Top 6 Most Surprising Sellers

Have you ever taken a shot that you thought to yourself, this will probably never sell but chose to upload anyway. Then it turns to be a strong seller? Doesn’t happen often but a nice surprise when it does…

In this post, I’ll take the completely opposite view of my recent post on: Top 6 Most Frustrating Non-Sellers. I’ll estimate how much each of the following surprises has earned me and give you my thought-process behind each. You’ll hopefully figure out that it’s almost impossible to second-guess buyers’ needs and it can be worthwhile to upload liberally. Enjoy!

Surprise Seller Number 6


What is it?

A simple studio-style dorm room, captured using an ultra wide-angle lens.

How much has it sold?

The series above (some are not included) has earned me approximately $140. The best seller of the series is the first one from the top which has earned me just over $60.

Why is it surprising?

SS took a liberal approach and didn’t require a property release, even if the scene is super generic.

It’s surprising the series has done well since when I shot this I was quite clueless about interior photography and wasn’t lens correcting the distortions cause by shooting at 14mm equivalent on a full-frame. In addition, some of the white balance is off and just an amateur photo-shoot. Appears that microstock buyers aren’t so fussy about these technical flaws.

Surprise Seller Number 5


What is it?

Inspired by the Windows “Bliss” wallpaper [more on this iconic wallpaper in this blog post], I shot this looking up at a hill with a bright blue sky. Healthy dose of vibrancy added later in post-processing. Captured in the Netherlands during the spring.

How much has it sold?

Approximately $180 in total, including once for $105 for an extended license. In fact, see this blog post for a list of my best-selling extended licenses.

Why is it surprising?

Pure simplicity.

Related sale on Alamy for $75 gross of an ancient wall captured in Turin, Italy.


Surprise Seller Number 4


What is it?

A palm tree captured at Ipanema beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

How much has it sold?

$113 in total, including $112 once as en Extended License.

Why is it surprising?

If you search for beach and palm tree i’m sure you’ll see 10,000s of matches. Nevertheless, the place is identifiable due to the islands on the background and the fact that people / logos aren’t identifiable (I carefully made sure) means that this can be licensed commercially.

Surprise Seller Number 3


What is it?

A giant billboard captured in Milan’s Brera district advertising the iPhone X.

How much has it sold?

121 times for $55.21 on SS.

Why is it surprising?

Random walk-around shot. Just remember to look up sometimes and the more popular the brand, the better! Staying on the same topic, this image, also captured in Milan, has earned me a tidy $20 on SS.


Surprise Seller Number 2


What is it?

A dartboard in a pub.

How much has it sold?

two times on Alamy for a combined $263 gross ($131 net when commissions were 50%).

Why is it surprising?

Again, it’s pure simplicity. Plus it was shot with hand-held in a pub, so you can imagine how dark it was! I suppose it can be used widely for concepts related to “goals, targets, achievement, etc”

Surprise Seller Number(s) 1

What is it?

On left is Middle eastern or arabic dishes and assorted meze. On right is a typically-Dutch snack called bitterballen.

How much has it sold?

On left has sold for approximately $85 on all sites combined. On right, approximately $160 included once on Alamy for $55 gross.  They’ve surely paid for those meals many times over!

Why is it surprising?

I’ve combined these two because they have something in common. They were captured hand-held with no use of any artificial lighting. In fact, they were shot almost by accident at a restaurant just before digging in. Difficult lighting indeed.


I have dozens of other examples I would like to show, which have earned me less with much less quality…but you get the point, hopefully, which is that buyers’ needs are diverse and often, unpredictable. Doesn’t mean you have to upload all sorts of junk, but if you feel it has even a little bit of commercial value, then give it a go.

This is especially true for shooting iconic brands, such as Apple. So, by focusing on the bigger brands you may have a better chance of success, generally speaking, than a lesser known brand (even if the competition may be less).

Do you have any examples of your images that have surprisingly sold regularly – please comment below!

Would appreciate if you could help me out!

Throughout my blog, as you can appreciate, I’ve given quite a bit of my time to help you make sense of this complicated stock industry and focus on making money. I’ve also given away earnings info on some of my best-sellers which will directly lead to those images reducing their value (how much is impossible to say but suffice to say that copycat thieves may be lurking).

If you feel that the information below and throughout the blog is useful I kindly ask you to donate as much as you feel is reasonable, such a price of a coffee, by clicking on the following link below:

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You can also support me by purchasing one or more of my images as a wall-hanger:

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About Alex

I’m an eccentric guy on a quest to visit all corners of the world and capture stock images & footage. I’ve devoted six years to making it as a travel photographer / videographer and freelance writer (however, had recently go back into full-time office work to make ends meet!). I hope to inspire others by showing an unique insight into a fascinating business model.

I’m proud to have written a book about my adventures which includes tips on making it as a stock travel photographer – Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock Photography


  1. Hi Alex, thanks for sharing. Great idea taking pictures of big brands: I never thought about this! For the dartboard, this is a great image for testing some Droste effect. Very often, these images sell like crazy!

    Liked by 1 person

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