How can a pho­tog­ra­ph­er make mon­ey in the 21st cen­tu­ry? How to find cus­tomers in this dif­fi­cult time was described in anoth­er arti­cle. And today we will con­sid­er anoth­er option for earn­ing mon­ey — post­ing pic­tures on pho­to stocks. Some peo­ple think that it is impos­si­ble to earn mon­ey there. And some­one devel­ops a stock vision and makes shoot­ing for such sites the main source of income. But how to make mon­ey on pho­to stocks in 2022 and shoot “sell­ing” con­tent? Under­stood in this arti­cle.

You can not only sell your pic­tures to mag­a­zines and online pub­li­ca­tions, but also place them on spe­cial sites. Pho­to: pexels.com

Terms of coop­er­a­tion
Types of licens­es for com­mer­cial pho­to stocks
What is an “exam”
Why did­n’t I pass the exam?
Film­ing per­mis­sion
How to choose a theme
How to improve your chances
What not to post on pho­to stocks in 2022
The best Russ­ian pho­to­stocks for earn­ing mon­ey for begin­ners from Rus­sia
For­eign pho­to­banks for sell­ing pho­tos
What pho­to stocks to choose for a begin­ner to earn mon­ey

Terms of cooperation

Almost any­one can reg­is­ter on free pho­to stocks where you need to sell images for com­mer­cial use. Restric­tion except by age — from 18 (some­times 21) years.

How to make mon­ey sell­ing pho­tos? It’s sim­ple, you need:

  • reg­is­ter on a free pho­to stock to earn mon­ey;
  • pass an exam (if nec­es­sary) — we will talk about this below;
  • choose an idea (how to do this is described below);
  • choose ref­er­ences, assem­ble an image;
  • take a pic­ture;
  • select the best pho­tos, retouch them;
  • choose a title, descrip­tion, key­words for each frame;
  • upload to pho­to­stock;
  • send for mod­er­a­tion, wait for ver­i­fi­ca­tion;
  • wait for the sales of pho­tos on the pho­to stock.

Types of licenses for commercial photo stocks

The main dif­fer­ence between all resources (Russ­ian and for­eign) is the type of license. There is one of three types:

- rights free — Loy­al terms. For exam­ple, a sell­er can post and sell a sin­gle image an infi­nite num­ber of times on dif­fer­ent sites and around the world. And the buy­er can place the pur­chased pic­ture any­where many times. Most often, clients of such micro­s­tocks do not pay for images one at a time. They buy a license (for a month or for down­load­ing 10–100 pho­tos) and can get a few shots they need. Pop­u­lar micro­s­tocks include Shut­ter­stock, iStock, Deposit­pho­tos, Adobe Stock;

- rights man­aged - spe­cial rights to sell images. For exam­ple, the sell­er can­not post this pic­ture any­where else. And the buy­er can use the pho­to only 1 time. The use of each pho­to is nego­ti­at­ed sep­a­rate­ly. Until 2019, the most famous site oper­at­ing under this license was Get­ty Images. But the com­pa­ny even­tu­al­ly switched to the third type of license — a mixed one;

- mixed — As the name implies, these sites offer flex­i­ble terms and dif­fer­ent types of licens­es for pho­tog­ra­phers and buy­ers. Every­one choos­es the way of work­ing that suits him. Under such a license work: Mas­ter­file, First Light, Age­fo­to­stock.

Images that are sold on stocks have a com­mer­cial val­ue for the buy­er. Pho­to: pexels.com

What is an “exam”

Some sites for sell­ing pho­tos on the Inter­net (Lori, Deposit­pho­tos) have a spe­cial test. You need to upload a few sam­ples. Man­agers eval­u­ate how high qual­i­ty they are, whether they com­ply with the rules of the site.

How to pass the exam for sell­ing pho­tos on the Inter­net to begin­ner stock­ers?

  • Upload pho­tos that com­ply with site rules. They are usu­al­ly list­ed right away. For exam­ple: JPEG or JPG for­mat, 2400 × 1600 pix­els, weight up to 50 MB.
  • Add only your pho­tos.
  • You need to choose the most suc­cess­ful ones.

Life hack: first reg­is­ter on a pho­to stock, where you do not need to take an exam. This will give expe­ri­ence. You will under­stand which pho­tos are the most sold, inter­est­ing. And it will help to take good pic­tures for the exam.

Why didn’t I pass the exam?

one. Strong noise in the pho­to. Try low­er­ing the sen­sor sen­si­tiv­i­ty (ISO).

2. No com­mer­cial val­ue. It’s not for noth­ing that blog­gers who sell cours­es on work­ing on pho­to sites talk about “stock vision”. Just a pho­to of a pup­py sit­ting on the pave­ment has no com­mer­cial val­ue. But if this is a pup­py with a bow, in a beau­ti­ful bas­ket, against a plain back­ground, this pic­ture can already be used for adver­tis­ing.

3. Wrong choice of key­words. Tags usu­al­ly don’t match test pho­tos, but it hap­pens. You don’t have to think a lot. It is bet­ter to write no more than 10 words that accu­rate­ly describe the frame.

four. No film­ing per­mis­sion. What is it — we will tell below.

The mod­er­a­tors do not allow images of low qual­i­ty, with a lot of retouch­ing (as in the exam­ple) and incor­rect descrip­tions. Pho­to: phowd.com

Filming permission

mod­el release — per­mis­sion from the per­son who got into the frame. If there is a mod­el on the frame, she must agree that her pho­to can be bought and post­ed. Pho­to stocks care­ful­ly check this.


– a release is need­ed if the pho­to shows a part of the body that can be rec­og­nized (tat­too, hand with a spe­cial mole, lips + nose tip);

- if there are sev­er­al peo­ple in the pho­to, con­sent is required from each;

Is the mod­el nude in the pho­to? So you need to add a scan of her ID to con­firm that she is an adult;

- on each stock you can down­load the release and fill it out by hand. You can use the Easy Release pro­gram (avail­able on iOS and Android), sign a uni­ver­sal release for all stocks there. The sig­na­ture in the pro­gram can be done with a fin­ger or a sty­lus (if your phone sup­ports it);

– the con­sent for the Eng­lish site must be com­plet­ed in Eng­lish;

- if you shoot your­self — indi­cate your­self as both a pho­tog­ra­ph­er and a mod­el;

- if you are tak­ing pic­tures of your chil­dren — you indi­cate your­self in the release as a pho­tog­ra­ph­er and a par­ent + indi­cate some­one as a wit­ness.

Prop­er­ty Release – if the pho­to ses­sion is con­duct­ed on the ter­ri­to­ry of a muse­um, a his­tor­i­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant place, per­mis­sion is also need­ed (from the admin­is­tra­tion, own­ers). You will need it if the pho­to con­tains a famous paint­ing, stat­ue, etc. How do I get it? Please con­tact the admin­is­tra­tion first with a request. You can get the per­mis­sion tem­plate from the site where you plan to sell the pic­ture.

If there is a per­son in the pic­ture, you need to prove that he agrees to shoot. Pho­to: pexels.com

How to choose a theme

How to make good mon­ey on pho­to stocks? Upload cur­rent pho­tos. There are cat­e­gories that are pop­u­lar on almost any site:

- lifestyle — pho­tos of peo­ple who are doing their usu­al things (read­ing, comb­ing their hair, laugh­ing);

- suc­cess — staged pho­tos of busi­ness lead­ers, coach­es (one per­son in the cen­ter, on the podi­um, lis­ten­ers in front of him, etc.);

- the­mat­ic works (den­tistry, fit­ness, school, cook­ing and oth­ers);

- hol­i­days — 3–6 months before the hol­i­day, you can upload pho­tos on this top­ic. New Year, Hal­loween, Valen­tine’s Day, Birth­day are very pop­u­lar;

- tex­tures, abstrac­tionswhich can be used as a back­ground;

- indi­vid­ual items (flower, gift, pup­py).

You can bet­ter under­stand the top­ic in demand by view­ing the pho­to stock itself. For exam­ple, Shut­ter­stock makes an annu­al and month­ly selec­tion of trends (the most rel­e­vant at the moment and the fore­cast for the future).

How to improve your chances

Upload many dif­fer­ent pho­tos on the same top­ic. Why? Increas­ing chance:

What will the buy­er see? One pho­to will be lost among the pic­tures of oth­er stock­ers. And the prob­a­bil­i­ty that one of 20–50 of your images will be seen is high­er;

- that you guess the need of the buy­er. For exam­ple, a pho­to of a man with a dog. One client is look­ing for a child with an ani­mal, anoth­er for a woman, and a third for a man. The more dif­fer­ent options you shoot, the high­er the chance to guess the buy­er’s request.

The stock pho­to is styl­ish, with­out unnec­es­sary details and accu­rate­ly con­veys the idea. Pho­to: launch23.com

How to make pho­tos “stock”:

- more mono­phon­ic clothes and acces­sories (com­bin­ing with each oth­er);

- a back­ground with­out junk (for exam­ple, plain walls, light floors, a lot of nat­ur­al light, lit­tle fur­ni­ture, all ele­ments are com­bined with each oth­er);

– mod­els with clean skin, straight teeth, well-groomed hands, in clean clothes;

- emo­tions. If the image is not trag­ic, it is bet­ter to smile. An expres­sion­less face is a bad option.

What not to post on photo stocks in 2022

  • Any con­tent that offends peo­ple, their feel­ings. For exam­ple, flags, T‑shirts, posters with offen­sive state­ments about appear­ance, race.
  • Pho­tos with drugs.
  • Pic­tures depict­ing cru­el­ty to ani­mals.

Accom­mo­da­tion may be denied if:

– image of very poor qual­i­ty;

- you can see a lot of pro­cess­ing (the mod­el has a lot of pho­to­shop on her face). And we talked about how to make a beau­ti­ful and imper­cep­ti­ble face retouch­ing in the blog;

- Wrong release (or none).

Pho­tos (show­ing hate and vio­lence) are not allowed on com­mer­cial stocks. Pho­to: fazarosta.com

The best Russian photostocks for earning money for beginners from Russia


One of the best stocks for sell­ing pho­tos. Mixed license. With­draw­al of mon­ey with a deduc­tion of 13% tax. If your account has accu­mu­lat­ed more than 3,000 rubles by the begin­ning of the month, the mon­ey will be auto­mat­i­cal­ly cred­it­ed to the linked account. Coop­er­a­tion begins after pass­ing the exam.


Anoth­er free Russ­ian pho­to stock for a begin­ner to earn mon­ey. There is an exam. The audi­ence is not very large. Mon­ey can be with­drawn to Yumani, cur­rent account, Qiwi wal­let.


It used to be a copy­writ­ing exchange. And now here you can earn mon­ey by sell­ing pho­tos. There is no exam, you can set your own price for the pic­ture.

Foreign photobanks for selling photos


The most pop­u­lar ser­vice for sell­ing pho­tos. You need to pass an exam, show a scan of your pass­port, be sure to pro­vide releas­es. How to make mon­ey on Shut­ter­stock? Post high qual­i­ty pho­tos and videos. Con­tent is mod­er­at­ed before post­ing.

Adobe Stock

More loy­al resource than Shut­ter­stock. On Adobe stock, sell­ing pho­tos is pos­si­ble with­out an exam, imme­di­ate­ly after a sim­ple reg­is­tra­tion. All pic­tures are mod­er­at­ed. It lasts up to three days.


Con­ve­nient plat­form for sell­ing pho­tos. Mixed license, high price of images. They even accept pho­tos tak­en with a smart­phone. The main thing is that they have com­mer­cial val­ue and be of good qual­i­ty.

In the cur­rent eco­nom­ic con­di­tions, there are ways to with­draw mon­ey from for­eign sites in Rus­sia. For exam­ple, to elec­tron­ic wal­lets (Skrill).

What photo stocks to choose for a beginner to earn money

We have list­ed the min­i­mum list of pho­to stocks for mak­ing mon­ey, which includes the most pop­u­lar sites. It is opti­mal to start with those who do not con­duct the exam. This will help improve your skill lev­el, learn stock vision, and under­stand what peo­ple are inter­est­ed in. You can start with Adobe Stock, Dream­stime, Etxt.