Five Ways To Succeed In Stock Photography

Posted on 7/17/2012 by John Martin Lund | Printable Version | Comments (1)

John Lund is one of the world’s most successful stock photographers. His images have a clean, graphic, conceptual style and generally illustrate business concepts. His images are often humorous. Using photoshop and digital tools he creates images that put people and animals in impossible situations, but they are done so skillfully that viewers often ask,  “Did that really happen?” The following are five tips for succeeding in stock photography.

Be The First

Way back in 1990 I was one of the very first photographers to truly and wholeheartedly embrace Photoshop. It paid off for me in a big way and all these years later is still paying off. Being the first to do something, whether it is in the adoption of new techniques and tools or styles or markets is quite often a key to tremendous success. Vincent La Foret ( is a great example. He was one of the first, if not the first, to jump into DSLR motion and it has served him very well. But it is important to remember that being the first alone is not enough…it requires tremendous effort, follow-through, and persistence. I suppose a little talent helps as well!  One of the great things about all the change that is happening in our industry right now is that the opportunity to be among the first seems to be ever expanding.

Be different

In a world that is drowning in images, and in photographers, doing more of what is already out there is a self-defeating effort. Shoot what others aren’t shooting, shoot in a way that others aren’t. If you can do that while still creating images that effectively communicate then there is ample opportunity to reach the top.

Be the best

Of course, this kind of goes with out saying, and yet there are many ways to be the best, and if you can nail one of them then success is waiting for you. The best might mean having the best client service, or the flawless execution of a given style, or even running your photography business in a truly business like fashion. A photographer I know is not particularly creative. His imagery is fine…just not cutting edge or, at least in my opinion, inspired. But he runs his business like a business with good customer service, a thorough understanding of what his clients want, and a dedication to giving it to them. This photographer knows how much he has to earn each month and what he has to do to reach his goals. He does quite well.

Be yourself

The only way, IMO, one can succeed in the viciously competitive world of photography is to harness a true passion for the business.  Most of us cannot sustain passion for something when we are trying to be something we are not. That isn’t the same as becoming something different…which is very difficult but certainly achievable. Success as a photographer requires a truly long-term commitment and copious amounts time and effort…a combination that can only be sustained through passion…or I suppose…desperation. That last motivating factor, I have to admit, has propelled me forward a time or two (and was a big part of what got me into Photoshop in the first place)!

Be Noticed 


This may be last on this little list, but is certainly not least because it is important to all of the above. If you are the best and nobody knows about you…oh well. However, even if you are decidedly mediocre but you are well known, you will benefit from that “notoriety”. As they say,  “Just spell my name right baby!” Just as getting noticed is important to the success of all the above approaches, being first, being different, being the best and being yourself are all important to be noticed.

Not Rocket Science

Okay, none of this is rocket science. But it is good to remind ourselves of these things from time to time. Just writing this blog has helped to both reminded me, and motivated me, to revisit my own business plan, to update it and review it with the above points in mind.  Hmmm, when was the last time you reviewed your business plan?

To view his work and learn more about how he does what he does check our his blog at:

Copyright © 2012 John Martin Lund. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


  • Bill Bachmann Posted Jul 17, 2012
    No, not Rocket Science.... but it needs to be heard often to not be forgotten.

    You also have to believe in yourself and NOT give away your work for pennies. It takes guts to still demand top dollar for your images today, but there still is a market that wants great images. Don't sell yourself short!!

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