When we look back at 2011, and forward into 2012, the photos that seem to sell best and will likely continue to sell better than others has stayed pretty much the same.
For a complete list of what’s selling, see below…
Director, Great Escape Publishing
WHAT’S WORKING IN STOCK PHOTOGRAPHY TODAY
By Shelly Perry in Portland, OR
When it comes to stock photography, the million-dollar question is, “What kinds of photos are people buying online?”
And it’s no surprise that people are still attracted to the same types of images that sold well last year.
The trick this year will be to take a new look at an old subject and apply a twist to a tried and true theme to make your image stand out.
Here are five trends I’ve identified as top-sellers right now:
** 1. HOLIDAY: Christmas and the general holiday season can be the biggest singular event of the year for sales, even when it comes to stock photography.
Those who make a point of adding this theme to their portfolios each year are usually greatly rewarded for the effort.
…was the #1 bestseller on iStockphoto.com in December 2011 as well as 2010: (the photographer by the way has a fairly small portfolio of 370 files total; four of their top 10 sellers are Christmas shots. Eleven out of the 15 top-sellers for the last three months on iStock are all this type of generic holiday shot.)
I know that we just passed the 2011 holiday season, but it’s not too soon to start thinking and planning for next year’s big event, as well as gearing up for the other holidays that are just around the corner — each one also needs photos.
** 2. BUSINESS: You’d think this theme would be completely covered since it’s the most lucrative theme out there for stock photography. But here’s the thing: designers always, month after month, need new and current business shots for websites, brochures, and advertisements they’re creating for their customers. And graphic designers are still the biggest buyers in online stock.
Bottom line: “business” sells. Here’s one example, the second-best seller for the last three months on iStock:
And for a twist: think about life in the real world as your source material. The real world is not made up of 20-something models. It’s made of people of all ages, shapes, sizes, and ethnicities.
These people work in a myriad of environments and industries doing a vast array of jobs, yet when you search for “business” you will tend to see the same type of shot over and over again.
Be creative, think “real world,” put a twist on it (and do it well), and you will help solve a designer’s dilemma… and reap the rewards. Take this picture for example:
Looks like a real guy doing his real job.
** 3. PEOPLE: Not every photo needs to include people, but those that include people generally sell well.
If you can include people in your shots at least some of the time, you’ll do yourself a favor. Try to capture emotion and animation — real people doing real things in a real life, like in this shot:
Just like business shots, designers have a constant need for fresh faces and a variety of situations and emotions. Photos of women (especially business women) are more in demand now than ever before. And don’t forget the model release.
** 4. CLEAN, LIGHT, AND BRIGHT: This is nothing new in the world of stock, but images that are clean (think logo- and clutter-free), light, and bright generally sell much better than the more artistic, dark, and moody ones. With the darker shots, a designer might have to fuss around a bit more to make them fit into a project.
** 5. DYNAMIC: Images that have life to them — that are not stale or forced. They appear to be genuine, even though they are often highly staged.
It’s the art of creating the illusion that you walked into the room and your models just happened to be there… or you (and the viewer) are caught in the middle of meeting with them.
Creating these un-posed, energetic types of shots can be a challenge, but it’s well worth the effort if you’re able to pull it off — think fly on the wall. Here’s one example:
**6. CONCEPTS/IDEAS: This is one area where your creative mind can really shine.
Think outside the box as much as possible and create images that tell an idea or express a concept in a new way. Designers are always looking for visuals to go along with ideas, moods, feelings, concepts … for instance “Hope” as shown in this image:
Or this one:
Same idea, two very different ways of portraying it. Let your imagination and creativity run away with you here. You can use single words or ideas like this example or metaphors, fables … you name it, if you can create a compelling visual around it, then it could be a big seller for you. You might also find yourself an entire series of ideas to work on. The more innovative and creative you can be here, the better.
When it comes right down to it, what’s selling this year is not that much different than what was selling last year or the year(s) before that … they are all photos that designers use to convey their message. Use the ideas above to create your own shots and work toward your own unique style and voice to convey through your photography in 2012.
[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.]