posted on 18th of september, 2012

So, you have the tools, you have the skills, you have the time. What else do you need in order to be successful in stock photography? The concepts! Concept photography is the best selling stock photography. But which concepts to shoot? How to find inspiration?

One option would be to browse the website for most popular stock photos, you'll find some great concepts there, but that won't help you much. You would just copy them and, most likely, you won't get as much success as they did, being the first.

Another option would be to browse our top stock photographers and learn from their portfolios. That won't help you much either, because you'll end up copying them and most likely you won't be as successful in a short time.

My recommended option for you would be to read magazines. Read lots of magazines, whenever you have the chance, in the subway, in the train, at home, on your lunch break, read a lot! Buy them, borrow them, take a sneak peek over someone's shoulder when reading a magazine, whatever, just read them.

Why magazines? Why not books?

Well, books will help you also as they develop your imagination more than magazines, but they don't have that much variety of concepts like magazines do. You could read a whole book and remain with only few concepts in mind. It's good for you and you should do it, but it's not as efficient for your stock photo activity as reading magazines on any topic, from glamour to IT.

Magazines have lots of articles, lots of authors, lots of concepts and, usually, lots of photos. And let's not forget, lots of adverts. So, while you're reading and gather concepts, you also get to see what photo editors actually like to buy and use. You can also find articles without photos, and then you can check for yourself why: because of space reasons, or because the editor wasn't able to find the right image to illustrate it?

© Vlue (Help)

Which magazines to read? First, ask yourself what you like to shoot more and choose magazines on that topic. But don't limit yourself. If you like shooting people, don't just buy a tabloid, think deeper, buy a magazine on psychology for instance. Here's a hint: search for schizophrenia and you will find just a few results that could really illustrate this concept.

Why not more? It's not an unknown concept, but it seems that photographers don't take it into consideration much. I mean, you don't just think at schizophrenia when thinking of topics, you need a hint. An article in a psychology magazine would be a good one.

If you prefer reading on your tablet, you also have the opportunity to find good concepts. in newsstand apps. Check them out, see how images are actually being used, this way you can "listen to your customers" and provide them better images for their needs. Just read and you will see that there are still lots of uncovered topics in stock photography, lots of niches waiting to be filled.

Another important aspect you should keep in mind is that unique and interesting concepts may be out there, but they are not actually there. My advice is that once you find your great concept, keyword it! For instance, try searching for EBITDA. Yes, there are photos between those 1 million business photos on Dreamstime that can be used to illustrate EBITDA, but none of them have this keyword, so they're not there for this concept.

Of course photographers won't usually think about it, but an article in a business magazine would help finding, creating and keywording this concept, right? Business photographers out there, ask yourself, how many business magazines have you read lately?

Another example: how would you illustrate this article on private equity? I know you could use some business photos related to the subject, but how fast and how relevant? Because searching the database for these keywords won't get you much. Things are moving on fast forward for such a big editor, sometimes they find the right illustration, and sometimes they don't.

I'm sure Financial Times would have something to say also about missing concepts, about business microstock photos that sometimes they use, sometimes they don't.

The topics in microstock world are far from being covered. We just need to think outside the box. That would translate in "go outside the stock agencies and fellow contributors' portfolios when searching for concepts to shoot." Stop copying, start creating.

And magazines are, in my opinion, the fastest and easiest way to find new concepts. Read them! Plus, they could use some readers too.

Comments (37)

Posted by Dazzthree1 on December 04, 2014
thank you, this is really helpful
Posted by Perkyone45 on November 13, 2013
perkyone45 on November 13-2013, very good advice, well put together and
wonderful tips to share, I know people who would be interested in this articles
Thank-You for sharing..
Posted by Ewapix on November 18, 2012
Thanks, very good advise. I love magazines and always start my supermarket shopping with going through their magazines rack. I love food magazines most but you would be surprise how many good ideas for images are in magazines such as New Scientist. Libraries have reading rooms where you can sit and read magazines for free (I don't know about American libraries but in the UK almost every small library has coffee machines and comfy chairs!). No to mentioned dentists' waiting rooms :-)
Posted by Hongtao926 on November 16, 2012
Good article,thank you
Posted by Gheburaseye on October 13, 2012
Yes it's true! I also use my blogs to understand what kind of image I can create. For example, the last blog I created talks about dreams meaning and I understand with it the importance of create image related to the articles I write ;)
Posted by Dudau on September 30, 2012
lol Martingraf, you made me look at my own statistics for half an hour!
Posted by Racheld32 on September 28, 2012
great advice! As someone new to this game, its great to have some direction! Thanks for sharing.
Posted by Martingraf on September 28, 2012
yes, really great article - to be honest, before I read it, I looked at your statistics :) just to make sure that what I'm going to read is from someone who knows what he's talking about - you obviously do!
Posted by Khphoto on September 25, 2012
Great article, thank you!! And I have soooo many mags piled up!
Posted by Marieclaire66 on September 23, 2012
Excellent advice!
Posted by Dudau on September 23, 2012
Yes, in fact everybody used to do it, and everybody should start doing it again
Posted by Hannamariah on September 22, 2012
Very good advice, something I used to do and need to start doing again!
Posted by Kaijustock on September 21, 2012
"listen to your customers" so true.. Thanks for the great article.
Posted by Dudau on September 21, 2012
I'm glad that you liked it and that so many readers found it useful :) cheers!
Posted by Peanutroaster on September 21, 2012
Very good advice!
Posted by Florin1961 on September 20, 2012
A good article and a good invitation to bear in mind and attention awake.
Posted by Vwimage on September 20, 2012
Great advice, thanks for sharing.
Posted by Cmoulton on September 20, 2012
thanks for the great blog!
Posted by Thanatonautii on September 20, 2012
Great blog! Thanks for sharing this tips!
Posted by Alionaz on September 20, 2012
great advices, thanks!
Posted by Onime on September 19, 2012
great idea.... thanks for sharing ;)
Posted by Monysasi on September 19, 2012
Good advice. I will try to follow them. Thanks
Posted by Mike2focus on September 19, 2012
Thanks for the ideas! I think we all hit a creative block every now and then. Nice to have a venue to find inspiration.
Posted by Dudau on September 19, 2012
Yes, Teabum, EBITDA, lots of letters there, corrected, thanks :)
Posted by Calyx22 on September 19, 2012
Thanks for sharing this article, it's very helpful. I always read magazines of all sorts (not just photography!) and look closely at their images. I need to do more of this--thanks for the reminder! :)
Posted by Teabum on September 19, 2012
Interesting article :)
though, I guess, you mean to search for EBITDA and not for your variation ;) , and then you get some photos coming up in the search ...

EBITDA - Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortization
Posted by Dudau on September 19, 2012
hahaha good one, Alvera!
Posted by Alvera on September 19, 2012
I clicked USEFUL, thanks for tips Viorel. Also, about schizophrenia, I invite buyers to download my portrait, I am a photographer and a Dorian king same time :)
Posted by Baldas1950 on September 19, 2012
Very useful! thank you for your advices!
Posted by Albertophotography on September 19, 2012
Great article! thanks for your advice!

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Comments (37)

This article has been read 5812 times. 19 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: Monika Adamczyk, Vlue.

About me

Never in my life had I thought I would become a photographer... It all started as a small business, in a small town, for small money. I bought my first (small) camera to shoot graduation portraits in high schools. But then, having a digital camera, I took it anywhere with me, and shot everything I saw. This is how the passion grew on me. Photography soon became my passion, my job, my life. The passion got bigger, the camera got bigger, and the money also (because I never forgot about the business factor). Finding my passion and making money from it led to a beaut... [Read more]

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