Styled stock photos are all the rage on Instagram.
Have you noticed those gorgeous feeds with bright, shiny desks or perfectly manicured hands holding an ice cream cone? The majority of their photos are styled stock images, and they are in high demand.
In fact, many small businesses are posting on social media three or more times a day. That means they need pretty pictures, and a LOT of them, in order to keep their feeds looking sharp and their engagement high. This is an ideal situation for photographers!
By expanding the services you offer, you can easily increase your revenue and your brand recognition. In this article we will talk about how you can begin offering this service, how to price it, and what you will need to get started. Hint: it’s super easy and affordable.
Types of styled stock photography
For many of you, incorporating stock image options into your photography packages will be a no-brainer. However, deciding what kind to offer may be a different story. At this time, there are two very popular types of stock photos:
- Styled scenes like props and the flatlay.
- Lifestyle photos which tend to include people or models in the shot.
In order for you to identify which avenue to take, I recommend you focus on your strengths.
Why does this matter?
Remember my previous example of those beautiful hands holding that ice cream cone? I’m not the best at that type of shot, but I can style a desk with my eyes closed. When I started offering stock photos as part of my photography service, I only offered what I knew I would be excellent at creating.
Now that your wheels are turning, you may be wondering what you need to get started. Don’t worry. The next steps are easy and affordable. Here are my suggestions for those of you anxious to begin right away. Let’s break down the first type of stock photos I’m calling “styled scenes.”
In order to create a styled scene, you will need to designate a small space in your home or studio where you can work with props. Take a look at my set up below. It’s not fancy at all. I have a white desk on casters (all from Ikea) and two $5 white boards from the local craft store. You could easily re-create this in any room, even if you only have enough space for the white boards. Find a spot with plenty of natural sunlight streaming in, and you are on your way!
Can you see how this is truly a simple addition to your photography services? If you have 5 ft of space next to a window, you are in business.
The second type of stock photos is known as lifestyle photos. If you enjoy working with people and prefer a variety of diverse backdrops over white boards and props, lifestyle photos may be your jam!
First, you will need to find a few locations in your area that will provide fun or unique backdrops. Search out the funky bright pink wall in town or locate the only café with exposed beams. Go out and get familiar with the artistic, unique places in your own city and take your clients to those locations.
Don’t expect to take an Instagram-worthy picture of your client next to a tree at the local park. That type of shot doesn’t really give them a distinct look and Instagram is all about telling a story in square format and the location is a huge part of that unspoken dialogue. Helpful hint: search popular hashtags on Instagram to see where local brands and influencers are taking pictures. Go there and add your own personal touch.
Determine your roll out method and pricing.
Start by answering these questions:
- Do you already have a strong client base that is active on Instagram?
- A network of small business owners?
- Bloggers, writers, moms who sell a product?
They are your IDEAL clients. Why? I can guarantee you that every conference they are attending right now, and every article crossing their Facebook feed is talking about the power of social media. They are primed and ready to do something about it. They want their business to grow, just like you do! They see the importance of posting on Instagram every day, but they are nervous and lacking a variety of quality images to share. They feel overwhelmed, and they need someone in their corner.
Guess what? That person is YOU! You get to be the hero.
A great way to branch out in this highly profitable market is to ask a question on your feed and be prepared to offer your services as the solution. Try it. Post this question to your Facebook and/or Instagram, “Do you need additional photos for your Instagram feed?” They will say YES or will at least ask about it.
Extend a family photo session by 30 minutes (after pictures with the kiddos) and walk them through a variety of poses that work well on Instagram. Have them hold a cup of coffee, an ice cream cone, flowers in front of their face, or get a close up of their hands holding a journal. You get the idea. Make it ALL about them. Your goal is to give them 10-15 flattering, trendy images that they can post on social media over the next 4-6 weeks. Price this extra time accordingly. Since these images will be delivered digitally, you lose the ability to up-sell on prints.
Suggest they drop off the products they sell for you to photograph in your home studio. Style a desk scene with their e-book on an iPad. Borrow an oil diffuser and take a picture of various essential oils next to it. You can offer this as a custom product shoot, just for them. Pricing for this type of shoot usually begins at $25 per image with a minimum order of 10 photos.
Spend a couple of weeks styling and taking about 30 generic stock images that your clients can use on Instagram. Think flowers, coffee mugs, or a cozy blanket on the sofa. Make the entire collection an up-sell to their gallery. For instance, if they book a family session, add on a 10% fee and include your latest collection of stock photos with their gallery. Or offer your Instagram-savvy clients a set of free images as a thank you. Get them hooked on the generic ones, but make sure they know your services now include custom images. They will LOVE it!
As you can see, stock photography can truly be a natural extension of what you already offer.
So go grab that corner spot by the window in your dining nook. Scout out those trendy spots around town to shoot and start creating. There’s a demand in the market for high quality images and you already have what it takes to deliver!