Posted by & filed under Travel Photography.

In today’s stock photography market, a key theme is “authentic.” 

What “authentic” means is that you are creating what appears to be an authentic moment. Essentially, you are framing your subject in a creative yet natural way that will draw the viewer in.

Here’s a photo I took of Lori with that “authentic” feel.

Lori - great stock photo

She’s leaning on a trash can (this moment was staged) but you don’t know that because the photo looks as if I’ve caught her in a perfect reflecting moment of time.

Is this a good stock photo?

Yes, it is. This is a great stock photo!

Here’s why:

  • Shooting through the glass added a dreamy feel which helps to emphasize that she is coming up with an idea or reflecting on something happy. Her smile is genuine; her look is timeless. 
  • The subject is clear. You know what you’re looking at.
  • The picture has room for text but it is also great without it.
  • The background is blurred, eliminating distractions

Zoomed in at 200%, you can see the eyes and teeth are in sharp focus:

great stock photo

To capture an image like this one, try shooting through a window. Take several, as focus can be a challenge while juggling the glare. And, be sure to focus on the eyes!

While you’re at it, play with how you take the shot:

  • Shoot low 
  • Shoot eye-level
  • Shoot several angles

Different angles can create different effects. 

Now, let’s take a look at another photo… 

great stock photo - not suitable

Same day. Same outfit. Same model.

But is this stock suitable?


Here’s why it doesn’t work:

  • It’s not a good photo. The composition is bad and the light is harsh, so there are a lot of dark distracting shadows.
  • The man in the background is identifiable when I zoom in to look at his face.
  • There are logos on the umbrellas. 
  • And, unlike the first image, this spot is very identifiable, so it’s likely I might even need a property release. 

When you’re shooting photos to use as stock images, here are my tips to get the best shots:

  • Think of the uses of the picture—where and how could it be used by someone buying stock images?
  • Look for trademarks—if they’re in your shot, your picture can’t be used as stock unless you remove them.
  • Be sure that there are no other identifiable people in your frame.
  • Shoot many different levels and angles so you have a lot of options to choose from. 

Ask yourself whether the photo is eye-catching and if it has a theme that could serve multiple uses. In my first image, Lori could be dreaming of business ideas, she could be enjoying her ability to read books on her mobile device or maybe she just got a text from her husband and she’s dreaming about a romantic getaway with him.  The image has lots of possibilities.

Finally, have fun with it!

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