The trick to being successful in selling stock photography through microstock websites is finding the gaps in the market. Finding the the topics or subjects of that people are searching for, but can’t find anywhere else. I asked that question to a group of professionals who purchase stock photography frequently in their lines of work: which stock photographs are hard to source? Where are the gaps and opportunities for new stock photographers? I'll share their answers with you below.
There’s no point uploading gorgeous stock photos of trees when thousands of other microstock photographers have also uploaded equally gorgeous photos of the same kind of tree. Your photographs will get lost and you’ll waste your time.
When I’m not exploring the world of stock photography I work as a journalist so my LinkedIn network is filled with communicators and marketers, the very clientele who buy stock photography in their work.
So I put the question to them: where are the gaps in the stock photography market?
What sorts of stock images do you have trouble sourcing and what do you wish stock photographers shot more photos of?
These are their exact responses:
Gaps in the stock photography industry
"I want stock photos that look 'real', not a staged photoshoot. It astounds me how fake SO many photos are on stock sites. I'm in the health education and advocacy field so am always wanting 'real' people doing everyday things, a slice of life, images of people that are not necessarily beautiful or 'able'. Diverse ethnicity/gender but not to the point of being obvious about it."
"Homelessness. Leaving aside all the tricky issues of consent etc, photography of homelessness is almost 100% street sleepers. Yet street sleepers account for less than 10% of all homeless people. It makes almost all homelessness stock unusable."
"Photos of people with disabilities and depicting chronic illness (eg wearing medical devices such as insulin pumps or feeding tubes) in non clinical settings is always a real struggle!"
"Good call out Christie. Diversity is often overlooked in stock photography - cultural, accessibility, and other diverse identities. Also, realistic medical photos including wearing appropriate PPE." (Personal Protective Equipment)
"I use Shutterstock a lot. I find high quality Australian-specific content can be hard to find."
(This is likely to also be the case in whichever country you live in.)
"Editorial-style images are the hardest to source consistently when looking for stock. People doing things naturally, not looking at the camera, dressed in an average way, natural facial expressions, not excessively overjoyed, that kind of thing is reeeeaaally lacking in stock. Also, Getty and Adobe Stock are my usual go-tos. Good luck Christie, we defs need better quality stock images in the world!"
So to summarise, the gaps in the stock photography market include:
Real, editorial style photographs of ordinary people doing everyday things
Homelessness, that doesn’t involve people sleeping on the street
Australian-specific content (or content specific to your country)
People with disabilities and chronic illnesses in non-medical settings
Realistic health and medical photos with appropriate personal protective equipment
Diversity of all kinds
I hope this gave you a few ideas about gaps in the stock photography market that you might be able to fill as a microstock photographer!
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