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One of the secrets of successful stock photographers is that they upload images for sale that are sure to be sought after. How do you know what your customers need, what are the trending topics in stock photography?

What types of photos sell the most on stock photo sites? | WahaviBlog about stock photography

    One of the cornerstones of successful stock photography

    Experienced stock photographers tend to keep to just a few basic rules for success:

    • Take a lot of photos, but never put more than 2-3 from the same series.
    • Learn how to keyword appropriately and apply that method to all your photos.
    • Mainly take photos of people doing something in an authentic environment.
    • Don't take photos of oversaturated topics (dogs, cats, posed people, capuccino hearts, etc.)
    • Look around! What are the trending topics in newspapers and news portals? What kind of images do other photographers sell?

    In this article, I’ll deal with the last point (though just as important as the others!).

    Every stock photo agency is different

    First, an important thing: every stock photo agency has a more or less different clientele. Therefore, a particular image may perform well here, but no one needs it there.

    Before embarking on stock photography, it’s a good idea to study the forum of your chosen agency more closely. Each forum has topics that deal with the images sold. It’s true that they don’t give a complete picture, yet there’s some clue to a beginner.

    If you are a newbie, sign up for only one stock photo site. Become familiar with their habits and rules and only go to another agency once you’ve gotten into it. Believe me, it is enough to get to know one system at a time.

    How to find out what topics are saleable?

    You can use a number of methods to identify topics that are on demand.

    • Browse forums, especially topics about sold images.
    • Newsletter: some stock photo companies send out monthly / quarterly newsletters mentioning current trends.
    • Read (online) newspapers or news portals! Editorial images mostly land there.
    • Think ahead by uploading seasonal photos in advance. It’s good if customers have images to choose from several months before the holiday / season begins.
    • Statistical tools. On the websites of some agencies, you will find quite serious tools (e.g. Alamy Measures) about the search habits of the customers.
    • On the home page of stock photo websites, trendy keywords / topics are listed under titles such as e.g. Popular stock image searches, Latest collections, etc.
    • Analyze your own sales. If you sell more than one image in a topic, do more of that!

    What topic Alamy customers buy?

    Let's look at a specific example. My favorite agency is Alamy. I've tried several other stock photo companies before, but none worked for me. That’s why I know the most about Alamy, and I have the most (good) experience with them.

    One of the company’s top photographers said in an interview (and on the Alamy forum several times) that “people do something” in his most-selling images. That is, there is the greatest demand for moments captured in our own (wherever you are in the world) human environment. The focus is on the moment you catch. Many photographers make series by asking a family member / friend to act as if ... You can be sure that photos like these are not at all needed. Once it was like that, but the age of posing people has been over for a while.

    It’s important to capture people during real situations.

    My own experience is that customers do buy photos of a computer screen with a popular or famous company's website on it, for even higher prices. Photos taken of websites are often used in newspapers instead of street shop and office building photos (especially if the company is only available or exists online).

    Topics for mobile photography

    Photos taken with a mobile or cell phone are not accepted into the portfolio of all stock photography companies. Alamy is one of them, so they launched the Stockimo app, which allows you to upload only mobile photos.

    The company says that it expects mobile photos that show the diversity of life, even using strong filters. It doesn’t have to be professional quality, but it should convey some emotion and atmosphere. It can also be an interesting detail, a moment that can only be captured with a mobile phone.

    Ever changing trends

    Trends and fashion work because they are constantly changing. This also applies to the customer needs of stock photos. Editorial images are about an event, then comes another and so on. You can see how important it is to keep up with the changes in our world. Trendy colors change, trendy pets change, and so much more that you can photograph.

    Even so, retro photos sell well. If there is no new topic, they reach back to the old ones. Alamy encourages us to upload old, retro (even archival) images (scanned) because there is a demand for them from time to time.


    Successful stock photographers say one of the secrets of their many sales is meeting the needs of their customers. No matter how many photos you have in your portfolio, no matter how much time and energy you put into the keywording process, if you don’t photograph the topics people are searching for, you can’t expect big revenue. Maybe not even a little.

    Keep an eye on the trendy topics and take photos accordingly. Also, of course, you can shoot anything you like, but your income will be more from the former. The Alamy Measures tool will be of great help to you to achieve this if you choose Alamy.

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    Post Author

    Viktor Wallon-Hárs (wahavi)

    Photography has always been part of our family life. I have memories of my father dealing with those old glass slides, preparing them for our projector.

    Later I took photos during summer holidays and school trips.

    Now, in the era of stock photography, I dug myself into it to learn the basics and also the secrets how to earn more and more money doing what I love.