Introduction to Stock Photography

Stock photography for beginners from a beginner

Stock photography is the first source of  income I have pursued. It’s a simple way to begin making money online. It’s not in direct contact with a client but rather a middle man handles that for you. This takes away a lot of work, that’s a win for me, but the down side is that it takes away a lot of income, not so good. From what I have read it takes a few hundred photos before you begin to make a return on your investment. So far the learning curve is definitely the most stressful and time consuming in the stock photography world.
Self Portrait Reflection in Abandoned Building
Self Portrait Reflection in Abandoned Building
 For the most part the steps are the same for getting your pictures online. Of course each stock website is unique in there own way. Here is a breakdown of the general steps and insights required to selling your photography on stock photography websites.

Step One: Take Pictures

  • I am assuming that you already know how to use a camera and take pictures.
    • Right now I am shooting with a Sony a6000 in a RAW format which gives me great photos.
  • Take as many photos as you can of one scene.
  • If you shoot a photo of a recognizable person or building you must get a signed release forum. Ultimately this is a permission forum so you can sell the photos that the person or building is photographed in.
  • Videos and vector illustrations can also be sold through most sites.
  • Flowers are photographed most therefore it is suggest to avoid them.
Photo approved on Adobe Stock
One of the photos approved on Adobe Stock. Sunset behind tree silhouettes.

Step Two: Edit Pictures

  • Remove any imperfections and dark corners.
  • Bach Edit: edit multiple photos at a time to make for a quicker processing time.

Step Two: Register yourself on one or a few stock photography sites.

  • Shutter Stock, Fotolia/Adobe Stock, Dreamstime, Alamy123rf
    • The only differences seem to be in usability and the interface of each website. Alamy was my favourite to sign up with. Shutterstock and Adobe stock are also easy to use. Dreamstime was my least favourite, it seems the most outdated.
  • Some require photo ID depending on the site.
  • Read over the terms of use for each website, although the information seems to be standard across all platforms.
    • The most variance is with the percent of payout and amount that must be earned before you can get a payout.

Step Three: Upload Photos

  • Upload using the website uploader or an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) uploader.
    • FTP uploader allows you to upload large qualities of files at the same time.
    • The most common FTP is FileZilla.
    • Each stock website will provide you with the link for the host, username and password.
    • Once connected you drag and drop the file which you want to upload from the left (your computers files) to the right (your account on the stock website).
FileZilla main screen
FileZilla main screen
  • Each photo requires a Title, Description and Tags
    • Don’t write words which are irrelevant, this will make your photos less valuable as they won’t correspond to the search field correctly
    • Keep the most relevant tags first, usually these are what are used to categorize your photo.
    • Some stock sites decrease the value of each tag the more you have.
    • Quality over quantity works best in tagging.


  • Each stock site has a different percent of payout for each photo sale.
  • Each stock site has a different amount of income that must be reached before you get paid.

Photo Releases

  • For identifiable persons, buildings and products a release forum must be signed and uploaded with the photo
    • Photographs where you can clearly see a face or even recognizable tattoos and scars
    • Crowds of people are an exception
    • Multiple recognizable buildings in a skyline will not require a release.

Helpful Articles

Check out my Stock Photography Pinterest Board

How I Make Money as a Travel Photographer 2015

30+ Images from One Styled Stock Image

How to Sell Your Photos Online for More Cash with Less Work 

Adobe Stock Contributor Help

Approved on Adobe Stock

Stock Site Reviews


  • Website easy to navigate, easier to read and engage in
  • Setting up the portfolio was fairly easy
  • Twitted about learning on shutter shock and was replied to instantly
  • Uploading photos I find more

Adobe Stock*

  • My favourite stock site so far.
  • Home page was overwhelming but lots of relevant information.
  • Really easy to upload and quickly add a title, description and tags.
  • Recommends tags, which leads to a quick upload.


  • Very basic.
  • Poor interface.
  • Awkward tagging function.
  • Glitches.

My Experience

The first bulk of research was most frustrating. At first, I wanted to upload to as many sites asap, which was confusing to learn on so many separate platforms. Therefore I would recommend becoming a contributor on one stock website. I would recommend Adobe Stock. Check out my account here.

Editing the a lot more photos is also required. This can be time consuming. I recommend editing the photos the same day they have been taken. Also set an amount per day or time in the week to get your editing and uploading done.

Learning how to use the FTP uploader was difficult. I used FileZilla when uploading on 123rf. Once connected, the uploading the photos took awhile and I couldn’t add the title, description or tags until they were all uploaded. Furthermore, I wasn’t able to connect on some sites and gave up. I would recommend  this method when uploading 50 plus photos at a time and do something else wait for them to upload.

The most frustrating part is adding the title, description and tags. So far I haven’t had a bulk of similar pictures to upload. This will definitely be easier if the photos share a similarity when uploading.

Signup and understanding the process was the most stressful and overall it is time-consuming. I have now decided to focus on Adobe Stock and build that portfolio before building a portfolio on additional profile.

Starting Katherine On The Road I wanted to include resources towards becoming a digital nomad, location independence and how to gain an income online. Creating posts such as this allows me to be honest about my experience and be in the exact same position as you are right now. I can share relevant feelings and frustrations that I experience and what I would do differently. If this article was of any help comment below or tell me about your experience with stock photography.
To learn more about Katherine on The Road check out the About Me page and follow me on social media, my favourite is Instagram. To contact me through email head to the Contact page.
Much Love,
Katherine xx











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