written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Amy Carson•updated: 12/28/2010
Here are a few tips on how to create stock photography for sale.
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What is Stock Photography
Stock photography is used more often that you would realize, mainly because it is cheaper to purchase it oftentimes than it is to create original photographic content. What stock photography really means is photography that has been taken out of any usable context and then sold per item to be used in a different context. For example, often times a magazine editor may need the image of a nondescript forest for an article. Instead of hiring a photographer to go out and actually capture the image of a forest, they will look to stock photography companies to find an image that meets their needs. They will buy the rights to that image and then use it in their work, and the company who produced the stock photography ends up making a good amount of money. Here is a look at how to create stock photography that you can sell for the same types of purposes.
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The first thing you need to consider when starting to shoot stock photography is to make sure that the actual camera technology you are using is up to par. No matter the type of images and composure used for their capture; if the image quality is not professional then then selling your stock footage is going to be a dismal prospect. What this means is having a full sensor digital camera that is capable of actually taking decent pictures, and lenses that properly match the type of exposure you are looking for. This means that if you are trying to capture close-up images for your stock photography then you will need a full macro lens, and those being taken from far away will need a much longer telephoto lens. Make sure that your ideas for stock photography are going to be matched by what you have in your camera bag.
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Photo editing is going to be one of the most important parts of learning how to shoot stock photography because the ability to correct the images, stylize them, and make them sharper and better in appearance is essential to selling your stock photography. Stock photography does not have the same restrictions on it like photojournalism does because it has a non-specific purpose and is going to be put into publication by someone other than you. Usually it will be used in web design, advertising, presentations, or another field where the appearance of an image is all that matters. People want to buy stock photography that has an appealing aesthetic and matches their mood, so you will need to make sure to alter the photos and improve them in a program like Adobe Photoshop.
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What to Shoot
The type of images you take is one of the most important features of how to create stock photography because they have to be things that people will want to purchase. They will often be of locations that users will not be able to get images of, historical situations, images that could indicate a number of situations, animals, or really anything that could fit a general purpose. The best way to really create stock photograhpy that will sell is to combine what appears to be popular with what you have at your immediate disposal. If you live in a unique city try to get various images from it, and the likelihood is that there will be a market for it. Other landscapes around will be good, as well as different identifiable items that seem as though they may be good for someone looking for simple "nature pictures" or "suburban pictures." Try to look at SEO keywords that are related to stock photography and see if you can try to match your shooting to them. You can often do planned shoots with actual models, but this can be much more difficult and expensive and can make you have to raise your overall price when selling your stock photography.