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Cash From Your Camera - What The Stock Photo Buyers Are Not Looking For

The photo buyer in the world of stock photography is king as they are the ones who pay the stock photographer. He who pays the piper calls the tune. That's the bottom line and you can't change it. It's pure economics so you have to listen if you are to survive. Knowing what the buyer wants is important but equally as important is knowing what they don't want.

How do you know what the buyers require, what the trends are and what is selling best? By going to all the stock sites and reading their guidelines. But, guidelines change or vary with seasons, fashions and trends so you need to go beyond that. Look for articles on these sites and subscribe to their newsletters. I picked up some key issues in one of the latest e-newsletters from one of the major stock sites. What they emphasised were a number of issues relating to what they did not want to buy and what mistakes photographers were making in the images.

These are some of the things they are NOT looking for:

1. Staged studio images

There is a dearth of great, perfectly lit studio shots of people shaking hands, dialling a telephone or pouring a drink. Sometimes too staged and a bit artificial. What buyers are looking for is more natural and spontaneous shots. Not inferior shots but well lit in a more natural environment. Don't let your models feel directed and acting a part but rather let them have fun and be more natural.

2. Photos inspired by other photographers

What happens when unique images hit the sites and sell well is that others see them and produce similar high quality images. Not identical but clearly inspired by other top photos. This does give a little variety but not uniqueness. It is the uniquely inspired image that will sell well. This is what the buyers like.

3. Lack of style

When it comes to clothing this is a biggie. Although the fashions might be up to date and appropriate they lack style, are ill fitting or inappropriate for the setting they are being used for. These subtle details are important to the savvy buyers and will definitely affect your sales. The difference between good and great is often a minor detail.

4. Lack of diversity

We live in a very diverse world and stock images need to reflect this. Ethnic and cultural diversity is lacking on many stock sites across the full range of ages and lifestyles. So shoot quality images reflecting minority lifestyles as well the aspirations of minority and ethnic groups. Advertisers are reaching out to formerly disadvantage groups and they need images reflecting this.

5. Bad keywording of good images

Essential to buyers when they search for good images is the fact that the photos have appropriate keywords. Take a good look at the image you are submitting and think of every possible word that can have a major association with your photo. Don't put in keywords that are inappropriate or don't relate to the image as this only aggravates buyers and you won't get the sales.

6. Poor composition

By this I mean an image that has a great subject, perfect lighting and exposure, fits the demographics but is centred in the image. No place to add text so an advertiser cant use it for an ad campaign. By off centering it slightly or varying its position would have given the designer room to add text. Be very aware of your compositions. The are key to good sales.

This article may seem a little negative, but, you need to know exactly what buyers are not looking for. If you know what they are and aren't looking for you will be able to deliver images that are free from all the potential hindrances to a customer buying your images. They are not concerned whether you are an accomplished or experienced photographer. What they want is an image that is high quality and will fit into their publication perfectly.

As I said in point six, a photo needs to be well composed. If you dont have good photographic skills then start learning immediately. Find a course, book or search online for material that will help you become a better photographer. Dont leave it to chance. Become skilled at your art and learn to create masterpieces.

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