Supposing you want a photograph for your brochure of a beach and it has to be a specific beach in a specific part of the world. Any old picture of a beach will not do. Trouble is that you don’t live near to the beach, which in fact is in another country and there is a deadline for getting the brochure to your client. What are you going to do to solve this problem? The answer is go to a photography microstock site and do a search for images of the beach and buy the photograph. It will cost just a few dollars and you don’t have to hire a photographer to go and get that one image or even go yourself to take the picture.

Thats looking at the microstock business from the graphic designer, advertiser side of the equation. Someone has to put those photos on the microstock sites though and get paid for the use of the images. It could be you if you have a decent digital SLR camera and a tripod. If you are really keen on photography and pride yourself in being able to make a photograph and not just take a photograph then you could make money selling your images.

What Sorts of Pictures Sell?

St Feliu de GuixolsIt doesn’t have to be beaches, you could sell photos of food, wild animals, boats, computers, people doing things. The better selling image tend to be the ones of people posed in situations, like in business, a nurse, a teacher in front of a blackboard. It could be a close up of a female face singing, with very red lips and perfect teeth. A baby with a happy smile or a mother and child together. What about a picture of a perfect looking family in a field of golden corn with a beautiful sky and trees in the background. The possibilities are endless and only limited by the imagination and the your ability to get the models for the photo shoot.

Step One - Sign up with some of the micro stock photo sites and see what are the requirements to submit photos to their site. The one I prefer is Fotolia but you also have Dreamstime, iStockPhoto, Crestock and others. Some people prefer to do an exclusive deal with one site and get paid more per photo and others want their work in as many places as possible.

Step Two - Go though your portfolio of photographs you have already and sort out candidates for submission. If you have recognisable faces in the images you will need to get model release forms signed by the people in the photos. Submit the good ones.

Step Three - Take more photographs but with an express aim to have photographs that you think will sell well. Have a look on the micro stock sites, on the pages of best sellers, to see what you need to be working on. Sort the photos on your Mac or PC to have them ready to submit to your portfolio.

Step Four - Rinse and repeat. Learn from your sales which are the best selling pictures and take more of that style or subject to keep adding to the portfolio.

You will not make huge money with only ten images for sale. You will need to have a couple of hundred in there. You will get more sales with a larger portfolio because of being more visible, people looking at one of your photos will often look at what else you have. In time you will see sales of your photographs, some images will sell over and over. Per photograph it is only small money, but each photograph is there working for you to build up the overall income. There are photographers making a decent living from this sort of work. It does not only have to be photographs as many of the micro stock sites also sell video clips and illustrations.