Stock Photography - Part 2 Gear and Software

I'm often asked about what kind of equipment is best for stock photography? The answer to that is two-fold.


For many years I have run my own picture library and at one time had 50 contributing photographers. These photographers used nearly 50 different makes of camera between them.
There really isn't any definitive answer as to what you should use.

There are two distinct forms of stock photography.

One is Microstock - which is largely royalty-free and sells images at quite low prices, much of it for web use. These agencies have minimum requirements for submissions and will accept anything from a 6MP camera upwards. Obviously the better your camera the more chance you have of selling images, since many clients will require larger versions.

The conventional picture libraries that sell rights managed as well as royalty-free images usually have a larger minimum requirement. Many require files in excess of 48MB, some will allow interpolation, some won't. Until recently there weren't many cameras that produced files of this size, so interpolation was a necessary evil. One of the reasons that I began to use multi-image stitching was to provide "genuine" 48MB + files.

What you choose to use is down to personal preference. The better the camera, the more MP, the more chance of selling images via a variety of sources. More often than not, a client will crop an image, so the bigger it is to start with the more chance of a sale.


Since there are very few libraries left that will accept film, you are now required to submit digital files. If you have a large film collection, you will have to produce scans. Decent dedicated film scanners are few and far between and expensive. A flatbed won't do the job. Its cheaper to buy your own scanner if you have a lot of images on film. If you have medium-format, then be prepared to spend in excess of £1500 on a scanner. Not cheap but it will extend the life of your images.

If you shoot digitally then you will need the fastest, biggest computer you can afford. Do not skimp on the monitor. This is probably the most important part of your workflow chain. Choose a good one and make sure its calibrated as accurately as it can be. Its essential that you have consistency of results.

As to software - one recommendation - BUY PHOTOSHOP! Everyone else uses it, the libraries use it, your potential purchasers use it. It is the industry standard. If you shoot raw files, and you should, then you can use other converters, but this will slow down your workflow since you are going to end up in Photoshop eventually. I personally have never understood why people use Lightroom. Photoshop has the same development parameters for raw files and it makes the whole process quicker. Also always update your software - Its expensive but essential. Every photoshop update includes something that speeds up my workflow - you want to be out shooting not sitting in front of your screen waiting for files to process.

So bottom line - an accurate monitor & Photoshop are your most important items. There is absolutely no point in spending a lot of money on a great camera only to have the results ruined by a cheap monitor and inadequate software. In stock photography these days you are competing with the whole world. You need to give yourself the best chance you can.