Composition Landscape Photography Lighting & Composition Mobile Photography Mobile Photography Outdoor People and Pets POST-PRODUCTION & GRAPHICS Showing Your Work TECHNIQUES

Stuck? Think Stock.


At the 2013 PDN PhotoPlus Expo I sat in on a remarkable seminar, “Today’s Changing Marketplace For your Photographs,” presented by Mary Virginia Swanson. The one-hour session was, for me, terribly short and it would have been divine to spend a weekend at a retreat to grab note of all the details presented. I applaud Ms. Swanson for the valuable information she had to deliver since it inspired me to share some of her program’s objectives, as well as my own thoughts and opinions. This article is dedicated to the option of taking your craft to another level and adding value – bringing photographers to explore an important marketing resource – stock-related imagery.


After working and fine-tuning your craft you might reach an impasse. If so, it’s time to stop and re-evaluate your work. Does it “cross platform”? By that I mean, have applications for untapped & multiple markets? Have you locked yourself into a self-imposed network of the obvious? For example, you may be a wedding photographer who has achieved a modicum of success in that arena, so you set sail on a strategy that only includes marketing to that sector. Perk up, your work may have greater potential. The question is, what’s in your portfolio and how can you shift gears to increase value? Adjust your course and discover where stock related imagery comes into play. Stock fills the needs of organizations that include a bevy of institutional outlets as well as various print and web related mediums. A recent article in The International New York Times reported that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s nonprofit organization,, announced a partnership with Getty Images, one of the biggest providers of stock photography, to offer a special collection of images that it says represent women and families in more empowering ways. What is needed in stock is ever changing. So, why not make it your mission to keep abreast of stock related information and carefully study the content of stock websites, as you may have images that meet the needs of key players? You might have a trove of fine art imagery. They may include travel, the arts, and architecture and may be inventive and creatively finessed. After sharing them with family and friends, these images may be of value to an art director considering selling dream vacations or become a fit for a high tech sector. Search the Internet for sites that carry images of your favor.


We already know that establishing a cohesive body of work is your primary concern. Whatever your discipline – fine art, weddings, portraiture, sports, fashion, or breathtaking photojournalism, it is essential that you create a well designed and dedicated portfolio of images to promote. It must be unified, cohesive and relevant to be taken seriously in an already overcrowded arena of photofiles. Re-evaluate your promotional materials and press forward to employ new marketing materials/directions. Initiating this, of course, is a well conceived website that reflects your aesthetic by way of integrating design elements and text to showcase that portfolio. With customized website designs, there are a number of ways you can set up your site to include categorization to meet stock requirements. Another option includes building an off-site library of folders containing your categories and relevant photos that can be accessed and presented in a slide show format to a potential client. According to Ms. Swanson, by 1984 the market for fine art photography stock was really taking hold as it often less expensive for a creative director to license the rights for images as opposed to setting up a photo shoot.

Note the importance of editing in your craft. You may need to discard images from your categories that “just don’t make the cut.” It is not the quantity but the quality of the photos you have selected. At the end of the day, you want to create a well-thought out campaign. Carefully designed promotional literature that supports your online presence must be updated on a timely basis. Much must be done to allow for efficient and effective campaigns before you “go to market,” and the idea of working with a portfolio reviewer or art director can add support. Reflect on your creative directions with the inclusion of stock offerings carefully. At this juncture, I advise the study of definitions when venturing into the stock industry. The areas to understand and consider are Rights Managed, Royalty Free, Subscription, and Micro along with stock-related licensing and usage agreements.


Next, identify your audience(s). Start with a plan to develop comprehensive marketing lists – accurate, and updated often to connect. Search corporations, hospitals, educational outlets, including textbooks, news and lifestyle publications – web and print, galleries/museums, private collections, residential and interior design/architectural firms and direct mail companies that maintain an updated inventory of resources. Catch the eye of photo editors, corporate buyers, art consultants and curators. Be proactive and network wherever you can to build your file. Many of the organizations have artists’ submission pages on their sites. The contact list you secure is your holy grail – the most valuable marketing tool, so guard it well.

A terrific resource is the International Art Alliance, and its publication, The International Directory of Corporate Art Collections. As its website notes, it is a publication that will help you identify opportunities, develop sales strategies, and target your services, as it provides an understanding of the corporate environment and its art-related needs. The NY Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) also provides an amazing opportunity for artists with invaluable information – programs and directories that will support your skills as a photographer as well as your search. Curate NYC presents a festival of art exhibitions and an online showcase of New York City visual artists with a mission to gain exposure and career opportunities. Identify the partners on the home page of, as they maintain relationships with museums, galleries, cultural institutions and other partners to curate the best collection of contemporary art in the world.


My credo: Create, Edit, Market, and Engage. To Engage, means attending photo expos and fairs. At these venues you may participate in conversations with prominent industry insiders, sign up for portfolio reviews, attend specialized seminars, and have that one on one conversation. Engage also means be on the lookout for a potential client, around the corner or remote destinations. After a recent trip to Tanzania, I licensed images for an online campaign to the travel company that planned and prepared my safari. As one who is never to miss an opportunity, I say, take what you have and open your eyes to the possibilities. Start your search and discover the stock market and its potential for growth.

To contact Mary Virginia Swanson for further information including seminars, workshops, and portfolio reviews, log on to

Additional Resources:

International Art Alliance –

Curate NYC –

The NY Foundation for the Arts –


Connect 2014 Palm Springs Photo Festival

Paris Photo Los Angeles 2014 –

Images: © Renay Elle Morris

   Barbara said on March 17, 2014 at 2:05 am

Ma. Morris peeks one’s interest with her unique ability to capture images and highlighting certain aspect of those images, thus bringing them to a more distinct realm of reality.

   hilde price-levine said on March 18, 2014 at 1:59 pm

An extremely helpful and well written article for
anyone who is interested in being a successful

Tell us what you think!

Latest Tweets

Stay Informed

Click here to register with Focal Press to receive updates.

about MasteringPhoto

MasteringPhoto, powered by bestselling Routledge authors and industry experts, features tips, advice, articles, video tutorials, interviews, and other resources for hobbyist photographers through pro image makers. No matter what your passion is—from people and landscapes to postproduction and business practices—MasteringPhoto offers advice and images that will inform and inspire you. You’ll learn from professionals at the forefront of photography, allowing you to take your skills to the next level.