CAREER DEVELOPMENT / MAY. 28, 2014
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Selling Stock Photography – Factors to Consider

Selling stock photography is becoming an increasingly popular way of making an extra income for many people. Stock photographs are used by magazines, book publishers, web designers, interior décor firms, film makers, graphic designers and advertising agencies.

However, before venturing into selling stock photography, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

1. Can you spare the time to invest in the business?

Editing photos, giving them full descriptions and eventually uploading them can be very time consuming. This is besides actually shooting the photographs. You might need to set aside several hours every day to invest in your business.

2. Can you capture valuable images?

Most buyers are looking for unique images which they don’t already have. This means that you will have to go beyond your usual every day surroundings like your kitchen, garage, living room or bathroom. It is very likely that stock catalogs already have an oversupply of such images.

3. Will people be ready to sign model release papers?

It is much easier to sell an image which has a person in it. With such images, the person appearing in the photo will need to sign a model release form to allow you to use it.

4. Do you have a high quality camera?

Many online stock sites only accept photos which meet a certain minimum requirement. You will get better quality images with a camera which allows you to change lenses. However, more megapixels don’t necessarily translate into higher quality images. You can find a professional camera from reputed manufacturers such as Olympus, Canon and Nikon.

5. Do you have photo-editing skills?

Photos are usually enhanced by adjusting things such color, cropping, density, and shadow detail. Therefore, you should know how to use a photo editing program to improve the images which you have captured with your camera. Some of the best editing programs available in the market include Adobe Photoshop CC, Picasa 3.9, Adobe Lightroom, iPhoto and Windows Photo Gallery.

6. Can you link relevant keywords to your photos?

Keywords will determine how easily web users can locate your images online. People usually find photos online by typing in descriptive words into search engines. Therefore, you need to find relevant keywords to associate with your image. For instance, if you have a photograph of a baby, you could associate it with keywords such as ‘baby’, ‘child’, ‘tot’, ‘toddler’, ‘infant’ or ‘babe’.

7. Are you ready to be a continual learner?

Learning is essential for both amateur and experienced photographers. You need to invest in DVDs as well as books so as to master various techniques in regard to photography. It is also important to spend time in different forums interacting with other photographers. Some of the best free resources for learning about digital photography include Digital Photography School, Photodoto, World Press Photo, National Geographic Photography and Digital Photography Review.

8. Are you prepared to invest in better equipment?

With time, you will need to get equipment such as tripods and studio lights, as well as better lenses and cameras. This will require a substantial financial investment, which you might not recoup for several months. Would you be willing to make such an investment?

9. Will you be able to handle rejection?

Quite frequently, you will have your images rejected. Instead of giving up, you should use rejection as a stepping stone to build and improve on your portfolio.

It would not make sense to have high quality photos if no one buys them. Therefore, you need to ensure that your images are ‘commercially viable’. Before starting off, visit several stock photography sites and check which images are being downloaded most. However, don’t just imitate what others are doing. Find a unique niche which will make you stand out from the competition.

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