5 Characteristics of Successful Stock Photos

If you are interested or are selling your outdoor and nature photography, there are important factors to creating images the markets will want. It is not always clear on what exactly what makes for a successful image, but there are some ideas inherent in many  successful images that are proven time and again.

Successful stock photos earn money over and over. While it is nice to license an image once or twice, it’s even better when an image licenses many times.

In an earlier interview here on Pro Nature, this photographer created an image that has earned over $800,000 in sales and is still being licensed today. Why is it so popular? It is not hard to tell once you look at the image. It is strong on concept and it is beautiful, it tells a story, and is technically perfect.

While there are many nature images that appear to sell simply because they are beautiful images, there is usually an underlying reason the image is succeeding beyond its simple beauty.

That beauty in itself often tells a story about the photograph and its location by evoking an emotion. As an example, people buy calendars, gift or note cards, for the pictures. The picture evokes an emotion that prompted a purchase because the buyer gets joy from observing the picture(s).

People often buy products based more on the pictures than the text indicating that the photograph was successful by prompting the impulse to buy.

Here are 5 characteristics of successful selling images:

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How To Use Flash Fill Outdoors

Flash fill is a very useful tool for photographers. In contrasty lighting situations our camera sometimes cannot record the range of contrast in a photo scene like our eyes can. In very bright situations, the perfect exposure will favor the highlights in the scene and often to the detriment of the shadows.

Flash fill can add light to the shadow areas reducing the harsh contrast created by bright sun or ambient light. It can also brighten up dull images that are taken in flat light. In fact I always recommend the use of a flash whenever shooting people and most subjects in full sun and in flat light.

Subjects outside when the sun is high overhead can suffer what is called ‘raccoon eyes’, dark eye sockets on a brightly lit face. Back-lit subjects can also benefit from flash fill by outputting flash into the front shadow side reducing the lighting contrast. Wildlife photographers are known to use flash simply to add a ‘catchlight’ to an animals’ eyes.

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Mark Tipple’s Totally Awesome Underwater Wave Photography

I have featured many professional photographers here and posted about what I feel is one of the most important aspects to success in today’s markets: being a niche photographer!

Finding something that you love to photograph and then pushing the boundaries can, if done well, quickly bring you wide spread attention. That is just what happened to Australian photographer Mark Tipple.

His Underwater Project has gone viral and rocketed him to global recognition in just a few short years and his work is getting published in places like The Australian, The Telegraph, The BBC, The Independent, National Geographic, and Discovery Channel.

Mark has completed many projects, but it is the Underwater Project that has gotten a lot of attention lately and when you see the images, you’ll understand why. The Underwater Project has purpose and meaning beyond a collection of images, but it is the images themselves that captivate viewers and brought Mark recognition and even won some awards.

Here, Mark tells us about the project and how he accomplished it:

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Photographing the Wildlife of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut

by David Hemmings

This year’s trip to Cambridge Bay, Nunavut will be one to remember for many reasons. Upon my arrival in Cambridge Bay four days before my guests arrived for the workshop, it was raining cats and dogs and the thermometer was hovering around 38 degrees Fahrenheit. So I ask one of the locals “is this unusual weather for this time of year”? His reply was, “sure is, we almost never see rain in June and July up here’. So the trip starts.

The idea of me getting there early with our guide was to scout bird locations for photography. One of the primary goals was to find and photograph nesting Snowy Owls. There are basically three different roads to traverse by vehicle in Cambridge Bay. The one that was most likely to lead to the Snowy Owls was closed off due to a damaged bridge that had been rampaged by severe ice melt off and fast flowing water.

When we made this discovery on the second day of scouting, we went as quickly as possible to the town hall to try and find out what, if any, were the plans for getting the bridge open. After all, this was the road that leads to one of the biggest attractions in Cambridge Bay, Mount Pelly. We were informed that they had called in an engineer to assess the situation and see what, if anything could be done quickly to get the bridge back open. We crossed our fingers and went about the task of scouting the tundra from the only two other roads open to vehicular traffic.

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The Beautiful Photography of Conservation Photographer Amy Gulick

Amy Gulick is a professional photographer and writer from Washington State. While her work has appeared in Outdoor Photographer, Audubon, Nature’s Best Photography, National Wildlife, Sierra, and National Parks, she is widely known for her tireless efforts as a conservation photographer.

Her work has received numerous honors including the prestigious Daniel Housberg Wilderness Image Award from the Alaska Conservation Foundation, and a Lowell Thomas Award from the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation. She is also the recipient of a Philip Hyde Grant Award for her work in the Tongass National Forest of Alaska, and a Mission Award, both presented by the North American Nature Photography Association.

Her book Salmon in the Trees: Life in Alaska’s Tongass Rain Forest is a 2011 Nautilus Book Award winner and a 2010 Independent Publisher Book Award winner. We have been hoping to feature Amy for some time and finally caught up with her.

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PNP Home Image 3 by Jay Goodrich

5 Tips for Selling Yourself

When it comes to marketing your photography business, you need to break down what you are selling and to whom. While many things we sell as photographers are products and services, we should spend much more time selling ourselves first and our products second.

Some examples might be selling prints at an art show where you are dealing with people looking at your work. Another might be selling stock images to publishers, selling a story idea to a magazine, or selling yourself as an assignment photographer.

Selling ourselves to clients is about building a rapport with the customer and understanding their needs. For you to earn their business you have to have a solution to their problem or the ability to fill their wants and needs. To be successful you need to sell yourself in a way that nobody else can. You need to make them believe you are the solution to their problem or need.

Customers like to work with people they get ‘good vibes’ from and those they like. It is about building relationships. It is much easier to keep a client than to earn a client so while there is always work to be done keeping a client; the real work is earning their business in the first place.

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