The question we get asked more than almost any other here at 500px is a deceptively simple one: “What kinds of photos sell?”

People want to take advantage of the 500px Marketplace to start making a bit of cash on the side, or maybe even a substantial revenue stream, but they don’t want to waste their time submitting work that just won’t sell; so they ask us great questions like “what do buyers actually want?” and “what kinds of photos sell?”

Simply Sellable is our attempt to answer this impossible question… weekly.

Since the answer to this question will change week in and week out as trends, seasonality, and other factors continue to shift, we’re going to answer the question regularly. Every week in fact. Each week one of our expert Content Editors will pick one of their favorite photos that has sold recently, and explain exactly WHY it sold—what makes that photo “simply sellable.”

We start things off this week with a touching Christmas Morning ‘candid’ shot, explained by none other than our Director of Content and successful stock photographer himself, Nuno Silva.

Siblings searching through Christmas gifts at home by Hero Images  on

Simply Sellable #1: Christmas Morning ‘Candid’

by Nuno Silva

A perfect choice for this Holiday season, this photo was recently licensed by our licensor who is an online retailer. Right off the bat you can see that the content is perfect for campaigns this time of year, and relatable to their target audience of “shoppers” that everybody is going after.

The image conveys a very real life moment: sneaking under the tree to see what you got for Christmas. Now that the obvious subject and context has been defined, let’s break it down technically!

The models are turned away from the camera, giving us the impression that this is a real candid moment and not necessarily posed. This is additionally useful because having models turned away is a trick marketers sometimes use so the audience can relate more easily to the subject at hand. Obviously this doesn’t work as well when you want to relate emotion, but in this instance, we’re relating to a moment or experience.

Getting even more technical, the execution here is great as far as natural white balance (with a very deliberate color palette). Although this shot appears to be a “candid” and “real” moment, the photographer was very considerate in their decision to follow the rule of thirds where the girl’s head is perfectly aligned to that grid. Additionally, the empty areas for possible copy/text (two main areas) fall into two empty grid squares which make a designer’s life very easy.

If I might take the liberty to read too deeply into this (like an English professor over-analyzing a novel), I’ll give this photographer bonus points for having the corner of the gift (on the bottom right) pointing towards the kids, as if telling your eye exactly which rule-of-thirds grid point to concentrate on.

And that, dear readers, is why this photo is ‘simply sellable.’ It’s not in fact a candid shot but it certainly could be.

A little bit of prep ahead of Christmas morning could give you as a photographer ample opportunity to not only capture beautiful images of a beautiful morning with your family, but some commercially desirable photos that will help earn back the money you spent on those gifts!

If you have any more questions for Nuno about the photo above, don’t hesitate to drop them in the comments below. And don’t forget to check back in next Monday for the next installment in the series.