The Ultimate Step by Step Guide to Becoming The Perfect Stock Photographer

The Ultimate Step by Step Guide to Becoming The Perfect Stock Photographer

The title says it all; you should know that this is a comprehensive guide on how to become a Stock Photographer. Continue to read if you are an aspiring stock photographer or if you are curious about it. Oh well, your curiosity will be well fed here so stay with me.

What is Stock Photography

Stock photography has been on trend since the 1920s. It is defined as a collection of images that are licensed for certain purposes such as magazine publication or pamphlet production. In short, it is simply the production and supply of photographs for specific use. These photographs are often licensed. 

I am sure you have seen pictures while surfing the internet with the watermarks- Getty images, Shutter stock, and others like the 10 best stock image sites, or maybe you have randomly searched for girls with green eyes and blue hair, where you see different images pop up with watermarks as though they have been waiting for you to ask. That is exactly what stock photography is. If you have a passion for photography or you are looking to earn money off photography, then the five comprehensive steps that I have put together on how to become a stock photographer below are for you. 

How to Become a Stock Photographer

1. Get Equipment and Experience

There are lots of good mobile phones that can take good images almost as well as cameras do but if you are looking into becoming a professional stock photographer and not just for hobby’s sake, you will need a good camera; a DSLR is a top choice for a lot of people and a good one to start with. You’ll also require a system as well as software to edit your pictures with.

Adobe Photoshop app would be a good starter. When you have the necessary equipment the next thing to do is get the skills you need to kick start your stock photography plan into action. You can do this by attending photography workshops, registering for online training classes, doing research, and reading important books or notes you need to improve your skill.

2. Shoot and Edit Your Photos

No matter how much you learn theoretically, the only way to truly improve your skills and start earning while making a name for yourself is by practising and shooting pictures. Shoot pictures and apply the editing skills by using the best software you’ve been learning from them.

Don’t just take one, take a lot and work on them, then ask people to rate them and help you choose the best. Continue to do this until you feel you’ve gained a good mastery of producing good pictures. The tips below will help you with that:

Make Use of Your Tripod

If you don’t have a tripod, then you need to get one. A tripod helps in cancelling blurry or shaky photos, which is the last thing you want your pictures to look like. Stock photographs should be sharp, focused, and crisped. A tripod stand helps you get that.

Shoot High-Quality Pictures

Stock photographs aren’t pictures you just take on a whim, they are well thought out and planned and to shoot one picture, you would need to do some pre-shoot work like setting resolutions, checking pixel size, going through the camera, and even lighting settings. The same way you love to get great pictures on your mobile for your Instagram, the same thing applied to these agencies or websites you are submitting your pictures to.

Put Your Training from the Photography Workshop into Use

You might want to experiment and try out new things for yourself and that is totally okay and encouraged even, but while you are doing that, do not discard the knowledge and skills you have learnt while training especially when you are just starting. If it gets confusing, check the easy steps to put you through.

3. Brand Your Kind of Photography

This basically has to do with the kind of pictures you take as they will help you in choosing your brand name and professional signature. In case you are wondering what a professional signature is, it is the mark you leave on your photos to help people recognize your work once they see it.

After this, choose a brand name wisely, and be careful not to pick one that is already in use by someone else.

4. Find and Embrace Your Area of Specialization

This is also referred to as choosing a niche and refers to the type of pictures you want to be known for. Do you want to take pictures of the oceans, mountains or restaurants, or even children in the park? Choosing a niche is something that should be done carefully because it can boost your work and pull more attention to you. How do you do this?

Take time to watch the kind of things that interest you and make you whip your camera out. The things you shoot constantly most times show what your interest is in and the signature you have created for yourself.  An advantage that you could have when selecting a niche is choosing one that isn’t common. However, whatever you do, build on an area that you are really good at. Check out this course, it promises to make you a better and more self-aware photographer.

5. Search and Submit to Agencies/Website

Every agency or website that purchases stock photographs, has different protocols and guidelines with which they operate. Make sure that you read through their website and understand the rights that they will have over your photographs once you have sold them to them before you make a choice.


Stock photography isn’t a walk in the park-like you’d think. But it could be over time. Here’s my point, it takes effort, skill, and time to be an excellent stock photographer. So keep with the trend, make your research and be good at it. I’m rooting for you.

Leave a comment below if it’s a part of photography you’ll want to try out.

While you are here, I think you should read How To Start a Business While Working Full-time also.



What does stock mean in photography?

This means the visual content (images) that are taken by the photographers for an agency or outlet that allows it to be circulated and bought with the necessary license. Simply put, the stock is the image that is being sold in stock photography.

Are stock images free?

Not exactly. However, there are websites where you can get free stock images, these include pexels, unsplash, and a few others.

How much does a stock photographer make?

Determining how much a stock photographer is based on so many other factors asides from selling stock images. Although, it has been estimated that a good stock photographer makes an average amount of $3,200 monthly and $37,000 yearly. Note: it might not be constant.

How do I become a stock photo photographer?

Pretty simple, follow the comprehensive step-by-step guide above and do detailed research online.

Can you make a living with stock photography?

Yes, yes, and yes. However, it is not easy, just like how every other career needs time, effort, and excellence, stock photography does too.

Is stock photography profitable?

Yes. You can earn from selling stock photos but you have to put in a lot of work.

How can I earn money with stock photos?

One of the most common ways to make money with stock photographs is through microstock where images are sold from as small as a few cents to tens of dollars.

How much money can I make selling stock photos?

This depends on whether you’re selling individually without royalty or if you are selling with an extended license. Without royalty, you can earn 25-45 cents per image per month but if you get royalty payments, you can earn up to $500 per sale.

Is Stock Photography right for me?

Photography can be an escape and means different things for different people. If you are passionate about photography and the idea of taking stock photographs excites you then, I think stock photography is right for you.

What is the realistic income from stock photography 2022?

It is difficult to estimate how much you can earn specifically, but it depends on how many pictures you contribute to the site. For example, 1000 photos would earn you roughly $330 a year.