Stock photography is basically added to the photo libraries of online agencies so that customers can buy them. As a photographer, you can make a commission on each sale that you make, which could be anything between 10 cents to 10 dollars. The amount of commission that you earn depends entirely on the agency that you have selected. There are numerous photographers out there who are using this method as their basic source of income.

Customers are able to browse through a huge collection of photographs and select which ones they want to buy. Majority of the customers are magazine publishers or those who want photographs for their billboard campaign. You can submit photographs as stock images literally on any topic; just go through the websites of stock giants such as ShutterStock, Alamy and Dreamstime and have a look on their libraries. Let it be food, travel, fashion or anything else, as long as it is a beautiful photograph, you can make money out of it as a stock image. Find some of the best stock photo uses at

What really sells on stock agencies?

While you can submit any kind of a photograph as a stock, there are definitely certain types of images that are purchased more often and hence make more money. Buyers on stock agencies are basically looking for neutral imagery such a droplet of water, coastline, fish in the aquarium, a busy street, an aerial shot of a city etc. Therefore, no matter which niche you are good at when it comes to photography, make sure that you research a little about it before submitting your photographs.

Your research should comprise of the kind of photographs that customers are looking for in your niche so that you can maximize your chances of making money.

Should you give it a shot?

There are numerous forums that are against stock photography as they believe that photographers are not given a fair share of the deal. This makes a lot of photographers, just like you, question whether it is really worth all the time and effort. It is definitely worthwhile and here are my reasons to convince you in favor of it: 1Let’s say that you are making 30 cents every time your photograph is getting downloaded, while this may seem like a small amount at first, imagine the amount you can make after a month or so on the same photograph if it keeps on selling a few days each week.

Once your photograph is there, you can just forget about it and hope for it to sell. So, in this way you can earn money while you are asleep. 2Every person that owns a DLSR has a lot of images just getting wasted occupying the hard disk space while no one looks at them. Similarly, as a photographer you might post your pictures to social media websites such Facebook or Twitter to get likes and comments. Why shouldn’t you think about uploading them to numerous stock websites to earn extra residual income? I mean, it’s not like that you are specifically going out to the jungle to click images for stock agencies so it really makes no sense to not try to make money out of something that you already have. 3A ton of photographers display their high resolution photographs on Flickr. Do you enjoy Flickr’s social aspect? Well, then you will enjoy microstock websites too because they are just as friendly and enjoyable as free photo galleries.

For instance, Dreamstime community can provide you with great social experience along with helping you to make money out of your photographs. 4As a photographer who clicks pictures for fun and leisure, you will honestly not get very far if you keep on comparing stock profits with the profits photographers got 10 years ago. You should focus on how to first start making money from your photographs from zero dollars and then try to climb the ladder from there. If you keep on following the negative online forums that tell you to keep away from stock photography, you’ll just have your pictures sitting on your hard disk space, giving you absolutely zero value.

This is how I look at it, if you upload let’s say 800  images on a total on 5 to 12 stock agencies you can expect to earn around $300 to $350 per month. Multiply that amount to what you will make in a year and you’ll find yourself affording some professional lenses, a new DSLR or probably a nice vacation. All of that by just sitting on your computer with the comfort of your house, not bad right?

Important stock photography tips

Here are some essential tips that will provide you with a lot of help in making money through stock agencies:

Choose multiple agencies

Do not limit yourself to a single website instead maximize your chances of making sales through uploading your photographs on multiple stock agencies. This will give you a chance of tapping into multiple customer bases. In my experience, if a particular image makes good amount of sales in one stock agency, it will definitely be a hit in another one as well. Moreover, if one agency rejects your photograph, there is a chance that another one will accept it.

Take rejections positively

Do not be surprised if an agency rejects your photograph as there could be several reasons behind it. Do not get dishearten and also do not think that your photograph isn’t good, unless of course every single agency rejects it. With that said, one picture could sell a hundred times in one agency and still get rejected by four other websites. Some agencies look for certain technical aspects in a photograph such as its bit depth, focus and application of the rule of third etc. So, if any picture (no matter how good) fails to meet that criteria, it gets rejected.

Moreover, certain websites are filled with a certain type of photographs such as pictures of fish, droplets, oceans, mountain etc and hence when they get such submissions, they reject them. You will mostly be presented with a reason if your photograph gets rejected.

You will also be able to learn a lot about photography through submitting them as stock images and will also be able to spot exactly what the end customers are looking for in images. This learning experience will greatly help you in the long run and will ensure that you earn more profits through selling your photographs.

Image sharpness

If you think that your image might not be sharp enough, you should resize it to the minimum accepted resolution of the stock agency. I mean, do not submit the image in its full resolution. When you minimize the file size, the sharpness is increased and hence you will have a higher chance of getting your photograph approved.

Image noise

Open up your image and thoroughly check it for noise in its full size. Noise

refers to pixilated or grainy areas in an image and it can greatly decrease your chance of acceptance. Obviously, the best way to avoid noise is to keep the ISO as low as possible. However, at times because of low lighting, this isn’t quite possible. The good news is that you can still get your slightly noisy images accepted by stock agencies. Use the Blur Tool in Photoshop to rub over the areas that contain grains. Just like sharpness, you can also reduce your photograph’s noise through resizing it to a small size.

Image name

You should name every image with a keyword friendly name to make your way to the search results. You should understand the nature of your photograph and research a little on which keywords the customers might be using to search for it. This will help your photo to be found by potential buyers and hence will increase your chance to make sales.

Image Cropping

Majority of the customers who buy stock images use them for full page advertising or as posters. Therefore, they need some space on images to add text. So, I recommend that you do not crop your image too tight and leave some space where text could be easily added. Photographs with empty space for text are more likely to get accepted and hence make more sales as compared to the tightly cropped ones.

Avoid repetitive themes

Avoid uploading numerous images of the same theme as they will most likely get rejected. If you have clicked a shot of a flower from one angle and an agency has accepted it doesn’t mean that it will also accept 7 more of that image with different angles. Also, you should check the genre of photography that each agency is looking for. If a certain website already has too many pet or travel photographs, then you should not upload similar photographs to those websites.

Submit more

Every photograph you submit increases your chance of making a sale and earning a profit. Those who submit 500 images make more money as compared to the ones who submit 15. Start treating stock photography as your full time job and you will soon start earning a full time pay out of it.

Stock Agencies

There are several stock agencies out there that you try your skills and talent on. However, I have picked the best 4 agencies which you must try as a beginner.

Shutterstock this agency offers subscription downloads and pays photographers 25 cents on each sale. I know that this is a really low royalty but keep in mind that this website has a massive following and you can potentially sell the same photograph a hundred times. Pick up any photographer who is making revenue through stock images and they will tell you that the majority of their income is coming from Shutterstock. Initially, it will be a little challenging for you to get approved by Shutterstock as you will be required to submit 10 of your finest photographs. If 7 of those get approved, you are in. However, if that does not happen you will have to wait for a whole month before you can try at it again. Even if you don’t make it the first time, I would suggest not giving up. You must persist when it comes to Shutterstock as it has serious long term gains. Shutterstock accepts 4MP JPG images.

Dreamstime – this agency pays the highest royalty per photograph among all the microstock agencies. However, that differs with the size of the image that is purchased. Majority of the clients in Dreamstime are not subscription buyers and hence you can also expect to make $5 or more per image. This platform is super social and is easy to get into. It is also getting very popular among photographers because of its social-media like appeal. Dreamstime accepts 3MP JPG images. Their payment methods include Moneybookers, bank check and PayPal. This website is my personal favorite and so I would recommend you to give it a try.

iStockphoto – This agency has an amazing training manual with composition, cropping and photo requirements tips etc. So, you can easily gather detailed information about how it works. It is a highly recommended platform and I suggest that you definitely give it a go. It is extremely popular among photographers and buyers and this agency is sure to make the whole process of earning money through stock images very easy for you.

BigStockPhoto – You can expect to earn between 50 cents to $3 on each sale that you make through BigStockPhoto. However, you will need to pass a test to get approved by this agency. There is no restriction on the number of times you can opt for the test so you can take it up as many times as you like. It is a great platform for beginners because this agency rarely rejects photographs.