Photos: Selling Photographs on Stock Image Platforms

In the digital age, the demand for high-quality visual content has surged, driven by websites, blogs, advertisements, and social media. This growing need for visuals presents a unique opportunity for photographers to monetize their skills by selling their photographs on stock image platforms like Shutterstock and Getty Images. This subchapter will guide photographers through the process of entering the world of stock photography and generating income from their work.

selling photos

Why Stock Photography Matters

Before we delve into the intricacies of selling photos on stock image platforms, let’s explore why stock photography holds significance in today’s digital landscape:

1. Accessibility and Convenience

Stock photography platforms offer a vast and easily accessible library of images that meet a wide range of creative needs.

2. Time Efficiency

For businesses and creatives, stock photos save time and effort compared to organizing and conducting photoshoots.

3. Diverse Content

Stock image platforms host a plethora of content, from landscapes and lifestyle shots to specialized niches, ensuring there’s something for every project.

4. Global Reach

Stock photos can be accessed by users worldwide, making them valuable for international marketing campaigns and content.

Step 1: Photograph Selection and Preparation

The first step in selling photos on stock image platforms is selecting and preparing your images for submission. Here’s how to go about it:

1.1 Image Selection

Start by reviewing your portfolio and selecting images that meet the standards and preferences of stock image platforms. Consider the following criteria:

  • Quality: Images should be sharp, well-composed, and free of technical flaws.
  • Relevance: Choose images with universal appeal or those that cater to niche markets.
  • Legal Considerations: Ensure your photos do not contain copyrighted materials or trademarks without proper releases.

1.2 Editing and Enhancement

Invest time in post-processing to enhance your images:

  • Color Correction: Adjust colors and tones to achieve a pleasing and natural look.
  • Retouching: Remove distracting elements, dust spots, or imperfections.
  • Cropping: Optimize composition by cropping or resizing as necessary.

Step 2: Research Stock Image Platforms

With your selected and prepared images in hand, it’s time to research and choose the right stock image platforms. Consider these factors:

2.1 Shutterstock

  • Largest Stock Library: Shutterstock boasts one of the largest collections of stock photos.
  • Global Reach: Access a global customer base.
  • Royalty Rates: Earn royalties based on the number of image downloads.

2.2 Getty Images

  • Prestigious: Getty Images is renowned for its high-quality content.
  • Editorial and Creative Licensing: You can choose between editorial and creative licensing for your images.
  • Getty Images ESP: The ESP platform provides real-time sales tracking and royalty reporting.

2.3 Other Platforms

Explore additional stock image platforms such as Adobe Stock, iStock, and Alamy, depending on your preferences and target audience.

Step 3: Account Setup and Submission

After choosing your preferred stock image platforms, create accounts and prepare to submit your photographs:

3.1 Account Setup

  • Create Accounts: Sign up as a contributor on the selected platforms.
  • Complete Profile: Fill out your contributor profile with accurate and relevant information.
  • Tax and Payment Information: Provide necessary tax and payment details.

3.2 Image Submission

  • File Format: Ensure your images meet the required file format specifications (usually JPEG or TIFF).
  • Metadata: Add descriptive and relevant metadata, including keywords, titles, and descriptions, to improve search visibility.
  • Model and Property Releases: If your images feature recognizable individuals or private property, obtain signed model and property releases.

Step 4: Image Review and Approval

Stock image platforms typically subject submitted images to a review process to maintain quality standards:

4.1 Review Criteria

Images are evaluated based on factors such as technical quality, composition, and marketability.

4.2 Rejection and Resubmission

If any images are rejected, review the feedback provided and make necessary adjustments before resubmitting.

Step 5: Pricing and Licensing

Determining the pricing and licensing options for your images is a crucial aspect of selling on stock image platforms:

5.1 Licensing Types

  • Royalty-Free (RF): Allows multiple uses by the same buyer without additional fees.
  • Rights-Managed (RM): Provides exclusive rights for specific uses for a limited time.

5.2 Pricing Strategies

  • Tiered Pricing: Set different price levels based on image size, resolution, or usage.
  • Consider Market Trends: Research market trends and competitor pricing to set competitive rates.

Step 6: Marketing and Promotion

While stock image platforms handle some aspects of marketing, you can further promote your images for increased visibility and sales:

6.1 Social Media

  • Share Your Portfolio: Promote your images on platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.
  • Engage with the Community: Connect with fellow photographers and potential buyers.

6.2 Personal Website or Blog

  • Online Portfolio: Create a personal website or blog to showcase your work and provide links to your stock image profiles.
  • Content Marketing: Share photography tips, behind-the-scenes stories, and industry insights to attract visitors.

Step 7: Monitor Sales and Adapt

Once your images are available on stock image platforms, continuously monitor your sales and adapt your strategy:

7.1 Analytics

Use the analytics provided by the platforms to track downloads, earnings, and image performance.

7.2 Image Refresh

Refresh your portfolio by adding new images or updating existing ones to align with current trends and market demands.


Selling photos on stock image platforms offers photographers a fantastic opportunity to monetize their skills and reach a global audience. By following the steps outlined in this subchapter, photographers can navigate the world of stock photography, select the right platforms, and effectively market their images. Embrace the creative process, stay attuned to market trends, and continuously adapt your portfolio to meet the evolving demands of buyers. With dedication and persistence, you can transform your passion for photography into a lucrative venture in the dynamic world of stock image licensing.