I attended The Ultimate Photographer’s Workshop in 2019 in St. Louis. Initially, my goals were to add better photographs to my travel articles, but I quickly became interested in stock photography. Here’s how I got started.
1. Choose a stock site and read the contributor terms and conditions.
After reading the terms and conditions, begin on each site by creating an account. You may use the same username and password on each site if you like.
I started with Big Stock Photo because some of the presenters suggested it as a good site for getting started in stock photography. Every website has images they’re looking for and other types of images that they have in abundance. Some sites require you to pass a test, which may include uploading some photos for evaluation. Before you upload any images, even those as part of the test, proceed to Step 2.
2. Select a dozen of your best photos and process them in Lightroom.
You probably have hundreds of photos on your hard drive, just waiting to be processed. As you make your selections, view each photo at 100% to be sure it is crisp and clear. Also, check to be sure:
- The composition is strong. Consider the rule of thirds for a strong image.
- The image has a strong concept.
- The horizon lines are straight.
- There are no logos on clothing or shoes, no company names, no trademarks, or anything else that might be copyrighted.
- You have a model release for each person in your image. Each site has a model release available, or you can obtain a generic one online.
In any case, your photos need processing to some extent before submission.
3. Submit the maximum number of photos allowed from these 12 for review.
To be accepted as a contributor, you first need to submit a selection of images. The site will accept or reject each photo and provide a reason for rejection. Those photos that weren’t accepted may be adjusted based on the feedback and then resubmitted to the same site or submitted to a new stock site depending upon the reviewer’s feedback. For example, if they reject an image because it has a logo, you can try and remove it. A tilted horizon perhaps could be straightened and resubmitted. In other cases, the image may not be able to be fixed and you may not be able to use it for stock, for example blurred/unfocused photos.
4. Continue submitting those same accepted images to new sites.
Yes, you can submit the same photos on multiple sites, if you choose the non-exclusive option when submitting the images. Different sites have different groups of regular clients who use their service, so even though a photo is on one site, that doesn’t mean everyone will find it. Submitting to multiple sites maximizes your chances of selling an image. Once your set of images has been processed and accepted by one stock site, take those same images and submit them to other stock sites. Read the terms and conditions of each site first and the types of photos they need. For example, some sites may not be looking for flowers, while other sites may have a specific list of photos they need. Check out the list of best sellers on a website or their list of needed images to see if your images are a good match.
5. Once you are accepted, select more images to add to your portfolio.
Be methodical and send pictures from the same photoshoot at the same time. Uploading in batches like this will help keep you organized.
There are many stock sites to choose from. Here is a list of some of the most popular to get you started:
- Big Stock Photo
Look at the photos on your computer hard drive and see what you have. Choose 12 of your best, process them, and get started. You’ll be glad you did.
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