No matter what kind of photography you do, to make it in this business, you must sell your work. That sounds simple and, in theory, it should be. Photography is all around us and every editor, agent, art director, business and individuals are looking for good quality images to enhance their product. However, how do you get your work out there and sell your photography? Much of it depends on what type of photography you want to do and what other side avenues you can develop for your work.
For the sake of this article, we are going to assume you already have a budding career as some sort of freelance photographer – what type does not really matter as long as you are not working for a newspaper, etc. You own your photos and the copyright is yours to do with as you see fit.
In assuming you are a photographer, we can also assume that you already have a fair amount of good quality images stored up and gathering dust. It is time to go through that pile and see what you can do about making them earn you some extra income.
Stock agencies abound and although digital cameras have brought out a horde of wannabe photographers, along with the headaches, it has also helped bring huge growth in the industry. Unfortunately, it has also dropped the overall value of stock images so although top producers will always earn a sizeable chunk of money per image, the sales may be less frequent. Always keep your best photos for these agencies but what about the rest
Microstock agencies have sprouted up all over the internet and although they have knocked down the value of stock images considerably, they have opened up a new avenue as well. Many of these images sell for $1 or $2 for a web quality image (72 dpi and under 500 kb) or up to $7 to $30 for a print quality image (300 dpi and 16 mb or more). Commission at Microstock agencies ranges from 25 to 50% depending on what rights you agree to sell (click here to read Photos, Photographers & Copyrights) – the more you give up, the greater the commission.
Microstock agencies are a wonderful place to make residual income from your images that would otherwise be taking up drive space. The sites are easy to use and you can check on the stats of your sales with a bit of browsing.
Like all stock sites, there are requirements that must be met – you must have model and property releases signed, you must remove any logos or name brands from the image and they only accept good quality images that are marketable.
There are two ways of selling your images as an editorial photographer. The first is what we normally think of which is the glamorous ‘on assignment’ photojournalist image of photography but it takes a while to develop a relationship with the art director to nab these plum assignments. What most photographers begin with is similar to being your own stock agency but you earn a 100% commission instead of 25 to 40%!
We all have types of photography we enjoy and therefore have a copious amount laying around in our external hard drives. Mine happens to be boats. Big, small, old, new, wood, fiberglass – I have thousands of them sitting around taking up space. Contacting appropriate yachting magazines, wooden boat images to Wooden Boat magazine for example means those images are no longer gathering dust.
Fine Art and Galleries
There is big money in fine art photography. For many photographers, their first ‘showing’ may be hanging their work in a friend’s office or restaurant. Do you know someone that owns or manages an appropriate business? Ask them if you can hold a showing there and offer to give them a commission on anything that sells. This is a great marketing ploy for portrait or studio photographers – people see your work as something special when it is hanging in a business and the chance of residual sales is far greater.
Fine art photography is also a calling, much like being any type of artist and to see real success, it helps to have an agent. Photography agents know how to take your work and market it to the most likely buyers whether it is galleries, magazines, calendars, etc.
Calendar, Postcard and Greeting Card Sales
Although these can be tough industries to crack, they tend to be lucrative and art directors enjoy building relationships with a stable of regular photographers versus taking work in piecemeal.
Many artists also have their own postcards and/or greeting cards printed and then take them around to local businesses to sell. Much like stock photography, this means someone else is handling the individual sales, allowing you more time to actually shoot but with the drawback that what you shoot is dependent on what the market will tolerate.
Art and T-shirt Sites
This is a fun way to see your work on something other then a wall or in a magazine. Many photographers have their own ‘storefronts’ through inexpensive online markets such as Café Press. These sites allow you to upload your photography and then put it onto items to sell, meanwhile the site does all the hard work. These sites allow for customization of your store and complete control over what your images will look like. How much money you make from these sites depends heavily on how much effort you put into the site.
There are many ways as a photographer to augment your regular income. The more you allow other people to handle the sales, the more time you will have to shoot. Residual income from any of these sources will help you through the slow times or put the money into a special account for buying new equipment – whatever it takes to stay in the business and be a success!
Author Ann lockley
Copyright ©2008 picturephotosoncanvas.com
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