Photographer credit: Phonix Capture

You have most likely heard of stock content before, right? Websites like Getty Images, iStockphoto and Shutterstock? They are online resources of readily available photographs, vectors, illustrations, and video content, and customers can purchase licenses for their commercial or personal use. 

This concept has been around for ages, since before the dawn of the internet, but there hasn’t been sufficient development of South African based platforms. Well-known players offer South African content, but it often lacks diversity and I question if it is actually benefiting our local creative industry?

That is why Photie has been launched. A truly South African platform for royalty-free photographs, illustrations, graphic design elements and videos – made by South Africa’s finest creatives, for South Africans. The best stories start with a captivating image that is, above all, relevant to its audience. Photie has seen the need for truly authentic South African images, and through this platform they strive to connect the creators of high quality and relevant content, with a creative industry hungry to get real.

Photographer credit: Shena MacDonald

Content creators enjoy competitive rewards for their hard work, while users benefit from exceptional talent for Rands and not Dollars – a win-win situation and much-needed boost for our local creative community.

Contributing to a stock content platform is an ideal way to showcase your skills and passion. This lures eyes to your portfolio, which means more clients and work in the long run.

Photographer credit: Tyron Cerqueira

How to maximise your earning potential

Photograph people in authentic settings; overly staged images do not sell well. Look for relaxed, informal environments and catch moments where people interact with each other.

Keep your camera with you – you never know when that spontaneous, once in a lifetime shot will present itself! Remember you need model release forms for any images that contain recognizable people. Check our Model Release template here.

Look for niches and new perspectives. Here are a few examples to get you going: 360-degree product photos, 360-degree panoramas and virtual tours, aerial photography, drone footage, endurance sport, still life photography, underwater shots, or mental and physical practices (like yoga, Pilates & meditation).

Keep on top of trends and new technologies which often lead to exciting stock creation opportunities, the type of content which will be unique and in high demand.

Attend real events. These are incredible environments to capture an authentic energy, and try to convey the mood through both spontaneous and staged shots. Keep an eye open for people in unusual clothing and costumes, bright and stylish outfits will make your photographs pop! Look for opportunities for more intimate images, like behind-the-scenes footage.

Photographer credit: Nico de Wet

Seasonal events offer plenty opportunities for capturing real emotion. Think about moments of joy and surprise on Christmas morning and capture these feelings in your images. Summer time Christmas content will be in huge demand – it is unique to South Africa! Imagine someone rocking a Santa hat, but poolside, or at the beach.

Make sure you know what you are trying to capture – knowing the mood you want is very important. Having a concept first allows you to plan ahead and you will be open to opportunities that present themselves.

Your stock photo should be clear and easy to understand – your image will initially be viewed as a thumbnail, for a brief moment in time. Designers often modify photos, and they look for negative space: empty areas in the scenes and images to add text or logos.

Avoid creating the same type and style of photograph, buyers will want a unique image that grabs their attention. Think of ways to make your image stand out without being overly edited and staged. Don’t upload all your images from a particular shoot, but choose a few that capture different angles and perspectives. This will come in handy when designers need  to translate their design from one platform to another.

Include keywords and metadata to maximise your sales. Without these your images will not be found, no matter how good they are.

Remember, it’s a numbers game.  A few thousand images on sale, with a wide coverage, will see a good monthly return. You should cover lots of angles and crops, but don’t repeat the same shots.

A great tip for stock photo beginners is to get yourself a light tent. You can place objects inside these fabric or Perspex boxes, to create images with white backgrounds and high key lighting. For very little effort and cost, you have a simple studio in your house. Add a few lights around the tent and you will be able to produce clean and well-lit photographs. 

Model and property release forms are a great way to increase the value of your photos. These releases allow your photos of people or places to be used commercially, rather than for editorials use.

Avoid spending hours in front of the computer and ensure you capture photos as best as you can from the get-go. Set up simple presets that will allow you to quickly adjust the basics of your photos. The less time spent editing, equals more time for photographing.

Be open to learning, and tweaking your stock photography to grow in your understanding of what buyers are looking for. In turn, this will grow your income generated. Read here for insights from various South African advertisers on what type of content they are looking for.

By choosing Photie as your stock agency partner, you are choosing passion for our extraordinary local talent. You choose how you are perceived, and you decide to engage with South Africa’s heartbeat – the talent of its people. Visit to register as a contributor.

Photographer credit: Phonix Capture

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