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.

Beach

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.

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