So you want to get into stock photography? But you don’t know what stock photography equipment you will need?
Don’t worry. Here is our guide on everything you’ll need for shooting stock photos.
[ExpertPhotography is supported by readers. Product links on ExpertPhotography are referral links. If you use one of these and buy something we make a little bit of money. Need more info? See how it all works here.]
The Benefits of Creating a Business Plan Before Investing in Stock Photography Equipment
First things first. You need to know what you are going to be photographing.
Different genres of photography need different equipment. I you are going to be specialising in travel photos, it would be pointless to buy lights.
And if you are going to be taking wildlife stock shots, do you even need a studio?
Like any business, it is worth spending a bit of time creating a long-term business plan. This will help you work out what the necessities are for your stock photography business.
Try to think about what you are going to be photographing and make a list of the stock photography equipment you need.
It’s also worth considering where you are going to be doing the photography. Will it be out on location or in a studio?
Best Cameras for Stock Photography
It might seem pretty obvious that you will need a camera. But what’s less obvious is the level of camera you will need.
This will be a big expense so take the time to think about where and how you will sell your stock shot.
If you are planning to sell stock photos through an agency, make sure that your camera adheres to their requirements. This might mean you will need a more expensive DSLR.
If you are only planning on offering shots for use on social media, you may be able to go for a cheaper mirrorless camera.
There are also stock agencies these days that accept smartphone photos.
The key is to do your research beforehand and buy the right camera.
Some great cameras that we recommend are:
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II
Best Lenses for Stock Photography
Like buying the right camera, your lens is also a vital choice.
If you are going to be selling landscape or interior stock photos, you’ll need a wide angle lens. If you are photographing wildlife or sport, you will need a telephoto lens.
For food stock photos you may find that you need a macro lens.
Are architectural stock photos going to be your speciality? Then you might need a tilt shift lens.
Over time you will often find that you need many lenses. You will begin to have a bigger collection.
But to start with only buy the lens that you will be using to take most of your photos with.
Some great lenses that we recommend are:
Canon RF 35mm
Canon EF 70-200mm
Lighting Equipment for Stock Photography
If your stock photography involves being indoors in a studio, you will need lights. Product photography or food photography often take place in a studio. Some portrait, glamour or fashion photography might also happen in a studio.
This is because a studio is a controlled environment where you are not affected by the weather. But also because you can control the intensity and direction of the light. For these scenarios, lighting will need to be set up.
There are lots of different choices out there. What you choose will depend on what you are photographing and your budget.
Studio strobes, continuous lights, and even flashes are all options. But make sure you are aware of the pros and cons of each.
If you are looking to take food stock shots, you may find that hot lights melt some of the ingredients.
Accessories for Stock Photography
The list of accessories when it comes to photography is endless. You will often find that there is something that you haven’t got that you need. From tripods to filters, to reflectors and even light boxes.
The key thing about buying stock photography equipment or accessories is to do so over time. And when you need something.
Depending on your specialist genre, your list of accessories will vary. For landscape photography, you will need a tripod. You will also need some graduated neutral density filters.
For portrait or lifestyle stock shots a flash may be more useful than filters.
Don’t forget that your accessories may go beyond the obvious photography gear. For travel photography, you might need a compass. This will help you determine the direction of sunrises and sunsets.
If you aim to build up what you need over time, then you will find that it isn’t as much of a financial hit.
Photography Props for Stock Images
Besides photography equipment and accessories, you may also need photography props. These are especially useful in styled photography scenarios.
Let’s say you are photographing food. Rather than just photographing a plate of food, you might want to create a setup with interesting crockery or cutlery. Or you might want to add an interesting fabric background to a product shot.
It will be impossible to buy everything straightaway. But you may need some things from the start.
Check out this article for food photography props.
What About Other People’s Help?
For some genres of stock photography, you may also need other people’s help and expertise.
For fashion stock shots, you might need a stylist. Or a makeup artist or even clothes designer. Or for food photography, you might need a chef to actually cook the food.
These are extra expenses that you will need to think about. You will have to factor them in before starting in any stock photography business.
Computer Equipment for Stock Photography
It doesn’t matter if you are going to be shooting stock photos on location or in a studio. You will need a computer to store and process the images.
In high-end fashion or product stock photography you may want to have a calibrated monitor in the studio. You can review shots on this, straightaway.
In the field, you will be better off with a good portable laptop.
Besides a computer and monitor, you will also need storage and lots of it. Stock photography is a numbers game and you need a lot of stock photos to earn a decent amount of money from it.
You will notice that hard drives fill up fast. So, in the long run, you will be better off investing a little more money and buying a larger capacity hard-drive.
But never rely on photos being on one hard-drive only as any sort of accident can mean you lose everything. Always find a backup cloud storage for your photos as well.
Editing Software for Stock Photography
You should strive to capture the best images possible in camera. Even so, most photos will need some sort of adjustment. This is just to enhance them. Sometimes it will be as simple as straightening or tweaking the crop of a photo.
Other times, a photo might need more extensive editing. This might involve color correction or even retouching. Either way, you need to invest in a post-processing software.
There are plenty of choices out there but the big two are Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.
One of the biggest stock photography tips that I can give you is this. Get yourself a reliable fast speed internet connection. It may not be traditional photography equipment, but you need it.
You will be uploading stock photos in large numbers to stock agencies or even clients. One photo might be around 50 MB! So uploading 100 photos will need a fair amount of speed.
Stock photography is like any other business in that you will need the right tools to be able to get the work done.
Your list of lenses, camera, and equipment will vary. A good business plan, a long term vision and this list of equipment and tips will help you at the start. And as you progress.
Next, check out our new post on shooting simple stock photography that sells.