Selling Stock Photography as a Wedding Photographer

Selling Stock Photography as a Wedding Photographer

Finding ways to earn passive income as a photographer is invaluable. In this field of work, our businesses often require a large amount of direct hands-on time. Selling stock photography, especially when you have the ability to simply upload images you have already taken in a minimal out of time, can add a great deal of value. The online tools that are available today allow you to turn photos that would otherwise have been worthless, or stored hidden on your hard drive, into pieces of art that have real monetary value.

In wedding photography, being versatile is part of our job description. We are required to play a number of roles beyond capturing the bride and groom. In documenting a wedding day, we are taking photos of food, buildings, landscapes, decorations, and a host of other details. While they certainly have some value to your wedding couple in telling the story of the details of their day, they have added value to you as images that can be sold to others who are looking for pictures of exactly what you already have captured and edited.

While I am photographing a wedding, I am not specifically looking for photos that would sell well as stock photography, but I do I usually end up with a handful of potential images naturally. Pictures of the meal, cake, dresses, rings, decorations and band instruments are all good potential sellers. Photos of the bride or the groom individually, as well as select moments of them together throughout the day, are great options to try to sell online. Another good avenue for wedding photographers to take stock images is during the engagement sessions. If my couple is changing clothes during a session, that is a perfect time for me to scout ahead and take some test shots of the next group of settings. These landscape or building shots, if taken well, are images that can be sold on stock websites. I also will often add images such as my couple facing away from the camera towards a pretty scene, or walking away together. All of these types of images have made additional money for me when they would otherwise have been wedding day or engagement session filler sitting on my computer.

With a full schedule of weddings, it’s not efficient for me to spend a lot of additional computer time building up my stock portfolio. Because of its convenience, Adobe Stock is my platform of choice. Adobe Stock has a plug in already built into Lightroom, making it as simple as dragging the images and pressing publish. After I’ve completely finished editing a wedding, I go to the Library module in Lightroom and add keywords to my images. During this process, I am labeling images so I can easily find them later.  This is a part of my workflow regardless if I am selling them or not. Anything that I think could potentially sell as stock gets labeled with more specific keywords. As I am going through, I drag these images into Adobe Stock’s publishing service. When I am finished, I simply hit publish, and my stock photos are automatically uploaded with keywords already in place. All that remains to be done is to visit Adobe’s website and verify information on the uploaded photos. This process only takes a couple of minutes and has the potential now to make money forever.

One other thing to keep in mind is the legality of selling your images online. If your images feature a recognizable person or property, you need to obtain a model or
property release. Again, Adobe Stock has a convenient way of handling this already in place. On their website, they have a downloadable model release that authorizes the commercial use of your client’s images. All wedding clients are already signing a contract with me, so I simply incorporated Adobe’s model release into my contract and I am good to go for selling my wedding images.

One final reason to consider implementing stock photography into your wedding photography business is that it can honestly make you a better all-around photographer. The first thing that I noticed after beginning to sell photos online was that my eye for scenes greatly improved since I was giving the smaller details of the day more attention. I also began to take more time and do a better job on my detail shots. Framing properly, choosing angles, and ensuring the sharpness of my photos became more important, as these things were key in selling stock photography. Getting feedback from stock websites on what images sold and what had no interest was valuable to me as well. Having a purpose behind these extra shots has really helped me to grow in some of the weak areas that I have had as a photographer.

Selling stock photography online has helped me to become a better photographer, and has made me additional money as well. Online platforms like Adobe Stock have taken all of the hassles out of finding how to sell your images by creating a convenient way to upload and label your photos and still get a reasonable return for your work. If you are a wedding photographer already taking thousands of images that consumers could possibly be looking for, selling your images as stock photography on the side is a great option for you.

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16 Comments

Johnny Rico's picture

Micro Stock is a joke and hurts the industry.

michael buehrle's picture

why ?

Is 20 cents per photo good for industry, in your opinion?

Jeff McCollough's picture

I make way more than that.

Stock or microstock?

Yes, you are right. More frequent number is 25-30 cents. Sometimes even 1 dollar. Just imagine what you can do with all that money.

Jeff McCollough's picture

I make about $3 a photo and $12 and up for short video clips. Maybe you could care less but I'd rather be making money on my photos than just letting them sit in my HDD.

Because it devalues photography and makes our clients look at us as less important

personally if I saw photos from my wedding on a stock photo site I'd be pretty upset.

I would instinctively agree with that comment. Therefore my questions to those who do that are the following. Did you have any complaints from your wedding clients about that ? And do you think the added value of (maybe) selling stock over years is more relevant against word of mouth from happy/unhappy clients (depending on their appreciation about their photo used as stock) ?

Jeff McCollough's picture

I probably wouldn't post pictures of people.

Pawel Paoro Witkowski's picture

Well, when I read this article I though it's about other things than People on the picture. In case you're selling stock photos with some face on it you might get into real problem with law so I would not go that way :)

Jeff McCollough's picture

That's why the writer said that the clients sign to release their rights.

I agree submitting stock photos will help improve how you capture, but what are the financial results? Are we talking just some pocket change every month? Mind as well just book another wedding or a few smaller gigs.

Jeff McCollough's picture

Once you have about 1000 pics up you can be making a couple hundred bucks a month...that's a new lens each year.

Avoid Adobe Stock - the amounts they pay are laughable. Fortunately there are still a few agencies still paying reasonable money - alamy are still worth a look.