My Journey Into Stock Photography

In Marketing/Business by Jim Harmer

Stock photography tips

Football stock photography - Jim Harmer

I'm starting to dabble in stock photography.  I'm not any good at it yet, but it sounds challenging and fun.  I'll be writing a series of articles on stock photography on this section of the website as I learn more about the world of stock.

Stock photography is where photographers sell their images to people for use in advertisements, pamphlets, websites, etc.  In micro-stock, the cost of each photo is extremely cheap–as low as $1–and photographers make up price with volume.  Some photos will end up selling thousands of times, but most will only sell a couple per month.  Some of the most popular stock photo sites are istockphoto, fotolia, shutterstock, and canstock.

The photo featured on this page is my first attempt at stock photography.  I got the idea from listening to a podcast where Nicole Young said to start shooting what you love.  I love football and my Boise State Broncos, so I decided this would be a good match.

I spent a few hours on iStockPhoto trying to figure out what kind of football shot sells, and what doesn't.  It seems to me that the best selling football shots are clean and simple, but also dramatic and powerful.  At first I thought about using some dramatic lighting on a black background, but I wanted to do something a bit more natural.

I remembered  noticing fog hanging over the fields near my law school, so I decided I'd keep my camera and a football in the trunk for the next foggy morning, which is pretty common in Southwest Florida.

I added a little flash to the scene to highlight the football on the field and this is what I got.  What do you think?  Will it sell?  Will it even get accepted by the eagle-eyed editors at istockphoto?  I'll be submitting in the next few days… we'll see.

About the Author

Jim Harmer

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Jim Harmer is the founder of Improve Photography, and host of the popular Improve Photography Podcast. More than a million photographers follow him on social media, and he has been listed at #35 in rankings of the most popular photographers in the world. He blogs about how to start an internet business on