Shoot What You Love and Sales Will Follow

Shoot What You Love and Sales Will Follow

Stock photography websites can be a great way to get your photos out there and gain some passive income. Choosing what to shoot or submit can be simplified by sticking with what you enjoy and letting your passion shine through your work.

I have always had a hard time knowing what to shoot or submit to stock photography websites. This indecisiveness usually left me making excuses and not even trying, which of course left me with zero sales. This was a shame since I had thousands of photos collecting digital dust on my hard drives. One day, I stopped waiting for the "perfect stock shoot" and simply started submitting what I loved to shoot.

If your photography is driven by passion, that passion will shine through in the quality of your work. Think of it as a musician making music. Musicians usually don't set out to make music to sell, they simply love music and have an inner drive to create beautiful sound. The more love and passion a musician has, the more we can all hear it in their music. Photography is no different.

My stock photo with the most overall sales and profit.

When I first started shooting, I did it for the therapeutic qualities. I had lost my father and needed time to slow down. Taking photos gave me a number of healthy new feelings that did great in countering the huge void. There was a rush I would get when I was heading to shoot a sensational sunset. There was a feeling of calmness while I was editing photos I had captured. And finally, there was a feeling of great accomplishment when I started showing off my results and received encouragement from people. I found solace in the art form of photography and loved every minute of doing it.

This photo is by far my most popular and has been a good fit for stock.

Doing all of this made me very connected to my own photography in a way that people could see. If I had simply tried to emulate popular trends in photography to sell on stock sites, I'm sure my results would have fallen short. Instead, I pursued the subject matter that I was drawn to and the results came hand in hand, results that were good enough to sell. 

Why be on the outside looking in? Upload some photos and give stock a try.

Since I began uploading my work to Adobe Stock, I've been quite happy with my experience. As I continue to shoot the things I love and work through some of my old imagery on hard drives, I plan to continue to submit my work. If this is something you haven't considered, it maybe be a great way to challenge yourself and make some extra income. There are millions of people looking for good images to use in their projects that may just love what you have to offer. Don't worry about the market, just start uploading the shots you're passionate about. You may be surprised with the results.

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Walid Azami's picture

I believe in this message so much!

Michael B. Stuart's picture

Thank you, Walid!

Alex Armitage's picture

Okay I've got an entire album full of this girl that I love. How much do you think I can get? Hehe :)

This is a great take on Stock photography and a much better look at it than your typical "How to make a money doing Stock photography!"

Michael B. Stuart's picture

Aren't dogs the best? Thanks, Alex. I appreciate you saying so.

Alex Armitage's picture

Stella appreciates you too :)

Shoot what you love and moderator rejection will follow :)

Johnny Rico's picture

Micro stock photography is bad for the industry**

.25 cents per photo is bad for industry. Stock sites are OK, nothing inherently wrong about them.

Bogdan Alistar's picture

Great advice! You have re-lit my intention to try out uploading stock.

One question though: in the picture with the little blond kid, do you need written permission or not? (I am thinking that, because you cannot see his face, you wouldn't need it)

Michael B. Stuart's picture

That's great to hear and good for you.
As for the model release in not sure. I know in this case, it's my son so I could fill a release out myself. I think you might since it could fall under "recognizable features"
Good question.

Sabine Edrissi-Bredenbrock's picture

That’s exactly what I just did. Until I focused on a specific field, namely portrait photography, I shot landscapes, food and animals. All that was sitting on my computer and collecting the digital dust. I started submitting last week and already had my first little sale. Yay! Not enough to get another camera but everything starts with the first step. What I also appreciate on Adobe Stock is the feedback I get when a file gets rejected. Instead of feeling offended I rather take in the criticism, revisit the picture and try to improve what’s wrong. Sometimes it’s only an editing issue which can easily be corrected. With this article I only feel confirmed that I am doing the right thing

Michael B. Stuart's picture

Congrats on that sale! Sounds like it's already working as a confidence boost and source of motivation. Also, I agree with you on taking the rejections constructively.

Frederic Hore's picture

Thank you for your post and marvelous images.

May I be candid? You sound like a shrill for Adobe Stock. Most of their images are royalty free, and the amount they pay per image is ridiculously low. Screen saves on their own site show one photographer made a grand total of $91... on 266 sales!

This is also true of many royalty free websites like iStock Photo.

Would kindly tell us how much you make per image?

Thank you in advance.
Frederic in Montréal.

Michael B. Stuart's picture

Thank you Frederic. I have not gotten any sales on Adobe Stock as of yet. My mentioned sales have been from other stock sites but the advice stays the same. The $90 in the screenshot is still $90 they wouldn't have otherwise gotten had they not been on Adobe Stock.

Man... how much is Adobe shelling out for these sponsored posts? Micro stock is A WASTE OF TIME. Spend days uploading your catalog, keywording, descriptions only to have some rejected for nonsense and then they do choose they only pay .25 cents per download. WHAT A JOKE!.

I have over 100 downloads in a month with only a little more then $25 being paid out. The real kicker is now my high quality images are just floating around the internet’s doing god knows what and I can never license anything from that shoot again. Shame on F-stoppers for praying on inexperienced photographers and giving them hopes of making money only for your own sponsorship money from Adobe. You guys writing the sponsored posts and Adobe are the only ones making any money off of all of these photographers’ hard work.

Photogs, if you want to make money off of stock photography then write a blog post with affiliate links signing people up to a micro stock site. It’s the only way.

Considering what the stock vultures pay means selling 1000 pics would buy half a loaf of day old bread - maybe only a quarter loaf.