How to Do a Quality Check of Your Stock Photos

There are 3 basic questions you have to ask yourself when judging your own work:

Is my image technically sound?

As a photographer, it can be easy to feel subjective towards your images since you know how much effort it took you to get the shot. However, if you are into the stock photography business and will be using these images for stock, you will have to look at your creations with an honest and critical eye. These images will not just be for your viewing pleasure but will be used as a product that can garner cash. Buyers will be going over your images with the intent of buying rights to use them for whatever they need. They want it to be technically perfect, from the lighting to the composition. Images with obvious scratches or dust, over or underexposed areas, poor cropping or oversharpening, can quickly be passed on as buyers look for better quality images. In fact, most stock photo agencies have quality requirements that need to be passed for an image to be approved and uploaded in their site. These in-house reviewers will be quick to notice photographic weaknesses and can immediately reject your image before the buyer even has the chance to look at it. Be your own worst critic and upload only your best images. You might have some that can be redeemed with minor post processing, which is perfectly fine as long as the editing is flawless.

Does my photograph help promote or sell a product, concept or idea?

Aside from technical expertise, you must also show artistic expression. An image of a briefcase can be the most boring object but it can also be very appealing when creatively composed. Images that have substance, those that convey a strong message or idea, will have great chances of being used. Abstract ideas such as love, fun or stress can be presented visually in a photograph through the use of symbolism or perhaps by how the subject is composed. For instance, two people hugging can convey the emotion of love or intimacy (don’t forget to include keywords!). Backgrounds, props and secondary subjects can provide context and subtext which you can use to their full advantage.

Are there a lot or only a few images available in the stock photography site?

The market of stock photography is often oversaturated with certain themes. For example, there are millions of images of flowers and pets, to the point that some stock photo agencies hint that members should refrain from uploading them. Check out the most popular photos in the stock site and find out what makes them so special. Is it spectacular lighting or composition or an old cliché concept that has been made fresh? Stock sites usually have forums where they sometimes update members on what images buyers are currently searching for. Also, do some keyword searching and see if they pull up a lot or only a handful of relevant images. Another thing to consider is to have a specialty, a theme or technique that you can excel in so you can make a name for yourself in that particular niche. Even if there are hundreds or thousands of images with the same theme as yours, if you have a good reputation of providing excellent images, you will be one of the first that buyers will go and maybe even patronize in the future. 


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