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9 Tips for Taking Photos that Sell

Tips and Inspiration

06 July 2018

Posted by Joseph Hobbs

Whether you're a seasoned pro or talented amateur, you can sell images! At Picfair we talk to image buyers about what they're looking for on a daily basis, so here are our tips to make sure your images have the best chance of commercial success.

1) Take authentic photos

One of the most common things we hear is that  buyers want images to feel real. If the image includes people it is better that they look natural rather than posed or staged, like this image by Julian Claxton.

Buyers wants images that look authentic

Buyers wants images that look authentic Read less

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Julian Claxton

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2) Make your photos unique

Images that they’ve never seen before. For example, there will always be a demand for images that represent love - but if you can represent it in a unique way, it will be much more attractive to prospective buyers. We bet you've never seen anything like this - by Adam Batterbee - before!

If it's unique, it's more likely to sell!

If it's unique, it's more likely to sell! Read less

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Adam Batterbee

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3) Take photos that celebrate diversity

Images that accurately display our culturally diverse modern world are in high demand. Pictures of modern worldwide events, multi-cultural landscapes; diversity in any form is a big sell! Below is a gorgeous example: Pride in Sweden below by Gazi Alam.

Celebrate diversity!

Celebrate diversity! Read less

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Gazi Alam

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4) Leave space for text

Often, a designer will want to overlay some text or their logo on your image. Consider this when framing your shots - leaving enough clean space for copy could help your images sell more! Here's a good example by Jaromir Chalabala.

Here's a good example of an image with copy space

Here's a good example of an image with copy space Read less

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Jaromir Chalabala

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5) Use the rule of thirds

This is one of the golden rules of photography - use it to produce more aesthetically pleasing, balanced images. Imagine every image is dissected into a 3x3 grid. Important compositional elements should not be centred, but placed along the vertical or horizontal lines or their intersections. Most modern cameras have a feature which will overlay a 3x3 grid on your viewfinder to assist. See how Marta Maja has aligned the subjects with the lines of the 3x3 grid to create the beautifully framed image below.

Standard screen shot 2018 07 05 at 12.21.01

The photographer has used the rule of thirds to frame this shot beautifully


6) Avoid camera shake to take crisp photos

 If you don’t have a tripod, try resting your camera on a stable object like a table, fence or bollard. Images need to be crisp and focused to maximise their commercial value (though out of focus images do have a market if done correctly!) The girl in David Murray's photo below has the right idea!

Use something to rest your camera on if you can!

Use something to rest your camera on if you can! Read less

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David Murray

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7) Think about the background

The background can be the difference between an average shot and a fantastic shot. Make sure it contrasts enough with your subject, that it is not too busy or noisy, and that is is aesthetically pleasing to compliment the shot as a whole. See how the blue background in Jevgeni Proshin's photo below compliments the colours of the foreground.

Make sure the background compliments the subject

Make sure the background compliments the subject Read less

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Jevgeni Proshin

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8) Learn to use manual settings to make your visions a reality

Shooting on auto is a good way to start, but learning how to use manual settings gives you ultimate creative control. And it’s not as hard as it looks! There are three settings thats make up the ‘Exposure Triangle’

Aperture

Aperture is the measure of how wide the iris of the camera lens is open. Narrow apertures (higher f-numbers) give a greater depth of field and are good for landscapes and keeping the whole image focused. Wide apertures (lower fnumbers) create a narrow depth of field, which isolates the subject and can create a blurry background effect (called bokeh), as seen in the shot below by Tahir.

Using a low aperture while focused on your subject will create a creamy background blur effect called bokeh

Using a low aperture while focused on your subject will create a creamy background blur effect called bokeh Read less

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Tahir

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Shutter speed

Refers to how long the shutter will stay open and thus how much light the lens lets in. Higher shutter speeds are required for moving subjects, though lower shutter speeds allow for more detail in a shot. In general, you want to use a shutter speed that will ensure your subject is clear. For fast subjects like birds, this may be 1/1200; for kids it may be 1/200. However, you may want to use a very ow shutter speed if you want to capture light lines and create something more artistic like Tom Eversley has done here.

The photographer used a low shutter speed to capture the light of a passing bus

The photographer used a low shutter speed to capture the light of a passing bus Read less

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Tom Eversley

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ISO

Increasing the ISO allows you to work with less light - however, the higher the ISO, the more grainy your image will turn out to be. Always aim to have the lowest ISO possible that still gives you a good looking shot. Why would you use a high ISO? Working with lower light, you may find yourself using the widest possible aperture and slowest possible shutter speed available for the shot - at this point, your only option is to increase the ISO. Better to have a slightly grainy image that can be improved in post production than an unusable blurry one!

9) And finally, don't over-edit!

It's usually a good idea to eliminate any noise and sharpen your images, but don't edit or filter them too much! It's likely an image buyer will be able to edit the image themselves, if they want to. The same goes for cropping - the less you cut out, the more an editor has to play with.

And when you've created some amazing images...
UPLOAD TO PICFAIR!


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