Stock doesn’t have to be boring. Try out these tips for shooting creative stock photography that showcases your originality, no matter what kind of imagery sparks your inspiration.
Creating creative stock photography is the ultimate way that a photographer can set their work apart from the rest in the stock image business. Customers are no longer looking for the typical stock images that have traditionally defined the stock marketplaces. Now more than ever, customers are looking for creative stock photography images that tell stories. In our “It’s Not Stock. It’s Shutterstock” campaign, we introduce this idea of stock reinvented and reimagined. Gone is the typical image of a family staring straight at the camera in a perfect house in a perfect neighborhood. Stock has gone bold.
Shutterstock Image by Misbachul Munir
But how can contributors continue creating sellable stock images, while putting their own unique and creative spin on them?
In this article, we’re sharing the ultimate guide to creating creative stock photography images, while still creating sellable stock images. We want to ensure that photographers, videographers, illustrators, and composers on our network continue to maximize the opportunities they have to earn money doing what they love. Creating sellable stock images through creative stock photography ideas is what contributors need to keep in mind before any creative shoot.
Shutterstock Image by Photographee.eu
Here are our tips on making creative stock photography images you can be proud of, while still selling to customers searching for the perfect image to tell their story.
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Tips on Creating Creative and Sellable Stock Images
General Stock Photography Tips
Produce shoots that represent you
Don’t just think of what customers want to see. Produce shoots that embody your personal style, your passions, and showcase your unique perspective of a global world. We want to see your creativity shine through the stock photography images you create with Shutterstock. The work that you upload should be about your individuality just as much as it’s about the customers who purchase it.
For more tips on planning your shoot, click here to learn about putting together a creative.
Shutterstock Image by AstroStar
Always provide diversity
Diversity in stock photography is something we want our contributors to keep top-of-mind in any shoot they create for Shutterstock. Diversity in ages, genders, abilities, body sizes, lifestyles, cultures, and locations is key to creating sellable stock images. We want to see humanity represented in its true form, globally, in the images and videos that we accept on our network.
Shutterstock Image by UfaBizPhoto
Stay on top of the latest trends
The images our contributors create should always be ahead of social, style, technical, and visual trends. Each month, we create The Shot List. This list is a direct result of a data analysis on the keywords and terms that customers searched for during that time of year the year prior. We also put in new and emerging trends that are up-and-coming in the stock photography world. This should be the number one resource you bookmark and look up before you plan any stock photography shoot.
Shutterstock Image by Rawpixel.com
Remember copyright and trademark guidelines
Producing sellable stock images starts with ensuring that you understand all copyright and trademark regulations. Any visible branding, trademarks, or other identifying information needs to be removed from your images. You will need to have a property and model releases for all recognizable subjects. For more information on full copyright guidelines, check out this article.
Shutterstock Image by Natee K Jindakum
Lifestyle Stock Photography Tips
Create authentic situations
Authenticity is still one of the biggest marketing keywords, and we don’t see this trend ending anytime soon in lifestyle stock photography. Customers and image buyers want to see organic and original concepts, in real-life situations.
So, keep it real. Have your models interact with each other in general settings. Shoot as much as you can, because chances are the moments in-between are going to be the creative stock photography images you’ll want to upload into our marketplace. These are the moments when you don’t expect magic to happen, but usually it does.
Shutterstock Image by g-stockstudio
Use real people
Customers aren’t just looking for images of models. They’re looking for your everyday, typical person who you’d be friends with, someone who represents real life. Enlist the help of friends, coworkers, and family who are willing to step in and model for you. Shooting images of a real family instead of creating a family with models who don’t know each other is a fantastic way to get real, authentic moments and capture genuine emotions.
Shutterstock Image by Vladyslav Spivak
For more lifestyle stock photography tips, check out this article.
Product Stock Photography Tips
Think like a customer
When you stage a product stock photography shoot, think like the customer who is going to purchase that image. Find creative ways to display generic products so that customers can envision their own product within the image before they purchase.
Shutterstock Image by Nadin Panina
Plan for negative space
Negative space is key for product photography. In a lot of cases, product stock photography will be used for social media, websites, and sometimes even for print.
Imagine you are a customer and you’re looking to purchase an image, but it’s cropped too tight for you to put text overlay for the signage you want to include. You’ll move on, and select another image that fits that requirement. Creating sellable stock images starts with considering how the image will be used depending on the customers needs.
Shutterstock Image by Igisheva Maria
For more tips on creating generic stock photography images for stock, click here.
Travel and Landscape Stock Photography Tips
Highlight unexpected details of familiar places
When you shoot landscape or environmental shots in a new location, find new places and vantage points that differ from the norm. Scope out a location a day or two in advance to find unique areas that offer your lens a view that’s entirely different than something you’ve already seen. Creating sellable stock images starts with crafting an image that can’t be found anywhere else. Get inspired to shoot surreal places by browsing this article.
Shutterstock Image by beboy
Always carry your camera
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. Every place you visit is an opportunity to create creative stock photography images. By always having a camera handy, you never miss an opportunity to shoot. If you are traveling to a unique destination, it’s a perfect opportunity to capture niche images that no one else may be able to experience. Your lens provides you with an opportunity to earn money anywhere you are in the world, so don’t let it pass you by.
Shutterstock Image by Ervin-Edward
Animal Stock Photography Tips
Shoot niche animals you have access to
Do you know someone with a brown poodle? See bears in your backyard on the regular? While these things may seem normal to you, they might in fact be incredibly hard for someone to have access to or produce images of. When you shoot creative stock photography images, the first thing you should consider is niche situations that set you apart from any other photographer. These are the hardest to compete with, and your image has a higher opportunity to be featured and will be sought more frequently if it’s niche.
Shutterstock Image by Willyam Bradberry
Create a comfortable shoot environment for the animal you’re photographing. If you are on a creative stock photography shoot at a home or studio, you have the opportunity to meet the animal in advance and get comfortable before shoving a camera in their face. You want the animal to look happy and content, not scared and frightened.
If you’re shooting in the wild, wait for the right opportunity. Patience is a virtue in wildlife photography. If you are prepared to wait long enough, chances are the opportunity to shoot an incredible image will present itself.
Shutterstock Image by Erik Mandre
Get inspired before your next animal photography shoot with images from these Offset Artists.
Portrait Stock Photography Tips
Always carry releases with you
If you’re passionate about shooting portrait images, you never know when you are going to see someone in a crowd that you’d love to photograph, meet a celebrity, or have an opportunity to shoot present itself. Always have releases available on your phone or printed out so that you never miss an opportunity to shoot someone new.
Put yourself out there and be prepared for some rejection, but push your boundaries into shooting someone new that you are creatively inspired by. Opportunities for portrait photography are anywhere where there are people. Learn more from the pros here.
Shutterstock Image by oneinchpunch
Be engaging with your models
As a photographer, it’s your job to create an environment that’s relaxing for the models and people you shoot. Start by engaging your models in a meaningful conversation to find out a little about them, and help them loosen up. You want to express real emotions in your images in order to create a look and feel that doesn’t seem forced. Keep your models moving, and change it up often to keep them engaged in the shoot.
Shutterstock Image by engagestock
Food Stock Photography Tips
Create images that look “user-generated”
User-generated content means images that are created by customers and shared organically after visiting a place or experiencing something. 60% of restaurant-goers take online photos into consideration when deciding where to eat. Creating creative stock photography food images that look like it could be taken by a patron of a restaurant provides a unique opportunity for your work to be showcased. Using your phone to take an image of a camera taking an image of food is a great example of this type of content.
Shutterstock Image by bitt24
Capture different angles
When you are taking images of food, capture every angle possible of that dish. Capturing all of the angles is a great way to provide variety and diversity to your stock collection. This is a great way to ensure that the customer has a selection of images to choose from when trying to find the perfect one. Check out this article for tips on capturing great images of food on-the-go.
Shutterstock Image by Slavica Stajic
Architecture Stock Photography Tips
While most recognizable private buildings will require property releases, creating creative concepts where there are no recognizable traits may still be accepted on our network. Shoot images of a building in a way that provides a unique, unrecognizable perspective. Read this article for a thorough perspective on shooting architecture from the pros.
Shutterstock Image by Emily Tolan
Shoot with the seasons
As seasons come, new flowers boom, and buildings and architecture change color as the light changes. Shoot your favorite places at every season, every time of the day, and every angle you can think of. The more images you can capture that provide a unique perspective, the better. For private buildings, ensure you get a property release before you shoot.
Shutterstock Image by Martin M03
Conceptual Stock Photography Tips
Showcase your technical capabilities
While natural images sell in our lifestyle and travel categories, customers are also searching for imagery that showcases technical advancements and a thorough understanding of new photographic techniques.
Play with innovative lighting techniques when you are creating creative stock photography image. Use compositional techniques, and embrace the extraordinary when you are creating. Color trends in design is another place to look for inspiration. Your artistic skills and production capabilities deserve to be recognized.
Shutterstock Image by josh.tagi
Shoot the unexpected
Conceptual stock photography is all about having fun. Create situations and concepts that are unique to your personal perspective. Bring props, wardrobe, and makeup options that allow you to tell a unique story through the concept you’re trying to photograph. Think outside the box, and stay creative. Shooting variety is a great place to start.
Shutterstock Image by UfaBizPhoto
We hope these tips on creating creative stock photography images that sell help you before your next shoot with Shutterstock. For more tips, click and download the Shutterstock Contributor Success Guide. We can’t wait to see the images that you create next. If you’re not a contributor yet, consider signing up to Shutterstock to get started earning money doing what you love.
Featured Image by Trendsetter Images