The world of stock photography is vast, with images that fill every conceivable need. Today, it can be overwhelming to start submitting stock photos, because it may seem like everything has already been done. While the easy categories have already been tackled, there are still plenty of new frontiers to be discovered. Below, we've provided a few practical guidelines for what stock photos sell best on the web.
Make Sure the Basics are Covered
Every successful stock photo has a distinct subject, be it a person, landscape, or a recognizable object. Before you get artsy with exposures and depth of field, your photos need to fulfill a specific function that people can use commercially. Of course, you'll want every photo submission to look as attractive and technically skilled as possible, and if you veer too far into the esoteric, your images will not be as popular in the marketplace. Finally, you should be able to describe your photo with easily searchable keywords, so that consumers can find you. Subject matter, quality, and keywording are all essential.
Learn from Rejection
Inevitably, some of your photo submissions will be rejected, but don't take it personally! Instead, use it as an opportunity to refine the image selection process and improve your work. Stock photo agencies may reject an image because they have too many similar shots in their archive, or because the subject matter doesn't appeal to their usual consumer. To truly learn what stock photos sell best, you need to be comfortable with rejection, submit photos often, and find out why those images didn't make the cut. Many agencies will even tell you why they can't take an image, which is really instructive if you're serious about making money with stock photography.
It probably goes without saying, but your stock submissions must look sharp and professional to attract an agency's attention. You might get away with a few hazy photos, but most agencies will catch even the slightest blurriness or noise. To avoid this problem, only submit high-resolution images if you know that they look sharp when blown up to full size. If there's noticeable blur, simply resize the image and submit it to the agency at a lower resolution.
Reduce the Noise
Finally, if you view a photo at full resolution and find noticeable pixels or graininess, you may want to use the Blur tool in Photoshop to smoothen those areas. To reduce the noise in future photos, try selecting a lower ISO on your camera. This may affect your lighting in a negative way, so just play around with the settings and choose the lowest ISO setting that still allows for a well-lit photo.
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