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Stock Photography And Footage Selling: A Complete Guide

Updated: Apr 3, 2022

Stock Photography And Footage Selling: A Complete Guide

Photography is an art of observation and it's been in existence since 1826. The craze for photography is enormous and still increasing exponentially. Photography can be described as capturing a perfect moment which would later stays into the mind as a reminder of sad and happy memories. It is always worth it to have a good picture to remember. A memorable photo transmits positive vibe and nostalgia.

Becoming a professional photographer has never been so easier before. Yes, nowadays it's more challenging to showcase your work and make a huge mark in this competitive industry, but the resources available today are far better than ever. Photography is not limited to big studios with expensive gears anymore. In today's time, you don't have to own a professional DSLR to capture a wonderful photo. A smartphone that costs around 1/4th of a good DSLR can do a great job if someone knows the basics of real photography.

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Their is a lot of criticism while considering photography as a career. Still, photographers do earn a lot when it comes to choosing this line of field and that depends on several factors.


Types Of Photography Styles

Types of Photography Styles - Stock Photography And Footage Selling: A Complete Guide

Photography isn't limited to just capturing what is in front to you. There are different photography methods which require different lens type, equipment and camera modes. These are the types of photography fields that you can choose depend on your work expertise.

  • Portrait Photography

  • Landscape Photography

  • Wildlife Photography

  • Wedding Photography

  • Traveling Photography

  • Photojournalism

  • Fashion Photography

  • Sports Photography

  • Still Life Photography

  • Editorial Photography

  • Architectural Photography

There are still many styles of photography such as events, concert, medial, micro, food, erotic, underwater, aerial, advertising and paparazzi. Just like photography, there is a special place for video making enthusiasts.


How To Earn Money From Selling Photos, Videos & Other Media Content?

How To Earn Money From Selling Photos, Videos & Other Media Content?

A photographer can earn a lot even with average looking photos and not just from one source but several sources simultaneously. Freelancing, Studio Photography and Stock Photography are some of the ways which a photographer can earn money. Here we will discuss about Freelance and Studio photography.


Freelancing is a path of self employment and is very popular amongst workers of many field. Freelance photography basically involves capturing and collecting images for someone else's personal use. Someone who takes on clients depending on the niche, clicks photographs as per the requirement, and charges them per image. A freelance photographer can pick per hour gig and work for News company, magazine publisher and weddings.

A Freelance photographer can charge on per image or set hourly rate. Such photographer's prices depend on their skill, expertise, and what type of event they are shooting. Freelancing is a great way to express your photography skills while enjoying your freedom.

Studio Photography:

Studio photography is a term used for private studio houses that deals with full time professional photographs related work. A studio requires space to work on which include heavy expensive equipment such as cameras, lenses, props, tripod, lighting kits, and backdrops.

Studio photography basically preformed indoors which involves a team of people with different expertise such as photography, lighting and post processing. Such studios also takes on personal, wedding and traveling type of photography work.

A studio gives photographer an opportunity to work full time and make a good regular income without relying much on personal photography work. Studios do pay very well and making a good portfolio can be a better option to kickstart your photography journey.


What Is Stock Photography?

What is Stock Photography? Stock Photography And Footage Selling: A Complete Guide

Stock photography is nothing new in the industry and it's always been a huge thing for photographers. It is a good side hustle which can provide you a passive source of income. Stock images are existing photos which are either captured using a camera device or generated using graphic design software. Which then made available on online platforms by license them for creative use.

Stock media is an industry that creates a platform for enthusiasts to sell their creative work in the form of photos, illustrations, music or videos. There are several online platforms which allows you to sell images and videos for commercial, and other license use.

You can sell Stock Photos and footages on well reputed websites like Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, Pond5, etc. So how does stock photography works? Well, whenever a buyer purchase an item from such websites, these platforms then pay a fee to the artist and take a small cut themselves. This way a buyer acquire the right to use them legally in different ways, while the artist retains the copyright of their work.

Stock media selling has far more potential to outperform other type of media distribution platforms.


Where To Sell Images And Footage Online?

Where To Sell Images And Footage Online? Stock Photography And Footage Selling: A Complete Guide

When it comes to selling online, most of the people get confused on what platform to choose, where to start, what to sell and how much they can earn with their time spend. There are many stock selling platforms which gives you to sell not just your images and videos, but also your vectors and music files. Have a look at some websites where you can sell your stock images, footages, and other media content.


Shutterstock is a global provider of stock photography, stock footage and stock music. Shutterstock helps inspire graphic designers, creative directors, video editors, filmmakers, web developers, and other creative professionals by providing diverse content to businesses, marketing agencies and media organizations around the world.


Pond5 is an online marketplace for royalty-free media. Pond5 is the most profitable agency for most contributors who produce stock footage. The company licenses stock footage, stock music, stock photography, sound effects, after effects, images and 3D models.

Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock is a stock photography and stock footage service offered by Adobe that is fully integrated into Creative Cloud platform. Adobe Stock provides designers and businesses with access to millions of high-quality curated and royalty-free photos, videos, illustrations, vector graphics, 3D assets, and templates for all their creative projects.

Getty Images

Getty Images is a supplier of stock images, editorial photography, video and music for business and consumers. Getty Images offers the most exclusive and unique creative and editorial visual content globally, with over 415 million assets. It targets three markets—creative professionals, the media, and corporate.


iStock is part of the wider Getty Images Inc. iStock is an online royalty free, international micro stock photography provider. iStock offers millions of photos, illustrations, clip art, videos, and audio tracks. Artists, designers and photographers worldwide contribute their work to iStock collections in return for royalties. Nearly half a million new photos, illustrations, videos and audio files, are added each month.


Alamy is a stock photography agency launched in September 1999. Alamy supplies ton of online stock images, videos, and other image material. Their content comes from agencies and independent photographers, or are collected from news archives, museums, national collections, and public domain.


500px is a global online photo-sharing platform that is a subsidiary of Visual China Group. 500px is a photography community where you can get immediate exposure with your first upload, connect and share your photos with the world.


Stocksy United, also known to as Stocksy or Stocksy United Photography, is a platform that provides royalty free stock photography, illustrations and stock video. Stocksy uses a curated editing approach to select useful and authentic photos.

Can Stock Photo

Being one of the earliest microstock agencies, Can Stock Photo is a stock photography provider which licenses royalty-free images, photos, digital illustrations, clip art and video footages on behalf of photographers, illustrators, and videographers. It is the only stock photography agency that offers guest purchases for one time purchasers that do not require membership sign up.


What Types Of Media Content To Upload On Stock Photography Websites?

What Type Of Media Content To Upload On Stock Photography Websites? Stock Photography And Footage Selling: A Complete Guide

There are wide variety of media content you can sell online. From a simple flag wave to a cinematic drone shot, a still flower image to an abstract image you generated in your computer. You can sell almost any type of media content that you own the right for. As long as it isn't an explicit or low resolution file, you are good to go.

Let's discuss in detail what exactly you can sell on stock photography websites:


Photography is fun. Almost every kind of microstock agency deals with selling and buying of stock images. Images such as abstract are easy to generate, but presenting them requires time. Platforms like iStock, Pond5, Adobe Stock, Shutterstock, 500px, Stocksy, Alamy, and Getty Images allow contributors to showcase their images and sell them.

There is a huge demand of images and that's why your photos must stand in front of thousands of other contributors. There are the types of photos you can capture using color modes or generate according to your niche to start earning.

Stock Photographs:

  • People (With model release)

  • Nature

  • Sports

  • Animals

  • Food

  • Travel

  • Monuments

  • Festival

  • Wildlife

Computer Generated Images:

  • Background

  • Matte Paintings

  • Gradient

  • 3D Renders

  • Abstract

  • Texture

  • Pattern

  • Clip Art

Find a niche that perfectly suits you and work on building a portfolio of it and turn it into a passive income stream.


Video related content is popular and common in today's standards. Stock videography is a great way of collecting a vast range of occasional and seasonal footages. Video and footages sells far more expensive than photos. There are many types of videos and footages that you can submit on microstock websites to start generating money.

Stock Footages:

  • Travel

  • People (With model release)

  • Food

  • Sports

  • Animals

  • Drone Shot

  • Festival

  • Whiteboard Videos

  • Occasion

  • lifestyle

Computer Generated Footages:

  • Overlays (Light leaks, Impact lights, gradients)

  • Effects (Particle effects, Glitch effects, Fire, Water or Smoke)

  • Alpha Channel Track Mattes

  • Green Screen Clips

  • Motion Graphics (Abstract background, Animated titles, Graphic loops)

  • Infographics

Always make sure to generate or record a video on highest quality if possible because their is a huge price gap in selling 4K UHD Clip, 1080p Full HD Clip and 720p Standard HD.

If recorded in high FPS (Frames per second), then it will be far more easy to snap a perfect shot out of a video footage. This will give you an advantage to sell not just small footages out of a video clip, but also to sell beautiful high quality images without any extra effort.

Note: Export most of your clips and alpha channel footages to .MOV file type using QuickTime for better uncompressed quality.

Vector Files

Vector designing is the best option to earn as stock image selling if you have less interest in photography. Vector art is basically a type of art which can be resize to any extent without losing its quality. Such designs are computer generated using design elements and vector based software like Adobe illustrator and CorelDraw. Most of the platforms support EPS file types. Such vector files are logo designs, digital drawing, templates, and many other.

The question is what kind of design you need to create and submit to generate a good passing income? Then don't stress, these are some of the vector design types you can choose and start working on today:

  • Vector illustrations

  • Backgrounds

  • Business cards

  • Patterns

  • Brochure

  • Templates

  • Flyers

  • Logo

  • Mockups

  • Posters

Not only vector designs look simple, but they are also easy to create. You can also sell Brush sets on several websites. There are many tutorials you can find online to kickstart some vector designing work.


Music is a mood refresher, but composing one isn't as easy as people think. Kudos to artists who compose music. Platforms like Shutterstock, AudioJungle, Sellfy, Getty images, Beatport and Pond5 allow their users to upload their music files on their website and sell them. Selling your music on these sites generally means selling the tracks you own the rights for. If you are an expert music composer or a hobbyist track generator, then selling some of your greatest tracks can provide you a regular passive income.


Types Of Stock Photography License

Types Of Stock Photography License - Stock Photography And Footage Selling: A Complete Guide

When you upload any content on websites like Shutterstock, it will ask you to mark on a license usage option. These options could be Commercial or Editorial. So what exactly are these?

Commercial License

A photo or footage is licensed as commercial use if it is being used to sell or advertise something. These are the images used with the intent to sell a product, raise money, or endorse something. Due to the commercial nature, more legal papers are required.

Usually these types of images will have an identifiable person or place, so a model release form is required in order to actually license them. Since the purpose of stock photography is to help sell or promote a product, this essentially puts editorial images in their own category.

Editorial License

Editorial content is newsworthy or of general interest to the public which excludes any advertising use. Images labeled as “Editorial Use Only” cannot be used for commercial work. An editorial image can only be used to illustrate a news related story or reporting and commenting on some events – not to sell or advertise a product, service or idea.

Editorial images are most popular with journalists and news outlets. Shutterstock images marked as ‘for editorial use only’ are intended for bloggers and journalists who need single-use editorial images. These photos are normally taken in public places, and usually contain recognizable people and places without model or property releases in place.

Rights Managed

Rights-managed, or RM, licensing refers to a copyright license which allows the buyer to use a photo or video within the specified terms. This license is time and geographically limited. Clients who deal with rights-managed licensing usually include editorial and commercial clients like newspapers, magazines, ad agencies, etc.

Rights Managed license is a onetime charge for the use of a photo, and can be purchased as an exclusive or non-exclusive photo. If the buyer wants to use the image for additional projects, the image needs to be re-licensed again.

Royalty Free

Royalty Free license grants non-exclusive, unlimited and multiple use of an image, with few restrictions. Royalty Free images and videos are sold under a paid license, regardless of your intended use being personal, commercial, or non-profit. That means they can be used in any kind of project even if a credit is given or not.

Royalty Free doesn't always mean free to use. Just because they are unlicensed, sometimes makes them illegal to use. Always read proper usability and credit requirement before actually using such media for your personal use.

Sites like Pexels, Unsplash, pixabay, etc. provides royalty free images for users.


Why Do People Buy License For Stock Images?

Why Do People Buy License For Stock Images? Stock Photography And Footage Selling: A Complete Guide

There are millions of beautiful images and photographs you can find online on daily basis. That doesn't mean you can use them whenever you want. The images/videos you find on internet are not always free to use and somehow connected to its rightful owner.

Many people decides to use online images/footage in their personal, or commercial work without paying attention of whether they are using a free to use or copyrighted content. Individuals get away with such situations unnoticed. But when it comes to an organization who tends to advertise their product on a global level, the chance of getting sued for copyright infringement is very likely and risky for their brand.

People buy content on such platforms not just to save their money, but to also own a right for something they liked and might use that in their next project. As we all know hiring someone to design your work is not that hard, but getting the perfect output the way we want is actually difficult. It's not that easy to convince your client to like your work, and vice versa. By using microstock and license based platforms, they get a proper idea on what they are paying for by looking at the output first. Visualizing what you need before you actually need it saves a lot of time and hustle.

If you sell a content which is worth buying and actually in demand, then there is a huge possibility that your content will start to generate revenue within weeks of you joining the platform. Remember, buyers are everywhere. You just need to learn what to sell, when to sell, and whom to sell.


Is Stock Image And Footage Selling Worth It?

Is Stock Image And Footage Selling Worth It? Stock Photography And Footage Selling: A Complete Guide

Photography is a skill not limited to professionals anymore. You can make a decent passive income just by uploading few high quality images online. License them the way it suits you and with the option to choose not just one but hundreds of different microstock platforms makes your portfolio diverse and multiply the revenue.

Your future potential and earnings will only be determined by the quality of your work, and the time and resources you spend on it. Just don't buy expensive gears yet, instead do some casual photography in the starting, create amazing looking illustrations and record some crisp footages using your existing camera. Work on trends, Festivals and capture shots which are high in demand. This way your portfolio will start generating some earning and motivates you to do more.

You don't need to rush yourself into making all kind of stuffs at once. Instead, do some research work and make references out of them. Then work on them one by one. Beginners make these mistakes by diverging their mind of making multiple form of images, vectors and videos at once and not focusing at one type of design form that they actually like to do.

Another thing to actually keep in mind is that stock photography should be taken as a secondary form of income and not totally depend on it. Even if your initial sales are good and you are generating a good sum of money, there's still no guarantee that the same growth will again continue in next month. It's all about buyer's psychology and that my friend is very complicated.

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Feb 18, 2022

Thank you for this detailed and helpful writeup, am thinking of uploading some of my stock. JenX-Photo

Ankit Garg
Ankit Garg
Mar 01, 2022
Replying to

Thanks and hope you got the info you were looking for. And yes, do submit your spare designs on regular basis.. There are many buyers out there looking for quality work ;)


Jan 31, 2022

very helpful guide, thank you for putting this together.

Ankit Garg
Ankit Garg
Jan 31, 2022
Replying to

Thank You.. Hope that's helpful :}


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