Common Stock Photography Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Common stock photography mistakes to avoid

There are several complexities involved in stock photography, and the process doesn't stop when you click the shutter. In this article, we share six common stock photography mistakes, and what you can do to avoid them from happening. Remember; attention to tiny details and other such things is an essential part of the process.

Six common stock photography mistakes

When you go to the effort of becoming a contributor and taking photographs and uploading them, purely for the purpose of selling their rights to others to use as stock photographs, you need to ensure you maximise their chances of being found and purchased.

The following six common stock photography mistakes are found over and over in both our submissions, but also on many other stock photo libraries and websites too.

Not using good keywords

Targeting people searching for stock photos to use requires careful attention to the keywords you use to tag your photos. Keywords are the terms used by people when they search for specific things on stock photo sites. 

No matter how suitable a photo you have shot, your photo will never appear in search results, without good keywords.

Always consider various spellings and words as well. For example, say you upload a bunch of food photographs, including a chocolate cake on a blue background. I would use many different keywords to describe it, such as;

Chocolate cake, cake, chocolate, baking, pastry, bakery, celebration, blue, blue background, fresh, oven, patisserie.

Take a look at the demands of the users through the right resources. Once you get some idea about the search terms, use those words in the description and title of the photographs. 

Uploading absolutely everything

You can shoot visually appealing photos using a wide range of subjects but that won’t work if your photo is not relevant to the topic. Suppose you have been given the topic, you should shoot a photo so that you can enhance the topic further.

A perfect stock photo is used to elaborate the message more effectively and efficiently. Always adhere to this principle whenever you are shooting a stock photo. 

If your subject in the photo doesn’t match with the subject, there is no chance you are going to grab the attention of the target audience. This is the point where you need to be extremely selective.

Don’t end up uploading images like the below. This photograph suffers from poor composition, an uninteresting subject and generally boring. Some would argue that the brand name visible in the image is also not good.

Your photo should be precisely close to the title you are given. 

An average looking stock photo with no real value

An average looking stock photo with no real value

Uploading low-resolution files

It is quite a common mistake but very much devastating. Stock photos are used for a wide variety of purposes. Due to this reason, the analysts study the stock photos in quite a detail.

A fault like inappropriate resolution can be seen from a mile away in the stock photography. There is zero percent chance for your stock photo to be selected if it is in low resolution. Photography is all about unique content. Here, you can’t win with a higher apparent fault like low res photos. 

 Ignoring many photographs you have in archives

Now we are talking just the opposite of the point above. Some people get carried away with selecting their choices and miss the gems. Many photographers commit this mistake, especially in stock photography. Photographers think of a photo as best and upload it while they have appropriate photos in the storage.

Such a bad choice can make you lag far behind others in this field. I am not suggesting you upload absolutely everything, however what a great photograph is to you may be very different to a stock photo buyer. That weirdly angled photo of an object that is partly cropped may be perfect for someone else.

The right way of making choices will come by studying the demands of your target audience. You will never be able to make the right choice by being unaware of the choice of your customers. Having a proper idea about the trend will help you a lot in matching up with the demands of the customers. 

Not having a model release for people 

A model release is a document acting as permission from the subject if he/she appears in your photograph. The privacy laws differ from country to country and the photographers need to adhere to those laws.

If someone appears in your stock photo and it violates the right to privacy of the subject, you need to have a model release from the person. In if you don’t have the model release, the person appearing in the photo may complain about the infringement in his privacy. 

As a consequence of which, the stock website may remove your photo from here. Such incidents are not good for the career of a photographer. In order to keep yourself away from such controversies, you should always never use a photo without having a model release.

Such stock photography mistakes may cause tremendous damage to your career and your reputation as a photographer. 

Photographs like this must have a model release

Photographs like this must have a model release

Not considering what people want

This is a thing we must have talked about in the previous points quite briefly. No one is going to pick your stock photos if they don’t match the demands of people. Make sure you are well-aware of the desires of people about stock photography.

All the search results are displayed by matching them with the search terms. Pay close attention to the sources where you may get some idea about the demands of people. 

Several ways are there to get some idea about it. Some sites release charts of the images in demand. While there are some sites that tend to highlight the most popular images on their sites.

Specific websites often explain the type of image they are looking for from the photographers. Making proper use of these sources will help you a lot in knowing what people want. 

Final thoughts

Stock photography mistakes are quite common in the beginning but you should be ready to learn from those mistakes. It is this constant correction of the mistakes and learning from them which differentiates the experienced people from the newbies. Learning to embrace mistakes is a very precious thing no matter where you are working.


About the Author

Emma Taylor is a writer, wine aficionado and live theatre tragic. When not writing guest posts, she can be found with her two cats and a glass of Australian wine.