6 tips to improve your saleability at a stock-agency



Stockphotography is a nice way to earn some money for your photography. Maybe not the most challenging form of photography. And some people say that it just not match with their photography style. But here are some tips to easily combine your photography with a stockagency.

1. Do your thing

First of all. Just start the way you are used to do. Probably you had a picture in your mind, try to nail it! For example; I picked the Fen Orchid. A very little and rare orchid in The Netherlands. First I start searching for a picture that describes the mood in the field. All kind of tricks are used. In this case I wanted to create a mysterious mood for this tiny orchid. With a big aperture (f/3.5) and a green haze of grass. Maybe not the best stock image but for me stock photography is not the priority. First  I want to satisfy my feeling and then it’s time for stock.


6 tips to improve your saleability at a stock agency. Do your thing!


 2. Stock it

Now that you are done, you are satisfied with your picture, you can start with “stock photography”. Whether you like it or not, it’s simple and easy. Just photograph the subject in multiple ways and without a lot of disturbing elements. For flowers it’s easy with a tele lens. A smooth background, just perfect for a magazine.

Every pose

Now that the setting is done you can shoot the subject in every composition. In this way the chance is a lot bigger that your picture is exactly what the client needs.  For example it’s possible that the client wants the picture small in the frame so they can use it as a spread and they fill the extra space with text. Here some varieties you can use for every subject.


6 tips to improve your saleability at a stock agency. Stock it!

– horizontal
– vertical
– small in the frame for text addition
– white background for clipping
– black background
– in his environment (if the environment allows it)

Other disciplines

This is of course quit easy for a plant and a little harder for big animals. Then you just can’t easily switch the background. But when you are photographing animals you can keep in mind the poses or behaviour that you want to capture. When you are photographing a flying bird in motion with a longer shutterspeed, also take a few sharp ones aswell for stock. It may not be the picture you had in mind but who cares when it’s good for saleability?

3. Common subjects

It’s nice to photograph strange species or rarities but don’t forget about the common ones as well. The chance that a customer is searching for a common Oystercatcher is much higher than they are looking for a very rare Lesser Yellowleggs that occasionally visit the Netherlands once in a while.

Be different
A lot of photographers take pictures of the same subjects each year. Think of the Moor Frog, the Wood Anemone or the Common Kingfisher. Really nice species to photograph but after a while those species are already good represented by stock agencies. Probably better than species like Stinging Nettle, House Sparrow or a House Fly. Very common species with probably a lack of popularity. It’s good to have a look which species are good and which ones are bad represented. In this way you can create your own niche at the stocksupply.

European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) sitting

6 tips to improve your saleability at a stock agency. Common subjects!


4. Get the highest quality

focusThis seems to be self-evident but unfortunately it’s not the case. It pays off to take your time while you are photographing. First think of a nice composition and then carefully focus on the subject. It’s too bad when you find out later that the focus lays just behind the subject. Afterwards you can correct a lot but you can’t change the focus (yet?) in photoshop. A nice way to focus precisely on the subject is live view. You can zoom in and determine the focus on the exact spot where you want to have them.

After your photo session there is still a lot to do before they are ready for stock. Make sure you give the pictures enough contrast/saturation and sharpness to strike as a thumbnail between the rest. The picture has to get the attention of a client while they are searching through thumbnails. Before your picture is ready it’s good to check them on 100%. Make sure that there a no disturbing elements in the frame as sensorspots, flares or chromatic aberration. Good, your picture is ready and let it be your new quality standard.

5. Relevant Metadata

For most of the photographers adding metadata is boring and takes too much time. But it’s the most important thing for the saleability of your picture. No metadata means that your picture will never be found in the search engine. In my opinion Lightroom is the most efficient way for metadata additions. Do the metadata adding as soon as possible when you have uploaded the pictures on the computer. Otherwise you will forget about it. Metadata for pictures with the same subject can easily be synchronized so you don’t have to add the keywords separately.


Northern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis) flying

6 tips to improve your saleability at a stock agency. Be strict!


  1. 6. Be strict

    It’s good to have a lot of different pictures where the customer can choose from but be strict in your selection. I would recommend you to just upload one picture from every pose. Try to imagine yourself in a shoe shop. It’s nice to have some choices between colour and size. But it’s hard to choose when you found a shoe you like but there are twelve varieties which look besides a few tiny elements almost the same.

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Check Mart’s porfolio in SHOWCASE, biography in WIKI or Mart’s website and Smitinbeeld


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