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You should try out stock photography if you haven't already yet…
Though it isn’t as lucrative as it once was, it does represent an opportunity to earn extra income in these trying times.
Whether you’re just breaking into stock photography or if you have been trying it out for a while, you want to know what kind of stock photos sell the best, the most downloaded stock photos.
In order to maximize the benefit from all of your effort, have a look at these best-selling stock photography ideas to see if you can add to your image selection or start a new one. If you were to talk to the average photography enthusiast, you might hear some interesting ideas for stock photography that may or may not work, and that’s fine, I like to hear good ideas from anyone!
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Ideas for Stock Photography
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Many of the best-selling stock photography ideas presented here are based on actual stock photography sales, downloads, and views. In addition to sales figures, some of these stock photography ideas come from discussions with other photographers about what trends they are seeing.
Just in case this is your first foray into the wonderful world of shooting stock photography, have a look at a couple of earlier articles with stock photography ideas. The articles are Stock Photography Success Tips - Planning and Research and How To Shoot for Stock Photography.
And now for those best-selling stock photography ideas you want to know. By the way, just as a disclaimer, if you are reading this article a year from when written, you should look for the newest trends as these things can be very fluid, though many themes will stay near the top of the most downloaded stock photos from year to year.
Home Office Work
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Even before the coronavirus sent many companies and individuals into the work from home frame of mind, there was lots of interest in this type of image. So, what type of image will work for the editorial ideas concerning work from home?
Obvious imagery will include virtual meetings, such as over Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, Microsoft Teams, or other online collaboration software. Other photo ideas might include the home setting for the home office, maybe with a view of a kitchen or living room in the background.
You could also show family interaction like their kids with them or something similar. Anything like this will hit the theme of work from home as one of the top best-selling stock photography ideas.
Outside of Office Work Collaboration
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Another work centered theme but with a twist. One of the best-selling stock photography ideas is showing people collaborating for work outside of what was considered the norm for years.
It doesn’t have to be just office workers, either, other professions can be shown in this theme. Artisans and craftspeople are prime interests for this theme of stock photography ideas.
As for where, any setting that is not the standard setting for this type of work. For instance, for office workers and professionals in white-collar fields, a coffee shop or a picnic table in a public park could work well. An art teacher might be collaborating inside a gymnasium with other art and crafts teachers instead of in a standard classroom.
Candid Family Interaction
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The emphasis on action, unposed or at least looking unposed. The best-selling stock photography ideas of family are those moments that look honest and authentic. Posed portrait style isn’t a hot seller in general, candid is the feel of the most desired images.
It’s okay to have people looking at the camera, especially when it appears that the subject is inviting or engaging with the apparent viewer. Those hand holding and leading someone on to something have become a bit cliche, but those are still in vogue too, especially when in interesting spots such as top tourist attractions or involved in popular activities.
Color Blocks or Color Themes
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It could be any subject matter, people, places, architecture, as long as it is centered on one main color or color theme. By color them, we mean a similar color but perhaps with variations of hue, saturation, or intensity.
Try to accomplish the image naturally, as overly processed images tend not to be extremely in any genre, regardless of well the image is processed. Some ideas can include the photo techniques of Golden Hour and Blue Hour, or lush foliage, also painted structures. A person wearing the same color clothing as the paint on a wall would fit this idea.
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People of all ages interacting together are one of the best-selling stock photography ideas that is likely to continue as popular for quite a while.
Seniors are re-entering the workforce, images showing seniors along with other age groups in the workplace are among the most downloaded stock photos. Any type of collaboration and just about any workplace are workable in this theme.
In addition to work images, family and recreation showing multiple age groups are popular. Grandkids and grandparents, teens and parents, young adults and middle aged adults, all of these are good subjects to show age diversity.
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It’s not just a product of the times, this is a trend that has steadily been growing for several years and will continue to be one of the best-selling stock photography ideas for a long time. And it can be in any type of setting, with any activity.
If you are able to include age diversity along with racial diversity, this style of image will be viewed by all sorts of buyers. Non specific activities are a good idea, so that several different types of products could be imagined in the theme of this type of diversity.
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The patterns could be natural such as the Fibonacci Sequence or man made such as architectural elements or even cultivated fields or gardens. The important consideration with patterns is not to make the pattern overwhelming. A subtle introduction of a pattern, perhaps mixed with other stock photography ideas like color blocks can capture a lot of attention.
Negative Space Landscapes or Cityscapes
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Landscapes and cityscapes are always going to be in demand as some of the best-selling stock photography ideas. Including negative space into an image like this will give that image usability in advertising and editorial uses for adding text or ad copy.
It’s a good idea to shoot a series of the same subject matter with the negative space in several different spots. Sometimes a view that may not appeal to you as a stand alone image will appeal to a buyer desiring to have just that spot open for their text needs.
Series of Activity
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This can be within the previously mentioned themes of diversity, non standard work areas, or candid family images. Having a series showing progression of action might give buyers ideas that they may not have had if just viewing a single image.
Any activity could be involved in this theme. Work activities come to mind as do families at play. The important aspect of this stock photography idea is to show a steady progression from one thing to another and for the images to be linked by something common.
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Food images, especially from overhead, are among the best-selling stock photography ideas. Mixing this theme with one of the previously mentioned themes will broaden the appeal of food images. It’s a good idea to keep the compositions simple and uncluttered, adding negative space will also work well.
Some Important Thoughts
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Whenever we shoot for profit or for any type of editorial use, model releases and location or property releases are important. Any person or place that is recognizable should include a release along with the image submission.
As for what stock photography sites or companies to shoot for, have a look at our previous article Stock Photography Success Tips - Best Stock Photo Sites 2020 for some good ideas.
Be consistent, have realistic expectations, and submit great image quality within these best-selling stock photography ideas and you will likely enjoy the process and make some extra income. We wish you lots of success!