Make Money With Your Camera

Make Money With Your Camera

Technically beautiful pictures will not always sell; the key is to target your work towards the right markets.

There are numerous books and classes devoted to teaching a photographer how to take great pictures and the avid hobbyist greedily gobbles them up. The photographer then builds up a large body of work and is subsequently showered with accolades on how grand his or her pictures are. The photographer then tries to sell his or her pictures and bangs up against a brick wall. Learn how to scale that wall and sell your pictures to markets that need them.

Evaluate Your Photographs

Photographers who specialize in taking certain types of pictures such as scenics and wildlife will have a very hard time selling their pictures. The market is already saturated with very good travel and wildlife/nature photographers. If you have your heart set on selling these kinds of pictures consider selling them to a stock photo agency that specializes in this type of photography or using them in article packages you can pitch to editors.  Use this strategy along with your bread and butter pictures that you can begin selling right away.

Take an objective view of your photography. Compare your photos to those you see in magazines you’d like to submit to. Does the quality of your photos measure up to those you see in magazines? If you can honestly say yes, you are ready to submit your photography.
Don’t get discouraged if you encounter rejections from photo editors. Some magazines simply have enough stock photos to cover their needs. Simply move on to the next magazine or book market.

Photo Editors and What They Need

Photo editors don’t care if you are a professional photographer. They don’t care if you majored in photography in college and now have a PhD hanging on your wall. What they care about is picture quality. If you can take a great picture you will catch their eye and give your submission more than a second glance. Photo editors need pictures and lots of them. They want good, consistent photographers who will give them consistently good pictures. Be that photographer.

Take the Right Pictures

Magazines of all kinds need a constant supply of pictures of people doing things. There are a variety of markets that will purchase the pictures that you take. If you are a wildlife/nature or scenic photographer re-evaluate your strategy. Learn what types of pictures sell well and what types of pictures don’t.

Think about what types of activities you have access to where you can take pictures that editors need. Pick up a copy of The Photographer’s Market 2009 and start your research there. Also pick up a copy of The Writer’s Market 2009. The Writer’s Market lists many places that will buy your photos that are not covered in The Photographer’s Market.

Do You need a Model Release?

Model releases are obtained by photographers in order to sell their photos commercially. If an ad agency purchases a photo of a person it will ask for a model release because they will make money from this photo. Strictly speaking, model releases for editorial photography – the photography discussed in this article, are not required if the photos are not used for commercial purposes in magazines or books.

A photo editor may ask for a release though if he or she feels that the material might be used in a manner that might be found offensive. For instance, many photo editors ask for photo releases accompanying pictures of prostitutes or the homeless because these are socially sensitive subjects that elicit strong reactions in people. Model releases in these instances are used as a safeguard against liability issues.

For Further Study:
•    Engh, R. (2003). Sell & Re-Sell Your Photos. Ohio: Writer’s Digest Books.