When it comes to stock photos, creativity and quality are the main factors that will set you apart from others.
Thanks to our phones, we already have access to a great camera. While you could use a professional camera, and there are many perks to using one, it is not necessary in order to take good quality pictures. As a beginner stock photo taker, you need to use what you already have in order to cut costs. In most cases, a professional camera is not in the starter arsenal!
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what makes a picture good?
A key component to quality images is having good lighting. Daylight is the best in most scenarios, but that’s not always possible! If there is no natural light available, you can make use of a ring light that people use for selfies, which are the least expensive lighting option around. You can also edit pictures afterwards to adjust lighting a bit.
In many cases, the answer is about whether or not it conveys emotion, or triggers an emotion in the viewer. The focus can also be key, in the sense that focusing on a specific thing while blurring out the rest can really change the overall look. Same goes for a color-popping item in a fairly neutral image.
This is all more technical stuff, which some people can teach you more about on YouTube or Skillshare.
Take this picture:
The image is crisp and the colors are bright, while the background is blurred out so it doesn’t overtake the focus. Even the pretty golden spoon is blurry, because the real star is the gorgeous tea cup. Any tea-themed blog would love this image!
Example 2: desk layouts.
I cannot tell you how fun desk layouts are. Not only that, but I love the fact that any slight difference can make any picture “not quite the one” for a buyer. That’s a good thing! It means you can use one desk layout and go pretty crazy on the pictures without changing much.
Consider the camera angle for multiple needs. Keep an empty spot in the middle for mock-up purposes. Put a blank notepad there, or a blank piece of paper. Add glasses or a pen, or a rose, or a coffee! There’s a lot of options.
Think about the desk’s color and texture: dark, reddish wood? White wood? Marbled, maybe, or plain black?
“HOW MANY DESKS DO YOU HAVE?” I hear you say.
I only have the one, but I do have these nifty backdrops. They are two double-sided, small backdrops that are perfect for desk layouts as well as taking professional pictures of small items for marketing, as you’ll see in the images provided.
If you want more choice, I suggest these 6 double-sided backdrops + stand which give you a total of 12 colorful and pretty backgrounds, as well as a backdrop holder if you want to do more than desk layouts.
Example 3: People
A lot of stock photos require people in them. You don’t need to hire people or anything, you can just use yourself! Your face doesn’t need to be in the picture if you don’t want it to, it’ll just create more eerie looks, like this one:
There are so many options to work with when incorporating a person in your stock photos, whether you show the face or not. It’s all a matter of having a vision for your final pictures, and figuring out how to place things the right way! Or, in other cases, it’s about having a few accessories and an idea of the emotion you want to convey. Stock photos as passive income really taps into the creative vein, and it can be very fun.
So many accessories to be used and played with for these kinds of photos. Take these cool mirrors, with maybe Christmas lights or neon light effects, and it could really go all kinds of places!
A lot of stock photos can have the “person factor” just by using your hands in the pictures, like the previously mentioned desk layouts. just add a laptop or notebook and look like you’re using them, and it’s no longer a des layout, but a stock photo of someone blogging, writing, doing their budget…
Editing your stock photos
While there’s no need to heavily edit your stock photos, adding some better lighting, making a slight change of background, or even just removing an item that feels a bit out of place are all things you can do. if you deem it necessary.
I strongly advise against Adobe Photoshop. I don’t like their price tag at all, when there are other products that are just as good for way less. While it is limited, a lot of editing can actually be done for free on Canva, and you even have the “Magic Eraser” option now, to remove things from your images.
Another solid option is Affinity Photo. The price tag is pretty steep, but when I decided to get it, I waited for a sale (which happens fairly regularly) and it dropped to 29$ back then. No monthly subscription. No paid updates to the system. Just a one-time purchase, and a very affordable one too, if you can time it well with sales.
* Note that it may not drop to 29$ again as that was way before the pandemic and prices have shot up since then. The current, non-sale price is now 99$, or a bundle of 229$ for Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer and Affinity Publisher on all operating systems.
Publishing your stock photos
One of the best places to sell your stock photos is Adobe Stock, which offers a non-exclusive contract do you can submit your photos elsewhere, like Getty Images, who also offers a non-exclusive BUT with the option of becoming exclusive later if you so wish.
Note that you need to make sure all parties give a non-exclusive contract, or you could end up with trouble, and we don’t want that.
There are many, many stock photo websites out there, and you could put up your images on a lot of them for more chances of sales. That may sound overwhelming, though, and if it is, know that all you need is to sign up for one. Just one. After that, start taking pictures and add them to your portfolio!
It’s a slow process, in the sense that you need a lot of stock photos to have a chance at some of them getting popular. But that’s okay! You could do one photo set per month with a specific subject and different angles/lighting/etc., and at the end of the year you’d have 12 sets, all of them with 10+ images in them. It adds up!
everything Adds Up.
Whether it be in stock photos, blogging, or social media posting, one rule is key: everything adds up.
With life, disabilities, money troubles… it’s easy to miss a day, a week, or a month of work on a project. Even if it’s a super important project to us! But your project will still be there, and you need to remind yourself that the day/week/month you missed is nothing compared to all the days/weeks/months you -did- do, and will do in the future.
Focus less on what you didn’t achieve, and more on what you achieved. It helps the mental health, too!