Things Your Photography Clients Don’t Care About

I feel fortunate to be able to help other photographers run their photography businesses. That usually means I have very little input to the style of images they are shooting, but a lot of input to how they manage clients, how to sell and market, and how to establish efficient processes for running their businesses. Often we do a review of their website as a key tool for communicating with potential clients. During the course of many reviews, I have put together a list of things your photography clients don’t care about. Avoid featuring these heavily in the promotion of your photography business.


Clients are interested in your images, not the process to get there

  1. Clients don’t care what equipment you use. From time to time, I see photographers detailing a long list of the equipment they use – camera bodies, lenses, flash units, light modifiers. Trust me, your client doesn’t care. They generally don’t know the 70-200mm L series MkII and listing that detail positions you as a ‘gear nerd’. Clients want to know you can shoot good images and they do expect you to have professional grade equipment, but they don’t care about the details of your equipment.
  2. Clients don’t care that this is your passion. Clients don’t care, because they expect you to be passionate about your profession. They expect you to produce good results. They really don’t care that you got your first camera at the age of 7, and felt called to be a photographer. Don’t clog up the content of your website talking endlessly about your passion and how from the age of whatever, you knew you were going to be a photographer.
  3. Clients don’t care about the hours you put in. It’s about the outputs, not the inputs for a client. Don’t get fooled into thinking you have to tell your clients about how hard you are going to work for them. Working hard is a good virtue, but in photography the client is interested in the outputs of your work.
  4. Clients don’t care where you studied. Unless you went to an extremely prestigious university that is known to all of your clients, don’t be tempted to tell your clients about where you have studied. Clients are interested in whether you can produce high quality images for them. You either can or you can’t. Where you studied is not of interest to your clients.
  5. Clients don’t care about the post production process. Most clients do know that their images will be enhanced in post production, but clients don’t want to know the intimate details of your workflow. There is no need to list the process you take of importing RAW files into Lightroom, making minor adjustments, then working in Photoshop and saving as a TIFF file. Even writing that was starting to bore me! Clients are interested in the outputs of your workflow. Show them strong images, don’t bore them with your post production process.
Sydney Opera House

Clients don’t care about the post production process. They care about the outputs.

Give clients what they are looking for in your promotional materials. Show them good work. Make it clear you are a real person. Show them you have experience. Don’t get caught up in providing lots of information they are not interested in. Keep it relevant to the client to book more jobs.

Thanks for reading ‘things your photography clients don’t care about’. Happy shooting.

Can I Make Money in Stock Photography from Landscape and Cityscape Images

I participate in several photography groups on Facebook. This week I posted a reply to a group member who was exploring stock photography. After several messages, he asked me – can I make money in stock photography from landscape and cityscape images?

My response to him was that – yes, you can. But the reality is that simple landscape and cityscape images are highly competitive. There are hundreds of contributors submitting this type of material, and millions of existing images. So, it won’t be easy to create unique images that continue to be downloaded.

Bolte Bridge

Bolte Bridge, Melbourne, Australia. A specific scene shot in dramatic light.

So, if you want to generate an income from stock photography with this style of image, what is the best chance of success? Here are five suggestions for giving you the greatest chance of success.

  1. Shoot in the best light. There are likely to be hundreds of competing images to your own. Make your point of difference images shot in excellent light. This will likely mean sunrise and sunset shoot times.
  2. Shoot tourist highlights. There is ongoing demand for images which capture the icons of a city or a well known landscape. Take the time to shoot the tourist highlights of your city, or well known landscape spots.
  3. Shoot like a local. There is increasing demand for images which capture the essence of a city in a way only a local would know. Shoot the back laneways, cafes, popular meeting places. Use your local knowledge to shoot places that only a local would know.
  4. Develop an expansive body of work. What does that mean? It means you are going to stick at this. You are going to shoot different elements, in different conditions, at different times of year. It is not a random shot taken here or there, it’s about developing a range of work.
  5. Document the city or landscape year round. Cities and landscapes look very different at different times of year. Take advantage of the different seasons to add a new look to your work.

And like anyone using stock photography to generate a meaningful income – you need to treat this like a business. Set a goal for how many files you plan to upload this month and this year. Work at it. Keep adding to your portfolio. Develop variety in your images. Study similar images which have been successful as stock. What are the elements you are going to emulate in your own images? And keep working at it. Stock photography is based on the idea that you will do the work now (shoot, edit and upload) and be rewarded later (downloads and income). So keep working at it.


In my experience generic scenes like this don’t offer good returns as stock

Landscapes and cityscapes are very competitive areas, but it is possible to make money in these areas. My experience is that cityscapes and specific landscape images provide better returns than very generic landscapes. Look for your image to tell a story of a specific place.

Thanks for reading ‘can I make money in stock photography from landscape and cityscape images?’

Why iStock Must Change Exclusivity Criteria

I have been a contributor to iStockphoto since 2008 and have written extensively about stock photography for Beyond Here. One significant point of difference which iStockphoto has compared to other microstock sites is the volume of exclusive content. That is – images which are available only from iStockphoto. They have achieved this by providing incentives for contributors to be exclusive such as higher royalty rates. Much has changed in microstock, but one thing that hasn’t is the criteria for becoming an exclusive contributor. Read on to see why iStock must change exclusivity criteria.

What are the criteria for becoming exclusive on iStock? Ever since I have been an iStock contributor, the criteria for becoming exclusive are to have 250 downloads and an image acceptance rate of greater than 50%. Once that has been achieved a contributor can choose to become exclusive or continue to remain as an independent contributor.

Flinders Street Station

iStock’s point of difference is it’s volume of unique content

Why choose exclusivity? Exclusivity brings several benefits to contributors. The keys ones for me are the higher royalties paid on exclusive files, better placement for exclusive files in the best match algorithm, and a faster inspection queue. The key benefit for iStockphoto is that it can promote material that is only available from iStockphoto. These files are not available on any other stock site.

What’s changed? I have written extensively about the changes at iStockphoto in recent years. (Please see the ‘stock photography’ category on the side of this blog to check out those posts). The major change is that iStock has moved away from it’s credit based download system to a subscription system. This on its own is not a problem. It rewards high volume buyers and locks them in (to some degree) by having a subscription where they can buy a certain number of files per month. The problem comes in that iStock only count credit downloads towards the total of 250 required to be exclusive.


New iStock contributors are likely to see small royalty payments under the subscription program

What does this mean for contributors trying to become exclusive? Currently, only 20% of my monthly downloads are credit downloads. The remaining 80% is made up of downloads from the subscription program, the partner program (where files are sold through partner sites), and the Getty Images site. So, for contributors working towards being exclusive, only a small percentage of their actual downloads count towards the qualifying total. That means it will take much longer to meet the qualifying criteria.

So what? This has 2 significant implications. First, many contributors who have the ability to contribute high quality content are being discouraged and choosing to submit their images to other sites. At the same time, their content on iStockphoto will be selling under the subscription program for which new contributors are currently only receiving $0.28 per download. This is a disincentive to put all their eggs in the iStockphoto basket in the future. And secondly, one of iStockphoto’s main points of differentiation is the millions of files only available there. The more contributors who are independent, and uploading their files elsewhere, then the smaller percentage of the iStock database is unique.

To maintain a unique selling point through exclusive content is why iStock must change exclusivity criteria.

Finding Inspiration

Yesterday I visited the National Gallery of Victoria here in Melbourne, Australia to see the Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei exhibition. What a place for finding inspiration! I hadn’t gone with that intent, but I walked away inspired. Here are the things that I found compelling.


The work. There was a huge volume of work on display. The exhibition was spread across different rooms, each laid out with a different theme and displaying work from both artists. Here was two bodies of work built over years of these artists expressing their creative vision. Sometimes I see photographers dipping into the photography and the business of photography – it was clear from the body of work on display that these artists were dedicated to art and expressing their vision. They worked at it. They kept coming up with new projects. They made those projects come alive. Again and again.

The medium. It was really interesting to see the different mediums used by these 2 artists. There were photographs, sculptures, video material … the list goes on. It was fascinating to see work by artists who were not defined by a single medium. They worked across a range of mediums to express their vision.

The crowd. Yesterday was the last day of the exhibition and it was inspiring to see that the gallery was completely full of people. Sometimes I hear photographers making excuses that people aren’t interested in printed products any more, that some how the digital age had brought that to an end. Yesterday I saw hundreds of people who had traveled out of their way, and paid to get in to see a range of real artistic projects. Cool people looking at cool art, in big numbers.

bicycle artThe building and architecture. I have been to the gallery before, but haven’t been influenced by the building architecture and design as much as I was yesterday. After coming through the entrance there is a huge artwork made of bicycle frames. It is very cool. It is visible from most of the escalators which snake up through the building giving really interesting angles of this artwork.

The artists influence. It is inspiring to see the mainstream influence these artists had or have. Andy Warhol is well known and his work in the 60’s and 70’s particularly has had a big impact on American culture. Ai Weiwei is still influencing Chinese culture and society. How very cool that the Chinese government shut down his blog, so he turned it into a printed book containing all his previous blog posts. I haven’t read the book yet, but it is now on my list of books to read.

How is this relevant to your photography business? To me, seeing a great exhibition like this is inspiring. It is most useful to photographers who are going through tough times to know:

  • Art is appreciated by huge numbers of people. If you are struggling to find clients, it is the message you are presenting not the absence of potential customers. Seeing hundreds of people at yesterday’s exhibition was a great reminder for me.
  • Art touches people. Your art might not touch people on a national or international stage, but it will touch your clients. If you’ve ever presented wedding images and had the bride or the bride’s mother in tears of happiness looking at the images you’ve created – you will know what I mean. Remember when you are creating and presenting images, the images are very important to your client.
  • There’s many different ways to success. Hearing and seeing the different stories of these two artists was another reminder that each artist finds different ways to express their work. And so it is in the business of photography. There is no single, sure-fire way to success. There are definitely common elements, but each photographer is getting there in their own unique way. Don’t try to copy others path to success, focus on creating the one that suits you.

Thanks for reading, Finding Inspiration.

National Gallery of VictoriaNational Gallery of Victoria

Five Photography Business Reminders

I like to read blogs about photography, and I particularly like 2 blogs about the business side of photography. They help to give me a different perspective on the things I like to write about, and to discuss with other photographers. This week, reading the two blogs prompted me about five photography business reminders. They are five key points that are easy to talk about, but hard to do when you are starting out. So if you have recently got underway, see if you can adopt these five photography business reminders into your own business. And if you’ve been operating for some time, will challenging yourself on these five points make your business stronger?

Reminder #1 – Put the client first. Building a successful photography business is about creating a long list of happy clients. It doesn’t matter what you are shooting, the key to business success is having happy clients. Put the client first. This business is not about you feeling important, it’s not about your fancy equipment, it’s not about how many likes you get on Facebook – it’s about the client. Keep creating happy clients.


Give your clients reasons to be jumping for joy. Happy clients makes successful photo businesses.

Reminder #2 – When it goes wrong, do whatever it takes to make it right. No business goes so smoothly that every client is completely happy. No matter how good you are, you are inevitably going to upset or disappoint someone. When this happens, your response will define your business. Do whatever it takes to put things right – even if it means losing money on the job. If a client isn’t happy with a print – get it redone at your expense. Making clients happy is what makes successful businesses. Show them that you care. When it goes wrong, do whatever it takes to make it right.

Reminder #3 – Being successful will take hard work. If you’ve got the idea that successful photographers live a glamorous life and cruise from one high profile job to another – be assured that’s not the truth. Running a successful photography business is hard work. There are times when you have so much work that you struggle to give each client the attention you know they deserve. And there are other times when you just wish you could find your next client. Running a successful photography business will take hard work. You’ll work long hours and most of it will not be at all glamorous.


Photo businesses are about clients, not money. Get the client piece right, and the money will be fine.

Reminder #4 – Be clear on your point of difference. There are a lot of photographers out there. Most have gear better or equal to your own. They are prepared to work as hard or harder than you. You’re not the only photographer who can do the job. To run a successful business you need to understand what is your point of difference. Is it the client experience you give on shoot day? Is it your post production techniques? Is it the products you offer? There are many possible points of difference. You need to be clear on yours, and be able to explain it to a potential client.

Reminder #5 – Everything is better with a sense of humor. I follow the Facebook page of a photographer who goes by the name Missy Mwac. Check her out. She posts regularly. She has a lot of good, common sense ideas. She dislikes photographers who aren’t making it as photographers who are trying to make it selling photography workshops. And she mentions vodka in a lot of her posts. She is witty. She makes me laugh. I like that in people. People who laugh are fun to be with. Remember, your client doesn’t want the world’s most serious photographer. Everything is better with a sense of humor.

Thanks for reading Five Photography Business Reminders. Have a great week.

Use Recognizable Backgrounds to Add Impact

There has long been a place (and a market!) for images shot in a studio on a plain background – just ask any established studio photographer. Studio images on plain backgrounds help to focus you entirely on the subject. But what if you are looking to bring a more contemporary look to your images? Have you tried to use recognizable backgrounds to add impact? And by backgrounds, I don’t mean studio backdrops – I mean real locations.

Why do recognizable backgrounds help to make a strong image? Recognizable backgrounds add location and meaning to an image. They create a connection with the viewer who will often know the exact location the image has been shot at, and may have even stood in the exact same location.

Flinders St Station

People who know Melbourne will instantly recognize this location

In this image, people who know Melbourne, Australia will instantly recognize this as the front entrance to the Flinders Street Railway Station on the corner of Flinders Street and Swanston Street. The location adds a distinct local flavor, and creates a connection with the viewer. Many people have stood in this exact location.

Why is this an opportunity for your photography business? Demand for images shot in the studio and isolated on white is falling, and demand for real people in real locations (including recognizable locations!) is booming. It is about creating genuine images which the viewer can relate to. Real people, real locations.

Parliament buildings

It’s possible to shoot in a variety of locations in a single shoot

Here are seven quick reasons why you might want to catch this wave.

  • clients love to shoot images which connect them to the location. Whether it’s permanent residents or travelers, people have an emotional connection to their home town, whether it’s a permanent or temporary home town.
  • locations look different at different times of year. Use the seasons to your advantage and shoot different styles in different seasons. Think how you could use this to shoot different images of the same client at different times of year?
  • if you are starting out, you can shoot this style of image with minimal cost. You may want a reflector or two, but you won’t incur the costs of setting up a studio when you shoot this type of image. This can be a very cost effective way to build a portrait business or stock portfolio.
  • demand for ‘local’ stock images is growing rapidly. Stock buyers are moving away from images which could have been shot anywhere, to images which clearly have context and location. If you are interested in driving your stock photo sales, shoot local and make it clear that the images have context and location.
  • shooting images on location is fun. I find it really enjoyable walking around my hometown finding new locations and shooting interesting local images. Often you can generate a very wide variety of images in a short period of time.
  • there is an almost limitless range of possible locations. I am shooting a stock photography series using locations in my home town. I started by writing down some locations to use, and ended up with a list of ideas three pages long! You won’t run out of locations to shoot at. Think creatively and you will be able to generate a huge range of shoot locations.
  • clients love to share location images on social media. This can only be good for business.

Thanks for reading this post. I hope you can use recognizable backgrounds to create some cool images and benefit your photography business. Happy shooting.

6 Photography Business Tips from the Under 12’s

Last night I watched an under 12 girls basketball match. Our team has been having some ups and downs, and have lost more games than we have won.  As I watched them trail for most of the game, hit the lead for the first time in the last quarter, fall behind again, and come through for a close win – I saw the parallel in their journey with the journey of most photographers. Here are 6 photography business tips from the under 12’s!

Tip #1. Hard work can produce results. When people enter the photography industry they think it is their unique way of seeing the world, and being able to translate that into images, that is the key to their success. For most photographers running successful businesses, they know that their success is built on a combination of talent and hard work.

The under 12’s reminded me of that last night. The team they were playing were probably more talented, but our team kept working hard, and eventually got the win. If your photo business results aren’t coming, it might not be a lack of talent. Are you working hard enough to produce the results? Are you contacting enough potential clients?

Sport shows us that success from hard work can be very sweet

Sport shows us that success from hard work can be very sweet

Tip #2. Practice pays off. This group of girls have been together since November, training twice per week and playing once per week. It is a long season for them. We are in March and this is only the third game of the season proper. Encouragingly they are starting to play together as a team. The effort they are putting in at training is starting to pay off.

Are you practicing your photography when you don’t have a paying job? Are you honing your skills? Are you learning a new play? Practice pays off. Perhaps you should be practicing your shooting, or post production, or client meetings?

Tip #3. Teamwork matters. In junior sport, sometimes one or two dominant players can carry a team to success. Last night, out of a team of 10, 2 players were unavailable and 2 were in early foul trouble. The remaining 6 players got a lot more court time than usual. They worked together and shared the scoring. They cooperated to add defensive pressure.

Often photographers running their own business think it’s a one person show. It’s not. You are in control like the coach was last night, but you are not the only one contributing.

Who are the team mates who help drive your business? An accountant? A second shooter? A model? Someone to do your post production work? A mentor? A ‘go to’ person who knows how to help you out of a creative rut? A partner to do your print jobs? A strong team is key – even in a ‘one person’ business. Teamwork matters – build a strong team.

Tip #4. There are hurdles to overcome. Last night, one of the dad’s couldn’t come to the game. I sent him messages every few minutes to keep him up to date with the score. When I look back at those messages, we were behind, 8-3, then 12-10 at quarter time, 22-18 at half time, and we were tied 31-31 at three quarter time. The first time we hit the lead was 36-35 with 4 minutes left. With 1 min 16 seconds left we were up 40-36, then 40-38, and with 2 free throws with 8 seconds left we won 42-38.

Just like in a photography business, they didn’t have it easy. The other team were tough. They had to persevere. And like a determined group of under 12 basketballers, there will be hurdles to overcome in your photography business. It’s easy to give up. Don’t. Expect hurdles and keep going.

Tip #5. It’s Important to be adaptable.
In the basketball team we have 2 tall players, and typically one is on the court while the other rests. Given the early foul trouble to other players they both needed to be on the court at the same time last night. The team adapted (and got a few more rebounds!) As a working photographer you also need to be adaptable.

Your path to success might not be exactly as you originally thought. You might have to shoot some local events and build a network before the high paying weddings start rolling in. You might need to shoot some corporate portraits before celebrities are knocking on your door. Be adaptable and be patient. Sometimes business success avoids the highway and takes the scenic route.

basketballTip #6. Success is very sweet when you have to work for it. This basketball team has had more losses than wins so far. But the look of satisfaction on the girls faces last night showed how much it meant to overcome a strong team and come away with a win. They had to work for it. The stadium was hot, and there were some very tired kids at the end of the game. But there were some very satisfied looking kids. They had achieved something important.

And in our photography businesses, it won’t be easy. Success after struggle is very satisfying. If you are currently struggling, re-visit the five previous lessons, and trust that success is coming. When it does arrive it will be sweet.

Thanks for reading 6 photography business tips from the under 12’s. Remember that whether you have had a good week or a bad week, there are lessons to learn to take forward into next week. Like the under 12’s, your next opportunity is already looming. Be ready for it. Happy shooting.

How to Keyword Stock Photos

Shooting good quality images with a strong theme is only half of the success formula in stock photography. You also need to keyword your images well, so that buyers can find them. I work with photographers helping them to build their stock photography portfolios. The process of keywording is often overlooked, and is not intuitive to everyone. So, let’s look into how to keyword stock photos.

Below I’ve outlined a simple process to go through, and provided examples of how to keyword stock photos.

Step 1. What is the main subject of the image? Ok, this step is pretty easy. What is the main subject? In this sample image it’s not the plant, it’s the bird. Start simply. Use these keywords – animal, bird, wildlife, wren, fairy wren, one animal

Step 2. Is there anything else about the subject? In this case, with a little research you will find this is a female fairy wren. So you might add the additional keywords – female, female animal, nature, brown


Simple images with clear subjects are straightforward to keyword

Step 3. Where was the shot taken? If you are up to step three and you are thinking this is pretty easy – please be assured that it is. This shot was taken at a place called Healesville, not far from where I live in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Add keywords like – Healesville, Victoria, Australia, outdoor, day, animals in the wild

Step 4. When was the shot taken? In this case the shot was taken during the middle of the day on a lovely overcast day. I have already added the keyword day, so there is nothing extra to add here. If you shot a beach scene at sunrise you might add specific keywords like sunrise, twlight, and dawn.

Step 5. How does the image make you feel? What emotions could be connected with the image. In this case, the image does not generate a strong emotional reaction. If you have an image that does, add keywords which are relevant.

Step 6. Is there anything else significant about this image? In the case of this image the strong green color is dominant. For this image I would also add the word – green.

Let’s look at another image as we practice how to keyword stock images.


Follow the same process to determine appropriate keywords

For this image, we follow the same steps.

Step 1. Main subject? Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, map, location

Step 2. Anything else? Flag, Australian flag, national flag, nobody, close up, macro

Step 3. Where? Studio shot, indoor

Step 4. When? There is nothing in this image which identifies a time of day or season of the year so we won’t add any extra keywords here

Step 5. How does it make you feel? This image also doesn’t evoke a strong feeling, so no need to add more keywords here

Step 6. Anything else? Nothing else for this one.

Let’s look at a third example.


Images with sunrises and sunsets need to have keywords which reflect that

Step 1. Main subject? Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, cityscape

Step 2. Anything else? For this image I’d add – nobody, backlit, silhouette

Step 3. Where? outdoor, day

Step 4. When? This image was shot in the winter time in the early evening as the sun was setting. I would add – sunset, dusk, twilight, winter

Step 5. How does it make you feel? This is a simple image which evokes feelings of calmness at the end of the day. I would add the keywords – tranquil scene

Step 6. Anything else? The colors feature prominently in this image – I would add – gold, yellow

Keywording is very important so that buyers can find your images. I hope this simple 6 steps process gives you a structure to work through as you learn to keyword your images well. Thanks for reading how to keyword stock photos.

New Ways to Sell Your Images

While many in the photography industry lament the loss of “the way things were” – I continue to be positive that there are more ways for photographers to make money today than ever before. Not only that, there continue to be new ways to sell your images.


This shot was taken at a remote beach on the east coast of New Zealand. Very specific images like this suit the ImageBrief model.

Currently, some of my key ways for generating income through photography are:

  • Selling my images through a stock photography site
  • Local wedding clients
  • Local family portrait clients
  • Local portrait clients
  • Selling prints online
  • Helping other photographers to run their own businesses
  • Selling copies of an e-book I wrote about stock photography

This week I’ve been learning more about an online business called ImageBrief. It has been around for a while now, but is new to me.

How Does it Work? ImageBrief works by people who need images writing a specific brief for photographers to work to. The buyers are, in the main, advertising agencies and corporate clients. They are looking for specific, unique images and don’t want images which are broadly available like on a microstock site. On their home page these words sum up what they are aiming to provide to buyers – “Un-Stocky Stock Images”.

What about payment? For each image you get paid a few hundred dollars (in US dollars) through to several thousand dollars. The amount is outlined on the brief. One brief I look at was for hero images of Australian and New Zealand cities. The buyer was needing multiple images and was prepared to pay $3500 per image. That is an attractive amount per image.

How is it different to microstock? It’s clear from the payment structure that images sold via Imagebrief follow a low volume, higher price model compared to microstock. Microstock was built on high volume and low prices which made it attractive to the occasional image buyer and the mass image buyer. Imagebrief is an evolution to meet the needs of the specific image buyer. They don’t want an image which is readily available and widely used elsewhere. In many cases, they want exclusivity of use for a period of time and are prepared to pay for it.


ImageBrief connects buyers and sellers around specific requirements.

Why is this attractive for image buyers? For the buyer, using a service like Imagebrief is still cheaper and easier than hiring a photographer to shoot the image directly and gives them some control of the creative process. If they write a good brief they should get a range of images to select from which meets their needs. In that sense it is better than hiring one photographer who shoots in one style. A pool of photographers will provide different images with different styles.

What’s in it for the photographer? Firstly, there is a pipeline of briefs being written by buyers every day. If you are wanting to know what is in demand by modern image buyers, start reading the briefs. Secondly, it gives the photographer access to image buyers around the world. If you are only shooting for local clients, Imagebrief brings you in contact with a much broader range of buyers. And thirdly, the combination of the first two points means this is a financial opportunity and one of the new ways to sell your images.

Interestingly, the information on ImageBrief talks about being able to use your existing library of images to meet buyers needs. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a lot of commercially useful images just sitting around. They are either being used by clients, or available through my stock photography portfolio. I believe it’s more realistic to be using the briefs to go and shoot new content, rather than using your existing files.

Will it be successful? This model has the potential to be very successful. It enables the buyer to tap into a pool of photographers around the world, and to write a specific brief for them. Photographers should be able to produce images which match directly to the buyers needs. In many ways I see this model as an extension to stock photography, but improved by the fact the buyer outlines exactly what they need, rather than hoping they find a suitable image in a stock library. It is a great example of leveraging the ‘connected world’ through an online marketplace to better match the needs of the buyer and seller.

Thanks for reading new ways to sell your images. Head on over to ImageBrief to check it out.

Disclosure – the links to the Imagebrief site in this post have a referral which Craig Dingle Photography Pty Ltd may benefit from financially. Under the current terms of the program my business would earn a US$50 voucher when any photographer who signs up with ImageBrief via this link sells their first image. 

Copyspace in Stock Photography

I am currently working with several photographers to help build their stock photography portfolios. One of the many things I like about stock photography is that you can shoot any subject matter (see this post). But as your stock portfolio grows and you begin to focus on the number of downloads you are generating, it is helpful to know what will generate more downloads. One of those things is leaving copyspace in stock photography.


Images with extensive copyspace are widely used in travel publications.

What is copyspace? Literally it is leaving space in your image for a designer to add copy to your image. For example, they might add a headline or part of a story. If you’d like to see any example, grab a magazine and starting looking through it. Look for large size images, either a full page or a double page. Often the designer will use a single image spread across a double page with copy added to the image.

Why is it important? Leaving copyspace around your subject will mean your image has more flexibility. It will be able to be used in different ways by designers. They could crop the image to focus tightly on the subject, or add text to the image. Greater flexibility in use will lead to more downloads of your images, and more downloads equals more income.

Melbourne, Australia

Leaving copyspace is possible in studio or on location. Watch your backgrounds for what will be appropriate.

What type of backgrounds work well? This is a difficult question to answer, as many different backgrounds can work effectively. That said, I look for plain, uncluttered backgrounds to use as copyspace when I am planning and shooting my images. It is a similar concept to wedding photography. In wedding photography I am often looking for plain, uncluttered backgrounds to ensure the focus is on the bride and groom. In stock photography I look for plain, uncluttered backgrounds to be used as copyspace around my subject.


This is an example of a plain, uncluttered background which works effectively as copyspace.

Do these types of images get used without text being added? Yes, they do. Sometimes an image buyer will be looking for a nicely composed image that has a clear message and doesn’t need text to be added. It literally speaks for itself. Again, shooting images like these gives flexibility in how they might be used. And flexibility in use leads to a greater number of downloads.

Should you shoot close ups of your subject matter as well? This question is up to you, and again one of the great things about stock photography is you are free to shoot what you want, and in the style you like. When it is possible I tend to shoot close ups to focus tightly on the subject as well as a wider shot with copyspace. It is about making sure my images are flexible and can be used in a variety of circumstances.

Thanks for reading this post about copyspace in stock photography. I hope it has been useful to you and will help you to look at your subject in a slightly different way. A small adjustment to the way that you shoot can produce a big change in your stock photography results.