Researching “What to shoot for stock?”

I spend quite a bit of time researching what to shoot for stock, although I’m busy at the moment mostly coding picNiche and other projects, I’m slowly increasing the amount of stock photography I produce.

One of the primary goals in building picNiche is to identify areas where there is currently a shortage of supply in microstock imagery, so I can focus on producing work to fill those gaps, increasing the ROI for my time.

Reading other people’s experiences on this topic is very helpful, so I thought I’d share the great articles I’ve found around the web discussing which photography subjects are considered in-demand, primarily for microstock, but also for traditional stock markets.

The topics mentioned in all of these posts are supported by the related searches I’ve followed up with on the picNiche site, making me confident, shoot these and they will sell well 🙂

Listy Goodness:

Microstock Diaries – What to Shoot?

Yuri Arcurs – What Should I Shoot and What Sells Well?

John Lund – How to Generate Effective Ideas for Stock Photos

Rasmus Rasmussen – What is Good Stock Photography?

Microstock Junction – Shoot What You Know

What subjects are picture-buyers looking for?

36 Clicks – Find your niche in Microstock

Microstock Insider – What kind of Images sell best?

10 Tips for Shooting Stock Photos That Make Art Directors Happy

Still Life Photography For The Microstock Photographer

Which photos are in demand from picture agencies?

Knowing What to Shoot for Stock Images

Shooting What’s Needed – How to Shoot Stock Photos That Sell

Photo Ideas for Microstock Photographers

Pixels Away – What Sells in Microstock? – Things to shoot

Ellen Boughn’s Amazing Dreamstime Blog posts (compiled by Maigi)

Other Approaches

Deciding on the best ways to research the potential return when considering a shoot can be very difficult, though I regularly check the ‘top’ sellers and keywords on various agency sites, mainly to check for new trending topics or new upcoming industries/news:

Fotolia – Top Sellers this Month

Fotolia – Top Searched Keywords

Shutterstock – Top 50 Images This Week

Shutterstock – Top 100 Image Searches

iStockphoto – Most Popular

Dreamstime – Blank Search ordered by Downloads

It’s also a wise idea to check-up on your own portfolio from time-to-time. Which images sell most reliably, which seasons affect you most, both for the ups & downs (I do great for the new fiscal year and back-to-school, but not so great for most religious holidays). Then create work which either fills the gaps, or accentuates your existing strengths depending on which you enjoy most. Some excellent info on this on a post from Microstock Insider: Analysing what Sells in Microstock

You could of course spend from here-to-eternity analysing topics, search trends, and other data, It’s still bound to be somewhat mysterious, be careful not to spend too long away from the camera. picNiche can help with filtering, confirming, or even discovering new ideas, but it seems the single most important piece of advice is to ‘think like an image-buyer’, as tough as that might be 🙂

Do you just shoot anything as it takes your fancy, or do you plan ahead, make detailed notes, work out a shoot to the finest detail?

Think I’ve missed a post on this topic or have any ideas on finding marketable ideas, please drop a comment.

How do you decide what to shoot?

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  1. Posted October 2, 2009 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    I wrote a series of blog posts (one a week) for two years for Dreamstime on what to shoot for stock. Although I no longer do so, all the blogs are available on line. I have written a book: Microstock Money Shots to be published in July by Amphoto (Random House). Look for it!

  2. Posted October 2, 2009 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Thanks as always, marked for further reading

  3. Posted October 2, 2009 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    While I do try to keep a list of general concepts ready, most of my shoots are on impulse. I haven’t been too good about having a detailed shot list prepared, but I am working on it. The shots get a lot better if I can be disciplined enough to think about wardrobe, positions, expressions, and variations in advance. (Sometimes I’m just happy to remember to run a brush through the kids hair and wash their face. Milk mustaches are tough to remove convincingly in photoshop!)

    More likely, I’ll get an idea, set up the whole scene without the model, and take some test shots to make sure everything is ready. then grab a kid, and head to the studio (a.k.a. the garage) for a 5-minute shoot. (Kids get bored quick…) Half the shots will be from my list, or off the top of my head, and the rest are just letting the kids do what they do in the scene I’ve prepared.

    Sometimes, I’ll tell the 5-year-old it’s her turn. She can wear whatever she wants, grab whatever props she wants, and just play. It’s really cool seeing what she comes up with sometimes, and we have a few pretty good sellers that were 100% her idea. Really the complete opposite of a planned shoot.


  4. Posted October 2, 2009 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    Really nice post with a lot of good articles, thanks!

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