202 Challenging Subjects when Shooting for Stock

When shooting stock photography, particularly for microstock, the perception often is that there exists an endless choice of subjects just waiting to be captured, and sold, Yes, for real money!

“But wait…” I hear anybody who has been selling stock for a while scream, “you can’t just shoot anything and expect to rake in the cash.”…

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17 Responses to “202 Challenging Subjects when Shooting for Stock”

  1. plrang Says:

    I think that there is no subject to avoid if You are good in it and You like it, but such lists and researches are good to just see the competition and avoid repetition (in fact these phrases are very general and can include completely different images), also to explore new way of expression, quality improvements and so on.

    Unfortunately link to my article about is under construction;) I’ll post it here right after publication.

  2. R. Kneschke Says:

    I think the blog post title is a bit confusing.

    The keywords you list DO sell very well. But since many photographers know this the offered quantity and quality is yery high on these topics. This makes it hard as a newbie to get sales there, but I wouldn’t tend to say that efforts would be worthless.

  3. mystockphoto Says:

    Bob, funny and interesting. I can sell “dried fruit” and “mountain landscape” Wow! Maybe ’cause there is another keyword more “niche oriented” that was used in the search.

  4. bobbigmac Says:

    Yes I agree, they are intentionally vauge (took a lot of database queries to get them this vague lol, if it was any more specific it would be 202,000 ‘challenging subjects; πŸ™‚

    I’ve adjusted the title to more accurately reflect the content of the post πŸ™‚ I was trying to be ironic and kinda skipped over the literal meaning πŸ™‚

    The figures are from a set of composited figures and topics across a few thousand searches, they will sell if excellent quality, but for a newcomer producing sub-premium-quality I think it would be a waste of time to try πŸ™‚

  5. mystockphoto Says:

    Challenging Subjects sounds good!

  6. R. Kneschke Says:


    I understood that your title was ironic, it just somehow reminded me of the post in Yuri’s blog where he stated what you shouldn’t shoot and one commented that almost his entire portfolio consists of these shoots. πŸ˜‰

  7. Luis Santos Says:

    eheeh what a huge list of different and equal subjects! :p
    I am quite new in microstock but I think we need to create more and something different than the usual, because there is a lot of “same” images that are already online, like business handshake etc..! I have a new board concept that I am working on it and there only a few things on the market, and I am seeing some sales there…!

    keep shooting πŸ™‚

  8. themightyshrub Says:

    So I should avoid shooting colour images? Darn…

    • bobbigmac Says:

      ‘colour image’ as a subject, yes, so things like those shots of multi-coloured umbrellas and rainbow/swatch style textures, and other patterns highlighting just colour are oversupplied.

      Not of course images in colour πŸ™‚

  9. plrang Says:

    Then maybe i’ll use it with Your permission under that second title πŸ˜‰ We’ll see which one get more hits πŸ˜‰
    Naah, i have my next article on the way

  10. Fotolia's top selling contributors | My Stock Photography Says:

    […] 202 Challenging Subjects when Shooting for Stock by Rob “bobbigmac” Davies (picNiche’s author); <<The list is built from supply/demand metrics composited across a variety of associated search phrases and queries to picNiche>> […]

  11. Colleen Says:

    I don’t do much microstock at all, but I don’t see how this list is that useful, to be honest, because the subjects are so vague. It almost seems more like it’s a challenging list of keywords, rather than a challenging list of subjects. For example, under “Still Life,” I looked at what IS had–and it’s everything from an isolated object (baseball, with over 400 dls) to a smear of pink lip gloss (0 dls), and that’s just on the first page. Does that mean that ALL potential still life subjects shouldn’t be shot by beginners? I can’t imagine buyers always use only 2 key words for searches, and contributors have to use at least 7 or so. I’ve just recently started using picniche and I find the more keywords I have (that are accurate and valid, not spamdexing), the more of a “niche” I find to shoot. Do I have it all wrong?

    • bobbigmac Says:

      Heya Colleen, yes and no, for your example ‘Still Life’, as a ‘subject’ it is severely oversupplied, not of course, ALL still life images.

      Images very representative (cliches) of still life (fruit bowl on a curtain, a single wine bottle, etc etc) would be in very competitive segments, as with the rest of these subjects, for a newcomer to stock, they’d have to be producing very high quality images to be able to focus primarily on that and expect high RPIs for the work.

      I’ve focused on searches consisting of 2 words here simply because the median search is somewhere between 2-3 words, I think the last figure I saw was 2.5ish, though I did read a while back that it was slowly rising. I wish I had access to good quality buyer data to be able to mine this further πŸ™‚

      With regards to your ‘more keywords = better rating’ question, this in some cases is true, as more keywords generally do indicate you are approaching a niche by the ‘proper’ definition, on picNiche results though you also need to keep in mind whether the phrase is likely typable by a buyer (not many buyers would type “my dog ate my shoes and I’m angry” whereas “dog eating shoe” is more realistic).

      Determining this can be helped by checking the Views/File and Downloads/File metric, though sadly, interpreting the data still comes down to one of those things which many people are still trying (and failing) to automate, common sense πŸ™‚

      Not sure if that helps?

  12. Colleen Says:

    Yes, it does help. I think I understand it better now. Thanks! πŸ™‚

  13. Don’t shoot clichΓ©s? We did… | core[pics] Says:

    […] photographers, discuss this taboo on clichΓ©s. The evidence is out there – the stock sites, a PicNiche article, onΒ  Mystockphoto and the microstockdiaries views on ClichΓ©s. There’s even a […]

  14. Alex Says:

    I love a not to do list; it makes me feel so much less pressure! Seriously, it is pretty useful in encouraging us to focus on niche subjects and/or twists instead of adding more to an already over supplied subject.

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