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How to Make Money with Stock Photography

beautiful forest landscape covered in snow next to a river
Do you want to make money from stock photography? There are a lot of demands for stock photos in both online and offline. If you can take decent pictures, why not sell it as stock photos to businesses. Stock photography is a perfect addition to whatever type of photography you’re doing.

To get involved in stock photography, you will need a decent DSLR camera to give you more control over the picture. With a DSLR, you can shoot a fast moving subject in good light by increasing the exposure, or still object in low light condition by lowering the exposure.

DSLR allows you to set the aperture and shutter speed for highest quality photos. You can use bracketing by taking several pictures right after each other and then choose the image of higher quality. You can also try high dynamic range by taking three images at different exposures by pressing the button only once. You can also use different lenses or two zoom lenses in the range of 24-70mm and 70-200mm for most of your stock photography.

Having great DSLR camera cannot guarantee you high-quality photos. You’ll need to read the manual and learn photography. The images you take today can become a major part of your income in the future. It takes time to build up a library of images.

The key to successful stock photography is to specialize in one or just a few topics, rather than shoot everything that seems interesting or popular. Your topic could be animals, sports, automobiles, old buildings, people in office settings, and so on. Whatever you enjoy to photograph, there is a stock photo company that specializes in that type of image.

In stock photography, you can form your own stock photo business, or market your photos through stock photo agencies and split the profit. You can also deal directly with photo buyers while using the service of an agency.

You need to keep shooting as many quality photos as you can. If you only add 100 quality images a month you will have 600 photos in six months and 1,200 in a year that are bringing in extra income.

If you have 1,000 images and only 20% of them are earning anywhere from $20 to $100 monthly, 200 of your images out of 1,000 images are making money in the range of $4,000 to $20,000. The agency that accepts your images will split the revenue.

You can keep adding as many stock photos as fast as you want. The more quality images you add, the more money you’ll make.

sail boats with night lights

Marketing Your Photos to Stock Photo Agencies

Stock photo agencies are businesses that market photos to photo buyers. Agencies have an advantage over the individual by having more contacts and more images to market.

Agency makes all the contacts, fill the need of buyers and handle all the work and financial matters. Prints, slides, digital photos, model release forms, and other information from photographers are kept on file at the agency. For this service, they deduct 40-50 percent commission for the sale.

There are many advantages for having a stock photo agency promote your material. An obvious advantage is the marketing abilities of an agency. Stock photo agencies have lots of contacts and clients that are difficult for an individual with limited budget to reach.

Agencies are expert in negotiation. They know the true value of an image and this result in higher fees for images. Another advantage is that you can concentrate more on photography and less on business aspects of the job. You can also concentrate on editorial sales to magazines and other publications. You will have more free time to get assignments.

You need at least 500 to 1000 images to deal with a stock photo agency. You should not rely on your initial submission. The key to successful stock photography is to supply lots of images on a regular basis. Keep in mind that every image must be of good quality. If it is slightly out of focus or incorrectly processed, don’t use it. So you must edit your material before you submit it to an agency for review.

When working with stock photo agencies, it is important that your applicable images have model or property releases. Most agencies refuse to accept photos that require releases without a proper document.

It is a good idea to review agency catalogs to find out what images and categories are offered. Knowing that, you can fill the void and concentrate on images that are not available by the agency. You can also ask the agency to send you a list of hot subjects. Photos of exotic and popular locations around the world are always popular with photo buyers.

Any time you submit your photos, make sure it contains a self-addressed, stamped envelope so the material can easily be returned. It is also wise to protect your material by sending it via certified mail. You can also contact them by email. Be aware that most agencies have websites with thousands of digital photos for customers to purchase and download.

There are many stock photo sites to put your pictures on for sale. Each company review images and either accept or reject images. You can search the Internet for stock photo companies, or start with some of the following:


You can also check out Stock Index Online ( for a list of agencies by subject and contact information. It is a good idea to start with one agency and then try to learn the whole process.

Images of people are popular. If you photograph people, you’ll need a model release as long as the images are recognizable.

Agencies mention the list of photos they need. Once your images are approved, they will be included on your database and you’re paid for each downloaded image. That’s how easy it is to earn money from stock photography.

By Robert Stevens – 2019 – Update 2020
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For additional articles written by Robert Stevens, see Robert Stevens is the author of How to Make Money With Your Camera published in 2019.

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