least a basic Digital SLR Camera (the kind of cameras hobbyists and professionals use) you should be good to start.


The Knowledge

You’ve got your camera, now it’s onto the know-how of photography. There are many ways you could consider when it comes to learning photography.

Hands-on experience with a professional is ideal. The reason you want in-person lessons is so that you have a professional there to help you every step of the way. If you can take a high school or college course and you can spare the credits, that would be my go-to. You can learn a lot through school if you’re only willing to pay attention and ask for the help you need.

Another thing you could do is hire a professional photographer that teaches lessons or is willing to consider trying it out. If you go that route, however, you should bring a friend (for safety reasons).

Photography MasterclassIf hands-on experience with a pro isn’t immediately available to you, then you could try online tutorials. There are plenty of photography websites that can teach you the ins and outs of the hobby. Some might be confusing at first, but as you learn the terminology, it becomes easier to understand. YouTube is a great place to learn all of the basics of photography.

For a more in-depth guide to photography and learning how to use your d-slr, you could check out this Photography Masterclass online. It will show you everything you need to know to operate your camera properly. It will also show you the rules and guidelines of photography.

The cool thing about the Photography Masterclass is that it has instructional videos to follow along with and compare your photography to. It’s the next best thing to taking lessons from a professional in-person.


The Practice

This part is very important. I don’t have much to say on the matter. Regardless, you need to take the time to practice your craft.

What kind of photography do you want to be great at? I suggest practicing one kind as your main photography specialty. Do you want to take great shots of landscapes? Do you want to take great portraits? Do you want to specialize in pinup photography? Whatever it is, you need to find your niche.

By all means, practice other kinds of photography as well since you might learn interesting tricks that you can use in your main niche. However, you should dedicate most of your time to one kind of photography because you’re going to be selling your best photos (and the higher the quality, the better).

Also, you want to make sure you use the highest resolution available on the camera. The higher the resolution, the more area you have to play with and the better the chance you have to sell your photos.


The Talent

Trick PhotographyTalent is one of the hardest things to develop. For many people, they could practice for years and never be the best of the best. Other people just have “it”. For those of us without the “it” factor, there are lessons we can take, books we can read, videos we can watch. In this section, I’m going to cover 2 things: trick photography and photo editing.

When I talk about Trick Photography, I mean pulling off Photoshop-worthy shots done completely by the use of the camera’s functionality. This is where you use your setting, tools, and camera settings to your advantage. There are plenty of tricks to photography and, depending on your niche, you may end up using one or more of them.

Trick photography messes with lighting, perception, and time. Do a time-lapse and play with the lighting to create a different atmosphere. You want to use depth-perception to your benefit and get those highly angled shots. Take several shots over time and have them combined into a composite.

Basically, anything you can do before post-production to make a shot or set look how you want can be easier than trying to get things right in Photoshop. However, that statement may be arguable.

Masterful Photo EditingMasterful Photo Editing is a skill that every photographer should learn. In Photoshop, you can perfect your lighting, make visual additions or alterations, and control the color balance for striking images.

To tell you the truth, you will be making heavy use of Photoshop. While you probably won’t be creating incredibly artsy photo manipulations, you will be using it for touch-ups. You will be adjusting the hue and contrast, changing the lighting levels around different elements in the image, and making minor adjustments to clear blemishes.

You’ll probably end up spending more time in Photoshop than you do behind the camera. If you want to sell photos, you want to make them as visually striking as possible with as few imperfections as you can manage.


Test the Market

One thing you may consider doing is testing the photography market. What I mean by this is you take different images from your photo set, crop them down for social networks/phone apps, and then put them out there for the world to see.

Test the WatersYou’ll likely put these images on sites like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, along with a few others. Depending on how targeted your niche is, you may end up posting to online art galleries or other forums to see how the images fare there.

You want to focus your efforts on the photo sets that get positive responses. If an image gets  100 likes and shares while another gets 5, you want to focus on the on that got 100.

Now, as you post these images, you will start to build a following. Always test the waters and put your effort behind what is liked the most. Do touch-ups and edits on the rest of the photo sets in which the top images come from.


Where to Sell

Now, we get to answer the question “what are stock photos?” A stock photo is an image you put up online for others to use in their designs and campaigns.

Companies have a process for accepting photos for submission into their stock photography websites. This is why you vetted your photographs through social networks. While you can try submitting all of your images, it is best to focus on your most popular photos to touch them up and submit them into the approval process.

What are Stock Photos?You have a few options when it comes to stock photography websites. You could go for the big companies that have been around forever…they have a great amount of traffic but also a great amount of competition. Or you could go with smaller companies with less traffic but also less competition (and smaller image sizes).

Starting out, I’d recommend trying your hand at the smaller companies. These companies accept smaller resolution photos, so if you couldn’t find the funds for a Digital SLR Camera, you could try using your smartphone, although I would still do image touch-ups in Photoshop. These companies would include sites like Twenty20, Foap, and Candidly.

Once you get the hang of things, you could try selling your images through larger companies. With these companies, you might have to do some promotion of your own to start making a name for yourself but it could be much more rewarding. These bigger companies include sites like Shutterstock, and iStock.


Other Markets

Selling stock photos can be a very lucrative business but it is far from your only option. If you’ve ever wanted to sell your photography as prints, on canvas, or even on a coffee mug then this next section is definitely for you.

Print On Demand MarketplacesWhat we’re going to talk about here are Print On Demand marketplaces. With these POD marketplaces, you upload an image, choose what items you would like to sell the image on, and then size and crop the image appropriately. Artistic photographs and photographs that would go well with a quote over the top tend to do well as print on demand art.

Two of the better print on demand companies are Redbubble and Zazzle. Redbubble is more artistically inclined than Zazzle but Zazzle has more POD options than Redbubble. While you may get traffic naturally through these companies, it would be best to set up your profile, stock your store with appropriate merchandise, and then share your store on your social networks where the images took off in the first place.


Continue Reading

If you would like to know more about how to sell your photographs or get more ideas on where to sell your photos then I recommend the book 2017 Photographer’s Market: How and Where to Sell Your Photography. In this book is a comprehensive list of publications that accept photo submissions based on different sets of guidelines. It’s an essential aid for the budding photog and one you won’t regret picking up. Check it out on Amazon now.


That’s all for today!

Are you interested in selling your photography? Where have you tried to sell your photos so far? How has your experience been? Let me know in the comments below. I love getting the chance to read your responses and getting the chance to reply in return. So, keep those comments coming!

Thanks for reading! See you next time.