The Internet now contains thousands of stock photography sites, giving editors a huge choice of image sources, and photographers a wide range of outlets for their images. We’ve checked sites and pored over lists to produce our own guide to stock photography.
We’ve broken the sites down into subject categories but it’s likely that many overlap. Certainly, the large sites will also include niche subjects. Not all of the sites accept contributions but many do.
Entries are arranged alphabetically and should not be considered as recommendations. Be sure to read the terms and conditions carefully, and let us know about your experiences with the sites on the list and any that you think we’ve missed.
Two stock companies dominate the industry. They’re big enough to set the prices, determine styles and lock in buyers with subscription fees. Many of the sites listed here are now subsidiaries of one of these firms.
Both Corbis and Getty accept images of every topic imaginable. Lots of other sites offer general images too.
Unique Payment Models
Stock companies generally license images on a royalty-free basis or a rights-managed basis, taking a (large) commission for themselves. Some stock companies though are pushing back against that model with payment plans of their own.
News and editorial images generally need to be delivered quickly to reach markets and generate sells.
Local news services, even national rather than international ones, may offer targeted sources for buyers and contributors.
Some of the highest paying editorial images are shots of celebrities. Paparazzi images in particular have to be sent in very quickly.
Microstock companies accept images from everyone but charge and pay small amounts on a royalty-free basis.
Art rarely makes the best stock, which needs to functional rather than artistic. Some stock companies though do specialize in art images.
Images of the environment have become more important as interest in climate change has grown.
Science images, including astronomy, can have strong demand but they often require access to laboratories and specialist tools.
With the right agency, it’s even possible license your shots of landscape, nature and animals.
Mangelsen: Images of Nature
Sports photography can be as topical as news or as general as portraiture. Some sites cover every sport; others focus on just one activity.
Making money out of your vacation photos isn’t easy. Create travel images of exotic locations though and you can license them on specialist stock sites.
The United States is big and varied enough for images of different regions to have their own outlets.
Photographers in countries around the world can try to sell their images through sites that use the country or region as a brand.
Images of musicians, instruments and performance can make a particularly valuable niche.
Images of industry and transport can be both valuable and difficult to produce. If you can arrange access, some specialist sites will be happy to take your targeted, quality images.
Food pictures might need the help of a professional food stylist but they can make for a useful niche.
Aerial photography requires some special equipment and is usually commissioned. Some stock companies though do sell images shot from a height.
Add Yours here, in the comments. Include the category.