Announcement: How can I sell my photos and make some money???

Selling your digital photos for cash eBook

Getting Started in Stock

I asked myself that question over 6 years ago, and decided the answer was to sell my images. Since then I have increased my income to more than $30,000 a year and I share the steps and lessons learned in the newly revised third edition of my eBook – Getting Started in Stock.  You are facing a simple choice – do you want to learn as you go, following the forums and their inconsistent information from people who may or may not know what they are talking about, or do you want to save hours of frustration and learn it all on one easy to follow guidebook?

Buy this new eBook directly from my site through a simple and secure shopping cart and get immediate access to the information you need to make money from your photographs!

Just want to start? Please use the links on the right to register with the stock agencies. Thanks!

ImageBrief award in use – Splunk

Reading the Washington Post this morning, I came across this half page advert in the business section:

Washington Post 29 April

Washington Post 29 April

Looks familiar, I thought….

It is the headshot (the back of my head after a particularly good haircut) that I sold on Image Brief a few month back for $1050! Splunk obviously wanted a professional looking head and it makes you wonder if they knew I used to be in the technology industry?

The company paid $1500 for the non-exclusive rights – now we know what they planned to use it for!

Sometimes seeing the thumbnail really helps

I took some images of a new golf course in Kauai around sunset and liked the calm and serene feeling of the “18th hole”, and so submitted about four different shots of the green and a sand bunker. I noticed that one of them:

Looks a bit like a heart…

sold reasonably well on Shutterstock and the image in the thumbnail immediately reminded me of a heart shape in front of the flag – it starts off well at the top, but loses it! As a bit of fun, I decided to rework that one image and see if I could illustrate the concept of “I’m in love with Golf” by actually turning that sand trap into a full heart shape. End result is here:


I’ve uploaded it today to the various sites – lets see if this one catches the imagination of the buyers!

What sells in Stock Photography?

I always find it interesting to see what sells – especially on the more expensive sites like Alamy. I check that site from time to time to see if I have any sales. Most times, no, but today I saw that I had a $245 sale (of which I get 50%) for an RF images of this:

Alamy $245 RF Sale

Well, that is a “sort of interesting” shot… I remember taking it on a hike in the Smoky Mountains, and I thought at the time that it was not likely to be a seller, or even accepted at many agencies. After all, what can it be used for? Anyway, I carried on and keyworded and submitted it and it was accepted to Alamy – remember they only look for technical quality, not commercial value. And, here we are – it sells for a cool $122.50 for me.

You never can tell what will sell!

Popular Posts

One downside of posting regularly is that older posts that are still relevant get lost. So I’ve created a page (under the About heading in the menu) where I will list posts that are useful for new readers. I’ll add more as I think of them!

Sony RX10 – perfect for travel stock photography?

As I’ve probably mentioned before, my main camera kit is a Canon 5D Mk3, with the 24-105mm F4, 16-35mm F4 and 70-200mm F4 lenses. I also normally carry a 1.4x converter and 50mm F1.4 lens as well. All in all, quite a load on my back, but I like the flexibility that I can get with the lenses and the high quality of the results, even at higher ISOs and if I need to crop.
SonyRX10The trip to Equatorial Guinea made me think – firstly because the country has a very poor reputation for hassling photographers, and secondly because carrying all this gear makes me a pretty obvious target. I started to look for a camera that was easier to carry, had a wide zoom range, gave good quality results and would not make me look like a professional photographer! I looked at the compact cameras, but most of those had relatively small zoom ranges and the sensors tended to be small. Then I looked at the smaller interchangeable lens cameras but that seemed to be rapidly taking me towards another complete set of lenses and hence a camera bag to carry it all. Some of the lenses on those ILCs are physically quite big as well. Then I came across the Sony RX10 and read a few reviews – it started to look like the answer and so I bought it specifically for the Equatorial Guinea trip.SonyRX10-Canon5D

Firstly a bit of background to the camera. It is a fixed lens relatively small body – looks a lot like a small SLR and so that did seem to clash with one of my objectives – look more like a tourist! But it is small and unobtrusive and so I decided I could live with that. The photo here comparing it with my Canon and 24-105mm lens gives you a good idea of its size – but it is much much lighter than the Canon. The sensor is 1 inch across, which is not bad and provides 20 megapixels to give me room to crop. The zoom is particularly good – going from 24 – 200mm equivalent. It has a pretty good electronic viewfinder as I don’t think that holding a camera out to see the rear screen helps much with camera shake, and a range of manual controls so that you can pretty much control the shot you get. Finally, it has a small flash, which can be useful for a bit of fill when needed. As you can see from the little red tabs in the photo, I bought a Peak design camera strap system in December which I find great for hanging the camera over your shoulder and resting on your hip. I have the same tabs on my Canon as well.

It traveled around Equatorial Guinea for a week and I never got stopped by the police – well actually we got stopped at police checkpoints maybe 6 or 7 times, but our driver was able to explain where we were going and why! The camera worked perfectly, and I came back with several hundred shots. I learned how to use it pretty quickly – most things are intuitive and I had no problems moving from Canon to Sony. The only thing I still find difficult is that the manual zoom (there is an electronic switch as well) turns the opposite way to a Canon and hence I am always wanting to zoom the wrong way. But all the exposure controls are easy to master and the warning marks in the viewfinder if you are over-exposing were very helpful. I took some indoor shots with flash, some evening shots with long exposures, some shots in the rain as well as normally sunny images, and it coped with all.

Is it good enough for stock? I’m asking a lot from my camera here, because I can obviously downsize my images and upload them to microstock sites and hide any issues in the image, but I also submit to Alamy and Corbis and they want images that are around 5000 pixels wide – little chance to downsize at all. I can’t be bothered to maintain two versions and so the microstock sites get images that are generally 4500 pixels wide. I found that the noise was higher than my Canon – and that the auto ISO function didn’t actually use the lowest ISO available – there is a slightly better performance if you set the ISO to 80, but noise reduction got rid of any issues I saw with higher ISOs. I usually set the camera to aperture priority and watched what the shutter speed was set to – the auto ISO was helpful on cloudy days to keep that shutter speed in the hand-holding range. The camera has built in stabilization and so I didn’t have many problems with shake.

Full shot

Full shot

The zoom lens is generally sharp throughout its range, and any distortion or color aberration was removed by Lightroom without any issues. There is definitely a lower level of detail (compared to the full frame Canon) when you blow up to 100% – by no means an issue for submissions to the macro agencies at full size, but it can be seen in a photo of tiny windows on a modern building for instance. The next two images are 100% crops (if you click on the image) of the center and lower right of the Mongomo cathedral in Equatorial Guinea – ISO 125, 1/800th second at f8. I don’t apply sharpening in Lightroom apart from the default.
Center crop

Center crop

Lower Right corner

Lower Right corner

So, what is the bottom line? Yes – I like it! I now carry all my Canon stuff and this new camera when I go on a trip, but I often just stroll around the streets with the Sony and keep my Canon for the more planned excursions (usually in a rental car with tripod etc.) when I am trying to get the really great shots. But, to be honest, I would be quite comfortable taking the Sony as my sole camera on some shorter trips and have had no issues with rejections of the resultant images at either Shutterstock or Alamy.

If you are interested in purchasing it, please use the link below – it all helps!

Serious Eats guide to food photography

I’ve written about food photography before – recommending the series of books that Taylor Mathis has produced, but here is a free, very comprehensive guide from the Serious Eats website. Full of detail and examples of the techniques they are recommending, you can find it here.

Top 10 ways to sell more stock photos

OK – this is really about my sort of stock photography, which focuses more on travel, outdoors and some still life studio shots rather than people, but hope you find it useful. Counting down from number 10:

10: Spend time on keywording
Too often we enjoy the photography but not the mundane keywording. Don’t over-stuff keywords, keep to the facts of who, where, what type of questions but outlining some conceptual words is OK if that is what the image is all about.

9: Remember the vertical shot
Too often, we hold our camera in the standard position, but forget that all magazines are vertical. Take those vertical shots when you are in every location! That works for both travel and studio shots.

Vertical version

Mormon Temple in Washington

Mormon Temple in Washington

Vertical Version

8: Upload to as many agencies as you think are worth your time and effort
It is sometimes a toss-up and you will find there are some agencies you just don’t like – Fotolia is my bete-noire. I listed the stock agencies I currently support here.

7: Don’t forget those editorial RM type images with people and famous buildings
Newspapers, magazines and websites are always after current views of buildings and even stores. Your image will contain copyrighted or trade-marked items so add some people doing normal things around the location. Newspapers in particular like to see a person striding past the entrance to the Federal Reserve for instance. These images need toeither be editorial on those sites that support that, or you can just submit them as RM to Alamy and Zoonar and confirm that you have no releases. I’m currently doing the latter.

Wegmans Grocery Store

Wegmans Grocery Store

6: Re-use those images
Again, a favorite topic of mine covered in this post. Always remember that you can create new stock images from existing shots – add something in the foreground like these surfboards. Add a background to a mundane image of a lamb composited into a nicer landscape.

Composite of a lamb and landscape

Composite of a lamb and landscape

5: Tell a story with your image
This is perhaps more appropriate to editorial shots where the viewer needs to understand what you are trying to say with the photo, but the same applies to studio work. Don’t just take an isolated shot of a product and leave it at that – take a shot showing how it is used.

Story of some dangerous work!

Story of some dangerous work!

4: Watch for new products and trends
Sometimes we think every possible shot has been taken and uploaded – after all Shutterstock now has 50 million images! But new trends appear and you need to watch for those and get your images online quickly. I hadn’t heard of chia seeds before, but here is a new superfood in the making!

Black Chia Seeds

Black Chia Seeds

3: Predict what will be required
This is a little harder, but look at upcoming events and try to get some good shots uploaded months in advance if you can. Some things come round regularly – Christmas is an obvious one, but anniversaries (150 years since the end of the US Civil War) usually mean a bump in sales if you have the right images.

Appomattox - Site of Civil War surrender

Appomattox – Site of Civil War surrender

2: Get the best light possible
If you are in a lovely location but the weather is not great, by all means take some artistic photos, but stock shots tend to be bright and sunny. It is not often a travel magazine leads with a cloudy image of a beach…

Anse Marcel beach on St Martin

Anse Marcel beach on St Martin

1: Keep them bright and contrasty
This is the key one, linked to the previous idea. People like images that jump off the page and yours need to stand out even as a thumbnail so that the buyer chooses yours to enlarge. Look at your shots in thumbnail view on the agencies – check against similar keyworded images and see how yours look compared to the competition. Make them bright, make them contrasty and make them colorful!

Shutterstock Popular Images

Shutterstock Popular Images

Largest sale to date from Shutterstock

We often get worried abut the $0.33 sales on Shutterstock, but the “on demand”, enhanced license and now the “Single and other downloads” can make a tremendous difference to the month’s income. I noticed today that my total had shot up, and found a single download for $126.77. This image – a stitched panorama of the landscape in north wales – was the one chosen. Its great to see these higher value downloads!

Downloaded with earnings of $126.77

Public Exhibition of my Nature Work

Nothing much to do with Stock Photography, but if you are anywhere near Northern Virginia this coming month, please visit my first public exhibition at the Center for the Arts (also known as the Candy Factory) in Old Town Manassas. The theme of the exhibition is The Nature World and four local photographers are being exhibited. You can see my chosen images – which will be printed and framed up to 30×24 inches – on my fine art website,

Here is one of the images that I have printed as a panoramic shot and framed in a 30 x 20 inch frame:

Sunset at Na Pali in Kauai

Sunset at Na Pali in Kauai

There is a reception on the evening of March 21st between 6 and 8pm. I doubt if many will fly in for this, but if you are in the area, please come along!

Opening Reception March 21st

Opening Reception March 21st

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