Whether you’re looking for a new hobby or to make money on the side while the kids are in school, creating stock photos is a fun way to generate income that will accumulate passively for as long as your image continues to be used. Here are a few tips for getting going.
Start with the keywords
There’s no sense in taking several hundred shots of coffee mugs if few people are looking for them. Browse the most commonly searched keywords on a reputable site like Shutterstock to determine what kind of photos will help you build the most profitable portfolio. This will also provide you a better sense not just of popular individual items but of popular categories as well. And, more likely than not, it will give you some great ideas for shooting.
Get out of your everyday routine
The most compelling photos are often shot spontaneously and with raw emotion. Try taking your subject through a new and delightful experience that will naturally evoke expression. This could mean photographing your child playing with a new toy or taking your dog to the park to pounce in fall leaves. Expressions of delight, curiosity and even frustration as your subject encounters a new task, experience or environment are sure to make a great photo. And, hey, you’ll all have a lot of fun while you’re doing it!
Take the time to learn the craft
Most stock photography sites have forums where experienced and amateur photographers both ask questions and get them answered in a casual yet informative environment. A few of the top tips on shooting kids and pets that we’ve seen so far:
- Give your subjects room to breathe. Kids and pets know when they’re being photographed, and they generally don’t like it. Step back and try hard to be subtle with your photos. The more natural the actions seem, the better.
- Use sports mode or buy a professional camera with a fast shutter speed. Kids and pets move fast. Having a camera that can take one rapid shot after the other will ensure you’ll get the best action shot.
- Go beyond “cheese.” Get goofy. Have kids scream before a photo or say something silly for a hilarious and cute photo.
- Meet your subjects where they are. Minimize the amount of shooting you do of your pet or child from above. Get down there with them for the most compelling shot.
Even the best photos won’t generate any views or money if they’re not labeled correctly. Tagging is definitely a learned art, so browse through a wide range of photos to get a sense of how to tag with the most natural, relevant language. As Shutterstock states in its guidelines, go for what a designer would search – “happy girl” rather than “mirthful girl.” Basic and simple descriptions and multiple tags will yield the most success for showing up in the results.
Get the right releases
If you’re taking photographs of people (especially kids!) your stock photo site will require model or guardian photo releases. Make sure you have them ready to go.
There’s no underestimating the power of the mom photographer. So get out there, start shooting those great photos and earn a little money while you’re at it!
Author Bio: Rob Toledo resides in Seattle, Washington spending his weekends out in nature either along the water or in the mountains. He works for Distilled Creative and can be reached on twitter @stentontoledo