First Love by Cindy Melissa Boisvert

Have you ever wondered how the top Stock photography sellers manage to beat out the competition and thrive? It can be broken down into three steps:

1. Research
2. Plan
3. Execute

We’ll elaborate more in the coming paragraphs, but by following these simple steps, you drastically improve your chances at commercial salability.


Research your competition on 500px Prime by being using emotive keywords such as: love, romance, emotion, couples, hands holding, hearts, Paris, kiss, hug, warmth.

Once you know what’s out there, think outside the box! Show us your whimsical side by creating unusual content, or fill the gaps in the existing collection where you can. And remember: always play to your own strengths and style.

Finally, get emotional. Buyers use emotive words to search for images. Search the kinds of emotive keywords your buyers will be using, then create and submit the best content for those words.

Cookiepeony, bouquet of peonies






Young couple affectionately facing each other



Plan your shoot thoroughly by finding models and stylists to work with, props to use, and locations to shoot in well ahead of time.

Don’t worry if you don’t have access to professional talent in your own circle — put a call out on your social media accounts. Facebook and Twitter are great resources for getting your network to help you source potential models, makeup artists, and the rest of the team you will need to put on a successful shoot.

A second option is Craigslist or Model Mayhem. You’d be surprised at how many people would love to be in front of the camera! For many, the chance to be on set with a pro photographer is a fun event they can brag about to friends and family.

Finally, if you have the budget, you can put a call out to local modeling agencies in your area. New models are looking to build up their portfolios, and might be willing to work out a mutually beneficial arrangement. If you can offer to provide headshots for their portfolios in exchange for doing a shoot with you, that’s a win-win for everybody.

A Pro tip for your models: ask them to arrive with clean manicured hands — no visible hangnails. Trust me, this will save you a lot of time in post.


For locations, if you’re on a tight budget, try hitting up your friends with beautiful homes. Be upfront, and let them know what you are using the locations for. And remember to build in alternate dates if you’re planning to shoot outdoors — weather can be temperamental depending on what part of the world you live in. You can also plan a backup location just in case.

You may also want to seriously consider hiring a hair and makeup artist. Offer them tearsheets for their portfolios in exchange for their services. Put a call out for your shoot is your local photography, fashion, and hair & makeup schools. If you’re really good at networking, you can build up a resource of stylists, designers, models, and hair & makeup teams all through social media. A great collaboration can grow into future shoots.

Finally, be sure to meet up with the entire team ahead of time to go over your shoot creative brief. What is your vision, and what do you expect from this shoot? Share the inspiration images you’ve found in your research, and always prepare a shoot list. If you convey all of this to the entire team, the shoot is much more likely to go off without a hitch!



Execute your shoot by following your prepared shoot list from A to Z. You have carefully researched the topic and planned days in advance, don’t let that planning go to waste.

Be sure to treat your models with respect and do your best to put them at ease in front of your camera. You may work with first-time models, and the quality of images you get will depend greatly on the personal connection you build with them on-set. Music can also help set the mood for a shoot, so prepare an appropriate playlist and have it ready to go when your team arrives.

Speaking of your team, we can’t over-emphasize how great an asset a quality assistant can be. Find an assistant who will go above and beyond, allowing you to focus on taking great images.

A great assistant is worth every penny you invest in him/her. They will take care of all the cumbersome details: getting those all-important model releases signed, providing you with technical assistance, and ensuring everyone on-set is happy.

Above all: have fun! And remember, it’s never too early to start planning your shoot. More lead time equals more planning time, and planning is the not-so-secret secret to a long and successful photography career.


To discuss more tips, tricks, and techniques on licensing your images, be sure to pay the 500px Prime Group a visit.