Category Archives: Photography

7 Tips to Help You Make Money With Stock Photography

Have you wondered if you can make money selling your photos online though stock outlets?

For most people – even good amateur photographers with good quality digital SLRs – making money by selling pictures to a stock photo service is a dream rather than a reality. Beginners often have their photos rejected simply because they don’t know the rules. Just as you would do in any other area of product development, research your market before rushing in. Know what sorts of pictures are in demand and then take those sorts of pictures. If you have talent, good equipment, and the willingness to research and learn, stock photography can become another revenue stream in your online business.


Here are 7 Tips to Help You Get Started:

  1. Think like the user, not the photographer. Many speakers turn to iStock Photos when they are putting together a new PowerPoint presentation. Often, they want a simple photographic metaphor for an idea. For instance, if you are searching for a picture to illustrate a talk about the power of social media, you don’t want the same old tired handshake or spider web. But you might be interested in a picture of a distressed, brick wall spray painted with a relevant slogan.
  2. Learn to use Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. Not only will they improve your photos, they can be used to add text to photos, create montages or panoramas, or clean up backgrounds by removing things like overhead wires.
  3. Get model releases. When you submit a photo with people in it to a stock house, you will need a model release from every individual in the photo. “Every individual” really means every individual. Your picture of happy strangers frolicing in the surf in Hawaii will not be accepted unless you have the happy strangers’ permission to plaster their faces all over the world (with no compensation to them).
  4. Take commercial, rather than art, photos. Designers frequently need good, clean pictures of every day household and office items. You may not feel particularly inspired by a shot of a tape dispenser – until the payments start rolling in! Shoot from several different angles and submit the whole series to your stock house.
  5. Hide brand names and logos. Stock photos are royalty free – so there should be no ancillary rights to anything in the picture. If you take a picture of a pair of Nike sneakers – use Photoshop to hide the Swoosh. A Coke can can say “Cola,” but it cannot say “Coca Cola.”
  6. Create all white backgrounds. Designers want to be able to drop the picture into a layout without tweaking. If your background isn’t invisible, your photos won’t be purchased.
  7. Submit your work to many different stock photo resellers. Different companies have different audiences and specialties. You’ll often have a photo that is turned down by one company bought by a different company. Diversity will work in your favor.

Photo by Capt Kodak Released under Creative Commons License

Let The Sun Shine

This quick video is part of a series demonstrating different techniques for getting great results with the Flip. Cindy Shebley, the author of Easy Auction Photography, and I took a Flip Camcorder to the Mukilteo Ferry Dock on a bright, sunny day to demonstrte how important it is to keep the sun in front of the subject of your photos and videos.

When the photographer is shooting directly into the sun, theĀ Flip tries to compensate by overexposing the subject. Note how much richer the colors are when the sun is behind the photographer.

This was bright, mid-day sun on a hot summer day. You can see that, even with sunglasses, I’m squinting constantly. An even better shot would have place the sun more to the side of the subject. Best of all would have been shooting either a little earlier of later in the day, when the sunlight was not quite as harsh.

HDR – High Dynamic Range Photography

Amsterdam Bookstore in HDR

Amsterdam Bookstore in HDR

llibreria – bookstore – Amsterdam, originally uploaded by Mor (bcnbits).

HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography is gaining in popularity. An HDR photo takes 3 or more exposures of the same scene and blends then together to bring the greatest clarity and tonal range possible.

HDR photos include everything from hyper realistic cityscapes

New York City – HDR
Originally uploaded by Kaldoon to supersaturated seascapes

Sailors’ Memoreis [HDR]
Originally uploaded by Hussain Shah.to beautiful, painterly landscapes.

Cindy Shebley has recently begun to experiment with HDR. If you’d like to follow her as she learns about the software and techniques employed by this new school of digital photography, join her on PhotoWalksToday

Finding Royalty Free Photos

If you enjoy photography, you are probably familiar with Flickr. It is one of the largest and best known photo sharing sites. In fact, Flickr was one of the pioneers of Web 2.0.

But, as with all things web, the sheer volume of content can make it hard to find what you need.

Say you are a travel agent. A simple Flickr search for an “ocean sunset” returns over 165,000 hits. Can you use all of those pictures in a You Tube video promoting your vacation package to Hawaii? Some of them? None of them? Who has time to sort through the licenses on 165,000 photographs?

If you add just two simple parameters to your Flickr search, you’ll not only narrow the search down to freely shared photos, you’ll find exactly those photos that are available for commercial use.

The video below shows you how:

Stock Photography

If you create commercial presentations, video, pamphlets, brochures, business cards, or just about anything else that requires graphics, you will eventually need to find stock images. A lot of content producers are tempted to just go out on the web and grab a picture and pop it into a post or presentation. After all, if it is on the internet, it’s free! Right?

Well, no.

Photos and drawings and in some cases even clip art are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without the permission of (and payment to) the creator. No one is going to chase down a one time personal use copyright violation (for instance, grabbing a Dr Seuss illustration and dropping it into a custom birthday card for your 3 year old). But when you start publishing your work – and publishing includes posting it online – or using it in your business, it is time to follow the rules.

Small businesses simply cannot afford to pay royalties every time a photo is reproduced. In fact, most small businesses can’t track how often a photo is reproduced! And yet, that is what is required by law. So how can you use the images you need and not go bankrupt?

Stock photos.

Stock photography has been around almost as long as photography itself. When you purchase a stock photo, you are purchasing a special license (terms vary) that allows you to use that photo without paying for every impression. The cost is usually quite reasonable and the quality can be very high.

The internet has made it easier than ever to find stock photos – as well as royalty free music, art, and video clips. iStockphoto is a great place to start your search. Their prices begin around $1.00 for lower resolution, web-ready photos and increase depending on intended use, required resolution, etc.

iStockphoto also offers free images every month. And they’ve just added audio to their catalog. It’s a resource all product developers should get become familiar with.

In future posts, I’ll show you how to find photos distributed under Creative Commons Share Alike licenses that are not only royalty free but absolutely free. And I’ll show you a treasure trove of historical photos, songs, and interviews that can be used by anyone.