This will probably be my last post of 2012, due to a fairly busy Christmas period - hopefully this won't ruin your holidays too much, but my apologies if it does! (I do realise this may be a tad optimistic...)
As the title suggests, this post is about photos that should make you some easy money - backgrounds.
Now, I'm not going to pretend this will be the most exciting photography session you have, it has the potential to be the exact opposite of that, in fact, but hopefully it'll be one that should actually be quite quick and painless. Designers and advertisers all over the world need backgrounds for their work, so there is a constant stream of people buying them - it makes sense to take advantage of this, no?
A brick wall is by far the most popular, so it's worth having a couple of these in your portfolio if you have enough time to take them and make them look good, but there will hundreds of thousands of them out there already, so make sure they're technically accurate. My best seller (see below) is actually a fence - just a bog-standard fence in my garden. I didn't think it was particularly exciting (I still don't, in fact), but it seems to be selling quite well, mainly because its a background that isn't as widely shot as others; there are still a fair few though...
My advice? Have a look around your house at potential backgrounds you could shoot, making sure that they have good texture and that you can shoot them sharply. Then, have a look on a few microstock sites to see which aren't as well shot and concentrate the majority of your time on these. It might seem counterintuitive to take photos of things that don't sell as well, but you'll end up with a larger percentage of the market and will get a lot more sales, especially if your photos are of a better quality.
If you find yourself with some spare time, then take photos of the more popular backgrounds; they'll probably get you a couple of sales along the way, so they're a good way to bolster your portfolio. As always, time management should be a priority, so use your time wisely!
When taking the shots, a tripod is completely necessary so that you can still shoot at a low ISO and get a good quality image. It's up to you whether you use natural light or flash - I use natural light because I can't afford a decent flash! Be wary of using the built-in flash, it doesn't always give you the great lighting you're looking for... Keep everything sharp and you should be fine. Also, a minor vignette can also help your image stand out a bit.
Give it a go, it shouldn't take you too long and could be very rewarding.