Stock Photography Dos and Don’ts

Tips for Beginners

Shutterstock takes enormous pride in its submitter base. Many talented amateurs have learned and refined their craft with us, growing as photographers while making money doing what they love.

Many new submitters get discouraged at their initial rejections when they submit their first batch of 10. This is usually because they do not fully understand what makes a good stock image ““ it is not a reflection on their skills as a competent photographer.

With that in mind, this handy list of dos and don’ts can help you get up to speed and start earning more money!

Do keep a wish list. What would you love to shoot? What steps can you take to make this happen?

Don’t “take sides.” You’re selling an idea or concept, not a personal statement. While partisan viewpoints have their place (in editorial photos, for example), your image will be more marketable for a variety of uses if you focus on how the potential image would be used. Plan ahead!

Do shoot as often as you can. Not everything will be suitable for stock, but the practice will make you a better photographer.

Don’t pigeonhole yourself. It’s a big world out there and your viewpoint is unique ““ capture everything you can, if for nothing else than to hone your photography skills. This will also allow you to introduce yourself to subjects you may have not realized you enjoy.

Do take photos that stand on their own. Although many submitters like to upload series of photos, this often can dilute your portfolio, and by extension, sales.

Don’t make one photo dependent upon another to complete a point, nor should you upload similar photos of the same model making similar expressions and gestures.

Do experiment with different lighting conditions and camera settings.

Don’t submit overly artistic or experimental photos as stock photography. Save those for framed artwork, galleries, and exhibitions.

Do keep yourself up-to-date with the photography industry, the latest gadgets and technological advancements. Read photography magazines and websites to increase your knowledge.

Don’t remain idle. Bring your camera with you everywhere and be ready for anything. Treat your camera like it’s your sidekick.

Do study the work of other photographers, study what sells, and have an understanding of the industry, but—

Don’t copy the work of others. Tap your creative energies, approach your craft with reckless abandon, and it will show in your work.

And lastly:

Do submit your best work with regularity to Shutterstock ““ you will make money and your photography skills will evolve.

Don’t be discouraged by rejections. Understand why they occurred and learn from them.

Happy shooting

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