Whether you are a pro photographer or a newbie, selling photos online requires knowing a few tricks. Tips presented here
will help you make your images more attractive for potential stock photo buyers and position them higher in the search results.
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You have taken the absolutely outstanding shot. You are deciding it's worth to be added to your
ShutterPoint online albums, but if you ignore some of the very basic principles of positioning your photo
properly, it may get lost amongst other photos, never attracting anyone's attention.
Whether you are trying to sell your photos, share your talent with the world, or just obtain comments on
your work, you need to understand all the possible ways of finding photos hosted at our
website. After all, if your photos are not found, they are definitely not viewed and not purchased.
Additionally, you will need to know which types of photos are in higher demand, and therefore can
sell better. Read all topics on this page and learn how to improve visibility of your photos, and how to
improve chances of these photos being sold.
is the feature aimed to help you understand what photo buyers look
for. Our website logs search phrases actual buyers use to find photos. By exploring the phrases logged by
Search Spy, you can get a better understanding about what the photo buyers' needs are, as well as see the
most popular search phrases.
Subject of Photos
If you are submitting photos with the similar subject as subject already found at the website in large
quantity, you are therefore reducing the visibility of your photo among other photos. Even though
your photo may be more unique or more artistic than other photos, the likelihood of your photo being
purchased may be low - the more similar photos exist, the less likely your photo will sell.
Keeping the above in mind, choose those subjects that are rare or lacking at the site, especially if you are
targeting stock photo buyers who need images for commercial use. Comparing the sizes of different
categories will give you a clear picture of their proportions. See the list of
all photo categories
, and try to submit photos suitable for those that are
smaller, not to overgrown ones.
Current 5 largest categories:
Current 5 smallest categories:
In general, if anyone with a digital camera can relatively easily make a certain photo, ShutterPoint
most likely already has tons of photos of that kind, so your chances of making yours truly stand out are
not very high.
For your reference, below is the list of the 20 most commonly used keywords our members have assigned
to their images:
- nature (8,985 photos)
- water (6,731 photos)
- ocean (4,316 photos)
- flower (4,252 photos)
- blue (3,962 photos)
- white (3,940 photos)
- beautiful (3,878 photos)
- green (3,752 photos)
- sky (3,746 photos)
- landscape (3,711 photos)
- red (3,632 photos)
- bird (3,579 photos)
- travel (3,461 photos)
- beach (3,063 photos)
- trees (3,029 photos)
- beauty (2,897 photos)
- flowers (2,866 photos)
- sunset (2,810 photos)
- art (2,588 photos)
- yellow (2,540 photos)
Finally, below you can find a list of subjects that are always needed by stock photo buyers, along with the ones
that are not needed often (or ShutterPoint already has plenty of):
- Business-related photos of people conducting business, business environment, equipment or attributes;
- Photos of people getting involved in various activities (eating, dancing, building, smoking, fishing, driving, arguing, the list goes on);
- Photos strongly conveying a certain message, theme, action or state (buy it online, don't drink and drive, quit smoking, etc.);
- Photos sensitive to issues of gender, race, and other social groups;
- Health and medical related photos (in the operating room, ambulance, X-ray department, doctor's office, etc);
- Technology photos (chips, various equipment, fiber optics, lasers, etc.);
- Specific or exaggerated characters, particularly those representative of different occupations, such as a nurse, a judge, a salesperson, a teacher, a driver, etc.;
- Professional models and tasteful nudes;
- Various objects on plain (ideally white or grayscale) backgrounds;
- Professional ocean and underwater photography;
- Religious subjects (all faiths).
- Dogs, cats and other household pets, or home aquarium photos;
- Pictures of wild animals visibly taken at zoos or parks;
- Sunsets, skies and clouds;
- Flowers and plants, especially North American in origin;
- Obscure, unrecognizable material;
- Immediate family and friends photos;
- Vacation and holiday photos.
There are two types of licenses photo buyers can get when buying photos, which depend on whether a photo will
be used commercially or in the editorial context. Both types are royalty-free
, which means that a price is
paid for a photo, not the number of times it can be used.
Commercial use license
allows photo buyers to use photos on the commercial basis, and the type of photos
usually sold under the terms of the commercial use license is generally called "stock photos". Stock photos
represent majority of photos on ShutterPoint, and can be used on the book cover, as a postcard, in the ad, as
part of the web site design, in the magazine, etc. Commercial use license does not explicitly prohibit any
use of photos for the editorial content, and you should assign your images for sale under terms of the
commercial use license whenever possible. Please remember that there are some restrictions to the subject of
photos that may prevent you from using this license type. For example, photos containing recognizable and
uniquely identifiable models or property cannot be sold for commercial use without release forms
Additionally photos displaying brand names, logos, product names, and other copyrighted or trademarked
imagery cannot be sold for commercial use.
Editorial use license
relaxes the restrictions mentioned above, but it also narrows the actual use of the
photos to editorial articles or similar material that can only be used in the editorial context.
Editorial use images are usually different from commercial stock images, they can be photos of celebrities,
politicians, newsworthy events, and many more, however please keep in mind that a photo offered for
editorial use should, first of all, make editors interested - it should be newsworthy.
Finally, marketing photos for editorial use can be quite different. Unlike traditional stock photos
that can be purchased any time and used as needed, a photo of a today's event may be valued by a newspaper
today, but not tomorrow (it is the most extreme case, and some news photos can be just as valuable for
many years after they were taken). When it comes to editorial content, it may be beneficial to make a
contact with your local news publications and use ShutterPoint to process payments and image delivery
The more pixels your images have, the better quality can be achieved when printing
large sizes. Submitting small files having low pixel count is similar to saying
"My photo will only look good on the monitor screen, don't bother trying to
print it", which means that you will be losing majority of potential buyers
interested in printing. If you are serious about selling your work, submit
high-resolution files, preferably having at least 4 million pixels.
We strongly encourage all members to upload files in the highest resolution
possible, so that buyers are able to download high-resolution photos right
after payment. If you submit small or medium resolution files, and simply
mention that high-resolution files are available, you will greatly
reduce the likelihood or selling them.
Self-Promotion and Basic Marketing
The more people see your photo, the better chances it gets to end up
in a shopping cart. Building high visibility of any particular photo or your albums is extremely important.
Below are just a few simple ways you can help yourself to get noticed:
Place a link to your photo (or all photos) to your personal
website/webpage or a blog, add it to your business card, to your
signature, post it on online photo discussion forums.
Navigate to your photo or your albums and note the URL where the
page resides - that is where you want people to go.
Format of the URL for a single photo:
We are providing several pre-made graphics (example above) and text links along with the HTML code
that you can copy & paste into your web pages or blogs. View examples and get the code. In addition, you can embed copy-protected images from ShutterPoint into your site or most blogs. Please see Share / Embed section on the page showing any photo to get the code.
Format of the URL for all your albums and photos:
Link your account to Facebook with Activity Sharing, and select all ShutterPoint activities to share.
Activity sharing via Facebook will create automatic posts to your Facebook wall, and increase viewership of your portfolio.
Already working with art directors, editors, or have other sources of selling photos? Let them
know of your photos at ShutterPoint. Let us handle storage and billing for you, while
you do what you do best - photography.
Spread the word about your images with ShutterPoint business cards.
Participate in our discussion forums, offer help in the "How can I improve this photo" forums
category, and provide identifiable comments on someone else's photos. All of the above will
generate more interest in your own photo albums and the number of views your images are getting will
increase. Higher number of views relates to higher popularity, which is very important for
better ranking your images amongst others.
Ability to receive numeric ratings helps your photos advance higher within categories or search results in comparison
to photos that are unrated.
While there are images which ratings are inaccurate or inadequate, in the majority highest rated images deserve their ratings and they get a better placement
amongst others. Our search engine can be used to push the better rated images higher to the top and thus present photo
buyers with the quality they are looking for.
Think of the image search engine the same way as you would think of a
regular web search engine. If you are looking for something, you want results that are relevant,
from a reliable quality websites to show first, and results from someone's
personal webpage be nowhere near the top. As a consumer, you need the
"best" and most relevant information matching your search criteria to be shown first and so good
search engines rank results to deliver what you expect.
ShutterPoint's own search engine follows the same logic - we assume the
higher rated photos are actually "better" and so our customers expect to
find them on top of the search results and not have to go through pages of
images to find a gem. Compare this with a traditional stock image website
where no one really knows how results are ordered, and there is no way to show
"better" content first.
It needs to be noted that our search engine offers several sorting options,
and ratings is only one of them. Default is relevance, where ordering is
determined by position of the keyword on the list, however when this
position is the same for many images, ratings will take precedence. When popularity
order is used, ratings are more dominant, and they also jump in as the
secondary sort parameter when ordering by dates is used during searches.
To summarize, the higher ratings your images get, the better
visibility they may achieve. Even the lowest rating is better than no rating,
and with this in mind, you may want to always allow numeric ratings on your photos.
Every photo at ShutterPoint.com has a title. If you do not give
a title to your photo, it will be shown as "Untitled" - which is not recommended.
You can have any number of "Untitled" photos, but it practically ensures that no one
will find them. Instead, give your photos good descriptive titles. The more information you provide,
the easier it will be to find your photos. A title should be in English, but you can also include a phrase in another language after a slash.
- Avoid "creative" titles that do not communicate subject of your images
- Be precise and name exactly what appears in a photo
- Use correct spelling
- Avoid punctuation characters unless they truly belong in your title. Do not use periods or exclamation points at the end
Bad choice of a title: "Alicia's at work - photo #9."
Good choice of a title: "Young woman in red jacket using office computer"
Categories help organizing photos in the logical sections. Each photo can be placed in up to three categories. If you do not assign your photo to any category, it will be automatically placed into "General" category. Why are these categories important? Visitors and site members browse categories. Photo buyers may shop by category. Getting your photos listed within the right categories puts them in front of the right audience.
Be sure to keep the site well organized and list your images only within those categories that directly apply to their subject. Use the reference list below as your guide:
- Abstract - Images that do not depict objects in the natural world, but instead use color and form in a non-representational or subjective way.
- Agriculture - Images of farms, fields, live stock, agricultural equipment, people involved in all activities related to agriculture, etc.
- Animals - Images of all animals, including birds, fish and other ocean fauna, household pets, wildlife, etc.
- Architecture - Images of buildings, interior and exterior design, cityscapes, etc.
- Backgrounds and Textures - Images that can primarily be used as a background for visual design or as foundation for a graphical layout.
- Botanical - Images of flowers, trees, crops and other plants.
- Business World - Images related to money and finance, trades, corporate environments, business concept images.
- Children - Images of young children and babies.
- Current Events - Images of events that are important primarily in the editorial context.
- Digital Arts - Images of art created on a computer in digital form, most usually illustrations and vector graphics, or digital photo manipulations defying reality.
- Documentary - Photojournalism that can be defined as truthful, objective, and usually candid photography of a particular subject, most often pictures of people.
- Entertainment - Images of events or performances of the entertainment nature, also images of people and things related to entertainment.
- Erotica and Nudes - Images portraying human sensuality and sexuality with high-art aspirations, tasteful nudes. No pornography please.
- Fashion - Images displaying clothing and other fashion items, as well as people involved in the fashion industry.
- Fine Art - Usually "staged" images meant to evoke appreciation of beauty and appeal to taste.
- Food - Images of food, including raw food, and culinary subjects.
- General - Usually images not fitting well into any other category, too generic to be categorized.
- Glamour - Images of models meant to emphasize the subject, instead of the fashions or products, most often non-nude.
- Health and Fitness - Images meant to promote good health, healthy lifestyle, and fitness.
- Healthcare - Images related to medical treatments, rehabilitation and recovery, medications, and general healthcare.
- Holiday - Images related to holiday celebrations and activities, including international holidays.
- Humorous - Images evoking feelings of amusement, laughter and fun.
- Industrial - Usually images showing industrial equipment or process of manufacturing or post-manufacturing of goods, as well as machinery, freight transportation, power production, etc.
- Isolated Objects - Various objects against the pure white background.
- Landscape - Images depicting scenery such as mountains, valleys, trees, rivers, and forests.
- Law - Images showing people involved in law enforcement and conceptual images on the subjects of law and legal matters.
- Macro - Close-up images in which the image on film or electronic sensor is as large or larger than the subject.
- Military - Images showing people in the military, military equipment and attributes.
- Music World - Images showing musicians, instruments, other subjects related to music.
- Nature - Usually photos of aesthetical value taken outdoors and devoted to displaying natural elements such as landscapes, wildlife, plants, and close-ups of natural scenes and textures.
- Night Shot - Images taken during sunset and nighttime, usually landscapes and cityscapes.
- Ocean - Underwater photos, images of ocean, sea, lakes, ponds and rivers, as well as water flora and fauna.
- Office World - Images of people involved in various office activities, office equipment and concept images on the office world subject.
- People and Lifestyles - Images of people involved in various activities, as well as portraits, and events centered around people. Please be sure there are people in the photo.
- Religion and Spirituality - Images depicting religious or spiritual events, activities, and holidays, as well as images of temples, and people worshiping, praying, meditating, etc.
- Rural Life - Images showing distinct rural and suburban scenes and activities.
- Sports - Images of people involved in sports and athletic activities, and objects related to sports.
- Still Life - Usually works of photographic art depicting inanimate subjects, typically commonplace objects which may be either natural or man-made.
- Technology - Images of people using technology, gadgets, phones, computers, etc.
- Transportation - Images displaying means of transportation (ships, cars, planes, etc.) or other subjects related to movement of people and goods from one place to another.
- Travel - Images of people traveling, travel scenes, or photos taken at the unusual locations or popular travel destinations.
- Urban Life - Images showing distinct urban scenes, activities or events in cities and metro areas.
- Vintage - Images of outdated and old objects, or events in the past.
Keywords are there to give your photos one more way to be found in searches - both at this site or via major serch engines.
We allow up to 700 characters for keywords. Do not use any catchy phrases in the keyword
field, as people most likely will not search for them.
Below are some of the rules about keywords you may need to know:
- keywords should be separated by commas, everything between commas is treated as a keyword or a key phrase;
- repeating the same keyword multiple times does not add any more value to it, since our system
automatically removes duplicate keywords;
- try to put most relevant keywords in front of the list;
- there are no predefined keywords, you can use any words that you believe describe the photo, and most
likely could be used by someone running the search;
- use keywords in English, however you can also add keywords in other language;
- ShutterPoint search engine understands plurals, so you can use
either "bird" or "birds" as the keyword.
Bad choice of keywords: "great shot of a bird,winter,bright sun"
Good choice of keywords: "gyrfalcon,falcon,tundra fauna,Northwest Territories bird,bird"
Description entry allows you to write any descriptive text about your photo. Start with a short sentence providing clear and accurate
explanation of what your photo is about. In addition, you may want to share with others what preparation was done to take a photo, what
conditions the photo was taken at, when, where, etc. Feel free to include anything that others may find interesting, original or
educational about your photo. ShutterPoint search engine (as well as major search engines online) can search descriptions, so it is a good idea to write descriptions
in a search-friendly manner that includes words others may search for.
If your primary purpose of submitting the photo is to attract potential buyers and get sales, setting the right price can be as
important as creating a flawless photograph. This section is by no means created to give you a precise formula to set the
right price, but we will try to give you a few pointers:
- browse around the site and see the prices others set for the similar photos. Do not look for the subjects identical
to the one on your photo, but the rather the concept or idea a publisher may be looking for. After you see a good number
of photos, you will get an understanding of price ranges;
- keep your expenses in mind, but be reasonable. Do not expect a buyer to cover all your costs if you are selling a
photo you took during your Africa safari trip last spring. Remember, if your photo is very good, it can be sold many
times to different buyers;
- photo resolution and quality are extremely important for making a good print, and publishers of printed media pay
close attention to these factors. Generally speaking, digital photos with larger dimensions (high resolution) and larger
file sizes (low compression) will produce higher quality prints. If your photo is of the higher technical quality than the
average, a higher price is justified.
- decide on full license only vs. both standard and full licenses.
Images selling with full license start at $20.00 USD, while standard licenses can be purchased at fixed prices from
$0.99 - $4.99 (depending on image dimensions). You can choose to offer standard (more restricted) licenses that will make
images more affordable and can generate higher volume of sales, or allow full licenses only.
Watermark is a semi-transparent text or image that gets placed above your photo to make it unusable for
commercial use (unless it gets purchased). When watermarking is used, ShutterPoint creates a copy of your
photo and applies the watermark of your choice to that copy, thus keeping your original submission watermark-free.
If a buyer purchases your image, he/she will be provided with the original watermark-free photo.
Watermarks can be removed at any time, and you can apply a different watermark to a photo that had been
previously watermarked. We encourage you to always use watermarks if you are serious about selling
your work. If selling the photo is not your priority, a watermark may not be necessary, as it obstructs
perception of artistic quality of your photo, even when it is almost transparent.
See the FAQ
section for the information about creating and applying watermarks.