Welcome to the third in my series of articles on how to start a photography business. In this article, I’m going to look at the traditional and the modern approaches to selling your photos to people who really want them.
Selling Your Photos to Newspapers and Magazines
This is the traditional method of earning money from selling your photographs. Now, I’m not suggesting that you turn yourself into your town’s local paparazzi and stalk any Z-list celebrity 24/7.
But, there is always a market for someone with their ear to the ground, who can take quality pictures of newsworthy events. Perhaps talk to your local newspaper and ask what sort of things they look out for when their ‘official’ photographers are in the field (if, indeed they have any).
Remember, it’s not just about what’s happening now. These types of publications are always on the look-out for ‘exclusive’ types of photos that are not going to be appearing in their competitor’s pages.
Go out and purchase some of the newspapers and a selection of magazines to see what topics are being covered in them. From here, you can build up your portfolio of similar photographs, for presentation to them.
Local newspapers should be an easy way in to this career (and it’s where many professional photographers actually start out). It is actually an excellent place to start for the following reasons :
- The competition will be non-existent (assuming you live in a smaller town and not a major city)
- There will be less ‘stock’ photos of your surrounding area – so if a ‘big story’ does break (like a major fire), you might be the only person in the world with a photo of that burnt out church in its original state
- Local amateur sporting events, whilst written about, rarely have photos to go alongside the commentary. And they take place a weekends – so you can perhaps work this around an existing job
- There should also be a plethora of school, charity and social events worthy of your camera – and again small local publications are unlikely to have a full-time snapper at these events
- Don’t forget to factor in human interest stories. Does someone in your area have an unusual hobby worthy of photographing ? (Remember pictures tell a thousand words, you won’t be expected to write articles, the publications will already have people who can scribe wording around your pictures)
- Of course you might want to take a few shorts initially for a portfolio and show them to an editor to gage the chances of them taking on any freelance work from you
For magazines, in particular, think about specialist periodicals (like pets, boats, horses), are they likely to want pictures to ‘fill space’ ? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’.
Selling Your Photos to On-Line Photo Stockists
One area of photography that has boomed in the past couple of years is on-line photo stockists. If you have never seen them, the system goes like this :
- On-line stockists hold thousands of ‘stock’ photos
- They are catalogued by relevance
- People (or organizations) that want particular photos sign up to these sites and purchase credits
- They can then use these credits to by one, or a number of photos
- Usually the better the quality of photo, the higher the charge (so always use high pixels for each photo)
- You, being the author, will either get paid upfront for your pictures, OR you will get paid as and when each of your photos are bought by purchasers – For example 50%, with the on-line site taking the other 50%
- Photos can be about anything (people, or everyday objects like a picture of a computer, a banana, or a telephone) – Basically, if you can see it, you can photograph it. Think of the type of pictures that appear in informational magazines (not the adverts of a particular product though, as it’s not wise to be taking pictures which may cross trademark boundaries)
I will be drawing up a list of the best on-line stockists shortly and will provide a link here when I it’s completed. It will detail what their current rates and any restrictions which are in place.
Until then, the next article in the series is :
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