Stock Photography – turn your photos into money!

borntowanderlust photographer camera photo picture mountains stock photography

Let’s talk about one of the sweetest things that a digital nomad can rely on: passive income. It means earning money from something that you did or made available sometime before. Thus, when you actually profit from it, you technically did nothing at that time (hence “passive”). Ideally, you only have that initial effort once and, from then on and during months and years, just enjoy the revenue arriving. Some of the easiest examples of passive income come from writers or musicians’ royalties, i.e. selling a book and playing a song respectively. For us “regular humans” and digital nomads though, you can pursue a business path that gives you passive income too. Although there are many ways to achieve this, the one I’ll be talking about in this post is stock photography.

This is the name given to the industry of selling photos people can buy or license, for whatever purposes they have. Surely in your life, you have found yourself in the need of a particular shot depicting an idea, place, person, etc. Most people’s first thought is to rely on a quick Google image search and snatch the photo. Done, easy. I’ve done that too, I won’t lie. However, as photography grew an important part of my life, I started to think differently. Because I was now creating my own photos and I wanted to showcase them, I was suddenly on the other side of the equation. I realized skin-deep that, as with any form of art, one needs to respect both work and author accordingly. So apart from obviously starting to comply with those values myself, I embraced stock photography for my work.


Stock photography is a must-do income source for digital nomads who love photography


Stock photography platforms (such as Depositphotos) are a middleman between you and your client. They do all the heavy work that, when entering this business, you didn’t even think existed. It means showing your content in different sizes, proposing different and adequate prices, providing a payment platform, as well as copyright protection mechanisms (to name a few). Your job relies on uploading your pictures, describing them as best as you can (and adhering to their guidelines) and await approval. I am part of several stock photography platforms and I’ll be sharing with you important tips about each one of them in the coming weeks. For now, however, here are some basic steps that almost all of them require.


1 – Great content

Well, this goes without saying, but surely you have to submit the absolute best content you have. That may not be enough though. Not only because of your skills (and photo-editing skills), but also keep in mind you want other people to actually buy. So yes, you can take the world’s best picture of a soap, but do people really want that? You have to aim at publishing photography which is worthy to be used in as many situations as possible, such as blogs, advertisement, etc. Some platforms require a quality sample from you before getting access, so make sure you give them your top-notch examples.

2 – Metadata

All platforms will require each item to have a title and some keywords (5 or 10 minimum). Some of them will also ask you for a description and location too. Be careful about language though; while many of them are localized, some enforce the use of English. For me, this is the most tiresome step of the process, especially when you work with a lot of platforms. However, you really have to do it, as this is the only way to ensure that buyers find your work.

3 – Releases

Those damn releases. Releases are authorizations that people or institutions grant for the production of their pictures. So if your work selected in step 1 features any recognizable humans or properties, you can do the following. For people you no choice whatsoever, i.e. you have to get the release from the model. For properties though, you can either get the releases or you can hope that they’re not included in each platform’s list of protected places. This list differs from platform to platform and sometimes it’s a matter of chance to get them accepted without a release.


So, do you have any pictures buried in any hard drive out there that you think could be useful to someone? Then you have to know that you can turn them into a profit and, even better, a passive one! Dust them off, polish them a little bit and give it a shot! Did I tell you it’s FREE!?



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