How To Take Great Celebration and Holiday Stock Photos

You can take great celebration and holiday stock photos with just a little bit of know how. You've been taking pictures for years, everything from graduations to birthday parties. Use your hobby to put extra cash in your pocket.

Websites that pay you for your stock photos have grown tremendously and there's a lot of competition, so it's a good idea to go back to basics to create the best possible photos.

Step 1: Use RAW Settings

Consider using your RAW image setting, which will give you higher quality data to work with by eliminating interpolation and JPEG compression right out of the gate. Taking your picture in the RAW format gives you a chance to decide whether you want to manipulate the data with photo editing software before you turn it into a JPEG or TIFF. Some older image editing software will not open RAW files, so you may need to edit them in your camera's accompanying program.

Step 2: Camera Settings

Try photographing your composition using low ISO settings. This will soften noise and give you better resolution at high magnification. Avoid relying on the automatic camera settings. Instead, work with aperture, exposure and shutter speed. You'll get better results.

Step 3: Think through Your Concept

It's a good idea to visit any stock photo websites you're considering so you can see what they're looking for. Many will list the types of photos they need, based on the requests they get. Maybe they're scouting for Halloween or St. Patrick's Day photos. By providing what they need, you'll have a better chance of selling your work. Once you've decided on your theme, take the time to imagine how you want to set it up.

Step 4: Lighting

Lighting is key. If you don't have professional lighting sources, try taking your pictures in a room that has a lot of natural light. Watch your shadows; you want direct, soft light. Be careful when using your flash, as this can create light flares and harsh glare, and it can illuminate anything shiny (which will cause light distortion). This is a sure way to get your photo rejected.

Step 5: Color

Your photos should make real life look better, so make sure to spend some time deciding how the colors will play in your composition. Find a color wheel and use it to add contrasting shades. This will add spark and visual interest to your work.

Step 6: Photo Editing Software

Brush up your skills using your favorite photo editing software. If you don't already have it, it's always a good idea to invest in a good program, such as Photoshop. Don't be afraid to experiment with your pictures by adding or subtracting color, using filters and effects. Make sure to save your unedited original, though.

Step 7: Be Your Own Critic

You'll save yourself lots of time if you evaluate each of your pictures with a critical eye before you upload them. Look for things like lens flares, purple fringing (purplish edges caused by low lighting), harsh shadows, too much reflection, artifacting (overlapping pixels), unclear focus and distortion.