“It can’t look like anybody could have taken it.”

Last week, while reading through contributor forums on a few stock photo websites, I ran across the above comment from a successful pro stock photographer to a newbie.

It’s true. If you want to be successful in stock photography, you can’t submit images that look like they could have been taken by anyone — no matter how pretty the subject.

I’m guilty of this, so it really made me think… how can I separate my photos from ones that “anyone” could take?

What separates a good, saleable stock photo from a snapshot? To me, it’s well-done technicals (good exposure, focus, etc.), combined with one or more of the following things:

Good composition. Paying attention to the rules of good composition, including the Rule of Thirds, will set you apart from simple snap-shooters. You’ve got to work the shot and find the angle, distance from the subject, subject placement, etc. that works best for what you’re trying to capture. Both of these stock photos use the Rule of Thirds well.

A different point of view. What will make your photo stand out — what makes it different from a photo that any person could take — is your creative point of view. When you change up the angle, get closer, get farther away, get high, get low… when you “work the shot,” trying all sorts of different things, then you break out of the snapshot realm and start to separate yourself as an artist. For example, these three stock photos all took a popular subject and photographed it using unusual angles.

Unique photo subjects. Look for photo subjects that aren’t easily accessible to everyone. Do you work in a place that not many people get to see or have access to? The two following stock photos, of firefighters training and a military couple, are of subjects that aren’t accessible to everyone. Do you have friends or family members with specialized jobs who would let you take their photo? What about hobbies — what do you do for fun that not everyone has access to?

Creative concept shots. How can you create an image that says “savings,” “growth,” “love,” or “freedom”? Think about creative ways to convey a message using photos, like these three conceptual stock shots do, below.

What are some other ways that you can make your photos stand out above snapshots and turn into high sellers as stock?

Share your thoughts on the Breakfast StockClub Facebook page.

And if you have a photo that you think really illustrates how to stand out from the pack, go ahead and post it. Let’s start a conversation.

Each month, Breakfast Stock Club Premium members make their photos more stock-worthy and saleable by participating in a stock-themed Challenges, and referring to a monthly guide, written by a stock photographer on how to make their photos sell. Get yours, and participate in July’s Challenge — “The Great Outdoors” — by signing up as a Premium member.

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.  Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]


Your Weekly Breakfast Dish
The latest from your Breakfast StockClub Facebook Page

From Stri Der: I just made my first sale on the mostphotos site today! That makes sales in 3 different agencies now!

From Deborah Kolb: Got my first shot up from Maui on iStock.

Later, Deborah added: I had another photo accepted on Fri from iStock from Maui workshop and had my first Download of it today 😉

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