If you are new to the stock photography business, it may seem difficult to sell your images quickly. However, becoming a top seller, like everything else, takes time and patience. Spend some time researching the market and cultivating your skills, and you will also have a chance to make your name in this competitive industry. The question that you should ask yourself is, what are the top selling stock images? Then, you should focus on learning how to take those types of photos, and perfect your technique in those categories.
Here are 7 stock photography niches that consistently make money. If you stick to any one of the best sellers in this niche, or choose several that peak your interest, you are more likely to succeed than with a generic portfolio.
Architecture photography is a great place to start your photography career because you can make some money selling your best material on the stock websites while specializing as an architectural photographer in your local area. You can make some passive income from freelance assignments too. Just remember that you must get a property release from any privately owned piece of architecture. See your microstock site for the specific details regarding their policies.
Start by taking pictures of custom houses and corporate infrastructure. Images of both indoors and outdoors make excellent shots, especially if you can catch people in action. Bridges are good ways to build a portfolio. Just get a signed property release from the building’s owner. They will probably love the publicity.
Buildings make excellent samples for your portfolio. It is very easy to click outstanding pictures as you get more time to plan and expose each shot.
Corporate photography is an extremely popular subject. Most of the highest selling photographs in the leading stock banks are of corporate themes and images. Companies are particularly fond of concept images, which depict a particular theme. If you can show a stock market jpg that tells customers how much money their stockbrokers can earn for them, then you will do a great job selling images.
- Shoot executive portraits and other images in a regular corporate setting.
- Rent an office or convert a spare room in your house to a photography studio with corporate settings.
- You can either hire models or use your friends as models. Make sure to get model release in both cases.
I know people are skeptical about product photography but the truth is that product photography is still one of the highest earning categories in the microstock industry. Your success relies on offering images that cannot be found on any other websites. Since individual tastes in products vary, finding best selling new products and making money out of them is actually easier than you could imagine.
Consider a situation where an online store sells art supplies. While most of their pictures will be close up images of their own products, they will still need to buy a variety of stock photos for other reasons as well. For example, they probably publish a monthly online magazine that features how-to articles to encourage customers to buy their products. Of course, each article will need a beautiful image along with it. The same store may also need to buy stock images for banner ads, magazine and newspaper advertisements, flyers and other promotional materials, and many other uses. Your microstock shots that feature paintbrushes, acrylic paints, and other materials can be used numerous times, so make sure that you photograph them from several angles.
Businesses love to buy shots of people. As long as the people are showing an emotion, the picture is up for grabs. Consumer magazines alone will buy images of grandmothers baking cookies, kids running through the sprinkler, and moms and dads cheering for the local soccer team. Try to catch action shots of people in real-life activities including anything involving school, work or play. These speak to the heart, since everyone can relate to them.
Portraits are not big sellers, since they imply a person who is standing stiff and still. Rather, your customers prefer to see couples who are holding hands, or a child crying over a scraped knee. Catch real-life scenarios, especially if they are on the job, such as a caring doctor tending to a sick patient or an exhausted construction worker on a hot day. These are images that will lead to repeat sales.
Remember that you will need a model release for every single person if they can be recognized. I suggest being careful and getting signed paperwork even if you are unsure whether you need it. Stock sites will not accept anything without a signed model release. Keep a copy for your records.
5: Food and Drink
It doesn’t matter how competitive the food photography niche is, it still one of the bestselling categories in the business. Focus on the elite customers, such as high end food magazines and fancy recipes websites. These are great places to start building a successful portfolio for two reasons in particular.
- You already have the supplies right in your own home. Start with fresh fruits and vegetables: bright red apples, juicy oranges, sweet red peppers and any other fresh ingredients that you have on hand.
- Take several pictures from a variety of innovative angles to give your portfolio more attention since advertisers want to spice up their ads with new photos. Also, adding a variety of shots of the same subject lets your customer choose the best selection to fit into the available space.
Simply put, a picture of apples at a unique angle might sell much better than a picture that has already sold thousands of times on iStockphoto since the designer may want a unique image. In addition, the advertiser may have already purchased the other image, and they don’t want to use it again. They need something unique to spark their readers’ interest. Your job is to find out what stock images don’t have in offer and sell them.
Technology is changing so fast and everyone wants to see the latest and greatest! Keep up with the trends so your customers can publish stories and blogs that are brand new. The latest computer and technology photos will keep your customers coming back for more, especially since they will need images constantly, and you can provide them.
Look for new trends: UPC codes, the Microsoft Surface, the latest iPod, screenshots, etc. Even photos of keyboards, remote controls, and gaming devices make super shots. Just make sure you keep the logos and any identifying marks to yourself. You MUST make sure that the product cannot be identified as a trademarked product or a copyrighted piece. Keep it as generic as possible.
Nature photography can be very lucrative for photographers that live in an area where not many competitors are not around. Someone that lives close to a national park can cover the inside out of that specific park, leaving a unique portfolio that no one else can provide. Just make sure that you note that these are editorial images that are not for commercial resale. National parks are part of the federal government in the United States, and the images can be used as editorial content, but they cannot be sold as commercial image. Don’t worry; you still usually get paid for the editorial images. Please note that if the park is located on private property, you will need to get a property release.
Certain landscapes can be much more lucrative than others. For example, if you live in a beach that is known for its surfing culture, you can feature some excellent surfing images. Colorado is known for its skiing resorts, and you could show off some beautiful wintery images that could be beyond comparison. Take advantage of your local environment, and if you are lucky enough to travel, take photographs that step outside of the usual snapshot effect and capture something amazing.
Making the Money
Take advantage of the most popular markets to find the niches that work for you. Once you find the best selling areas, you can make money quite effortlessly as a top selling stock photographer. Just keep taking those pictures until you find the areas that work for you.