My Stock Photography Workflow

My stock photography workflow
My stock photography workflow

Since I started getting into stock photography in late November, I’ve developed a stock photography workflow (a set of steps) to cover processing, uploading and submitting stock photography to the various microstock companies. I’d like to share that process with you, and maybe help you on your own stock photography journey.

I’ll start by saying that my workflow is definitely inspired by “Get Started in Stock” (affiliate link), a great guide to all things stock photography. I’ve taken the recommendations from that and adapted them to my own preference.

Why a Workflow?

You need to have a system for your stock photography. You want the process to be as quick as you can make it, so you can increase the volume of quality photos that you submit to the agencies to have the best income for the time you spend. If it takes you forever to prepare images for stock, you won’t submit very many, and therefore you won’t make much money. Not good.

 

Setup

Here’s my setup. I use Adobe Lightroom for my photo editing and organizing. You can use other software for organizing – heck, you can just use Windows folders – but Lightroom is hard to beat for searching and cataloguing your images.

I use Lightroom collections extensively for my stock photography. For each stock site, I have a collection set with five collections:

  1. To Submit
  2. Submitted
  3. Accepted
  4. Rejected
  5. Sales

(Lightroom doesn’t actually list them like that – it lists them alphabetically)

I also have three collections under my main Stock Photos collection set:

  1. Potential Stock Photos (set as my Lightroom target collection)
  2. In Preparation for Stock
  3. Stock Sales

It looks like this in Lightroom:

My stock photo Lightroom collections
My stock photo Lightroom collections

You’ll notice that I have the Stock Sales collection synced with Lightroom Mobile so I have that with me always.

 

My Stock Photography Workflow

Here’s my workflow. Refer to the collections above as appropriate.

  1. I search through either existing photos or photos from a recent shoot. If anything catches my eye as a possibility for stock, I press B / click in the circle in the top right of the thumbnail / right-click and select Add to Target Collection, then move on. If there are several similar photos, I add them all.
  2. Later, I review everything in Potential Stock Photos. I open each image and give them a second look. If I change my mind, I remove them from the collection. If I still like them for stock, I drag them up to In Preparation for Stock and remove them from Potential Stock Photos.
  3. For each photo, I go into design mode and do whatever edits I like. I don’t usually apply presets. If there are several images that were taken in similar conditions, I’ll edit one then copy/paste the edits onto the rest.
  4. I always will go into Spot Removal mode and check Visualize Spots at the bottom to look for dust spots, and clean them up. Logo removal happens here too.
  5. Back in Library mode, I add keywords, title and caption. I might copy/paste keywords from some of my other stock photos if appropriate and make edits.
  6. Once I have a set of prepared stock photos, I drag the group of them to the To Submit collection under each stock site. In a few cases I may not want to submit to all the sites, so I only drag to the ones I want to submit to.
  7. I right-click on the group, and select my export preset “Full Size JPEG” to build a set of full size JPG images in a certain directory on my computer.
  8. I then remove the photos from the In Preparation for Stock collection.
  9. I run FileZilla and open each stock site’s FTP site in a separate tab so they are all open at once. I’ve configured them so they start at the same directory that the full size JPEGs are in, so I don’t have to fiddle with that each time.
  10. For each site, I drag the images from the source side over to the target side to start the transfer. I do them all at once and walk away while the transfers go through.
  11. Once they’re done, I’ll give them a bit of time and then go to each stock site and see if they are in their Pending folders. I have all the stock sites saved as bookmarks so I can open them all at once.
  12. I’ll submit the pending photos, and once that’s done, I move the images from the To Submit collection to the Submitted collection for that stock site.
  13. Later, when the stock sites review the images, they’ll get moved to either the Accepted or Rejected collections and removed from the Submitted collection.
  14. When images sell, I add them to the Sales collection for that site and also to the master Stock Sales collection, so I have a master list of all of my sales.

I also have a spreadsheet to track statistics on acceptance ratios and sales per month.. something I’ll share another time. It’s not really part of the workflow.

 

Notes

I like this workflow because I always know where my photos are in the workflow and the submission process. I also know if I’ve submitted a photo before, so I don’t stumble across a photo in my library and try processing it for stock again.

One benefit of using these collections is that I can look at what collections a photo is in and see how “good for stock” it is. To whit:

Workflow

4/5 agencies liked the Eiffel Tower image at top left.

Sold!
Sold!

This lock bridge photo was accepted by 3, rejected by two (one for copyright), and is still in the submitted stage for two others, plus it has sold at one agency. You can click on any of those to jump to that collection to find out more.

 

Summary

I hope this description of my stock photography workflow has been interesting. Maybe it’ll give you some ideas for your own workflow! Please feel free to provide comments, suggestions, or to share your own workflow.

 

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  • Maaaaan thank you very much for this post!
    I’ve been thinking a lot how to organize all this work with stocks since I don’t want to create a separate catalogue in LR and change my well-working flow with stars and labels. So the collections is a great way to deal!

    Thank you very much 🙂 I’m just diving in all this about stocks, reading a lot, finding solutions. Now it’s time to shoot 🙂

    Still, the main reason that kept me from doing photos for stock is I don’t like the look for advertising images. I’m a portrait and event photographer actually so the artistic component is of super high importance to me. But now I wanna do more let’s call it “product photography” and develop my skills in artificial lightning and editing in PS.

    Good luck with your sales!

    // Anastasiia

    • Hi Anastasiia, thanks for commenting and I’m glad you found my article useful! Collections are a great way to organize things in Lightroom without using stars and labels.

      I think there is a good market in stock for photos that don’t look like advertising images. I know Shutterstock writes often about “different” images and you’ll stand out better if your stock photos don’t look just like every other stock photo.

      Good luck!

  • Andrea Dixon

    Thanks so much for this post! I’ve been wondering how others manage their workflows (I don’t feel like I’m currently managing mine very well…). This is helpful to see another way of doing. Am definitely going to work on a modified version of this that will work for me. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Andrea, I’m glad this post provided some ideas to incorporate into your own workflow! Thanks for commenting and good luck.