How to EARN MONEY with your photos

The answer is quite simple : stock photography.

Although I have started taking pictures for more than 6-7 years, and even more, have been doing it professionally for more than 4 years, I have finally decided to give the stock agencies a chance last year. The process is simple, you uploaded photos which you consider to be of general interest : textures, wallpapers, landscapes, business related , or even simple objects around the house ( no brand names should be visible ) to some stock agencies websites and they start selling your photos and give you a part of the earnings. I am sure many of you have seen generic photos like a smiley girl on a cell phone or 2 business men shaking hands – especially on company websites – it’s most likely that those photos were purchased from a stock agency – with a royalty free license. Of course not all photos can be stock material. Any photo with a recognizable human face must be accompanied by model release from that person in order to be accepted. So it’s great to get started using general photos with no people : like a photo of a laptop ( no visible brand or logo ) or simply a photo of a sliced apple for instance. There are always tons of photos you took with no general purpose in mind that can be stock material and could bring you some money. The photo you see up here – with the girl and the $100 bills is a perfect example of a stock photo.

How much money are we talking about ? Well it’s up to how many photos you upload and how much interest people have in buying them. You could have just 50 photos but with a big interest and you could be making 100$ per month without any effore. Once the photos are online, you don’t need to do ANYTHING – they start producing money – CONSTANTLY. There are some ordinary photographers that make 1000$ per month – and we’re not talking about some huge names. There are some big names out there that make 10.000$ or even more each month but we’re talking about thousands of files uploaded and people hired to constant shoot/upload work. Anyway – bottom line is that it’s not THAT difficult for some casual photographer to make 200-300$ each month.

There are TONS of agencies ( websites ) out there but only a few of them are worth taking in consideration. I will try and give you a short description of each one:

1. ShutterStock

ShutterStock is the most important agency – as it will most likely bring you the biggest sales and earnings. It probably has the most clients – because the images they provide ( from you and me ) are for sure the best when it comes to technical detail so the downside for a photographer is that they are VERY strict to the quality of photos they will accept from you. They also have the toughest registration process for contributors: you need to upload 10 of your best photos and 7 of them need to be accepted in order for you to keep uploading. But as I said, the photos need to be PERFECT ( no noise, no over filtered, correct WB etc ) so be careful what you upload. If more than 3 ( out of 10 ) photos are refused – you will have to wait 1 month before you can try again.

2. Dreamstime

Dreamstime is also a HUGE agency. It’s probably easier for new users to start their stock activity here rather than SS. Their uploaded sistem is a bit idiotic, due to huge amount of stuff on their website that is somewhat unorganized but their acceptance level is a lot higher than other agencies. So, although your photos need to be VERY GOOD technically you will get a lot less refused images here than in other places. As I said, it’s a great place for newcomers to start their first stock experience. I got the best results here when I first started.

3. iStockphoto

iStockphoto is another agency that accepts ONLY high quality PERFECT images. The upside is that the prices are higher here so less GOOD images could bring you more money than elsewhere. Also they don’t have such a strict starting system like Shuttstock although you still have to go through a test period. All in all its a very solid contender.

4. Fotolia

Fotolia – is probably the most permissive agency of them all. This means that if some images get refused everywhere else, but you consider them to be good, they will perhaps be accepted here. It’s a good thing for new photographers but this also means that they have a HUGE amount of files so your file will be more difficult to be visible upon a search. Still the prices are not bad and if you have good images – it could be a great income producer.


This is a smaller agency and so far the revenue will not be HUGE but it has been bought by ShutterStock and it has a great system of linking images accepted at ShutterStock to be displayed here also. It’s an upcoming agency so if you’re among the early contributors, it might mean more in the future.

So – which agency to use ? Well why not use all of them? It doesn’t say anywhere that you can’t upload the same photos EVERYWHERE. Of course you will not opt for the exclusivity program but my experience was that an image does better producing money on multiple agencies than being only at ONE agency and producing more per download, but that’s up to you. At first, my advice is to signup on all of them and upload everywhere.

I wish you all best of luck and many many images sales.
If you have any questions, just ask.


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