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How to make money selling your photos (with cheap equipment)

If you’re a photographer, you probably have a long list of camera equipment and gear on your wish list. If you sell your photos professionally as a stock photographer, better equipment can make your job and life easier. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to shell out thousands of dollars for a better camera and lighting rig.

If you love to snap photos and want to earn money from your hobby, stock photography is one of the best ways to do it. There are plenty of websites out there that will not only host the photos you take but pay you for doing so. Tap or click here to see how to get started selling your photos.

Instead of talking about the cameras we want, why not embrace the equipment we have and make the most of it. Here’s how you can start earning money today with the equipment you already own (even if it’s a bit dated).

Getting familiar with the stock photo industry

Many stock photo beginners start out by submitting pictures that are snapshots of the area they live in. This tends to include pictures of buildings, landscapes, pets, and local landmarks.

This is all well and good, but the stock photo industry mostly wants images for commercial purposes. Generic snapshots may have some commercial value, but taking photographs of the same stuff everyone else is shooting makes it tough to compete.

Even if you have the best equipment money can buy, you’re not going to get sales by spending your time photographing common subjects that are easily found in public domain. If you can switch gears and think about taking photos that businesses and journalists can use, you increase your odds of generating money without spending a penny on new equipment.

The three essentials

There are three main things you need to create online stock images: A camera, lighting, and space. If you don’t have high-end equipment, it’s all about making the most of the space and lighting you have.

When it comes to shooting, you might not even need a standalone camera. Some phones can shoot pictures in RAW format, which gives you more control over processing your images. These phones can cost a bit more (but not as much as some high-end cameras).

There are also plenty of great SLR cameras that cost a fraction of what the more expensive equipment does. If you do your homework, you can find a versatile camera or cell phone that will meet your needs. Just make sure to look for a phone camera with a large pixel size — because size does matter when selling images.

When it comes to lighting, you actually have plenty of options. If you’re doing a formal shoot, you can use foam boards from an art supply shop to reflect light coming in through a window. Foam board also works well when shooting outdoors.

If you’re shooting small items, you can use your kitchen table for a studio space. A lightbox is an inexpensive way to diffuse light and make your photos pop. You can shine desk lights on the box and place the object to be photographed inside. The nylon material softens the light and provides an easy way to isolate your subjects.

Whether you’re shooting objects or people, try to keep your target audience in mind. If the images you’re taking would be a good fit for businesses, journalists and other commercial users, you’re right on target.

Putting it all together

Lastly, photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop can also be considered part of your equipment inventory. If you’re willing to spend the money on an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, you’ll gain access to plenty of tools that can enhance and alter your pictures to your liking.

If you don’t want to spend the money on Photoshop, don’t worry — there are plenty of excellent free alternatives.

Tap or click here to see our favorite free Photoshop replacements.

As you can see, earning money from stock photography doesn’t require breaking the bank on expensive equipment. It’s something you can start doing right away with the tools and software you have.

While great equipment can give you an upper-hand, many of the most common smartphones on the market have surprisingly good cameras that can get the job done. And when combined with good editing software, it’s almost like having a virtual studio anywhere you go.

When it comes to stock photography, you’re only limited by your imagination. If you’re creative with the tools you own, you won’t believe how much you can make on a budget.

Need some inspiration for your own photography goals? Check out Dreamstime for thousands of amazing pro images and start getting inspired now!

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