Stock Photography Ideas That Will Sell Like Hotcakes

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The kind of stock photography images that sell and sell fast is dependent in part on what’s going on in the world at the moment. Around July 4th, photos with a patriotic theme have increased popularity. In March of each year, photos of the Holi Festival are more popular due to the timing of that event in India. Snowy photos are more popular in the winter, beach photos are more popular in the summer, and so on and so forth.

However, there are some categories of photos that are popular year-round. While you need to include some of the more seasonal photos in your portfolio to capitalize on popularity, focusing more on the types of photos that stand the test of time is where you will really be able to generate a steady income.

Let’s examine a few of the most popular types of stock photos.

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Photos of food have widespread appeal and can be used in anything from a blog to a printed newsletter to a restaurant menu. Prepared meals seem to be among the most popular, that is, completed plates that are flawless in their presentation. Fresh ingredients, food with great textures and colors, and images that showcase steam or smoke rising from prepared meals are a good bet.

Quick tip: Include a smattering of popular dishes in your portfolio, but also include lesser known dishes that might be popular in your specific area.

Hobbies, Recreation, and Lifestyle

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Stock photography sites have enormous collections of photos that portray people running, biking, rock climbing, kayaking, and taking part in other recreational activities. Why? They sell! Blogs that focus on improving health, finding time for leisure activities, and otherwise improving one’s lifestyle are incredibly popular at the moment, and those blogs need to source images from somewhere. They might as well get the images from your collection!

Quick tip: If you don’t have the means to photograph extreme sports and recreational activities, health and fitness images and photos of people watching sports are hot commodities as well.


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We live in an increasingly plugged-in society, so it stands to reason that photos of mobile phones, tablets, laptops, wearable tech, and other technologies are popular downloads. Include images of technology on its own, like product shots, but also incorporate images of people using technology in certain situations. Professionals working at a computer in an office, children playing with a tablet in their bedroom, and people exercising with their wearable watches are just a few ideas for blending lifestyle shots with technology.

Quick tip: Keep an eye on when new products come out and be sure to have images available that could be used with that product. For example, when a new mobile phone model comes out, people will want images of people talking on a mobile phone.


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One of the most popular searches for stock photography is for images that show emotions. People raising their arms in victory, a sad-faced woman, a child throwing a fit, and an angry man might end up being some of your best-selling images. Photos that show emotion have very wide applicability - they can be used in blogs, newspaper advertisements, on websites, and in email campaigns just to name a few.

Quick tip: When developing a collection of photos that portray emotions, utilize models of varying ages and ethnicities so there is a broader appeal.

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People love a good sunset and beautiful mountains, so incorporating landscapes into your stock photography collection will be a good decision. Take photos of landscapes by themselves, devoid of any people or signs of humanity, but also include some images in which there are people interacting with the landscape. The inclusion of people allows viewers to imagine themselves there while also giving some clues about the scale of the landscape. Fine art landscapes are big sellers, but so too are the more informal, travel type landscapes in which the image may not be perfectly composed. Include both types of images in your collection to cover all your bases.

Quick tip: You don’t need to photograph iconic landscapes to have an image that sells well. Normal, everyday landscapes like your backyard, the neighborhood park, or a nearby field or grove of trees are surprisingly popular images as well.

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