Editorial & general stock photographer in North Wales, Chester & The Wirral
Editorial & general stock photographer in North Wales, Chester & The Wirral

How do you Find Customers for Stock Photography?

It is great fun to earn money from taking photographs, but how do you find customers?

The simplest and easiest way to find customers for your photographs is by making your work available for sale through agencies. Typically called Stock Agencies or Micro Stock Agencies, the agencies make your photographs available for sale through their websites. The agency takes a percentage of your earnings.

How it works

Firstly, using their websites, you have to register with the stock agencies and upload some examples of your very best photographs. If your photography and work is of an acceptable standard, the agency adds you to their list of contributors.  You are then able to upload any photographs which you wish to sell to their website. The agencies do check every photograph which is uploaded to them. All photographs do have to meet certain standards and criteria. They have to be well composed, in sharp focus, without borders and well exposed. They also need to meet certain specifications regarding things such as file size etc.

Potential buyers of your photographs search the agencies website for photographs they might be interested in buying. If they choose one of your photographs, they pay the agency and then download your photograph. The agencies don’t pass the money straight over to you. Most agencies pay out to photographers once a month, so long as a minimum payment amount has been reached. Payment methods vary, some agencies can pay straight into your bank account, most agencies offer Paypal as an option.

Who are the buyers of photographs?

The types of buyers are as wide ranging as the types of photographs available on the agencies. The most common buyers are graphic designers, website owners, newspapers and magazines. Publishers of calendars, books, greeting cards and Music CDs are also buyers of stock photography. The internet has made the world a smaller place – buyers can come from anywhere in the world.

How much can I earn?

That is a difficult question to answer exactly. It depends on the quality of your work, how many photographs you upload, how unique your photographs are and how well you prepare the photographs before uploading. Typically, each time a photograph is sold, the photographer earns only pennies. It can be as low as 16p. However, sometimes photos can sell for 3 figure sums. With a reasonable amount of photographs uploaded, it becomes usual to see some sales of £1 to £35. A payment of 16p for a photograph doesn’t sound much, but there is a very good reason why it becomes worthwhile.

Customers who buy your photograph don’t actually buy your photograph! They simply pay for the right to use your photograph. The photograph itself remains your property. There is no limit to how many times or how many customers can download your photograph. You can also usually make your photographs available through more than one agency. There is no time limit on how long your photographs are available for sale.

As an example, we have a very simple photograph of a craft item which we bought for 25p. That photograph has been downloaded over 100 times through just one agency and the earnings are now well in excess of £100. I must point out though, your earnings could be much lower.


Stock photography is NOT a get rich quick scheme. However, with some care and dedication, it is possible to earn a welcome amount of money. There are a small number of people who earn a full time living from stock photography, but that is certainly not guaranteed. We’ll look closer at aspects of how to deal with the agencies in future articles.