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Making Money in Stock Photography: 20 Tips from the Pros

Want to learn more about making money in stock? Make a living off of your art with twenty tips and insights from working professionals.

Making money in stock doesn’t have to be complicated. It really only takes an innovative mind and the will to forge a creative career doing what you love. Submitting images, vectors, footage, or music to stock can be the ticket to starting a career you’re passionate about. Chances are that you joined Shutterstock to make money. So we figured, why not ask the pros at Shutterstock how they’ve earned an income in stock?

Earning Money in Stock Photography: 20 Tips from the Pros — Man on Log
Image by ImageBySutipond

Not a contributor yet? Click here to get started at Shutterstock.

In the following article, we asked nine creatives at Shutterstock how they approach making money in stock. From creative tricks to business insights, these creatives share inspirational tips to help you get started making money in stock photography. Because that’s the goal of why you’re here, right?

20 Tips from Professionals on Making Money in Stock Photography

Paul Prescott: Shutterstock Portfolio
Location: France

Earning Money in Stock Photography: 20 Tips from the Pros — People Floating in Water
Image by Paul Prescott

A travel photographer at heart, Paul shoots everything from architecture, people, landscapes, and more. He always aims to capture the world’s diversity through the photos and footage he creates through both his personal photography work and through the agency he founded.

Tip #1: Not making money in stock photography? Try a new medium

“In a photo market where the volume of photos is increasing without limits—but the revenues can be stagnant and production costs can be high—earning money in stock has become difficult. In 2012, I turned to footage because I earned more than a sale with a photo. When that plummeted for me, I turned to premium content. High production costs ask for high prices.”

Earning Money in Stock Photography: 20 Tips from the Pros — Woman Taking Picture
Image by Paul Prescott

Tip #2: Try the agency route

“Another way I started earning money with stock is by creating my own agency. This aerial photography content can be found on Offset, while the video content is represented by Shutterstock. I chose this niche because it’s unique, and of high value.”

Tip #3: Understand your value

“My seasoned experience is to understand one’s value, and choose the appropriate market to sell ones photos and video.”

Sutipond Somnam: Shutterstock Portfolio
Location: Thailand

Earning Money in Stock Photography: 20 Tips from the Pros — Fisherman in Asia
Image by ImageBySutipond

A photographer and creative artist, Sutipond’s art captures the beauty of Asia with perfection. From people and places to experiences and small businesses, taking a look at Sutipond’s portfolio takes you on a journey through remarkable cultures that make up Asia.

Tip #4: Take pictures that resonate with marketable keywords

“When I work, I ensure the pictures I take and the keywords I use work well together, and that the concept behind my work is marketable. Keywords sell.”

Tip #5: Travel to get inspired

“I’ll often travel to take pictures to add variety to my images within my Shutterstock portfolio. When I travel, I go out to meet friends and other photographers to share new experiences that I can show in stock. That helps me earn money.”

Eva Ozkoidi: Shutterstock Portfolio
Location: Spain

Earning Money in Stock Photography: 20 Tips from the Pros — Palm Leaves
Image by livcool

Freelance photographer Eva Ozkoidi inspires us constantly through her wanderlust images captured during her travels around the world. This photographer is a pro at curating a portfolio of cultural images that highlight destinations and people around the world.

Tip #6: Get inspired by other artists

“I try to be inspired by other artists that motivate me, and then I give that inspirational a personal touch. Especially when it comes to editing!”

Tip #7: Stay true to your own style

“I hope that any client that purchases my image will like my type of photography, and not something more commercial and easy to find. I always remain faithful to my principles, and continue to create photography that motivates me in my career.”

Denis Diatel: Shutterstock Portfolio
Location: Germany

Earning Money in Stock Photography: 20 Tips from the Pros — Middle East Landscape
Image by Denis Diatel

Denis is a talented wedding and portrait photographer from Southern Germany, but you won’t just find that work in his portfolio. From products to landscape shots, the photographer shoots what inspires him.

Tip #8: Follow your own niche

“In my experience, you do quite well when you find your own niche, something that not everyone can offer. Whether it’s traditional dresses from your regions, a handicraft you have access to, or pictures that describe a certain emotion, it can be a very simple, everyday type of thing. When you find the niche that works for you, build up your portfolio and after that, find a new niche!”

Ratha Burdaninock: Shutterstock Portfolio
Location: Thailand

Earning Money in Stock Photography: 20 Tips from the Pros — Basketball Court and Person
Image by rathshiki

When you take a look at Ratha’s portfolio, you’ll immediately notice the leading lines in his work. That’s because not only is Ratha a talented photographer, he’s also a graduate of engineering who works his two passions into one through the art he creates.

Tip #9: Always remember your love for photography

“You have to be a photography lover. The first thing to becoming a successful stock photographer is to love photography. You can’t take photos every day without passion. You don’t need to do it every day, but you have to have the motivation to bring your camera out and shoot.”

Tip #10: Shoot with the seasons in mind

“Know your local calendar and your international calendar, and you will always know what story to shoot for a new set of successful photos.”

Earning Money in Stock Photography: 20 Tips from the Pros — Man in Asian City
Image by rathshiki

Bonus tip? Check out the Shot List for a monthly reference on what customers are searching for.

Tip #11: Educate yourself on content marketing trends

“Read more content, such as blogs and other online media, and you will know more than your competitors. Nowadays, online marketing resources that focus on content can be the most powerful media for photographers.”

Johnny Adolphson: Shutterstock Portfolio
Location: United States of America

Earning Money in Stock Photography: 20 Tips from the Pros — Utah
Image by Johnny Adolphson

You can say that the outdoors is a massive inspiration to Johnny Adolphson. The accomplished creative is a photographer, skier, and climber who can constantly be found in the wilderness of Utah. In his work, expect to see bold colors with a focus on landscape and living an active, outdoor-focused lifestyle.

Tip #12: Submit top-quality content

“One of the biggest tips I have for earning money in stock is to constantly submit high-quality content. I try to add a few good images every few days. If the image is mediocre, I won’t submit it.”

Tatiana Bralnina: Shutterstock Portfolio
Location: Russia

Earning Money in Stock Photography: 20 Tips from the Pros — Moroccan Food
Image by Tatiana Bralnina

We’re a big fan of food photographer here at Shutterstock, and Russia-based photographer Tatiana is an absolute pro in the field. A portfolio filled with colorful flat lays and innovative compositions, her bold use of color and simple approach to food photography inspire our entire team.

Tip #13: Choose a theme based on customers you want to attract

“Firstly, when choosing a theme to shoot, I base my decision on my customer’s needs. I spent a lot of time analyzing different themes that I think will sell in stock. If the theme is in demand, I will make a brief to shoot. If not, I’ll look for another.”

Tip #14: Keep it authentic

“I often take photographs of food, and I always try to make it look authentic. To make an image look authentic, I usually browse culinary sites, look at menus in restaurants and cafes, and read books and magazines on healthy eating. And of course, always try to follow modern trends.”

Earning Money in Stock Photography: 20 Tips from the Pros — Chicken Bowl
Image by Tatiana Bralnina

Tip #15: Stay disciplined and remember your goals

“In my opinion, it’s important to plan and stay disciplined in order to earn some money in stock. I have a year plan, month plan, and a week plan that I follow. And I always keep to these plans. I shoot regularly and regularly upload my images. Even on my vacation, I always have some photos for stock that I can upload.”

Ivan Zamuroch: Shutterstock Portfolio
Location: Serbia

 Earning Money in Stock Photography: 20 Tips from the Pros — Lemons
Image by Zamurovic Photography

Ivan and his team state it perfectly themselves. “Art photography is our passion.” Their love for what they do is obvious in the creative art they create. We always expect the unexpected when we browse their portfolio of work. In Ivan’s tips, he provides tips on that approach to creativity.

Tip #16: Always be creative

“You can boost your creativity by feeding your brain with creative work and spending less time thinking of it. Look at current trends in fashion, architecture, and art, then implement the style you like into your images.”

Tip #17: Find inspiration in research

“Search for things that inspire you, and spend as much time as you can search for new and exciting things to ignite your inspiration. Follow tags on social media that you find interesting. Visit art sites that collect creative work. Be a part of the art community near you.”

Earning Money in Stock Photography: 20 Tips from the Pros — Cloud Legs
Image by Zamurovic Photography

Bonus tip? Follow @ShutterstockContributors on Instagram for more creative inspiration.

Tip #18: Don’t copy what others are doing

“Don’t just copy things that you see on Shutterstock. Not only is this illegal, but it will also block your creativity, and you won’t be able to make something ‘big’ anymore. It’s okay to admire some of the best selling photos out there, but try to absorb that creativity instead of copying the idea or expression of that idea.”

Viktoria Tuzemka: Shutterstock Portfolio
Location: Ukraine

Earning Money in Stock Photography: 20 Tips from the Pros — Mandarins in Tree
Image by Tuzemka

From gorgeous beauty portraits to beautiful vector compositions, Viktoria shows the beauty of the world through her images. In her Shutterstock bio, the photographer states, “I see beauty everywhere and try to fix it.” We couldn’t agree more through the work she creates.

Tip #19: Quality, quantity, and variety are the three rules to follow

“In order to earn money in stock, I try to follow three basic rules. Quality, quantity, and variety. That means, upload high-quality images on Shutterstock, upload many images, and varied content.”

Tip #20: Don’t give up!

“The main thing is not to give up. If it does not immediately work out, try a new direction. Pay attention to what is trending, listen to your intuition, and don’t restrain your creative potential. A first glance may not be successful, but in practice, it can get to the top.”

We hope these tips from professionals on Shutterstock help you achieve your goal of making money in stock photography. Whether creating images is your passion project on the side or your career aspiration, remember these tips the next time you create stock for Shutterstock. Not a contributor yet? Click here to sign up and get started earning money in your creative passion.

Featured Image by livcool

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