Make Money with Stock Photography – Smart Way to Earn Money From Photography

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Make Money with Stock Photography – If you are a photographer looking to generate extra income, stock photography can help you achieve this. With that said, it is important that you understand that this is not a walk in the park or some get-rich-quick scheme. 

This article is a comprehensive guide to teach you how photographers make money with stock photography and how you can too. We will provide tips to help you increase your earnings and suggest resources you can use to reduce the workload that comes with trying to make money with stock photography. 

So if you are just a beginner or you’re looking to be successful in the stock photography industry, this article is for you!

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What is Stock Photography?

The term “Stock photography” refers to photos that are available for licensing by buyers from photographers. These photographs are usually leased through a platform. There are a number of reasons why Buyers would want stock photographers including the fact that they are cheaper to afford and there are several options to choose from. Stock photography has a number of use cases most popularly in advertising and marketing, and in editorial content.

Can you Make Money with Stock Photography?

Stock photography is a convenient way for photographers to make money. However, it is not as easy as it once was. If you had ventured into stock photography some 15 years ago, then it would have been a lucrative move. 

In this day and age, the stock photography industry has grown but the supply has outgrown the demand. As such, earning income by selling stock photography will not give you the financial freedom you want. It can only serve to supplement a source.

Notwithstanding, you can still make money with stock photography provided you follow certain strategies to help drive selling your stock photos such as niching, researching to understand trends, and using relevant keywords.

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How do you Make Money on Stock Photos? 

The process to make money on stock photos is fairly simple and straightforward – you sell licensed photos and get rewarded in royalties.

Here are some of the ways to earn money with stock photography:

License your images for commercial use

You can license your images for commercial use such as advertisements, billboards, and other promotional materials. You can approach businesses or use licensing websites like Getty Images to reach potential buyers.

Sell photos on stock photography websites

This is the most popular way to make money with stock photography. There are many online platforms such as Shutterstock, iStock, Adobe Stock, and Alamy where you can upload your photos and sell them to buyers who are looking for high-quality images. You will earn a royalty every time your photo is downloaded. 

However, the amount of money made from this method usually does not compare to licensing to a client.

Sell photos directly to clients

You can also sell your photos directly to clients such as magazines, newspapers, and businesses. You can approach them with your portfolio or advertise your services on social media or your website.

Create and sell photo books or prints

If you have a collection of photos that tell a story or are particularly eye-catching, you can create and sell photo books or prints. You can sell them through your website, social media, or through print-on-demand websites such as Blurb and Lulu.

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How Much Money can you Make from Stock Photography?

According to photographer Alexandre Rotenberg, you need a minimum of 6,000 images to make $500 per month with stock photography. This would take about three years assuming you devote time and effort to it.

Tips to Make More Money with Stock Photography

Search Engine Optimization with Keywords

Optimizing your photos so that they can appear in searches with relevant keywords is essential. You can increase your stock photography earnings by using relevant and descriptive keywords that accurately describe your images if you want to make sure that people find and buy your images. When customers are looking for particular themes or topics, they are the main way they discover your images. 

Focus on High-Quality Photos

Take high-quality images that are well-lit, well-composed, and sharp. Make sure to edit them to remove any noise or imperfections.

Upload Regularly

Upload new images regularly to keep your portfolio fresh and relevant. This will also help you stay top-of-mind with buyers and increase your exposure.

Stay Up-to-Date with Trends

Stay up-to-date with the latest trends and movements in stock photography. This will help you create images that are in high demand and maximize your earnings.

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What are the Best Websites for Selling Stock Photography

There are several stock photography websites where photographers can sell stock photos and make money. These websites or platforms serve as agencies where you can upload your stock photos and make money when someone downloads them. Some of the best websites to sell stock photos include:

  • Shutterstock
  • Fotolia
  • iStock
  • Alamy
  • Dreamstime

Resources for Stock Photography

With the popularity that stock photography has gained, it is only natural that tools to ease the process be created. Here are some tools are resources that may come in handy for stock photography:


This is a very powerful tool in stock photography. It is a software application that automates submitting stock photos. It enables photographers to simultaneously submit their photos to several stock photography agencies. Additionally, the software offers tools for managing keywords, categories, and other metadata to help images appear more in search results and rank higher. However, you need to pay to use this particular software.


This is a software application that performs the same functions as Stocksubmitter. It automates submitting stock photos and has several tools for keywording and optimizing photos to rank higher. The key difference is that Xpiks is free to use.

Google Trends

This particular software can be used for research in stock photography. You can use Google Trends to identify popular trending and related keywords over time and in locations, and also for SEO.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Does stock photography make money?

Stock photography can be a profitable business for photographers who are able to produce high-quality images that are in demand by clients. However, it is currently a very competitive market and it may take time and a great deal of effort to establish yourself.

  1. What sells best on stock photography?

The types of images that sell best on stock photography sites can vary depending on the market demand and trends at any given time. However, some general types of images that tend to sell well across different platforms include business and corporate, lifestyle and travel, nature and landscapes, and abstracts.

  1. Which stock photo site pays the most?

Some of the highest-paying stock photo sites for contributors include Getty Images, Shutterstock, and Adobe Stock. However, earnings usually vary greatly based on the number and quality of images you have available for sale. 


To make money with stock photography is a very lucrative and convenient option for a photographer. Although the market is very crowded and competitive currently, by following these tips and strategies for effectively marketing stock photos on stock photo sites, you can increase your chances of success and earn a steady stream of passive income over time. 

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