Simple Stock Concepts

Earlier this week I wrote a post called Starting in Stock Photography. I have had several people contact me who, since reading that post, have opened microstock photography accounts and become approved contributors. How very cool! Within a week, they have gone from enthusiasts – to being able to generate an income from their images. This post looks at where to next, starting with simple stock concepts.

When your first become an approved microstock contributor there is a tendency to want to upload all the images that sit on your hard drive – pictures of flowers, trees, landscapes, and anything else you have. There is a perception that it will just be a matter of uploading those images and waiting for the money to roll in. Danger sign! While it can feel like progress to have images in your account, most contributors find that this burst of energy produces very few downloads.

So, what should you do?

Stock photography has a huge range of uses. Many of those are websites or print material which help to tell a story. Images which help to tell a story are going to do better than plain landscapes or pictures of flowers.

Let’s look at some simple stock concepts and images.

Stock Photo

A simple stock concept, bullying

The first image is one which shows a concept of bullying. It was shot outdoor, on a cloudy day. This is a simple image of a much-talked-about topic. The subject is clear, and the message is clear. Some space around the subject also gives room for a graphic designer to crop the image or to add some text on the wall to the left. Don’t think that a successful stock image has to be a masterpiece, simple stock concepts executed well are the key. I have used this image on Beyond Here before. It is a good example of a simple stock concept. It was shot and uploaded in 2012 and has been downloaded more than 400 times.


Finance concept

In the second sample image – I chose to show an example which doesn’t involve a model. Stock images can be shot with household objects and simple lighting. This shot did use a studio soft box, but could have used a lamp or window to light the subject. It was shot with a macro lens, and with a black sheet as the background. Finance and business themed images are popular.


Concept – blue collar worker on strike

The third image is a more specific theme, a blue collar worker on strike. The models clothing has been themed appropriately. Again, this is a simple image which communicates a clear message. This style of image will be slightly more challenging for the beginner to achieve as it involves multiple light sources. When you are ready to move on to having different light sources, have a look at this post to learn how to shoot this image.



Household objects can be used to create stock images

The fourth image utilizes ‘props’ which you can find at home. This is a normal kitchen jar, some money, and a sticky note. The blue background is a poster size piece of paper. In this case the lighting comes from studio soft boxes, but a similar look can be achieved by placing the subject and background near a large window.

Rather than uploading all the old images sitting around on your computer, I recommend:

  • thinking up image concepts
  • research what is already available in image libraries
  • focus on shooting clear, simple images which tell a story
  • repeat this process!

If you have questions from this post, please leave a comment. If you would like to receive a weekly email from Beyond Here please sign up in the box at the top right of this page.

I’m excited that people who read last week’s post have taken action and set up their own microstock accounts. I hope this post helps them in the next step – building a portfolio and generating their first downloads. Good luck in shooting simple stock concepts!