A stock photography portfolio will be a collection of your freelance digital work. It is a portfolio that only exists online and people will look at your photos and purchase them, you will earn a commission or set rate of the purchase. Learning the balance between quality and quantity is important and will earn you more money if done properly. Unlike a regular photography portfolio you can start earning money as soon as you post your digital photos. The act of creating a portfolio will take a lot of patience and is not recommended for anybody not willing to take the time to shoot hundreds of digital pictures. If you love photography, or the an independent business inspires you then you will do just fine.
It must be noted that there is a big difference between a regular digital photography portfolio and a stock photography portfolio. The difference is thousands of pictures, while you can have a regular portfolio with 50 photos, a stock portfolio should have hundreds or even thousands. The thought of taking a thousand digital pictures can be very daunting, but it is a process that will get easier with practice. The act of taking so many pictures can be very difficult and here is why. If you go out taking pictures you might have noticed that you might retake a picture 4 or 5 times until it comes out perfect. There are so many factors to consider like exposure time, angle, lighting, and zoom. All these factors can result in a frustrating picture taking experience, and may be considered not worth for the people who don't love photography.
Simply said a online stock digital photography portfolio is the balance between quantity and quality or creating a lush amount of pictures that stay a consistent professional look. If you are taking 20 freelance photos a day and come out with two pictures your going to add to your portfolio then you are not going to be very successful. The whole process may take a little while but once you have learned how you will have a stable photo collection to stand on that will earn you some profit.
What Do you Want to Take Pictures of?
You could go around shooting freelance photos of everything you see, which is fine but not the most profitable way to sell on stock photo sites. Instead take a whole day and shoot around 100 pictures and find out what you like taking pictures of. This doesn't strictly mean macro, scenery or types of photography this also means a particular type of object or emotion. Think beyond simple text book rules of taking digital pictures and find things that intrigue you. Does the Idea of family intrigue you? Or maybe something like death, commitment, or trust. Just pick a subject and try to make sure it is not a over saturated topic among photographers like sunsets or family portraits. Come up with your own unique subject and think of ways to describe it. After you take 100 photos you should have a good idea of what you like shoot, but if you don't... shoot a hundred more.
Keywords or proper categorizing is the way buyers are going to find your freelance work, and depending on what they need it for they might purchase your photos. Picking the proper keywords or categories is somewhat of a technical matter and I can't over stress its importance. These ideas can be learned in ebooks or talking to people on forums (for more resources head back to the jobs and careers page). Besides looking at keywords think about the people that will purchase your digital photos, will they be buying them for graphic design, artistic purposes, catalogs or brochures? You can make your pictures more friendly and niched towards a particular buyer. Graphic designers want a simpler digital photo that is easy to edit and crop, but advertisers might only to add some text over a picture with a simple meaning. Take these ideas into consideration when choosing your photography niche and research/read about what practices have higher demand for your digital photography.
Check out the list of ideas on the Photography Jobs and Careers intro page
Building up your Portfolio
As I said before a pretty big difference between stock portfolio and regular photography portfolio is the number of pictures. You might wonder how long it will take? or How many pictures does the portfolio need to start out with? In order to ensure that you take the least amount of time but also take a good amount of quality photos you are going to need practice. Not just learning about ISO, Exposure, and zoom, but rather where to take your pictures how to get good pictures with the least amount of retakes. I suggest to everybody beginning their career to take 100 hundred photos. Think about places to shoot your digital pictures the night before you go out, and then take about 40 shots the next day. After you have your 40 pictures take only 10 to 20 pictures that really look high quality and you could imagine someone purchasing (it might be lower than 10, but thats okay). Repeat this process until you have 100 pictures. See if you have improved over your 5 - 10 day picture taking course, the purpose of this practice is to learn how to take less and less retakes. You will be wasting time and effort if you can't find subjects or take a focused digital pictures, thats why it takes time.
Soon you should reach the point where you are keeping 75% - 90% of the pictures your taking, and you are able to take nearly 100 pictures a day. If you complete this feat then your ready to take several hundreds of pictures. Set a small goal for yourself, maybe around 300 digital pictures, look at the freelance photos you have taken, are the pictures something you are proud of? If not, then you should find different place to shoot, change subjects or niches, keep learning or maybe even lower your standards. Remember people aren't going to buy your photos if they don't carry a certain amount of quality, but you will also not make enough profits if you don't have a large collection of photos. You don't need to quit your job just keep a good schedule and give a few hours a day and you will have a pretty big collection fairly quickly.
A Few Things to Remember
Before you get to taking those pictures remember a few things. If you are going to be taking hundreds (and soon thousands) of pictures then you are going to run out of space on your camera and even your computer. Uncompressed pictures are a big space waster, so start burning your work on a DVDR or get a alternative storage device. Remember to delete pictures from your digital camera, nothing is worse then finding out that you can't take anymore photos because there is an insufficient amount a memory on your camera.
If you are going to be taking pictures of models/people/portraits, most sites want the person/model to sign off on the photos being sold on the internet. Just make sure you have consent (check the guidelines of every stock photo site you are sign up with in order to avoid these measures).
Don't include any marks, logos, or signatures on your photos to confine their ownership to someone or something. (Check site guidelines to be safe).
Before submitting pictures make sure they are of good quality, find a photoshop-like program to fix any blemishes, color balances, or blurriness problems. This can be a time consuming process so its good that you start early. Check out the Best effects and filters
to use before submitting your freelance work.