Make More Money with Adobe Stock and Textures

Make More Money with Adobe Stock and Textures

If you're relatively new to the world of stock photography and trying to figure out the best way to make money, then I might just have the answer for you. With creativity, you can produce work that fills a need and earns income. In this article, I aim to provide some methods that will help give you an edge.

What Are Textures?

Textures are essentially images of different surfaces. Every surface tends to have a certain look, feel, or texture and images of them can be very useful for other photographers and designers. Sourcing new textures has been made really easy because of stock photography and they remain one of the more popular types of images being sold on stock websites. Their popularity is obviously very beneficial for photographers who wish to sell stock images. Images of wooden surfaces can be very popular too as they have many uses. Wooden textures give a natural rustic feel and designers can use them in a variety of different ways. Another very popular type of texture image is of white textured surfaces. The color white is extremely popular due to its versatility. Many stock websites tend to actually request these types of images regularly. Images of textures need to be very simple, less is without a doubt more. 

Where to Find and Shoot Textures? 

This is actually one of the easiest kinds of images to produce and can be done right in your home too. Most of the surfaces in your home can be used for stock photography. For example, walls, table tops, floorboards, carpets, drywall, brickwork, and strangely enough, even pets. 

My pet cat

The number of available surfaces in your home gives you plenty of options and lots of potential images. You can also shoot the same surface to create multiple texture images. For example, one shot can be done with a 50mm lens and another can be a really close up of the surface with a macro lens. Once you've exhausted all of the available options in your home a simple walk down the street can offer a huge variety of options. Options like photographing a fence, the sidewalk, shop walls and so on. During a casual walk around my city, I was comfortably able to produce approximately 50 images in less than an hour. 

Types of Surfaces to Look Out for

Generally speaking, walls are super easy surfaces to photograph and also find. Walking around almost any city or town will offer you a plethora of options. Sure, you may look a little odd photographing a blank wall but if it makes you money who cares right? Surfaces with flaws are generally what offer the best textures. For example, metal sheets that are rusting slightly can offer a very interesting surface.

 Once again white surfaces or lighter colors tend to be more popular and it makes sense to build a large library of those images. A great way to build that library quickly is to photograph the same surface multiple times. For example, an individual wall will have lots of different sections that are slightly different. It's important to make sure that each image is different enough to offer a different texture. 

How to Shoot Textures for Stock

To photograph textures, the kind of gear you need doesn't need to be super expensive. Personally, I think a 50mm lens is a good choice. There are occasions when I will use a macro lens although those situations are relatively few in comparison. Even with an entry level lens like the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 you can comfortably produce exactly the results that you need for this kind of photography. It's generally not a good idea to shoot wide open, therefore, even a kit lens like the 18-55mm f/3.5-f/5.6 is going to be more than effective. 

Camera Settings

As mentioned above, shooting wide open is probably not a good idea because you need the depth of field of a smaller aperture. If you shoot wide open and you haven't perfectly aligned the surface to your camera you may have certain areas of the image out of focus. I recommend around f/5.6 in most situations. It's also not a good idea to shoot in low light because you'll want to keep your ISO as low as possible. The maximum I tend to shoot is at ISO 400; anything above that can risk the images having visible noise which may lead to them being rejected. For the shutter speed, obviously, the higher the better, motion blur is another thing you'll want to avoid. Textures need to remain as sharp and as detailed as possible. 

Megapixels Matter

Most cameras these days tend to have enough megapixels. There are several entry-level cameras that are 24mp in resolution and for the most part, this is more than enough. Of course, if you do have a 50mp camera or even higher, this can help increase your potential for income, although it's not a major factor. 

Method

For this type of photography, the best way to shoot is with a one-point perspective. Try and get the camera as parallel to the surface as possible. This will help eliminate any potential issues with depth of field. Once again stopping down the lens is advisable and around f/5.6 is what I recommend. Generally speaking, lenses tend to be sharpest around that aperture. Always take more than one shot for the same image and this is to ensure you have a number of options available when selecting which image you edit. Make sure to fill the frame as much as you possibly can so that you're not having to crop and lose resolution. If you're shooting a brick wall, avoid shooting too close; this way you can have a much larger section in the frame. Shooting too close to the subject will also increase the risk of missing focus. Even if you move slightly at the minimum focus, you risk your image being out of focus. Although you can shoot with a tripod, it does increase the amount of time you spend per image, making the process less practical. So, I recommend shooting with a high shutter speed handheld. Textures that are sold for stock are mostly about volume. 

Bonus Tips

Brick walls are very popular as textures. However, they can be the trickiest types of images to produce. The reason for this is you need to have your camera aligned properly. Keep the vertical and horizontal lines straight in camera. You may be able to straighten the image in post but, but it's better to get it correctly in the camera. 

Having a polarizer at hand can be extremely useful. Many interesting surfaces that could work as textures may be quite reflective. Having a polarizer can prevent any unwanted reflections that can affect the image. For example, the image below is of a wooden surface and the reflections are negatively affecting the image. 

Finally, I recommend having a ColorChecker Passport or a gray card at hand too. This is just to help in post if you want to ensure you have correct white balance. It's not extremely important or vital to have these at hand, I simply recommend it based on my own experience of shooting stock. 

How to Maximize your Income

Stock photography has one aim and that is to provide an income. The great thing about textures is that the time required per image is relatively low and the income potential is relatively high. This genre of photography is all about volume and the number of high-quality images you have uploaded increases your income potential. 

Consistency

This is quite possibly the most important thing that will determine your income. This needs to be a long-term project that you do regularly. Most people will more than likely see meaningful results after a year of consistently shooting stock and uploading them regularly to the website. Consistency is probably the one thing that will determine whether you're successful or not. 

Estimated Income

Based on some crude calculations, I estimate that the kind of income you can expect to see is about $40 a month per 1,000 images. Uploading 1,000 is also not that great of a feat and can be done relatively quickly. Once you start reaching numbers of around 10,000+ you will more than likely start to notice a more meaningful income. This is a passive source of income that can continue even if you stop uploading images for a period of time. The stock image library that you produce will require effort to begin with, but, if you remain consistent and understand that it is a longer-term project, it can even potentially provide a full-time income. Textures are a high turnover low margin business and the great thing is that each image does not need to require significant amounts of effort. Selling textures on Adobe stock has the potential for a significant and regular income. The aim is to produce and upload as many images as you can regularly and consistently.

For more information on how to submit your photos, check out the Adobe Stock Contributor Guide.

Log in or register to post comments

49 Comments

Johnny Rico's picture

Pennies on the dollars, have fun hurting the industry.

Usman Dawood's picture

You're putting every kind of stock photography into one category. An extremely narrow and inaccurate view of the industry.

Studio 403's picture

Never know who is working for Adobe in the dark, beware I say.

Jeff McCollough's picture

Yes like BMW is gonna come book me for custom pictures of brick walls.

Rob Mitchell's picture

To make 10k images to upload to make some sort of meaningful income, you've going to have to invest a lot of time. Time that probably earns more from shooting assignments. I'd guess.

Usman Dawood's picture

Well, it depends. If you are making lots of money from assignments and it's not worth your time then, of course, the answer is quite simple.

Most photographers, however, don't have assignments every single day. For them, it would make sense to try something like this to generate more income. The great thing about this is that it can become a passive income once you do find you don't have enough time to continue doing stock.

Another way to look at this is that it is a longterm project. You don't need to try and hit 10k images in the first month. Plan to hit that over a year or two so you develop it properly.

That is still 10k images for, supposedly, $400 a month. It amounts to 30 images a day for a full year.
And I insist: supposedly $400 a month. Considering how the library extends, I hardly think the images will keep bringing the same amount of money again and again and again.
During the time you work on 10k images, if you do not have any assignment, you can actually work more seriously on your technique (to get more, better paid contracts), your portfolio (to get more, better paid contracts), your contacts and advertising (to get more contracts), … I am really unsure spending time in the texture business is a relevant investment.

But hey… That's an ad for Adobe Stock, right? I mean, this is sponsored content and they are the ones making real money on this activity.
I guess that article taught me something: be careful of sponsored content on FStoppers.

Usman Dawood's picture

Ok couple of things.

Yes this is sponsored but there was basically no brief from Adobe, they simply wanted me to discuss Stock images and textures. I researched and wrote the article myself and the numbers I present are based on my research and I went for the super reserved end because I don't personally want to give false hope or make it sound like some incredible thing when I know it takes a lot of time and effort to build.

Secondly, you don't have to do it lol. There are plenty of people who put in the effort and make money from stock images and textures. You don't need to.

"I mean, this is sponsored content and they are the ones making real money on this activity."

Ok so what's the alternative, if you want to sell textures (which in all fairness are some of the easiest, simplest images to produce) what other marketplace can you use to sell these types of images?

I don't have to sell textures to photo stocks, yes. Can I still express how I feel it looks like a bad idea to do so?

Do you have actual examples of people living from textures photos? Not stock photos of any type, just textures.
Do you have any data about the $40 / 1'000 image / month and how long it actually stands for a given set of pictures?

Oh also, thanks to this business, no, there is probably no possibility for selling textures for a decent price. On the other hand, I doubt there are a lot of people who really want to take thousands of texture pictures, and for whom it is just a matter of selling something they would like to do (and probably do) anyway. So the question is really about taking time for producing money through a not-so-fulfilling activity with a questionable money/time ratio.
(Fun fact: I am not against photo stocks per se. I am questioning the relevancy of taking time for taking and publishing textures pictures for money, i.e. not something much fulfilling that would classified as “not work”.)

PS: I do not think the whole article was dictated by As. But I do feel like this sponsoring led to an article with questionable advice, questionable ideas. And so I question, I argue against.

Usman Dawood's picture

No part of my article describes how you can make a living from selling textures. It's in the title.

True. You can replace this first question with “bringing decent amounts of money”, and keep the other ones. Note that these were genuine questions in order to clarify the money you can make.

The word “Sponsored” is posted in SMALL font at the top of the page and near Usman Dawood’s author name, something many Fstoppers readers will not see.

Ethically, both Fstoppers and Usman Dawood should have disclosed their Adobe Stock sponsorship much more CONSPICUOUSLY in the first paragraph! Shame on you both.

Usman Dawood's picture

Literally mentioned in several comments by me.

I feel like you’re just looking for things to complain about.

The article clearly states that it’s sponsored even before you click on it.

Usman Dawood wrote: “Literally mentioned [my sponsorship] in several comments by me.”

I and other Fstoppers readers want to see sponsored and affiliated disclosures prominently(!) displayed at the beginning of articles; otherwise, it suggests the writer and publisher are trying to hide something material from readers. Had the sponsorship disclosure notice been more conspicuous, you would not have to reiterate your sponsorship link in the comments. As well, not everyone reads all the comments.

Jeff McCollough's picture

Tell us where we can get those assignments.

So, starting with 100 000 textures you start to make a decent living. Sounds like a solid business plan.

Usman Dawood's picture

That is if you want to make it your sole source of income which I personally believe is not a good idea.

You can either work hard and get results or complain about how hard it is or how long it takes.

I don’t believe it is possible to make it sole source too.

I worked hard and long submitting to stocks for some time and realised that it’s not that smart. You’d better spend this time for something more productive or just relaxation for something more productive.

Usman Dawood's picture

Once again this is not about being a sole source of income it’s literally in the title.

Well, there is a chance that it is about income only, not about profit.

Even assuming 3 minutes per image for finding texture, shooting it, processing, tagging, uploading and no hiccups or rejections in the process, it’s 3000 minutes, 50 hours for 1000 images. What’s your day rate? What it will be for 6 days? What’s your real (average) cost of working hour? How many years (or tens of years) it will take to pay off for this time at $40 a month?

Chad D's picture

SPONSORED being the key thing here :)

Usman Dawood's picture

It is sponsored... does that mean you can't make money from selling stock images? What exactly are you trying to say?

The libraries are large and extending. I doubt $40 a month for 1k images will hold for years for each image. Generously assuming that it amounts in average to $40 a month for 1k images and for 3 years, one image would bring a total of $1.44. Of course, that is “some crude calculations”, based on some unsupported hypothesis. But same as the article that provides no data on the matter. Usman Dawood, any actual data?
From what I see, this sponsored article looks like inviting the readers to work for an exploitative business.

Usman Dawood's picture

So I point out a way to make extra money and you essentially talk about how it's too hard.

Look I understand that stock images get a bit of a bad wrap but these are textures I'm talking about lol. I mean seriously how is selling texture images exploitative. Where else could you sell these kinds of images? The stock platforms essentially created this genre of photography.

Oh don't get me wrong:

1) I do not say it is “hard”. I say that from what I see, it is a loss of time. It might also very well be a loss of money, because this time might be better used to actually improving.

2) In the case of stock photography for texture, my issue is not about devaluing the product. In asking “where else could you sell these kinds of images?”, you seem to be answering to Johnny Rico's argument, not mine. But still, with this market, you are loosing time for another industry to make a lot of money on your back (once again, see point 1).

Now, I think you lack both imagination and historical knowledge when giving a free pass to such an economic model, asking “where else could you sell these kinds of images” and pretending “the stock platforms essentially created this genre of photography”.
What created this genre of photography is the need, for both 3D modeling and digital arts. Not the economic model. In fact, before the internet opened the door to the model we know today, sample library already existed. See for example Hollywood Edge for sound samples. People were hired to build the library. They were making a living.

PS : Any data about the $40 / 1'000 image / month and how long it actually stands for a given set?

Usman Dawood's picture

Ok, I was going to type a full response but I've just lost the will for it because I realise it doesn't benefit me, nor you. I still think you're wrong for a bunch of reasons actually but I do wish you well.

And I do wish you well too. :)
I am disagreeing and explaining why for all to see this opposite view.
Also, I realize me underlining the sponsoring might come as accusing you of being dishonest, but I do not think you are. I just think it invited a doubtful, not so well thought articles. Errors, not lies. Sorry if it was unclear.
(PS: If you have data on the $$$, I would still love to have them. Thanks.)

Usman Dawood's picture

Lack of tone of voice is such a pain sometimes, I apologise.

Let me see if I can find that information again. I actually wrote this article some time ago so I'm not sure if I kept all of the information I built up to write this. If I find it I will definitely pass it your way.

Who said you will not make enough?
You will make enough money!
For Adobe though.

Usman Dawood's picture

Well, I guess you can try and sell your texture images yourself and keep all of the money.

More comments