Last week at Adobe MAX, Fotolia contributor Lasse Behnke aka Lassedesignen gave a talk on his transition from a media designer using stock images in his client projects, to a best selling stock photographer shooting full time. For those of you who couldn’t join us in San Diego, here’s a recap of Lasse’s top tips for succeeding in the world of stock.

  1. Know the market and the agency

There are many different stock photo agencies and the types of content they are looking for and will accept will differ slightly from company to company. Find out that types of photos the agencies specialize in and review their submission guidelines to decrease the chances of your files being rejected.

Fotolia and Adobe Stock are not exclusive, so you can upload your content to other stock agencies if you choose.

  1. Analyze your competition

As a part of your research, look at what content is already out there and what is selling. For example, search for “running” on Fotolia and analyze the results you get. Start to deconstruct the image and identify the elements that are present, and then apply them to your own photos. Try to understand why the image was successful. Maybe its because it features a popular subject, or touches on a popular conceptual topic. Maybe it’s because it offers multiple options to crop, or has plentiful white space for adding copy.

Lasse looked at the focus area, cropping options, perspective, vanishing lines of this running photo by Fotolia Contributor One Inch Punch and applied the same principles to his own photo. The point is not to imitate, but to adapt the same successful aspects in your own work.



  1. Find your own niche

You may find it intimidating when you hear that Fotolia has over 60 million assets in its collection. It’s a competitive market, but if you are willing to put in the time, stock photography can be a very rewarding endeavor. One way to make your content stand out is by finding your own niche.

For example, Lasse’s portfolio is about compositing photos and combining elements to tell a story, but that doesn’t mean you have to create the same type of photos to be successful.

Andrey Pavlov aka Antrey is another contributor who has found a unique angle for his work. He photographs ants. He sets his props in place and patiently waits for the ants to get into position. His work is great because it’s so different from what’s out there, and also because the ants represent conceptual topics like strength and teamwork.

teamwork, team of ants costructing bridge

If you’re more of an illustrator or vector artist, you can find your niche in that realm. Fotolia Contributor Anja Kaiser is known for her ornate, vintage illustrations, and he images have been licensed over 100,000 times.

Gentlemen's Fashion and Accessories

The important thing is to experiment and practice until you find something that works for you and sells. The great thing about a niche is that once you become know for that “thing,” customers who like your work will keep coming back to purchase more work.

  1. Try to improve everyday

Stock photography is like any profession – if you want to succeed, you have to constantly practice, learn, and improve. It’s unrealistic to think you’ll start out being a top seller, but if you do your research and put in the hours, eventually you will succeed.

Leuchtende Glaskugel

This is one of the first photos that Lasse ever sold, back in 2009. He himself is not terribly impressed with the quality of the images or the editing.

But fast forward to 2016, his images now look like this, thanks to all the hours he spent practicing and learning from videos and tutorials online.

Woman floating underwater

Even though now, Lasse is a Photoshop pro and teaches workshops on the topic, he continues to improve and work on his craft every day. You can see more beautiful photo compositions from Lasse’s portfolio here.