Here are just a few examples of photos that were successfully sold commercially
Whether you're an entrepreneur building your own visual brand or business, a creative with experience under your belt or a casual photographer looking to expand your skills and repertoire, you can sell your photos to companies and organizations around the globe fairly easily. Many of these companies might even be ones you look up to.
Great cameras are also more common than ever before, and people everywhere are spending time taking photos that are not only diverse, but truly engaging. There’s a proliferation of amazing photos of any topic you can think of. And hey, you're probably setting up photo shoots and meeting with friends to create content for sites like Instagram, but only using one or two images per shoot.
You have many, many diverse photos, and you've gone to all these lengths to create them. Why not sell them?
There are some guidelines to keep in mind to ensure smooth transactions. Here's how you can leverage your creativity and publish the content you've worked so hard on.
Let's dive in!
Scopio submission by @anacruz
The majority of brands want to put an authentic face on their communication, which means photos of people — or ones that include a human element like hands in the frame — will sell much, much faster than a landscape or still-life.
For maximum reach, try to include some sort of human component in each of your captures. Or if you're more used to shooting, say, naturescapes, try out a photo shoot with people as your next project. You might just surprise yourself.
Go for quality
Scopio submission by @bilianabg
Brands do a lot with the photos they purchase, like scaling them up for posters, fitting them into preexisting campaigns or applying filters and changes that fit their aesthetic. Your photos are their canvas. And the bigger the photo, the more they can do with it creatively. This means that your photos should be at least 4 megapixels for maximum sales. 10 megapixels and above is always best, though.
Luckily for us, many smartphone cameras are advanced enough to take photos at this size. DSLRs are also a no-brainer when it comes to photo quality, as they can capture super high-resolution photos.
Here are a few common cameras or camera brands that consistently produce high-quality photos:
- GoPro models, including the HERO
- iPhone 6 or newer
- Sony Alpha models
- Samsung Galaxy Note 8
- Fujifilm X‑T10 models
Skip the filters and heavy-duty editing
Scopio submission by @photodai_
Filters and heavy editing might make your IG feed cohesive — but brands and organizations have their own color schemes and design elements they like to use. Including those elements on your photos might stifle your creative opportunities.
When you're submitting photos commercially, try to upload the unfiltered and mostly unedited version of your photos. A few hacks are fine in terms of simple lighting and contrast, though (as long as they make the photo better objectively, rather than subjectively).
The same goes for apps like Facetune. Show that beautiful skin off!
Get 'em released
Scopio submission by @alvarokrodriguez. View it in our library.
Selling photos commercially requires a model release, or an agreement signed by each person in the photos. This includes you if you're also in the photos.
A model release is a consent form allowing you, the photographer, to sell photos of individuals. You will need to send a separate model release document to each person in your photos. As a rule of thumb, it's best to send one model release document over per shoot. Check the guidelines of who you are submitting to just to be sure, though.
Most photo-selling sites will provide a model release for you to use. But if this isn't an option, you can use a Getty Images release.
Remove the branding
Scopio submission by @alyshiaturchyn
Logos and advertisements really are everywhere, and a seasoned commercial photographer knows this. That's because when you're selling photos commercially for brands to use, you'll need to remove all copyrighted logos and brand names. This also goes for watermarks, or the opaque marks many photographers put on photos to protect them from being stolen.
If you kept the logos on, you couldn't sell them commercially. People sell photos commercially because it often yields a drastically higher payout than a non-commercial photo sale would.
If you're a fashion or lifestyle photographer, you're probably groaning right now. But luckily enough, there are more than a few simple and fast ways to remove pesky logos and brand names from your photos.
Here's a list of apps you can use:
- Snapseed (iOS)
- Aviary (Android)
- TouchRetouch (Android)
You can read about how to use them on this handy blog post.
Tip: Even some buildings are exempt from commercial photography. You can find an exhaustive list of those here. The more you know, right?
Understand the look you're going for
Scopio submission by @alyshiaturchyn
More and more companies today favor photos that go beyond the cheesy stock photo aesthetic. That usually means forced smiles, sterile outfits and lighting, and situations where something seems... off. Aim for candids and more natural photos instead to make more sales. Bonus points if your photos have really interesting subject matter.
Brands also tend to prefer photos with a lot of negative space, or the "blank" area around the subjects or objects in your photographs. This is because they can place logos, text and other design elements in this space without creating distractions.
Know your payment methods
Scopio submission by @annalorenee. View it in our library.
So, you've submitted your photos. They were chosen and sold. Now comes the good stuff: You get published and paid!
But wait — are you set up to be paid yet? Make sure you've signed up on the payment service provided on the platform you used. If not, have a PayPal, Venmo or another money-transfer account handy.
At Scopio, our goal is to change the way we view and use photos — starting from the ones everyday people create. We share photos that we source from social media with brands across the globe who are trying to humanize and diversify their communications. Want more Instagram tips? Follow us @scop.io.
If you'd like to get more eyes on your work and want a chance to be published, simply submit your original photos.