I do my share of stock photography. But I also participate in gallery shows and sell photos as fine art occasionally. While there can be some crossover, it’s usually minimal. Therefore, it’s important to know your audience, and where to sell your photos.
The photos I submit for shows are very different from those I use as stock. As the name suggests, fine art images are more artistic.
What that means is that I’m free to explore my own artistic vision. I can be as creative as I like, including extreme photo manipulation and/or processing in Photoshop.
Whereas for stock, the images are more generic and can be used to illustrate a variety of things. They’re chosen with a more “fine-toothed” technical comb, and generally only undergo processing to improve the image quality, not make it more artistic.
Editorial images, on the other hand, can at times be stock, too. They tend to have a lot of story to them, and be more documentary in nature, but don’t have any artistic interpretation.
It’s important to know, too, when a photo probably isn’t saleable at all. Some of your most beloved photos will probably be best suited for your family album only.
And that’s fine, too — everyone needs shots like those. But they usually aren’t the best sellers.
Want to know where to sell photos? Here are four examples from one of our Photo Challenges, that each fit into one of these categories: Stock, Editorial, Fine Art, or Photo Album, and a few reasons why.
*** STOCK ***
This photo, submitted by “kingaa” could possibly work as a stock shot. I’d have to see this image at 100% to know for sure if it’s free from artifacting, noise, or other things that might disqualify it as stock. But otherwise, it works well for these reasons:
1. It’s what I call “clean.” There are no logos or clutter — just a clear, simple, direct idea.
2. It has great human interest and action.
3. The photographer left plenty of copy space (maybe a little bit too much, getting in a bit closer would be better for stock. But the space that’s here is still useful).
*** EDITORIAL ***
Here’s a nice shot from “Sharon Weatherall” that might work as editorial, maybe sold with a story in a newspaper or magazine. To me, this is an editorial shot because:
1. This image has story to it, but not a general story — a specific story that could be tailor-made for an article (can’t you just see it in the local newspaper?)
2. The technicals don’t appear to be quite stock-worthy (flat light, cluttered background)
3. The identifiable people in the image could be used editorially without a model release
*** FINE ART ***
This shot, submitted by “Dinah,” could possibly sell as fine art. Here’s why:
1. It instantly says “Venice.” As a famous and intriguing place that many people have been to and many more would like to experience, this might sell as fine art. People purchase images with which they feel a connection.
2. I can imagine this framed and hanging on someone’s wall.
3. With the colors dancing on the water and the repetition of the boats, I see potential for this image to be a great base image. Meaning, it can be processed further, playing with the lines and colors, and turning it into an even more intriguing “art shot.”
*** PHOTO ALBUM ***
This photo, submitted by “bunchofprints,” is adorable. But it’s probably not saleable. This photo goes into the “Photo Album” category. Here’s why:
1. The composition is that of a snapshot, with the little boy right in the center.
2. There is a logo on his shirt that would be an issue for stock.
3. It has extreme lighting, with partial shadow and bright, overexposed highlights.
Once in a while, an image might work in more than one of these categories. But generally speaking, they will lend themselves more to one than another.
Knowing your intended use, and who your target audience is, will help you know where to sell your photos from the get-go. Keep it in mind when you pick up your camera, and you’ll be more likely to capture an appropriate image right up front… and be able to sell it later.
[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.]