How to Make Money From Stock Photography

What is stock photography and why should I care as a wedding photographer? Emma Lucy explains how easy it can be to make an extra income from your images.

So you’ve set yourself up as a wedding photographer, you’ve got x amount of bookings for x amount of money. From some of those bookings you’ll perhaps sell some prints to family and friends and the couple might order an album – this feels nice doesn’t it? But what if you could make your photos work even further without a huge amount of effort? Let me open your mind to the world of stock photography. In essence stock photography is just that – a picture library (or stock library) holds a stock of images which are sold to a whole host of companies for a whole host of reasons. And for every photo sold a percentage of the final sale amount goes to the photographer – the photographer doesn’t generally gets involved, the money just lands into their account shortly after their royalties statement becomes available online.




A photographer can put as much effort or be as involved as they like– some upload a few batches every year and some pretty much go full time shooting stock. Some make enough money for a holiday every year and some make a whole decent wage out of it. And it’s a lot easier than you think – plus you’ll be surprised how sellable your images are. For instance – a lifestyle magazine pulls a feature for whatever reason and wants to replace it with a big feature on say… rustic weddings. They’re looking for inspiration and quickly. Where are they going to go? They won’t have time to shoot what they need so will turn to an image library. They could discover a beautiful image you took at a wedding  and decide that it’s so gorgeous they use it on the cover and all of a sudden you’re a few hundred pounds or so (depending on usage rights and other factors) better off for not doing much.

And it doesn’t stop at wedding images, maybe you like to take pictures of a niece, or of your partner, even your dog – think about the potential for that, a lovely happy image that a marketing agency pick up for a global billboard campaign. There’s never a guarantee that you’ll sell images to that degree but there are a lot of photographers around the world who are really glad they took the time to stick up that photo that paid for their around the world trip, a new car or money to put away for an offspring’s education. But even if you don’t make that big sale you are very likely to sell some – and a little trickle of extra cash every month is better than a kick in the teeth, isn’t it? The likelihood is the minimal time you put into stock will be well worth what you get out of it and all for just adding a few considerations to your shooting and your workflow.


There are some things to consider when submitting images like whether the image needs a model, property or location release or does it contain a recognisable brand, writing or any copyrighted material? There are certain usages that allow an unreleased image to be used and though it might be a usage that only accumulates a small amount of money, it’s likely that it can be sold again and the image just keeps giving. Hopefully this article gives you at least a small insight to the potential of stock and why you should be embracing it. However the photography industry moves forward there is always going to be a call for professional photography and archival images. Make some room on your 2014 to do list for stock, just one of those images might just get lucky.

Before Emma Lucy built her own photography business she worked as a Picture Editor for over 12 years. She has worked closely with most of the major libraries and has a good knowledge of what image buyers are looking for. We are very excited that she is hosting a class on Stock Photography on the 30th of January at Farm Week where she will be discussing the basics, the difference between rights managed and royalty free, what sells well for stock and the most common usage for stock, she’ll solve any mysteries about image quality and file types as well as covering how to best approach getting model, property and location releases and when and why one is needed. But most of all she’ll get you making extra money with minimal effort – and all for a bargainous £100. Book your space here.