Stock photography can be a great way to make money online but it's more than just uploading your favorite landscapes. The art of shooting stock requires grasp of the basics of photography and it also requires a modest investment in equipment. The bad news is it's going to cost you a decent amount to get the proper gear, probably close to $1000. The good news is it will be a one-time purchase that should last you for as long as you shoot stock photography. Even better news is once you've fine tuned your skills your portfolio will pay you back 3-, 10-, 100-fold or more!

The first thing you'll want to get is a good DSLR camera. You'll need a DSLR for three reasons: Image quality, speed, and flexibility. Most DSLRs will provide the option to save in RAW file format (vs. the standard JPG). This format is better because it doesn't compress the image thereby keeping the image quality high. Speed: if you've ever been frustrated taking pictures with a normal digital camera because there was a delay from the image you wanted and when the picture was taken you'll understand why it can be worth it to invest in a DSLR. Finally, flexibility: the great thing about a DSLR is that you can interchange lenses. There are huge differences between macro shots and landscape shots and having interchangeable lenses can mean the difference between the photo that brings in $100 or the one that gets rejected from the stock photo agency. One final note about DSLRs, you'll want to be sure to get one that doesn't automatically upsample the resolution. Many stock photo agencies don't allow this and all of your hard work will be rejected. Both Cannon and Nikon make good DSLRs that will give your great performance and not break the bank, but make sure to do your homework so you're not frustrated with your purchase

The next thing you'll want to consider is lenses. You'll want to get familiar with the different types of stock photography and what you prefer to shoot. This will end up dictating what type of lens to buy in the future. For the time being you're probably better off using the standard lens that came with the camera. You may want to consider picking up a 50 mm prime. This is a good cheap lens that will give you great results and be a solid investment.

The last thing you'll want to consider is lighting. Just as with lenses, there are all sorts of lighting options and a lot of it will depend on what you want to shoot. In general, a good bounce will provide you with nice even light and help to soften harsh shadows. If you're doing a fair amount of work outside, a diffuser will help to make the natural sunlight more even and less intense. If you're doing a lot of portraits or model work you'll want to consider a strobe so that they're not subject to hotlights for the entire shoot.

Once you've got all of your equipment all that's left is to practice. The more familiar you get with your equipment the more you'll understand its' features and limitations. In addition, with practice you'll understand your composition better and what photos will sell as stock and what won't. With a little bit of patience and diligence you can build a portfolio that will provide you with passive income for years to come.