We Simplify The Technical!

Peggy Farren interviews photographer Jo Crebbin. Jo gives us great advice and tips on how to make money selling stock photography  Thanks for tuning into episode #83 of The Understand Photography Show!


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About Jo

Retired videographer and TV producer

World traveler


Selling stock images since 2008


Microstock / iStock

– Must apply – send in 3 images, all 3 must be approved

  • Images are accepted or rejected
  • Rejection list is high – probably done now with a computer algorithm

What they’re looking for

  • Must be tack sharp at 100% zoom
  • Good lighting
  • Good content – they will reject images if you send in too many of the same subject matter (overuse of content)
  • LOVE people shots
    – **VERY STRICT** model release and property release protocol – specifics vary per company
    – business, medical, cooking, travel
    – all ages
  •  fruits and veggies, flowers
  •  hot topics:  environmental issues/pollution, protests


Tips – “Think like an art director.”

  • Slide the subject to one side to make room for type (make sure background isn’t too busy for type to be read)

– can be used for magazine covers, postcards, ads, etc.


“Work things knowing how people are going to use it.”


  • Think ahead – magazines and other printed periodicals work about 6 months ahead – send in your fall themed images in April, Christmas/winter themed images in May or June
  • “Tickle the System” – if you send in a few images every day, your name and images will be at the “top of the pile”
  • Artistic pieces can be used as backgrounds
  • Edge borders and corner pieces sell for greeting cards


“The value of photographs has gone down, while the need for photographs has gone up because of the internet, the use of images on websites, and advertising.”


You may only be getting a very small compensation for each image – as low as $0.38, but your audience is the WHOLE WORLD, and it all adds up.

Small, full license images for print advertising can pay $6 – $10

Large, full-page licensed images can sell for $25 – $40 depending on the market and usage


“The advantage to stock is that there is no need to print, mat, and frame your images.  You don’t have to transport them, pay gallery fees, or store the leftover prints if they don’t sell.”


Currently involved with 5 stock companies

  • more exposure
  • *slightly* less compensation if not exclusive to 1 company
  • does not pay enough to be a full-time business – good for someone who is retired


“You MUST be well organized, especially if using more than one company.”


  • Start with ShutterStock – fast response and payment, same day approval and seller notifications
  • iStock – slower, may take as long as 3 months for approval and payment
  • Dreamstime – fast, subscription rate is the same as Shutterstock, licensing and other rates are slightly higher
  • Alamy – pays you 1/2 of what they sell


Processing your Images

  • check them as soon as you get home
  • zoom in 100% – if they’re not crystal clear, just delete them
  • tweak in Lightroom

– standard editing protocol:  sharpen, contrast, de-haze

–  add keywords and titles – this is the hardest part!

ex:  image of an apple – red, round, fruit, low-calorie, snack, background color

out of ideas?  check out someone else’s tags for an apple, just be sure to use them as a source!

the more detailed the information, the better chance there is that someone finds it

  • Organize in categories and folders, color code for each company to keep track
  • Each company has their own specifics regarding size, formulas, categories, tags, etc.


Finding Jo and her images



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