In light of recent events many photographers were deprived of any means to keep their regular workflow. Most activities required to organize photoshoots were cancelled or postponed indefinitely, and flight restrictions made it impossible to travel freely for jobs. The long-lasting period of self-isolation also made it hard to carry out studio sessions as usual.
Although the situation has started to improve, many have already faced some financial problems. That’s why finding new ways to earn a living as a photographer is still a burning issue for many. A good solution to start earning as a freelance photographer is uploading your archive of works to some stock photography websites like Depositphotos since it’s an opportunity to make some passive income with your photography. If it’s something you’re interested in exploring, this article has all the tips to help you get started with stock photography.
1. Keep up with visual trends
The first step to being up-to-date, appealing, and relevant as a photographer is to pay close attention to trends in photography, design, and visual culture in general. Keeping up with the latest visual trends will make your works stand out in the typical feed when clients look for images using keywords.
Among those who regularly download and use stock photography there are a lot of designers of all sorts, and following the latest visual trends will help you appeal to this segment of clients. Always try to read and learn something new, follow some niche blogs and media, and pay attention to the things top-photographers are doing. Study the portfolios of other successful stock photographers and find a way to make your portfolio reflect your personal style.
2. Find your niche
With stock photography, it’s beneficial if you can shoot different topics and work with different genres as it helps diversify your portfolio. However, many amateur photographers lose themselves in trying their skills in too many different fields of photography. Instead of shooting everything to cover all the popular topics, try to find your niche in this field. Your niche can be a genre or your personal style.
As you become a regular contributor, you will be able to analyze which images bring you the most sales. This will help you understand which direction to move in with your stock photography portfolio.
3. Think about your artistic style
Many brands that use stock photography websites as their source of visuals look for artistic and authentic images. That’s why working on your visual style is important to succeed on stock platforms. What makes you different from other photographers is your personal style. Work towards developing this if you haven’t already.
Your portfolio should reflect your work as a photographer. To have a better understanding of what sells, you can review different collections put together by content curators to see what is in demand right now and how you can fit in with your style. There are a lot of creative and unconventional photographers who work with stock websites, like Victor Zastolskiy who creates imaginative fantasy worlds in images with interior design.
4. Spend more time on keywords
Just like with optimizing images for blogs and websites, you should dedicate a lot of your time to finding keywords for the images you upload on stock websites. They need to be clear, informative, and concrete to give a full understanding of the things portrayed on your pictures.
Think about the keywords clientes use on stock photography websites. Some of them search for emotions such as happiness, love, or despair, while others focus on the activities taking place on images, or simply search for a specific mood. That’s why you need to figure out what your images express, and describe these with the right choice of keywords. Just make sure you don’t include spam keywords as they can have a negative impact on your portfolio.
5. Pay attention to lighting
Correct exposure is crucial images and a good balance of light is even more important when you do stock photography. Technically perfect images with perfect exposure are bought more frequently – they are full of light and are in sharp focus. You need to make sure that at least some photos you upload as your portfolio on stock websites have this appeal. Even if your artistic style includes more dark visuals, try to take more photos outdoors in the daytime.
6. Play with negative space
The empty space around subjects or objects in your shots can do miracles to the commercial appeal of your photos. Don’t be afraid to experiment with some negative space to find different interesting angles and compositions that leave room for other elements.
Many clients turn to stock photography to look for hero images, or visuals for their ads and other marketing materials. If your images are used in media and print or for design projects, it’s important that there is enough space for designers to work with. So keep in mind that it’s good to be creative with leaving some space in your images.
7. Shoot photo series
Of course, most photographers take more than one image during a photo shoot, and uploading a series of shots from the same scene is a plus. Try to find as many perspectives and angles as you can, rethink the scenes you shoot, and create a whole photo series when you shoot for stock websites. This is important as clients will be able to have more choice when they review similar images.
8. Upload with a good frequency
When it comes to uploading your images to a stock website, try to come up with a good frequency of your uploads. Uploading images takes time as you also have to have the right keywords to make your images easily discoverable. Find a good schedule to upload batches of images a few times a week or a month. Stock photography websites encourage photographers who devote more time to keywording and upload new works regularly as it is also a factor that helps them rank better in the feed.
9. Put yourself in the shoes of potential clients
Another important aspect of stock photography is that it’s often used for marketing and advertising needs. Many companies purchase stock images since they are royalty-free, cost-effective, and are perfect for marketing purposes. So you really need to put yourself in the shoes of a marketer and think about what they would use as keywords to find images for their campaigns and projects.
Pay attention to the billboards you see offline and digital ads you stumble upon online. What do they have in common? Which images do marketers choose for these campaigns? A little bit of research on this will help you keep in mind the things that will help you with more sales.
10. Don’t be too harsh on yourself
You are your worst critic. People working in a creative industry are often too harsh on themselves in terms of requirements and expectations. However, the images that you think are less perfect might be the ones clients gravitate towards. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Even if a particular picture doesn’t seem ideal, it might still find its buyer on a stock platform.
Never stop doing what you love
Practice and persistence is all it takes to get into stock photography. Regardless of your immediate plans, it’s important to remember that the more you shoot, the more experience you get. Similarly, the more you work with stock photography, the more you learn and contribute to your freelance business.
Always try to find new possibilities to learn and grow and remember that there are so many ways to boost your photography business! Stock photography is a great way to make passive income with work you already have and with all your future projects.