How to Take Stock Photography

Authored by Sylvia Colette Branch in Photography 
Published on 10-14-2009

If you love photography, you may love the business of stock photography. Your photographs could help sell or promote a product, service, or idea. People look everyday for the just right image for their company, website, article and brochures and with a little practice yours could be it.
The field is full of fantastically talented stock photographers. In order to join their ranks you will need to know a few things first.

Tools of the Trade

  • You will need a good SLR camera, not a compact.
    Depending on the type of photos your are aiming to take you will also need; a small telephoto lens for portraits, a wide angle lens for still life and people and a telephoto lens for sports and wildlife
  • A Tripod
  • Photo editing software
  • Model release forms, carried at all times. Tuck in your camera bag and have pens available. You will need to submit a model release form with each photo that has a recognizable person in it, even if that person is you. It is also a good idea to get a model release form signed when you take a photo of someone’s personal property.
  • Photo editing software is another important tool for the stock photographer. Reduce noise, crop and create a razor sharp image before submitting. You will want each photo to be perfect.


  • Carry your camera everywhere. Be prepared to take photos of whatever catches your eye.
  • Stock photography needs to be clean and sharp. Be sure to take the time to modify the camera to take the best possible image. Be aware of the technical aspect of photography. Only images that are properly exposed are acceptable as stock.
  • Be creative. Look at common subjects in a creative manner.
  • Look through stock photography catalogs to get an idea of what is out there.
  • Keep in mind the potential market for your photo when taking it. Jot your thoughts down. This will help jog your memory when submitting.
  • Set up an area in your home for still life shots. The lone cupcake, the bowl of cereal or a pile of money is best taken when you can control the lighting.
  • Lifestyle shots are big sellers. Take photos of people doing everyday things. Sharply focused and easy to understand.
  • Ask your friends and family to pose for you, explain what you are doing and be sure to get a model release form. Everyday people in normal clothing are most popular.


  • Follow the particular sites guidelines, but as a general rule upload your photographs in their original resolution. Do not resize the image
  • Use JPEG or possibly TIFF depending on what the guidelines specify
  • The photos should be in 48MB with an 8-bit depth.
  • Remove all noise. Check out your photo in 100% magnification to double check the noise level. Use a software program let helps clean up the photos, although it is best to work on the techniques so you will have a minimum to clean up
  • Erase any and all logos. Do not submit photos with obvious copyrighted material or trade marks. Use Photoshop to touch up if necessary. But keep this in mind when shooting.
  • Steer clear of any photo that looks touristy or amateur. Pay close attention to the potential topic.
  • Put a lot of effort into the keywords that you use. Pull out your thesaurus to fi
  • nd synonyms.

Like all creative fields, in order to succeed you have to stand out. Take good quality photos. Build your portfolio. Pay attention to key words to get your work noticed.


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