Most popular images - why, when, how

posted on 30th of march, 2010

Every person who is at least half serious about microstock will, at some point, open the page that lists the most popular images on Dreamstime.
It is a well known fact we inspire from each other's success images but what works for some not always works for others.

In this blog I will try to pick some representative images and shed some light on why the images in question are so popular, when they were taken and how they reached this spot.

Let's start with the best sold image of all times, a photo by Bellemedia.
- the why is obvious, well composed, natural looking business image
- the when is offered by the very old ID of the image, sometime in 2005
- the how is a combination given by the very sought after subject covered by very few images and the momentum offered by the time when this image came online.

Being on vacation is one of our favorite times of the year so evidently it makes a great photo , as this bestseller can stand witness.
- the why: subject is vacation, in a tropical place with blue waters and idyllic palm tree hanging over the ocean. The feet hanging from the tree are impersonal yet they make you imagine being there.
- the when: around 2005
- the how: as it was the case with the first image the photographer had great foresight and great eyes for stock imagery. Uploading an image on a sought after subject made it a great hit given the time when it was uploaded.

The idyllic marriage on the lovely beach.
- the why: again, the subject is great, the image is natural, the beach is lovely and the tilted horizon makes things look out of fairytale. The color of the sky contrasting with the pure white of her dress and the tanned skin makes this image even more desirable.
- the when: around 2007
- the how: subject is working together with models and the setting to put this image on top. This image is still selling as well simply because it is stunning and well made

Family day at the beach. A perfect shooting opportunity.
- the why: family images are a popular subject but what makes this different from others is the natural feeling of the whole image, the simple beach, not a fancy resort beach, the simple family in shorts and t-shirts, the beautiful warm light of the sun at sunset and hearty smiles of the people in it. They look like a great family
- the when: around 2007
- the how: it's natural, hence it sells, the colors are glowing, yet they don't burn your eyes, the people are enjoying themselves, yet they don't put on fake ear to ear smiles.

This is one of the first large group of people images seen online.
- the why: The large group of people was a fairly new idea, not too simple to make unless you had a big studio or great computer skills and knew something about good isolation of subjects. This is well lit, well composed and has copy space, which is important.
- the when: around 2008
- the how: this images has a very large array of application thus making it successful was not very difficult. And being one of the first on the market to bring such images online was also a plus.

Of course there are so many successful images with just as many stories to discuss. What I am aiming at with this blog is to show people how an image can get there, why, and even when.
Bring the novelty into microstock, it is difficult these days, I know, but the world is always changing, new trends appear, others leave the limelight. Be prepared to bring your ideas online at the right time, it may be as important as the concept itself. Last but not least learn to combine creativity with business.

Good luck and good shooting.
Questions are expected and welcomed.

Comments (23)

Posted by Jdanne on April 14, 2010
Mulţumesc! Foarte bine!

In spite of just trying around we should more look on photos which were already successful and got inspired from them.
Posted by smartview27 on April 13, 2010
Every image has a story. Thanks Ioana for your article!
Posted by Odm on April 06, 2010
I like the article :D
Posted by Rosedarc on April 03, 2010
I just spotted the differences between the shadow on the Yuri Arcurs photo and the real people (15/21). I wonder why he chose to do that... In any case, great skills in post-prod.
Posted by Davidwatmough on April 02, 2010
Very interesting article and educational. I am still musing over your statement / claim that ' that there is no such thing as art photography ' which I read in your blog summary. When I create an image rather than just shoot one [ eg in the street ] surely it is an artistic process.
Posted by Alerizzo78 on April 01, 2010
As always, fantastic post Ioana.
And I absolutely agree with Lightkeeper: most of the time uniqueness is what makes an image sell
Posted by Nikitu on April 01, 2010
Actually this  Red Velvet Theater courtains  is the second best sold images of all times. No people in it, and there are others. But yes, usually, people images are bestsellers.
Posted by Kaththea on April 01, 2010
Thanks, Ioana for the blog, it shows once again that the best selling pictures are those depicting people.
Posted by Adeliepenguin on March 31, 2010
Thank you Ioana, for writing another very thoughtful blog. It is rather ironic...it takes time and thought to pull together an image that appears natural and spontaneous.
Posted by Chunshine on March 31, 2010
Thanks Ioana, as a new member to the Microstock arena I always find it very helpful to read an expert's point of view. I have to say that only on Dreamstime can you find such a warm, freindly and resourceful community, I really do feel so comfortable about being here :o)
Posted by Nikitu on March 31, 2010
Well, as I explain, concept, how you make it and the time you uploaded are the key to successful images.
And I choose only people images because they cover a large range but there are images that are very successful and have no people in them. Click the most popular link to see them.
Posted by Lightkeeper on March 31, 2010
so ... the next logical step would be this shot :
- large group of people in wedding gowns having a nice walk (and kisses) in the warm summer light near the ocean ... maybe some palm trees hanging in from each side would be a plus ... (the bare legs are optional)

... just kidding ... all these three images were unique in some (or more) ways at upload time ... I think this is the key ...
Posted by Huating on March 30, 2010
Posted by Sweetheart29 on March 30, 2010
Thank you this is useful!
Posted by Justmeyo on March 30, 2010
Great article,thank for sharing us:)
Posted by Rosedarc on March 30, 2010
Excellent blog, thanks! Interesting that they are all people shots.
Posted by Trottola on March 30, 2010
Very well done analisys! Really interesting :)
Posted by Frantab01 on March 30, 2010
Great blog, thanks for sharing the info - very interesting read indeed :)
Posted by Dmccale on March 30, 2010
great blog thanks for all the good advice.
Posted by Mariaam on March 30, 2010
Thanks very much for this interesting and useful article!
Posted by Wildmac on March 30, 2010
Very useful blog! Thanks Ioana :)
Posted by Mani33 on March 30, 2010
I love when DT admins put these words so clear instead of some of us yacking about the subject! :)))
Thanks for sharing Ioana! Great blog ;)
Posted by Visceralimage on March 30, 2010
Thanks Ioana, it is very helpful to have your insight as an editor as guidance for us in the field.

Comments (23)

This article has been read 3478 times. 13 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: Bellemedia, Iofoto, Kelliem, Radovan, Yuri_arcurs.

About me

Senior Editor/Admin and Social Media Wizard at Dreamstime. I have enjoyed photography ever since my father first introduced me in the world of arts as a child. Although I have not chosen a career as a photographer I happened to come across a job here, at your favorite microstock site, in 2005. That is when things took a 180 degrees turn and photography took its well deserved place in my life. I have seen hundreds if not thousands of photographers grow and mature into their portfolios and that is an experience I would never trade. I would encourage anyone to follow their hearts and read a l... [Read more]

Bucharest, RO

Blogs Exclusive user
September (1)
June (2)
May (2)

Stock Photography that BLOGS!

Interact, make friends, share tips and techniques, have fun. Dreamstime wants your ideas and thoughts whether you are a photographer, designer or regular user. Create a blog to tell your story, promote favorite images and photographers, post tutorials or simply exchange opinions with your with fellow dreamstimers.

Don't forget words and pictures go great together so make sure you choose some Dreamstime favorite pics to brighten your article. For inspiration, check out the hottest or the most useful blogs on the left.

Create a blog to tell your story, promote favorite stock images and photographers

Create your blog

My favorite articles


More favorite articles

Related image searches

success microstock popular images Dreamstime

Microstock related stock images