To earn a living as a stock photographer, you need a strong portfolio. We work with a community of creators and contributors, so we know that it can be challenging to come up with new ideas. Especially at first, when you’re not familiar with the industry and its demands. Don’t worry, though! This is why we’re here – to support you on your journey. Keep on reading to find out what we recommend.


Photo equipment

Start with the basics

Stock photography is a big industry that involves a constantly growing volume of content. If you’re just starting out, it might be a good idea to focus on stock photography themes that are in demand. Some of them might not be popular in a few years, while others will remain relevant no matter what. The latter includes holiday and business photography.

Even though this space might seem overcrowded, a strong portfolio with relevant, consistent, and high-quality content will bring in clients.

Explore stock photography sites

What kind of categories and photographs do other websites have on their main pages? Do your research and make notes. Pay attention to what people have recently searched for and what other contributors have uploaded. This is an endless source of inspiration and ideas. Photography portfolio examples are also available if you search for specific contributors.

Male photographer

Embrace your passions

What are you personally interested in apart from photography? Something you want to take pictures of without being paid. For example, if you are into working out a lot. It could be the core of your stock photography portfolio. Or, let’s say, you love exploring the world and you dream of doing it more often, then you could focus on travel photography. This approach might not work for every single hobby of yours, but give it a go.

Focus on underexplored areas

To set up a stock photography portfolio, you can take numerous routes, including ones that are less common among other contributors. As mentioned above, creating visual content about fitness, travel, or the holidays might be easier, but getting noticed is not. So, consider choosing topics that are less popular but are just as necessary. For example, illnesses and medicine, people with disabilities, and the elderly.

Content you can’t find might be even more important than the content you keep on seeing Every stock site is different, so the information you have access to varies. Do your research, try to benefit from it as much as possible, find your own niche, and become successful in it.

Elderly woman

Keep an eye on trends

This is probably one of the most valuable pieces of advice we could give you. The world is constantly changing, and it’s crucial to be ahead of the curve. Trends are everywhere, but spotting them is not that obvious or easy. This is why it’s better to rely on experts. We know that trends are a big deal for a career in stock photography, which is why we’ve been making our own Visual Trends reports. They can be a beneficial source of inspiration and ideas. We reach out to creative agencies and industry experts for exclusive insight and then share it with you. Check out the 2021 edition now, and expect the Visual Trends 2022 report in December.

Recognize bad visuals

Learn from the mistakes that others make and avoid repeating them. Turn it into a game – pay more attention to the visuals around you, analyze them, and create better alternatives. Seek ones that illustrate the most in-demand topics, based on what you already know about the industry and the latest trends. Then, take better photographs. When potential clients discover your stock photography portfolio, they need to understand that you get their pain points and can provide what they need.

Rely on the calendar

As we’ve already mentioned, holiday-related content sells very well on stocks. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day, and other holidays always boost sales for businesses, so they need a lot of high-quality content.

We recommend creating a list of the biggest holidays and scheduling shoots three months in advance. This is a recommendation that the Zamurovic Brothers, two of our most active contributors, have shared with us: “We start uploading Christmas images in October so that our works have time to reach customers, and climb up in popular image searches. Similarly, for every season, 5-6 weeks prior is the best time to start uploading.”

Christmas tree


Hopefully, you’re feeling even more confident about your stock photography portfolio. There are many ways to succeed, and you do not have to pick just one. Pay attention to visuals around you, find ones you could create alternatives for. Explore what stock sellers are showing you on their homepage, and what other photographers are publishing. These and other actions will help you build your portfolio and a successful career in photography.

If you would like to have access to more ideas, read about our nine sources for inspiration. Make sure you implement them in your work. We wish you the best of luck with your stock photography profile.

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