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Sell Stock Images: Jumpstart Your Stock Career with Mat Hayward

by Mat Hayward
featured, photo & video, Photoshop Week

Stock photography is a great way to build up your portfolio and make extra income to supplement your business. Chances are, you probably have images in your hard drive that you can start selling right away, and even if you don’t, it’s easy to start incorporating stock into your existing projects. Here are some things to consider if you’re trying to figure out how to sell stock images or simply capture strong images others will want to purchase.

Keep an eye out for opportunities

If you’re just starting out in stock, there’s no need to set up an elaborate photo shoot. Think about the people, places and events in your life and identify opportunities where you can shoot stock. Lifestyle is a best-selling category, and buyers are looking for this type of authentic, relatable content.

I’ve shot stock while helping my daughter with a school project, and while I was on vacation with my family (it doesn’t hurt to offset some of those holiday expenses with earnings from stock!). Taking the dog out for a walk? Perfect time for a stock shoot. In fact, my golden retriever Hudson is one of my best-selling models.

Read up on legal guidelines

If your submission features a recognizable person – whether that’s your family or hired models – you need to get a model release. This gives you permission to sell photos or videos of them as stock content. Same goes for recognizable places and landmarks. In that case, you’ll need permission from the owner of the property.

Adobe Stock is integrated with Adobe Sign, so you can easily send and receive releases from the Contributor Portal via email. If you prefer the old fashioned way, you can download the release and have the models sign it at the shoot.


Incorporate stock photography into your portfolio and create a lucrative side hustle. Learn More.

Adobe Stock with Mat Hayward


Think like a buyer and sell stock images

Determining stock photo keywords  is not glamorous and it’s certainly not the most fun part about stock, but it’s arguably one of the most important. This is how buyers will find your image, and hopefully purchase it. This is an important thing to think about if you want to sell stock images.

For Adobe Stock, keywords need to be in the order of importance. A good way to pick stock photo keywords is to describe the main subject of the photo and move outward. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes and ask what search terms you’d use to find that image.

If you need a little helping hand, the Adobe Stock Contributor Portal has an auto-keywording tool that uses AI to analyze your submissions and assign the top 25 keywords. It’s a good spring -board to wrangle suggested keywords, but make sure to double check the list to confirm the keywords are relevant and in the order of importance.

Learn from your mistakes and successes

You will, inevitably, get rejected from time to time. This can be a hit to your self-esteem, but consider it a worthwhile lesson. Look at which images were rejected and find out why. Most commonly, it’s due to missing releases or inclusion of a trademarked logo. Fix your mistakes and try to sell stock images again. As you get more comfortable, challenge yourself to photograph new and different things to grow your portfolio.

Stock photography is like any other creative discipline – it takes time, effort and patience to be successful. Be consistent about your submissions, and stock can be a great passive income stream that lets you literally make money while you sleep.

Read more tips in our handy stock Contributor Guide


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