Easily Capture Everyday Items to Sell as Stock Photography

Easily Capture Everyday Items to Sell as Stock Photography

Have you ever considered the potential of the objects that sit in front of you every day? With the high demand for photos in social media and online marketing, your images of even the most simple items have value. Here’s how to capitalize on this and produce an easy portfolio of stock images to sell.

Take a look around you. You can’t scroll through a newsfeed without being flooded with images. Every advertisement you see, blog you read, and news article you click on are full of them. The more you pay attention, you realize how simple these images are. How many times have you seen a picture of a cup of coffee or a pencil and paper? They are everywhere. And behind all of this are the photographers who are making money by selling the photos that you come across every day. 

The need for quality stock photography is growing daily. This should make you excited! You are a photographer, which means you have the ability to capture these photos better than the majority of other people will be able to. Not only do you have that advantage, but I would guess that most of the items within eyesight of where you are right now have the potential to be photographed and sold if you have the skill to do it well. Pictures of these simple items are more valuable than you would first think. These are the type of photos that can be sold on stock websites multiple times. Not only that, but once they are uploaded, they sell without requiring any further work from you.

Finding what images sell most frequently is the key to all of this. The goal is to find something that will sell hundreds or even thousands of times. For example, there are several reports of single images making $10,000 or more on stock websites due to the vast number of sales. Even in my community, a photographer had a photo of an oil well perform at this rate as the media continually purchased it for their articles. Conveniently, Adobe Stock offers a simple way to find out what these items are. 

If you visit their website, you can navigate to their stock images page where you can scroll through their full gallery of photos. This gallery provides a convenient filter, which if used correctly, will allow you to find images that have performed well in the past. When you navigate to the gallery, you will want to use the filter they offer to order the images by using the drop-down menu labeled “Sort by.” Two options will help us here, first being Popularity, and second, Downloads. These two options will allow you to gain a solid perspective of what photos you can submit that could potentially do well on a stock website. 

The next option you should consider is under the “People” category. Here you will have the ability to find photos that either includes or excludes people. While pictures of people tend to do very well on stock websites, it also involves asking the person for a model release. I would prefer to focus my time on things that are easy to capture and still could perform well, so for now, I chose to select the option to exclude people. After selecting those options, a gallery of photos that have sold well will be ready to study.

Now you can put together a plan for your stock portfolio. When I searched the list of top sellers, I noticed several things. Many of the top photos surprised me, as they were pictures of everyday items. For example, there were several pictures of consumable items such as snack foods, coffee, or wine, and also things I interact with every day like computers, keyboards, and wedding rings. I noticed immediately how most of these items were in my office or my home. There were also quite a few common outdoor subjects such as photos of leaves, grass, skies, and clouds that did well. They were all quality photos but were still convenient enough to capture in a short amount of time. 

When you get a good idea of what type of photos sell, you should also make a note of what keywords other sellers use with these photos. In Adobe Stock, if you select the image, you can see how it was titled as well as view a list of similar keywords. Take a look at several photos and note what keywords you should consider using. Keep in mind that you only want to label your images with keywords that are accurate descriptions of what your photos are. If you try to add keywords that are outside of the box, it will likely hurt your photo’s search ranking. For example, if your photo of coffee shows up when someone is specifically searching for an image of tea, it is likely to be ignored. If people repeatedly ignore your picture, then that will factor into how well your image shows up in searches. You will want a list of 15 to 25 keywords that allow people to find your photo with the most important keywords being in the first seven spots.

If you choose to include everyday items like this in your portfolio, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, be aware that stock sites cannot accept submissions that show a company’s logo, trademark, or trade dress. Trademarks are the words, symbols, or designs that identify with a company. Trade dress refers to the unique design of a company’s packaging or products. What this means is that you need to create generic photos of the items you are looking to sell, without including anything that is company specific. It’s easier to do than you think! If one of your shots does have company information in it, there's always the option to clone it out in post-production.

Stock photography is the perfect way for a photographer to develop a passive income stream. You could get your camera out right now and quickly have the beginnings of a decent portfolio from shooting the things that are laying around your office or studio. If you have been looking for a way to make some extra money in your photography, now is a great time to give stock photography a try!

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17 Comments

«there are several reports of single images making $10,000 or more on stock websites» - it is Adobe sponsored prose, why don’t they show us these specific images?

Jen Photographs's picture

Might be from the early days when Adobe, Getty and Alamy were still offering photographers a reasonable commission.

Leon Kolenda's picture

I sure would like to know what the reality is in the stock photo world, It seems to me that I keep reading little bits and pieces on the net that stock photos are dead from any serious profit stream,and only the stock houses like Adobe, Pond5 and many others are making the money. Too many middle people, and the brunt of the work, creativity, restrictions and delivery falls to the photographer, with less money to be made. If you disagree with me Tell me why.

Reality is 25 cents per image.

Jen Photographs's picture

I see this is a sponsored post, which is fine; Fstopper has to make money somehow, after all. But seeing as this isn't the first Stock Photography Is Awesome! article I've seen this week (there's been others elsewhere), I have to wonder if stock photography companies are finally getting worried about bad PR?

Studio 403's picture

I wonder what happened to my 10 million bucks in stock sales??. They went to China, those bandits!

Mark Peavy's picture

Yeah, normally I'd agree with you but Bill Gates bought Corbis and then Stock Market Photo Agency and on and on...https://www.cnet.com/news/short-take-corbis-buys-stock-market-photo-agency/
He robbed photographers by buying stock agencies up exactly how he built Microsoft.

Rick McEvoy's picture

Thank you for this interesting article. What sites are the best to sell stock photography on? I sold an image on Adobe Stock for £0.53 the other day!

Rick McEvoy - http://rickmcevoyphotography.co.uk/

Ati Grinspun's picture

This is a really interesting read, as my impression of stock photography is that people think that they post an image and they will get tons of downloads and make their money's worth that way, not sure if I might be looking into the wrong sites/agencies etc but I feel like it kinda depreciates the value of photography as a whole, when a client is buying stock photos when before it would of have hired a photographer to shoot all that content for it....I understand that the this is here to stay but feel like too many photographers are giving their work for free this way..my 2 cents
as a portrait photographer specializing in children ( www.atiphotography.com ) i feel like there is so many good images out there on stock but big companies are using those instead of hiring photographers for a lot of their campaigns , specially social media marketing.

David Candlish's picture

Who is the sponsor? Adobe?

when you read it look so easy, try and see that's not really like you think, if you like to have solid income, you must work few hours on day

I tried the Adobe Stock thing after getting some, what I thought were, unique photos from a vacation in Belize. I submitted about 25 photos, most of which were rejected. Some for showing commercial logos or names (oops - I didn't realize that at the time), and some for low quality. The latter are the ones that confused me. They were beach scenes, or pictures of things on a beach. The "low quality" was grains of sand being recognized as over-sharp artifacts.

Oh well - still have 14 photos on AS and have made (checking) $0 on any of them.

Stock is a numbers game, better to have 140, 1,400, 14,000, 140,000, then check your sales.

If you really want to know more about the current state of the stock industry visit https://www.selling-stock.com by Jim Pickerell, know industry expert. He is independent and not beholden to any stock distributor. Not fluff, in-depth research backed up by facts. Some of the articles are free others you need to buy credits which are inexpensive. Well worth doing the research before you waste a lot of time shooting, post processing, captioning, key wording, uploading. I'd also recommend you license stock yourself, why give a middleman 80-90% of the fee?

Desmond Stagg's picture

Stock photography is just not worth the effort anymore. My stock images have been on Getty iStock for years. To date, Getty has neither licensed nor sold any of my pics for me. Stories from photographers claiming they make a four figure income on their stock images I take with a pinch of salt, I just don't believe them. In fact not one of them has so far proven this claim to me. The renumeration is peanuts - I am not a monkey and won't work for peanuts!
With Getty offerings images for $9, of which I would receive the large commission of 15%. yes 15% it is just not worth wasting my valuable time which costs me according to the NPPA calculator, $1,024.00 per day.

Who is kidding who. Is this article some kind of a late April Fools Joke. Give me a break. It is just about impossible to make a living off of stock photography in today's times and I have been a professional photographer for many years and was educated at the Art Center College of Design when film was around. I have also talked to many of my professional friends. Some shoot people and some shoot food. My friends were getting food stock checks ranging from $1000.00-5000.00 per month depending on sales and now they are lucky to get a $200.00 check Things just got really worse when things went main stream digital and when Getty bought Corbis. I used to make a ton of money shooting for Corbis/Outline and all that stopped when Getty bought Corbis. They did not even bring over my Corbis library of images and it was impossible to talk to anyone over at Getty. No one would return calls or E-mails. There are agencies like Shutterstock, Dreamstime, Almay and now Adobe Stock that will sell your images as lows as for 25 cents. I am not sure how the paparazzi stock market sells because I don't shoot that work or have friends that do. I have stopped submitting stock images or shoot stock images anymore. Getting paid pennies on images is just ridiculous. Simply put the market is over saturated with images and these agencies screwed the photographers. Funny how this article is "Sponsored" and Adobe Stock is listed as a link. Fstoppers is just doing the photography community no favors with articles like this. Fstoppers is all about the money grab taking money for articles like this. It makes you questions all the other articles they post. All they have to do is read the responses here in the comment section to learn the real conditions about the stock photo market because no one I know makes a living off stock and has an income stream. A photographer like Corey Rich might make good money off stock photography because of how specialized he shoots with outdoor lifestyle photography. He make most of his money off advertising for outdoor sports manufactures. He is a very good photographer. I would be he sells most of his stock himself or works with a very specialized agency. It is my hope Fstoppers takes this article down and returns their money to the sponsor.

Mats Lundblad's picture

An interesting article and even more interesting comments. Thank you.
As an amateur photographer I was considering selling some pictures as stock to get a small extra income to finance my hobby.
After reading the comments and the links and realizing that I would nurish a system where photographers are getting less and less paid for their time and effort and that stock companies get more and more profit with a minimum effort and time invested. I've decided to not play along.

On the other hand I could upload a bunch of crappy to semi-crappy pics... This would help the trend of professional photographers leaving the stock market and that stocks inevitably will fill up with crappy amateur pics nobody want to buy.