How to: Shooting Lifestyle Stock Photography

As the landscape of stock photography changes, it’s important to be aware who is purchasing stock photos and what you, as the creator, can do to create a more successful stock portfolio. With sales transitioning from a single image to larger orders containing multiple images from a single set.

Photo by: Master |  Maureen Im

Photo by: Master | Maureen Im

By following these five steps; Theme Selection, Talent and Location Acquisition, Choosing equipment, Engaging Direction and Cohesive editing, your stock photography sets are sure to rise to the tip in quality and value.

Theme Selection:

Choose a theme broad enough to grant you the ability to create multiple scenes from. For example, if you’re going to photograph Millennials and Technology, you should be looking at the photographing millennials using technology in school, millennials using technology in social settings, and millennials using technology in start-up settings.

If a buyer is looking for multiple images of technology and millennials, this will offer plenty of variety. The theme should allow for you to dive deeper, being transferrable to multiple locations and translate across a diverse cast of models. An additional tip is to be attentive to the world around you, photograph themes that are relevant in today’s society and predict what could come next.

Photo by: ADVANCED |  Gavin Carter

Photo by: ADVANCED | Gavin Carter

Talent and Location Acquisition:

It’s 2018, your models need to be extremely diverse  - all themes can be relatable to any group of people. Sets of images containing multiple models hold a higher value. Prioritize scenes in your shoot where you can have 4-6 models in one frame. Buyers who are looking for sets of images, will look for consistency of models across the sets of images. The best way to find talent is through your friend circle, social media, and casting calls. Facebook is a great place to start and many regions have groups for model castings.

Choosing the Right Equipment:

Equipment isn’t the most important aspect but certain equipment will create more engaging images. 24-50mm is the sweet spot as wide angle lens allow you to get more information in the frame and when photographing activities, can make the viewer feel as if you’re right there and have a more organic feeling to them. 50mm lenses give you the option to isolate emotion and actions while adding a portrait element to the set. Choose lenses that are fast, shooting around F2.8 to F4 can highlight the actions, pulling the viewer in. Traditionally, lifestyle stock is not photographed with anything higher than 50mm as the depth compression gives the images more of a product/staged feeling. Remember that all lifestyle stock should be photographed with natural light. Artificial lighting can be used, but it should be used indirectly, bouncing a diffused light off a wall or ceiling.

Engaging Direction:

Block out your scenes before you start shooting, this will give you confidence in placing your models correctly in the scene and giving you grounds to begin. Once you’ve set your scene, let your models act it out while being you shoot. Be attentive to what each model is doing, you’ll want models to repeat certain actions and understand what sequence they should do to get your desired result. Having a variety of models will allow you to direct them to cycle throughout the scene, giving everyone a chance to be the centre of focus and play out different roles - this cycling will not only give you a large volume of images with variety but it will also boost fo the confidence of your models by giving them an opportunity to learn and try other roles. Actions should never be forced, what you might want is in the middle so run through the actions a few times, shooting from multiple angles. Tethering is a great way to help directing your models and blocking your scenes in real time.

Editing Process:

The first step in the editing process is to cull your images. Select the best 2-3 images from a burst, any more will saturate the set and cause the buyer to have difficulty selecting one. Once you’ve selected your images, begin editing out any logos visible in the shot (yes, that includes Apple’s little apple.) These images should feel bright and organic, and light contrast. Consistent saturation with no grain or noise will give you clean, cohesive look across a whole set. Batch editing can be more efficient, but make sure to spot check images as you go along!

Photo by: MASTER |  Marjan Apostolovic

Photo by: MASTER | Marjan Apostolovic

Happy STOCK Shooting!

Licensing: Why does it Matter and What does it Mean?

Initially, most if not all licensing, was done through a “Rights Managed” system. The Rights Managed licensing of an image presented an image at a price dependent on several variables including the type of usage, the specific final project, the time the image is being used, the size of the final print, and the industry for which the image is being used.  The downside to this licensing structure is that image sales can fluctuate significantly according to the final usage of an image. The rights managed model also requires that photographers and agencies periodically check with image buyers to ensure that image usages have not continued outside of the allotted time period. These sorts of issues have helped shape the industry to what has become the new standard of “Royalty Free” licensing. 

So what exactly is a Royalty-Free license?  First off, there is nothing free about a Royalty-Free license.  The “free” in the term comes from the fact that an image buyer is not required to pay a photographer a royalty for each use of the image.  Royalty-Free licensing was quickly adopted by creatives, as it allowed for images to be purchased once, and used indefinitely without the worry or need to renew a license.  This licensing model was introduced in order to counter the “per use” fees associated with Rights Managed sales. The one-time fee also allowed for more images to be purchased and at a more affordable rate.

Snapwire falls into the newest and most revolutionary type of stock photography.  We are a firm that believes in the value of photographer’s photos, as well as in providing quality content and great licensing terms to our buyers. We work with a community of over 450,000 photographers to source the best images directly to all levels of designers and art buyers.  Snapwire works as a form of hybrid stock agency, representing and licensing images from a traditional royalty free marketplace, while also connecting photographers directly with buyers to provide them with unique and custom produced content.  The model works to bridge the gap left in traditional stock photography, so creatives never again have to settle with an image that is just “close enough”.  Snapwire also presents a more cost effective method of custom photos for advertising agencies and designers.  Prior to Snapwire, quality custom photos required production shoots, which were often limited by restrictive budgets.  For a buyer, Snapwire allows for a price per image to be established by their project budget.

As an asset to the photographers, Snapwire is beneficial in a few distinct ways.  The first is in providing access to agency projects and briefs in an open source platform.  Before Snapwire, it was almost unthinkable that most photographers would be welcome to work directly with advertisers and companies.  In working directly with companies, photographers are able to produce meaningful content, and increase the likelihood of their images being seen and purchased by advertisers and companies.

We hope that this brief explanation of licensing was informative. While definitely not the most exciting subject, the more informed you are the better your chances for success. We welcome you into our community to grow and learn as a photographer or buyer.  Good Luck and Happy Shooting!


What's Selling - Insight On Getting Your Photos Purchased

We often get asked: "What kind of photos are selling on Snapwire?" While we have various blog posts written on the subject, it is always helpful to take a look at specific photos to understand what buyers are choosing. To check out what has been recently purchased you can take a look at the recently purchased page to see what buyers are looking for and to get future inspiration! 

Congratulations to photographers: Ksenya Lim, Randi Mooney, Eddie Rios, and Rolf Alafo for their recently purchased photos. Here are their captivating shots: 


Household Chores

Photo by: Ksenya Lim

Photo by: Ksenya Lim

Ksenya's photo won the "Household Chores" challenge because it wonderfully captures the struggles of a young boy in his attempt to help out with chores. The boy's small size is a stark contrast with the drying machine. Additionally, the photo is bright, crisp, and features a visually-pleasing composition of all of the elements. 

All About Love

Photo by: Randi Mooney

Photo by: Randi Mooney

The "All About Love" Request sought photos of anything related to love, whether it be family members, friends, partners, or even pets. With precious floral dresses and authentic emotion, Randi's photo perfectly fits the theme. The genuine love between the group of girl's, evokes a sense of nostalgia for simpler times and childhood friendships. 

Under the Sheets

Photo by: Eddie Rios

Photo by: Eddie Rios

Everyone loves lazy days and nights spent lounging in their beds. The "Under the Sheets" challenge garnered a wide variety of photos of babies, adults, and pets doing just that. From the submissions, Eddie's dreamy photo was chosen for its simple composition, perfect lighting, and identifiable content. Many people have memories of staying up past their bedtime to read the last few pages of their favorite book. 

 Romantic Couples

Photo by: Rolf Alafo

Photo by: Rolf Alafo

The "Romantic Couples" challenge had so many amazing submissions of couples that it was difficult to choose a winner. However, Rolf's photo stands out from the rest because for the us, the viewer, it seems like we are catching something we aren't supposed to see. With the man facing away from the camera there is a sense that we just happened to walk into their special moment. Furthermore, the natural emotion on the woman's face emphasizes the pure love she feels for him.  

A giant takeaway from this post, is that photo buyers are looking for visuals that tell stories. Each image has its own unique story to tell. Buyers are seeking out photos like these because they evoke certain relatable feelings such as love, companionship, childhood memories, and dreams for the future.

Now let's get back to shooting! Submit your best shots of Spring to our new challenge:  Spring Around the World

Knowledge is power. Take Skillshare classes to improve your photography skills!

Skillshare is an online learning community where users can take thousands of classes in creative topics such as photography. Skillshare is providing Snapwire users with an exclusive free 3-month trial along with some curated classes to help Snapwire users shoot the best pictures for the Snapwire challenges below:

Why Authenticity Matters

We all share a deep desire to connect with truth and feel emotion, especially when viewing photos.  A well done photograph of someone’s reality —messy, ordinary, or just plain crazy — is beautiful and needs to be shared with the world.

Traditional stock photography tends to be staged, and even sterile. We believe photos should come to life. In the advertising world, photo buyers have found that authentic photos outperform stock photos with noticeably higher click-through and conversion rates. Here are a few photos that we believe capture authenticity:


Photo by Sam Ciurdar


Photo by Mikael Lagestam

A true photographer inspires ingenuity by capturing an image and conveying a message that is real and resonates with their target audience. Help your viewers find a connection – incorporate authenticity.