Monthly Archives: February 2016

New Ways to Sell Your Images

While many in the photography industry lament the loss of “the way things were” – I continue to be positive that there are more ways for photographers to make money today than ever before. Not only that, there continue to be new ways to sell your images.


This shot was taken at a remote beach on the east coast of New Zealand. Very specific images like this suit the ImageBrief model.

Currently, some of my key ways for generating income through photography are:

  • Selling my images through a stock photography site
  • Local wedding clients
  • Local family portrait clients
  • Local portrait clients
  • Selling prints online
  • Helping other photographers to run their own businesses
  • Selling copies of an e-book I wrote about stock photography

This week I’ve been learning more about an online business called ImageBrief. It has been around for a while now, but is new to me.

How Does it Work? ImageBrief works by people who need images writing a specific brief for photographers to work to. The buyers are, in the main, advertising agencies and corporate clients. They are looking for specific, unique images and don’t want images which are broadly available like on a microstock site. On their home page these words sum up what they are aiming to provide to buyers – “Un-Stocky Stock Images”.

What about payment? For each image you get paid a few hundred dollars (in US dollars) through to several thousand dollars. The amount is outlined on the brief. One brief I look at was for hero images of Australian and New Zealand cities. The buyer was needing multiple images and was prepared to pay $3500 per image. That is an attractive amount per image.

How is it different to microstock? It’s clear from the payment structure that images sold via Imagebrief follow a low volume, higher price model compared to microstock. Microstock was built on high volume and low prices which made it attractive to the occasional image buyer and the mass image buyer. Imagebrief is an evolution to meet the needs of the specific image buyer. They don’t want an image which is readily available and widely used elsewhere. In many cases, they want exclusivity of use for a period of time and are prepared to pay for it.


ImageBrief connects buyers and sellers around specific requirements.

Why is this attractive for image buyers? For the buyer, using a service like Imagebrief is still cheaper and easier than hiring a photographer to shoot the image directly and gives them some control of the creative process. If they write a good brief they should get a range of images to select from which meets their needs. In that sense it is better than hiring one photographer who shoots in one style. A pool of photographers will provide different images with different styles.

What’s in it for the photographer? Firstly, there is a pipeline of briefs being written by buyers every day. If you are wanting to know what is in demand by modern image buyers, start reading the briefs. Secondly, it gives the photographer access to image buyers around the world. If you are only shooting for local clients, Imagebrief brings you in contact with a much broader range of buyers. And thirdly, the combination of the first two points means this is a financial opportunity and one of the new ways to sell your images.

Interestingly, the information on ImageBrief talks about being able to use your existing library of images to meet buyers needs. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a lot of commercially useful images just sitting around. They are either being used by clients, or available through my stock photography portfolio. I believe it’s more realistic to be using the briefs to go and shoot new content, rather than using your existing files.

Will it be successful? This model has the potential to be very successful. It enables the buyer to tap into a pool of photographers around the world, and to write a specific brief for them. Photographers should be able to produce images which match directly to the buyers needs. In many ways I see this model as an extension to stock photography, but improved by the fact the buyer outlines exactly what they need, rather than hoping they find a suitable image in a stock library. It is a great example of leveraging the ‘connected world’ through an online marketplace to better match the needs of the buyer and seller.

Thanks for reading new ways to sell your images. Head on over to ImageBrief to check it out.

Disclosure – the links to the Imagebrief site in this post have a referral which Craig Dingle Photography Pty Ltd may benefit from financially. Under the current terms of the program my business would earn a US$50 voucher when any photographer who signs up with ImageBrief via this link sells their first image. 

Copyspace in Stock Photography

I am currently working with several photographers to help build their stock photography portfolios. One of the many things I like about stock photography is that you can shoot any subject matter (see this post). But as your stock portfolio grows and you begin to focus on the number of downloads you are generating, it is helpful to know what will generate more downloads. One of those things is leaving copyspace in stock photography.


Images with extensive copyspace are widely used in travel publications.

What is copyspace? Literally it is leaving space in your image for a designer to add copy to your image. For example, they might add a headline or part of a story. If you’d like to see any example, grab a magazine and starting looking through it. Look for large size images, either a full page or a double page. Often the designer will use a single image spread across a double page with copy added to the image.

Why is it important? Leaving copyspace around your subject will mean your image has more flexibility. It will be able to be used in different ways by designers. They could crop the image to focus tightly on the subject, or add text to the image. Greater flexibility in use will lead to more downloads of your images, and more downloads equals more income.

Melbourne, Australia

Leaving copyspace is possible in studio or on location. Watch your backgrounds for what will be appropriate.

What type of backgrounds work well? This is a difficult question to answer, as many different backgrounds can work effectively. That said, I look for plain, uncluttered backgrounds to use as copyspace when I am planning and shooting my images. It is a similar concept to wedding photography. In wedding photography I am often looking for plain, uncluttered backgrounds to ensure the focus is on the bride and groom. In stock photography I look for plain, uncluttered backgrounds to be used as copyspace around my subject.


This is an example of a plain, uncluttered background which works effectively as copyspace.

Do these types of images get used without text being added? Yes, they do. Sometimes an image buyer will be looking for a nicely composed image that has a clear message and doesn’t need text to be added. It literally speaks for itself. Again, shooting images like these gives flexibility in how they might be used. And flexibility in use leads to a greater number of downloads.

Should you shoot close ups of your subject matter as well? This question is up to you, and again one of the great things about stock photography is you are free to shoot what you want, and in the style you like. When it is possible I tend to shoot close ups to focus tightly on the subject as well as a wider shot with copyspace. It is about making sure my images are flexible and can be used in a variety of circumstances.

Thanks for reading this post about copyspace in stock photography. I hope it has been useful to you and will help you to look at your subject in a slightly different way. A small adjustment to the way that you shoot can produce a big change in your stock photography results.

Tips for the Perennial Wannabe Pro Photographer

Today’s post provides tips for the perennial wannabe pro photographer. Tips for that person who loves photography and has always talked about making their hobby their living but hasn’t quite got there yet. Let’s help that person make the jump with five common sense tips to help them launch.

Tip 1. Act Now. Action is contagious, it produces more action. Sometimes it is good to plan things out in great detail, and other times it is better to take one step forward right now. Today. Act. Set up a website. Print some business cards. Register your business. Find a mentor. Open a stock photography account. Whatever it is, acting and moving forward one step at a time is the only way. We all started with one small step forward. Stop procrastinating. Act now.

Melbourne tram

Being able to produce strong images in different lighting conditions is very important. Winning awards is not.

Tip 2. Creating Good Quality Images is More Important Than Winning Awards. I see photographers with the potential to run successful businesses talk themselves out of it because they have not won awards for their images. They think that because they haven’t won awards, that the quality of their work is not at pro standard. Trust me, you do not need to win a string of awards to operate a successful photography business. Being able to produce good quality images is very important – but winning awards is not. If you can consistently create good quality images in a variety of lighting conditions, then you have the potential to generate an income from your photography.

Tip 3. Start Part Time. Some people don’t seem to believe in the concept of starting a business part time. Those people should know that thousands of photographers all around the world are successfully running part time businesses. If you are struggling with the idea of quitting your job to launch a photography business, then don’t. Keep your job. Launch on your days off. Start on weekends.


Be patient and focussed. Building a business takes time.

Tip 4. Expect Building a Business to Take Time. I don’t know any photographers who have made the decision to become a pro shooter who have had instant success. It takes time to build a business. It takes time to find clients and to build relationships with them. It takes time until they will refer others to you. Don’t expect all those things to happen in your first 3 months in business. Expect this will take time. If you are short on clients right now, know that is normal. It is a very small number of pro photographers who have a queue of clients waiting until they are ready. Expect ups and downs along this road. It is normal. Be patient. Focus on generating a large group of happy clients. When you have achieved that, the business of finding new clients or repeat clients gets much easier. Meeting your clients needs one at a time is a sure fire way to build a successful photography business.

Tip 5. Commit to Keeping Going. There will inevitably be times in your photo business when you don’t have enough clients. There will be times when some clients are ‘challenging’. Don’t be put off by these experiences. How you respond in these times will determine how your business performs in the long run. Don’t give up when times are tough. Everyone goes through this and you can too. Commit to keep going. Don’t let anything get in the way of your objective of running a successful photography business.

Thanks for reading Tips for the perennial wannabe pro photographer. I hope it has been useful to you and has encouraged you to move forward. Push on. It can be done. Make it happen. If you’d like any help, just drop a comment on the end of this post and I’ll do my best to assist. Good luck.

Common Reasons for Stock Photo Rejections

Building a stock photo portfolio can be a fun and enjoyable process, but it’s likely to be a lot less enjoyable if your images keep getting rejected. Here are common reasons for stock photo rejections.

Incorrect Model Releases. To be accepted into a stock photo library’s royalty free creative collection, each recognizable face in your image must have a corresponding model release. The release is a legal document which provides the person’s consent for their image to be used.

It is important that the information on your model release is legible and correct. It can be really frustrating and time consuming if your images are fine, but your model release is incorrect. So, make sure the detail is spot on. For example, does the date of the shoot entered on your model release match the date shown in the meta data on your image? Taking time to do your model release properly will be time well spent.


Signs in any language can cause your image to be rejected. I cropped out the sign on the far left of this image before uploading to my stock portfolio.

Visible Logos. Logos are not allowed in royalty free creative collections, so you should be checking your images to make sure there are not visible logos in your images. Corporate logos on top of buildings are obvious ones to avoid, but don’t forget more subtle logos – like on the buttons of a shirt.


Careful composition can help avoid problems. Here the subject blocks people in the background, and the tram is far enough away that I have blurred the logos on the front of the tram

Image Quality. Image quality is important, but standards are not as strict as they were 5 years ago. Back then, there were ongoing challenges with digital noise and the dreaded ‘chromatic aberation’. If you shoot with a modern camera and reasonable quality lens in good light conditions you will have few technical problems in getting your files approved. If you are having problems, try to avoid low light / high ISO situations.

Aside from the technical quality of your file, make sure your subject is in sharp focus and you should be able to build your portfolio with very few rejections.

Copyright Protected Work. Some content is not permitted in royalty free creative collections due to potential issues with copyright holders. An example is the Sydney Opera House. It is fine as part of a Sydney Harbour Scene, but is not allowed where the Opera House is the only or dominant element of the image. I am an iStock exclusive contributor. Their standard rejections reason for these is “After serious consideration we feel the subject matter and/or location featured in this image would require special permissions or clearance to be licensed commercially, this makes it unsuitable as Royalty-Free creative content.”

Royal Exhibition Building

This image was rejected for concerns over use of the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne, Australia.

IStock and Getty Images have a wiki which gives guidance to photographers about this issues. Here’s what it says – “as a general rule, places that charge an admission fee or require a ticket for entry usually require special permission for commercial photography.  Consent should be sought.  These locations are therefore problematic in all collections both Editorial and Creative.  They should be completely avoided in Royalty-Free content, while some may be suitable for Rights-managed or Editorial with the proper consent.  Some locations may be free to enter (like certain museums or historical properties), but imagery taken inside may still be problematic.  Do your research prior to shooting.”

Recognizable people without model releases. Image libraries will not accept recognizable people without a model release. This is a strict criteria and one that is sometimes hard for new stock photographers to understand. A person may be recognizable by their face, and most people can understand that you can’t use someone’s image without their permission. Where it gets harder to follow, is that a person might be recognizable by their clothing and location. Understand that image libraries will not want to risk using a recognizable person without their permission. Ultimately it is in both the library and the photographers interest. If you are not sure, you will probably need a model release.

Thanks for reading common reasons for stock photo rejections.