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  • Writer's pictureLee Walker Photography

Building The Stock Photography Portfolio

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I'm using this Lockdown time to catch up with building my Stock photography portfolio. I'll be honest, when I started contributing to stock sites I just uploaded any and all images I had (the majority got rejected!). I then started going through images I had taken over the years and picked out ones I felt would definitely be accepted (no recognisable faces, no brand names, not too grainy, not too bright or dark, in focus, etc). Doing this I eventually managed to get roughly 2,000 images accepted on sites such as Shutterstock, Adobe Stock & Dreamstime.

I am now trying to get into the frame of mind that Stock imagery isn't just something to "catch up" with, it shouldn't always be an afterthought. If I ever want to make real progress and make money from it - I need to be incorporating it into my daily routines. At first this sounds quite difficult, but actually once some hard work is put in at the forefront, it's relatively easy to keep going with it. For example, When making food - I now have two 'go-to' locations for when I finished making either breakfast or dinner. These locations are in my flat and have been picked because of the availability of light (Whether that be natural or studio light) and because I have a number of props ready to go waiting in those locations. Having these locations ready and in mind means that I can quickly get the plate set-up - fire off a few shots - and the food will still be edible for me to it.

To clarify, this is not what I do when shooting for commercial photography (A paid shoot) - but it is a quick and easy way to build the stock portfolio! The images for stuck don't have to be immaculate and perfect (In fact some of my best sellers are ones that I really didn't put much effort in to at all!) Ideally they just have to have the correct light, composed well and tell a story. I'm currently working on other ways to be able to quickly and easily take shots to upload as stock, and have targets of how many images I want to get online by a certain time frame (this keeps me motivated constantly pushing forward). It's always good to keep in mind what's trending in the industry at the moment - Expert Photography has a great article for top trends to keep in mind for 2020, and the stock sites themselves often have articles published every month highlighting which topics/ subjects are the current top sellers. In my personal experience Shutterstock is the best for selling quantity wise (although the commission received is quite low). Next, I prefer Adobe Stock - this is due to the fact the commission is higher per image sold, however it is a bit harder to get images accepted compared to Shutterstock. I find I can upload a batch from the same shoot, however Adobe Stock will only accept a couple from that shoot and then reject others saying they are too similar. I have gotten around this thus far by uploading numerous batches at once, then only submitting a couple from each every few days - the process takes longer but more get accepted.

Dreamstime and Alamy are the other two I use. Dreamstime has been a slow burner for myself - However I am still making money from it (very little!). Alamy I only recently discovered however the limited sales I have made have provided larger commission payments compared to the other sites, and so I am willing to invest more time on this site (Fingers crossed it's worth it!). All in all, Stock photography takes a fair amount of time and effort to get anything back from it - Not only taking images that will be accepted, but then also titling them and tagging them appropriately to give them the best chance to be found. Personally I feel once you've got the hang of it, and incorporated routines in to your daily life to take and upload regularly, the process will be easier and in the end that investment of time will be rewarded with more and more payments month to month.

I am yet to get to the point where I'm making any serious money from these, however I'll keep progressing and it's still worth it for myself not just for the payments every now and again but also the practice I'm getting taking the shots. Here's a few articles that can help when thinking about Stock imagery: Expert Photography - Top Trends in Photography 2020 DPS - Cleaning Techniques for Still Life Expert Photography - Still Life Composition 500px - Patience is Key

500px - Common Technical Issues 500px - Working With Grain In Your Photos Before I finish up, here's some of my own best selling images on stock:

Once again, thanks for reading! Regards, Lee

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