Increase Your Freelance Income Through Stock Photography By Joan Airey

Increase Your Freelance Income Through Stock Photography By Joan Airey

If you love photography, there are numerous ways to expand your freelance income, by doing stock photography, fine art, contests, and assignments from ad agencies. The first photograph I entered in a calendar contest was of red mountain ash berries covered with snow. I took the photo in my front yard . It was picked for the calendar and it is the most I have ever been paid for a photograph.

If you are shooting for the stock photography market, you want photographs that graphic designers can use for backgrounds, as well as illustrations for magazine articles, company brochures, space ads, websites, book covers, and more. The first stock photo I sold was a close-up of red barn board. Stock photography is very diverse in the subject buyers want, from barn board to people. If people are identifiable in the photograph, you must submit a model release. Carry model release forms with your camera at all times and do not be afraid to ask people to sign them. Adding the human element to your photographs adds to their saleability.

Regularly study the photographs that are most frequently downloaded from stock photography sites and you’ll get idea of what sells. How I made my first sale was to refer to the photo request list on the website of a stock company.

“Micro stock” agencies were started on the web and deal with digital files. Search the Internet for stock photography agencies. Three I’m familiar with are:

According to Kerry at Canstockphoto, “In stock photography, photos are occasionally rejected because of basic technical reasons, like the file size being too small. Minimum image size of 2000 X 1500 pixels is usually required. That’s a 3 megabyte file. An image that contains a copyrighted logo or other protected material is probably the most common reason for rejections. Following that are soft focus issues and pixelation problems (dots that are visible).

“Photographers could protect their upload ratios a great deal simply by checking their file size and inspecting the entire image at hundred percent actual pixels. It is unfortunate that so many photographers miss this important post-processing step before submitting images to stock sites such as”

Canstockphoto has a list of ten very detailed ways to avoid rejections, Kerry stated the most common ones for us to avoid. Study magazines, looking at ads and articles. The majority of these photos will have come from stock agencies.

An editor that I wrote for early in my freelance career told me articles that come with photos are worth twice as much to her. That advice was some of the best I have received.

Listen to your editors. Some prefer people in photos while others don’t.

I have great photographs of places I have explored. But the bulk of my fine art photography sales are the photographs from around my community. You need a portfolio of professional quality photos of local scenes. Subjects they can cover are scenic compositions of lakes, bridges, mountains, historic buildings, parks, churches, local restaurants, etc. Sometimes, local libraries or businesses are willing to display your photography for a percent of sales. And, loving what you do will show in your work.

Joan Airey is a freelance writer and photographer specializing in agricultural lifestyle stories and photography. She writes for Farm Business Communications Publications—Grainews and Manitoba Co-operator, Horse Country, and Agri-Post. Joan has been published in Reunions Magazine, Countrymile and Canadian Teddy Bear Magazine. Her photography is available at She has published two cookbooks, “Good Friends Sharing Good Food”, Volumes I and II.