Success Selling Stock Photography: Put Your Photos to Work for You

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Five years ago, San Francisco-based creative manager Simon Dayton realized how many digital photographs he had taken that were doing little more than sitting idly on his computer’s hard drive. Rather than continue to let them collect the proverbial dust, he decided to give them a purpose: He was going to try selling them as stock photography.

It was a move that has proved rewarding ever since, as Dayton has seen those images pay off in more ways than one: Some of the shots he’s sold as stock photography have been featured in magazines and one was even blown up, 12-feet-tall, and featured in a large, store-window display. “That was pretty cool!” Dayton says. “It gives you a great deal of satisfaction when you come across them in print.”

It doesn’t hurt that not only can you earn bragging rights from selling your shots as stock photography, but you can actually make money doing it, too.

One of the top stock-photography websites that Dayton has had success using to sell his images is, a digital media library featuring high-quality, royalty-free content that is frequented by 20 million unique visitors each month. With so many customers (which include notable brands like Apple, CBS and Google) browsing the site, there is plenty of potential to sell your images.


One of the keys to having success with selling stock photography is selecting the right shots to use: The concept and theme of an image have the greatest influence on an image’s marketability, say the team. For instance, evergreen-type images —such as those depicting categories like business, birthdays and celebrations, romance and success — are especially commercially viable. Seasonal images also do well; this summer, some of the most popular searches on have been for “beach,” “summer,” and “party”-related stock.

Dayton says that capturing conceptual images like these provides another benefit in addition to boosting his income: It also stokes his creativity. “I enjoy shooting stock more now because of the variety of imagery you can create, especially some of the more conceptual shots.”

Plus, by using, there is no cap to how much income you can generate from selling your images and you always retain the copyright to any photographs you sell. Which means, like Dayton discovered, there’s nothing to lose by trying to sell your extra images as stock — it might just be the creativity and income boost you’ve been waiting for.