Why I love shooting for stock... and the best stock photo agencies

When I first started uploading photos to an online stock agency, I had no idea how that move would change my life. Above all, it’s given me freedom. Freedom to photograph who I want, what I want, and where I want. I can go anywhere in the world, taking pictures (to upload later) and enjoy life while my portfolio continues to generate sales online.

Whether it’s as far away and remote as swimming with the giant tortoise of the Galapagos, walking the ancient paths of Ephesus, or closer to home -- like flying over the glacial peaks and inside passage of Alaska in a small Cessna, or warming my toes in the sun drenched sands of Kauai -- the truth is, I would be taking photos anyway. It’s what I do...

The great thing about stock is ... I don't have to have these grand adventures to take photos and build my portfolio. About 75% of my best-selling photos were shot right here in my home town. Photos of family and friends kind and generous enough to sign a model release. (Yes, you will need a model release for people - I recommend an app called “Easy Release.”) No matter where home is you can get these kinds of shots.

To literally take my “job” anywhere I want to go, shoot who and what I want to shoot -- all while my portfolio is working online -- has been a dream come true. Basically I get paid to live my life, rather than live my life to get paid. What more could you ask for?

Many of my photos have special meaning or sentimental value to me since I photograph my life, the people I love, the amazing places, and the magical moments I want to always remember. Here are three of my current favorites:

best stock photo agencies

Three quick tips for you to get started:

It all starts with you and your camera. You don't have to be a master photographer, but you should have or acquire, some of the basic photography skills such as good composition and what makes a decent exposure. These are skills you can learn if you don't have them already and you will get better over time and with practice.

Second, you’re going to need a computer with an Internet connection. Processing your photos is a must for selling your photos. I use and recommend a program called Adobe Lightroom. I catalogue all my photos and process the ones I want to use all in Lightroom. Lightroom is software that takes a bit of learning, it might take a little time to practice but it’s not difficult, and in the end will save you tons of time and trouble.

Finally, after processing, you upload your photos to your online agencies.

A word about agencies: when I started nine years ago, there were very few online stock agencies. Today, you have many options. Having had my finger on the pulse of this industry these past years, my current recommendation for getting started would be to stick with the four best stock photo agencies. Those agencies are: ShutterStock, iStock, Fotolia & Dreamstime (in that order).

Each agency has their pluses and minuses, each has differing requirements, guidelines, etc... it’s up to you to decide which you'd like to be a part of.

You’ll need to go through an application process for the site(s) you choose before you’re accepted and able to build your portfolio. Once you’re in, start uploading. If you’re thrown a curve ball with a rejection, and you will (we all get them), learn what the problem is (so you can avoid it) and keep uploading.

All the best to you on your photo journey.

Share on Facebook

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.  Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]