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Supply & Demand

We determine the concepts for our stock shoots based on the principle of supply and demand. If an image is in high demand, but relatively few photographers are shooting such images, it will be a good selling image for us. Conversely, if something is not in high demand, but everyone is shooting it, there is almost no reason to also shoot that image.

To get a better idea of supply and demand we need to first determine why pictures are actually bought. For many photographers that haven’t worked commercially this can be an odd concept. Photographers are used to producing images that are pretty and that people like to look at. In commercial photography though, this isn’t the right approach. You need to think in terms of, what are pictures that people need.

People buy pictures that they need. They need them for their business, and are willing to pay a price to get them. That is the bottom line. So to deliver pictures that people need you need to think about their business. Almost no business needs a picture of a model sitting on a car. A business might need a picture of a dog, but every commercial photographer that has ever existed has shot pictures of their dog, so the demand does not meet the supply.

A Few Examples Of Need

A 2018 report stated there were over 200,000 paving companies in the United States, with an income of 36 billion dollars. Each of those companies has a website and each of those websites needs 5-10 pictures of paved parking lots. Considering there are almost no photographers shooting pictures of empty parking lots, this is a great example of a huge need and very little supply. An incredible chance to make money. We’ve sold the parking lot image below hundreds of times.

Our Top Selling Parking Lot Image

Difficult To Find Props

Most photographers shoot what is easy. If you plan your shoots out in advance and identify some areas of need, you can order a few hard to find props that will make your pictures much more in demand. We shoot some graduation pictures from time to time. Most young models have a cap and gown on hand. Almost nobody has a judges gavel though. If you ordered a gavel from Amazon before your shoot, you could pair it with that same black graduation gown and shoot pictures of a judge as well.

We make small investments like this in props for almost every shoot, and it usually pays offs really well.

Another great benefit of low supply picture ideas is that since there isn’t much competition, your pictures don’t need to be perfect. If it is essentially the only choice, people will buy it. It is probably true, that many more pictures are bought of families or business people, than any other subject. It is also true however, that many more pictures are created of these themes. You can succeed shooting these themes, but your pictures need to be perfect.


The point here is not to encourage your to shoot judges and parking lots, but to understand why some pictures will sell much better than others. Once you understand this concept you can apply it to any shoot you are planning to determine if it is worth doing.

Stock Photography Guide

This post is part of our Stock Photography Guide. Check out the other posts to start earning money with your pictures!

Rob Marmion

Rob is a commercial photographer with North Georgia Media. He has had over 650,000 pictures published in a variety of media. We sell many of our pictures at Shutterstock. You can earn money selling your pictures there too!

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