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.

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