Shutterstock Tips: What Are Photo Buyers Looking For?

As we did in our last article on what to upload, we begin with a disclaimer: The following article presents recommendations. Shutterstock makes no guarantees that the following suggestions will lead to greater acceptance rates or more downloads. Rather, this article is a collection of feedback we‘ve received from subscribers combined with an attempt to answer many submitters‘ questions regarding what they should submit. Read the information here with an open mind. Disclaimer over.
Through multiple venues of customer interaction, including at tradeshows, in emails, phone calls and more, Shutterstock clients continuously request “more natural feeling” images — photos that convey an idea or concept without the stiff and overly-posed characteristics held by much of today‘s stock.

While handshakes and studio-lit business shots are fine for certain situations, we would like to see photographers supplement their galleries with more shots conveying the idea of spontaneity. We want to be less aware of the presence of the photographer in your images and more focused on the photograph itself.

That said, here are some suggested tips you can follow to achieve this effect:

Direct less. Allow the narrative to naturally unfold and see where it takes you.

Look more broadly for inspiration. Or rather, look less at other submitters‘ work for inspiration. While we often advise brand new photographers to study the Most Popular Images section, this is intended to simply familiarize amateurs with what stock shots tend to look like, not how they must look.

Take inspiration from editorial and commercial shoots. The New York Times Magazine, for example, has some wonderful editorial spreads that can inspire your work.

Read design and photography magazines. Industry magazines such as Communication Arts, Creative Review and Photo District News (PDN) publish “photo annuals” that showcase some of the best photography over a wide range of categories, including stock, editorial, commercial, and personal to name a few.

Look at these guides for inspiration. Don‘t mimic the styles entirely, but be aware of what and how some of the most successful and award-winning photographers in the industry today are shooting. Look at how these photographers create business concepts, how they are using lighting to convey meaning, and how they are styling their images.

Style your models appropriately. As natural as we want your images to be, it is still important to focus on every piece of the photograph to “get it right.” Pay careful attention when styling your photo shoots. Would a surgeon wear a gown like the one you picked out? Is the model a convincing age to be playing a doctor? Does the suit that your businessman is wearing fit properly? Are the outfits on your teenage models demonstrative of what teens wear today? These subtle details can often affect sales and the overall response to your images and gallery.

Diversity. As mentioned in Part 1, keep diversity in mind. Clients do need images of different races and cultures, of both genders and of all ages, but particularly seniors in various situations. Please note, while this request is universal, it does vary region to region. For example, a Southern California client may need images of Mexican Americans.

Keywording. Think about your subjects and themes in order to keyword appropriately. Keep in mind the diversity of your models when preparing keywords. You should not keyword “Chinese” if your model is from the Philippines, as an example.

For reference, below are some examples of the kind of shots we have in mind.

You can buy this image here:

Related posts:

  1. Shutterstock Tips: Lightbox Tips for Shutterstock Contributors
  2. Shutterstock Tips: Improve Your Sales with Keywording – Part One
  3. Shutterstock Tips: Improve Your Sales with Keywording – Part Two
  4. Shutterstock Tips: Improve Your Sales with Keywording – Part Three
  5. Shutterstock Tips: How to Upload via FTP
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