How to Make Money with Stock Photography: 10 Ways

How to make money with stock photography – the peculiarities of the photobanks’ work, everything you need to know to start working.

Millions of people all over the world use in their everyday life such irreplaceable thing as a photo or video camera.

For some people taking pictures is just a hobby.

Many people treat it as their profession, and use their photo or video camera as one of the main sources of income.

Let’s find the answer to the question of how to make money with stock photography.

Ways how to make money with stock photography


  1. Blog

    Popular bloggers, if they wished it, could have nice dividends from their reviews on the photo equipment, attending the events or from trips, promo-tours and selling their works.

    However, keep in mind that the main mission of the photographer-blogger is not to make money, but the possibility to tell the world about the problems, which exist in the society and show how beautiful the surrounding world is.

  2. Cards

    Another way how to make money on the landscape photography is to sell your works as cards in the tourist places.

    One more kind of cards is the family portrait shooting.

    For instance, in the USA there is a New Year tradition to send greeting cards which depict the whole family.

  3. Photosite

    The organization of the popular photosite, where not only you, but other photographers will be able to browse their works – is a possibility to make money and get the public recognition.

  4. Portfolio shooting

    Your own studio will also help you to make money on the models’ portfolios.

    However, looking for a studio to rent is never a problem, if you have clients.

    Come to this task wider: very often not only the aspiring models need portfolio, but various actors and actresses of different age or the animals’ owners, who take them to various exhibitions.

  5. Thematic photography

    This kind of shooting is likely to be required by different shops, online as much as offline, to print catalogues and to present items on their website.

    Besides, the collectors of antiques and auctioneers may become your clients, too.

  6. Retouch

    A separate way how to make money is retouch of photography.

    All people wish to get beautiful pictures, but far from all are ready to spend time to retouch them.

    Even the professional photographers often give their pictures to different retouch artists.

  7. Mass media

    Cooperating with newspapers and magazines can bring rather big sum of money.

    At first, you should learn how to establish contacts and show the works you already have.

    Besides, you should ask an editor which topics are the most demanded.

  8. Architectural photography

    Such kind of shooting is needed and important for building and architectural firms, interior designers, and specialized magazines.

    Just like the object shooting, working in the room sometimes required the purchase of the additional equipment to provide good light.

  9. Business portraits

    Very often the corporate sites or company books firms require the photographers to take pictures of the company’s employees in the formal suits.

    Suchlike shooting, aside from the main source of how you make money, is a perfect way how to establish contacts and make a deal to shoot the company events and make object photography.

  10. Food-photography

    It’s extremely important for restaurants, which create their menu, for product shops, cooking websites, and advertisements, which are connected to the food.

    Mind that aside from the very spider-work (it’s not very easy to spend hours setting the light and move the dishes by the millimeters to get the perfect shot), food photography has many other secrets of creating attractive meals.

What is the sense of stock photography and how does it work?

If you are a photographer, you can build the whole business on selling images.

Moreover, the income from the sales can really be from hundreds to several thousands of dollars per month.

Stock photography is a media market, which connects those, who are in need of the images to create various projects and people, who are able to make them, i.e. the authors.

The medium between the authors and the customers are the photobanks.

Photobanks, photo stocks, or stocks are the organizations, which maintain the database of images and offer them for sale (to be more precise, they provide with the rights to use them).

In case someone bought the material from a photobank, it sends the author of the image the reward.

The aspiring authors-enthusiasts see the stocks as a good way how to get the additional source of income.

Stocks do all routine work concerning popularization the images, searching for the customers, communicating with them, organizing the sale, transferring money, and protecting the author’s and customer’s right.

The authors are only left to create an image, browse it to the photobank and manage the cash they receive in case of the sale.

It is convenient not only for the authors, but for the customers as well.

If there were no stocks, where one could get the image needed for the article (for example), it would be necessary to do it using someone’s own resources or by hiring the personal photographer.

These would be huge money and time expenses.

Instead of it a designer or the author of the article goes to a photography stock, finds the corresponding image and buys it from $1.

How a system of photo stocks works:

  1. A photobank attracts the authors, with which it cooperates, makes a deal concerning the author’s rights, which protect the rights of both parties and makes a deal, on the ground of which they cooperate.
  2. Then, the author browses to a photobank his works and the photobank, in its turn, starts to look for the customers and ways how to advertise the images by means of a stock’s database.
  3. When the customer is found, the photobank makes a deal with him, which obliges him to use the image only within the limits of the bought license, protects the rights of the customer, the photobank and the author.

The customers in the photobank may be the designers, book editors, magazine editors, publishing houses, printing offices, the studios of external advertising, and copywriters.

The pictures are bought to develop the printing design, external advertising, web-design or writing various articles and publications.

Creative Ways to Make Money Online

What you should do to make money with stock photography?

A newcomer, who decided to figure out how to make money with stock photography, faces a question of how and where to start.

Almost all stocks have the number of demands, which one should stick to, otherwise he’ll achieve nothing.

In order to make money with stock photography one needs:

  • to be older than 18 years;
  • to have the basic knowledge and skills in one or several spheres of stock activity;
  • to have the minimal set of equipment.

    It especially concerns the photographers or the videographer.

    If you plan to go in for stock photography, you’ll need a camera, which will secure the photos of at least 4 MP, but it’s desirable to be more than 6 MP.

    It must not necessarily be a reflex camera; compact camera will do, too.

    Even a film camera will allow you working with stock photography.

    Nevertheless, digital will definitely be better.

    If you are a videographer, you’ll need a digital video camera or a digital photo camera, which provides with the possibility to take videos;

  • surely, to have huge desire to share your works with the whole world!

    Believe us, this is a very pleasant feeling, when someone liked your works and bought them!

    This feeling lends you wings and inspires you on the further achievements!

If you already have all of it, you should start acting.

You should definitely start with the registration at the photobank websites.

Besides, you should get familiar with such term as a license:

  • Royalty free – is the license, which allows selling an image numerous times, because the rights after the purchase will remain with the author.

    The price of such photo is usually from 1 to 15 dollars.

  • Right Managed – is the license which also allows selling images as many times as you wish, but only in one photobank.

    The cost with such license can be from 100 to 300 dollars.

  • Exclusive Buyout – is the license, according to which the author gives all the rights together with the purchase of an image.

    The customer becomes the only owner of the rights on the following picture. The price of such work can be thousands of dollars.

Which photobanks you should use to make money with stock photography?

Perhaps, the aspiring photographer will find it difficult to get to some biggest photobanks (Shutterstock, Stockxpert, iStockphoto), which offer to pass the tests and examinations and have extremely high demands to the quality of works.

However, you should not be disappointed, because you may try later and sooner or later they’ll accept you.

So, the photobanks with which you are able to make money:

  • Shutterstock is one of the biggest photobank.

    When you sing in there you are offered to take the exam consisting of 10 of your works and to provide them with the data of your international passport.

    The requirements for the photos are – lack of noise, having focus and at least 4MP quality.

    They accept video, flash, vector and grating (photos, illustrations, 3D).

  • iStockphoto is one of the oldest photo stocks.

    When you register there, you’ll have to pass the test in theory, the exam (3 of your works) and provide them with the data from your passport (or international passport).

    They accept the grating, flash, vector and video.

    The demand to the quality is the resolution from 1200×1600.

  • Dreamstime is the promising photo stock.

    The registration does not require tests, exams, documents.

    It accepts grating and vector and required photos from 3 MP.

  • Stockxpert is a good and promising stock.

    At first, you pass the exam consisting from 5 of your works, but you do not need any documents.

    It takes grating and vectors and the images must be at least of 8 MP.

  • Fotolia is a developing photobank.

    The registration does not require tests or documents and it’s considered to be an optimal resource for the aspiring photographers.

    It accepts only pictures with resolution from 1600×1200 and size to 10Mb.

How to Make Money from a Website?

Many photobanks are the American companies and work in the American legal sphere.

That’s why, everything the authors earn at the American stocks is the taxation object in favor of the USA.

You should not panic, because almost all countries have a deal with the USA, which prevents the double taxation.

These deals decrease or completely remove the taxes for the residents from the countries-participants of the deal with the USA.

7 pieces of advice on how to make money with stock photography

Cooperating with stocks you should stick to one rule.

You should not make a hobby out of it; you must learn how to make it your full-time job or the additional job.

Only in this case you can expect good salary or addition to your income.

Stock is a business and it will bring results only if you really work.

  • If you want to build business on selling images, you should browse to photobanks only pictures of high quality, which are in high demand.
  • A couple of dozen images won’t be enough to discover how to start making good money.

    At first, you should gather a portfolio of at least 100-500 pictures.

  • The pictures of people of different sex, age, profession and social status are considered to be always in high demand.

    It’ll be great, if a person does something, e.g. laughing, crying, eating and so on.

  • Non-standard images are also very popular, because advertisers have been trying to attract clients by all possible ways lately, including by original pictures.

    Besides, the images on financial and business theme are in high demand: the objects in an office or home, kinds of manufacturing industries, interior, flora and fauna, different meals, cars, etc.

  • Speaking about the quality of images, photo stocks, especially big ones, have very strict demands.

    A standard format, which all photo stocks accept is JPEG.

    Speaking about the size of photos, every photo stock has his certain demands and norms.

  • Another very important moments is that all images must be yours, and do not have plagiarism.

    If you have people at a picture, you must have a permission to sell and spread the work from everyone at the picture.

    The same thing concerns manufacturing enterprises or buildings.

  • Develop your skills and knowledge in the sphere of photography, especially if it’s your first experience in this area.

    You should turn to the forums at the photo stocks, because the reasons why this or that picture was not accepted are often discussed there, as well as various ways how to get additional income.

Remember that the level of your income directly depends on the number and quality of your pictures.

So, if you gather in your portfolio more than 500 works of high quality and will add 100 photos every day there, you’ll be able to see how to make $500-700.

The advantages of how to make money with stock photography this way is that you can occupy yourself with it from any place in the world, which has access to the Internet.

It does not require big financial investments and allows making money even with one photo of high quality, selling it many times.

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