Below are some tips to help you ensure that your images will be accepted at a stock photography site.

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Photographing People for Stock

If you live or operate in the US, all recognisable people in your images MUST have a model release. This is the models WRITTEN consent to use images of him or her, and indicates that you have a shared understanding of the images’ purpose. A model release is NOT required in the UK.

In the UK, You are permitted to photograph people, and publish their image, with or without their permission, however, for stock photography purposes, they MUST give you permission  The only time you need a release is when photographing a minor model (Under 18). When photographing at a zoo or amusement park you may need to pay a photography fee if the photos are intended for commercial use.

Below is a guide to when you need a model release (US only).

You need a model release for every identifiable person. For example, if you were to photograph a model against a crowd, any person in the background who is in any way recognisable requires a model release, as would the model him/herself.

If you do not have a model release for every identifiable person, or have photographed a famous person, or stated a person by name, the  image can be sold as editorial only and CANNOT be used in marketing, advertising or similar.

If you are in any way paranoid, keep away from under 18s because they cannot sign a legal document. If you do choose to photograph them, you will need written consent from their parent or legal guardian. If your image has sexual, or nude content it CANNOT be of a minor.  If an image is tagged with ”sexy”, ”nude” or ”naked”, it CANNOT be tagged with ”teen”.


The way your shot are lit is very important, and so are the lights you use. While you do NOT need expensive studio gear, good lighting is still important for successful shots. You can use a ”scrim” a tranclucent piece of material that diffuses hard light to create a soft glow.

And of course, the giant nuclear fusion powered thing that is sitting in the middle of our solar system, known as the sun, does provide some light and it is FREE!! On the other hand, the light is hard, and causes sharp, unflattering illumination, and deep shadows, unless light at sunrise or sunset is used. This however, can cause your model’s to squint, so using fill-in flash at the time when the sun’s height best suits your needs is the best plan of action.

How to photograph successful, distortion free images …

A  camera records detail 2 dimensionally, so if a tall person shoots a small person, or vice versa, the person is likely to appear distorted, because cameras do not have brains behind them that make things look ”right”. The composition is up to you. The general advice is stay at the subjects level. If you are photographing a human, try to stay level with their belly button. If you are photographing a dog, crouch down, so that you are at the dogs eye level. This alone will make your shots so much more striking.

Photographing Animals for Stock

Many people have a pet, and therefore want to photograph it because it is very accessible. So many people do this, and so the only way to get your image accepted is to ensure it is good. Firstly, ensure that the light is good, and that the background is uncluttered. Stock sites do not want ”snapshots” of pets, because these don’t sell. Deep shadows and harsh highlights are not  attractive, and nor is a cluttered background. A fresh, green tidy lawn or isolation on white is the way to go.

It is said that the eyes are the window to the soul. They make a great point of interest, so focus on them, to give the viewer an intimate viewing experience.

If you are photographing at a zoo, particularly through glass, use a lens hood to minimize reflections. A telephoto lens is also very useful, because you can bring far away creatures nearer. You should, however, take care when choosing a lens as many ‘budget’ telephoto lenses suffer from chromatic aberration, or barrel distortion, both of which can ruin an otherwise striking image.