stock photo of colorful pottery

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Do people make a full-time living with stock photography, anymore? In truth, it’s rare. And it really takes a lot of time.

But you CAN still make a fun, passive side-income doing this.

And this week, I want to share some Breakfast Stock Club readers’ best-selling stock photos so that we can see, first-hand, what type of images are making the most sales for us collectively as a group.

We pulled these from our 2016 Year-In-Review Survey, and found a few themes throughout.

Theme #1: Simplicity
Simple images are incredibly useful for designers and other photo buyers. Notice how all of these reader images below are clean and distraction-free.

Breakfast Stock Club readers' best selling stock photography
By Kristina Jager (left) and Rebecca Renfro (right)

Simple stock photography sells best
By Amy Muschik (left) and David Young (right)

Simple compositions sell stock photography
By Elizabeth Coughlan (left) and Theresa St John (right)

Theme #2: Unique Niches
Finding subjects that aren’t well-represented in stock photo libraries means less competition and more sales for you! It could be specific places that haven’t been photographed much or random and unusual subjects that have been overlooked by other stock photographers.

For example, a search on Shutterstock for “garden” gets over 60,000 pages of results. However, a search for “rooftop garden” only brings up 27 pages. Ann Moore’s image of a rooftop garden (below) does a great job of tapping into a less-crowded stock photo market.

Rooftop garden stock photography
By Ann Moore

Here are a couple more best-selling images from readers that fill unique niches. There just aren’t a ton of photos of cornhole boards or medical monitors on stock sites.

Examples of unique stock photography niches
By Valerie Haas (left) and Teresa Otto (right)

And these three reader images of specific local landmarks also have way less competition in stock photo libraries:

Local landmarks make great stock photography
By Patrick Civello (left) and Gwyn Goodrow (right)

lake, boat, and volcano stock photo
By Lucy Brown

Theme #3: Clear Concepts
Photos that portray a concept or idea will always be useful for buyers and these next photos all do that nicely.

The two images below represent experiences that are very relatable:

Stock Photography Concepts of happiness
By Cindy Hockin (left) and Cornelia Luethi (right)

This next image represents many universal concepts such as decay, the passage of time, and nostalgia.

Stock Photography- Abandoned House
By George Lehmann

Roads and paths can also be used to symbolize many concepts such as moving forward, progress, and going somewhere.

Stock photography of a path in a garden
By John Cumbow

Each of the conceptual stock photos above could be used by photo buyers for a wide range of purposes, making them highly saleable.

I really enjoyed seeing your top-selling images from last year and I hope this gets you excited to create some new best-selling images in the year ahead.

Keep in mind that once you tap into a certain type of photo that sells well, you can build and expand your portfolio from there. The point isn’t to copy a successful photo, but rather to identify the reason why the photo might be working and apply that knowledge as you plan your future photo shoots.

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