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Beginners Guide On How to Make Money With Photography In 2019

Photography has become very easy and cheap since digital cameras exist. In principle, everyone constantly has a device with them to take pictures: a compact camera, a digital SLR or at least the mobile phone. You have probably already considered how to make money with photography. Because you do not have to be a trained photographer to take good pictures. The professionals usually succeed only faster, more frequent and regular, to take a great picture.

However, professional photographers also have their price. And not every company looking for a suitable photo for their own website, not every small publisher or PR agency is willing and able to spend a lot of money on every picture. Especially not if anyone in the world has ever taken the right picture. For this reason, they like to use so-called stock agencies in standard design. Their name refers to the expression “to have in stock”.

Things to Consider When Taking Photos

This means: A photo is offered for sale through an agency without an order for it. And therein lies your chance. At these agencies, customers, such as editors, graphic designers or advertising agencies, look for a suitable design. For them, it would simply be unprofitable to send a photographer for a shot, for example, the tea plantations of Darjeeling(city), India. In addition, magazines or catalogs have long lead times. If the photo of the winter edition needs to produce in summer or autumn, it is difficult to shoot the right pictures at the moment.

Since many stock agencies not only sell pictures of professional photographers, but also of laymen over the Internet. You can also offer them there. If you take it exactly, you do not offer the picture itself, but only a license to print the photo. You must differentiate between licensed and free images. In the unlicensed, for example, in the “royalty-free”, the buyer may use it freely, without having to specify the edition. The opposite is “rights managed”. The price of the image is determined by various factors, such as the size or the edition.

As a beginner, you will probably first deal with royalty free images. These are sold by the Stock Agencies for very small amounts. However, probably only a few get rich, because microstock photography usually only earns a few cents per image.

What is Microstock

The term Microstock is an artificial word consisting of two terms. Micro stands for micropayment, ie the payment of small amounts. And Stock is derived from “stock agency”, ie the agencies that distribute the images. You may know the term micropayment from the internet. Their providers such as Click & Buy, PayPal or Giropay make it quick and easy to pay even small amounts.

But those who make targeted pictures for sale through these agencies, and offers a large number, and in the end, they may get more than just small pocket money out.

This Is How The Collaboration Works

The Internet is full of online agencies offering low-cost pricing. In principle, there is nothing to prevent you from selling your pictures through companies in other countries. But that does not make it easier to find the right agency. As a beginner, it makes sense to register with more than one agency Center. Although getting a higher fee, who sells a picture exclusively from a provider. But in the beginning, you can not yet know how cooperation with the agencies will run. Take some time in the first few months for experiments and test different agencies.

How to Make Money With Photography

Making money with photography can be taken as a part-time or full-time job. A good photo has more chances to win a reward. It is better to get some extra income rather to waste your time with useless things. Photography is also good entertainment, you can make money with photography and also enjoy good fun.

For the first contact as a photographer with a microstock agency, you have to register. Some require you to submit a copy of your identity card or passport. After that, a very similar process takes place. You create a personal profile, have to pass a small knowledge test on photography with some providers and then upload the first photos. These are checked more or less critically by most agencies.

Picture Quality

Your pictures must meet certain requirements. Each stock agency will tell you the minimum resolution to submit pictures. The higher the resolution, the larger the photo can be printed. That means more potential customers. Less than three megapixels is hardly enough for the agencies, more than five is rarely expected, at least in the Microstock area. With an average compact camera, you will not necessarily get the results for you. It is better if you shoot with a digital SLR or a high-quality bridge camera.

Some agencies send emails telling them which photos are accepted and which are not. For others, this can only be found by logging into the page again. The reason that a photo was not accepted can be very detailed.

Engage With Different Photography Agencies

Sometimes it is not justified. In addition: Even if one agency rejects the photo, it can be sold several times at another. For example, an agency rejects ten images on the grounds that they have too much image noise or are exposed too poorly. All ten pictures have been sold to other agencies at least once. The example shows: It also takes luck. And it’s one reason not to commit yourself as an amateur and beginner to just one agency. Because that can be very frustrating otherwise.

To Upload Pictures

Again, the agencies offer very different models. For some, you can do this directly from the homepage. Others offer a small program that you need to download to the computer to use it. And a third option is to upload your images to the agency’s website with an FTP program. This is especially useful if you want to move large amounts of data from A to B.

For the FTP version, you need the correct URL. It usually starts with ftp: //. You also need your login, also called ID, and your password. The agencies usually keep this information on their pages for you. A popular and free FTP program is Filezilla. For example, you can download it from Chip’s website (

Optimize Your Photo

If a photo is accepted, it must be tagged. For some agencies, you also have to keyword first, and it will then decide if it will be accepted. Depending on whether you offer the picture in Germany or in the USA, the keywording is in English or German. If it is English, you have to choose between British and American English or use both. With German keywording, you should think about whether you use umlauts, ie ä, ö, ü, or ae, oe and ue, or both.

Incidentally, some agencies also allow the tagging in several languages. The better the keywording, the sooner the photo will be found. That’s why it makes sense to take time for the keywording.

The agencies have other major differences on this topic: some allow you to freely tag. Others make suggestions on the terms you mentioned. And in the third, only very specific words are allowed. In any case, it makes sense to first describe everything that you see in a photo. However, it may also be good and right to call the appropriate associations. For example, for faces, this can be emotions. The light can be interesting for the seeker: daylight, artificial light, Night Scene. And also, whether you have photographed a detail: “close”, “detail” or “macro” are descriptive terms. In addition, the image usually has to be assigned to a specific category.

The tagging for this image could be accordingly: olives, hummus, feta cheese, ham, pickled tomatoes, appetizer, Mediterranean, bowls, plates, food, restaurant.

how to make money with photography
How to Make Money With Photography

Has it all worked, the picture is ready for buyers. Some stock brokers will notify you by email about a sale, while others may find it more random when you return to the page. Distributions are normally made only when an amount set by the Agency has been met. In other words, in the worst case, you have to wait a long time for your money.

It is clear that you usually have to be patient with the first motif sold. This can take a few months. However, the more pictures you set, the faster one will probably be there that sells. If any of your pictures are rejected, you should not be frustrated. Refusal rates of 30 percent are normal among laymen. After all, there are already many motifs in the database. Also, if the operators did not sift out enough, there might be too many bad pictures on offer. This in turn scares off customers. And with all that, you must not forget: you are not a professional!.

Your Cooperation Partner

After the long introduction, you may now be interested in what the best agencies are. But that’s not the case. First of all, they are aimed at Microstock agencies to different target groups.

Focus on the USA. The tastes in the countries are different. In addition, some providers are thematically focused. That’s why it depends on what and how you take pictures. An agency with which Mr.Muller gets along does not have to be the right one for Mr.Maier. That’s why it makes sense to try his luck with several at first.

Soon, a natural selection will start. If you are turned away five or six times with your pictures from an agency, you will probably be frustrated and offer no further ones. But there are also agencies that accept everything, there you may not sell anything. These may be providers who first want to fill a database in order to get a foot in the market. For you, this is about as demotivating as constantly being rejected. After all, you invest time to set up your pictures there.

Incidentally, there are also providers who cooperate with others. This means, for example, that you automatically offer your images to other platforms. If you do not want this because you might be able to deliver directly to the other platform and get better terms, you need to exclude this option from yourself in your portfolio.


If you offer around 100 pictures to the agency, and within four to six months not a single one was sold, it is not recommended to get involved there. Then try testing another, unknown agency. Maybe the image sale is going better there. But think carefully if you need to delete your account from the other agency. Maybe the sale will start there at some point – then you can seamlessly expand your portfolio further.

Below are the most popular websites to sell your photo.

However, that does not say anything about how well or poorly working with them. It really only helps to try things out.

If you test four, five or six agencies at the same time and handle a lot of images at once, you might lose track of what’s going on: which image did I offer where? Which photo rejected who, who accepted? It is important that you keep track. As a beginner, this works well with an Excel spreadsheet. You can put smaller versions of the photo in the first column and tell the picture agencies when you offered it or if it was accepted or rejected.

In addition, you can note here the keywords, in English and German. Depending on which agency you offer the pictures to, you can simply copy the relevant phrases and use them there. For example, sales are made using the software Prostockmaster, which is also available in German and is free of charge. It sends your pictures via FTP to several agencies at the same time. There you may need to do some fine tuning to the descriptions and categories.

Which Photography Topics Sell Best?

Thos pictures sell best which are popular among the people. However, they can cause a lot of trouble. Because photos of other people may only be published with their permission. Although animal and plant photos are popular with many photographers, they tend to sell poorly and are often rejected by the agencies. Most Microstock agencies publish on their website hints, which motives they need urgently.


If you offer pictures, do not just think in landscape formats. Magazines are high-format and frequently require just such photographs. Also, keep in mind: Not you make art, but the graphic artist. They mostly give only a template. But that also means that you should not cut too much the motives you submit. In addition, graphic artists also need images in which they can optionally incorporate an advertising message. So, when you make pictures for stock agencies, always ask yourself what your customer needs. That’s more important than what you like.

Examples of below photos

Image 1 was added to the portfolio by several agencies and has already been sold several times. Figure 2, the windmill in the gate, on the other hand, has been disproportionately rejected.

how to make money with photography tips and techniques
How to Make Money With Photography

Thematically, there are no limits to your imagination: education, business, medicine, architecture, energy, technology – a good picture will always sell. Be ahead of your time as well. Enter your calendar at the beginning of the year when you want to take pictures for Valentine’s Day, Easter, summer holidays or Santa Claus. Leave a sufficient buffer, because you do not just have to do the pictures. If necessary, you will have to edit them with software. The tagging and uploading take their time.

In addition, the agencies themselves often take several days to view and offer pictures. That’s why it makes sense to include seasonal photographs early enough.


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