Photography is a great pastime or profession to get into and there is nothing more rewarding than seeing people actually pay for your images. There are lots of ways to make money from your photos but below are the 5 most common ways to earn a living from your photography.
This is usually the first step to making money from your photographs, but choosing the right agency is vital. There are plenty to choose from and different agencies cater for different markets and have different picture needs. The key is to do your research and ensure you choose an agency that fits your style of photography, but also pay attention to the commission rates and also look into how much they sell your images for. Micro stock agencies will sell images for less than $1 so you will need a lot of stock images to earn any sort of meaningful return.
Once you have chosen an agency, you’ll usually need to get an initial collection together for them to check and if accepted, they will ask for more images. You will then need to regularly supply them with quality images on an ongoing basis. But be warned, stock photography is a numbers game and you’ll need a lot of images and patience (as sometimes it can take years for your images to start selling) when photographing stock images.
Another straight forward way to make money from your photography is to sell prints of your images as things like posters, canvases, framed photos and even accessories such as phone covers. To do this you will first need to have a collection of striking photos that people would want to buy. Do your research before deciding which photos to offer and look at the sort of images that print companies are selling to get an idea.
You will then need to find a company that will take care of the printing for you. Needless to say it is imperative that the final printed product is perfect, without blemishes. Some photographers personally check each print before it is sent to a client to ensure the highest quality. Either way you will need to work with the printing company to put together a process of quality control. Ultimately, making money from prints comes down to the quality of your images and the subject you are offering. But often the average sale of a print will be much higher than selling a stock image.
Commissions from clients
The next step from taking photos and either selling as stock or as prints is to try and get commissions from prospective clients. This will require a whole new set of skills as now you are no longer just a photographer but also running a business. You need to invest money and time into marketing yourself and your business to prospective clients.
Getting commissions from clients isn’t easy these days. Most places have reduced their photo budgets in recent years and favour stock images instead. However, with the right attitude, a good portfolio and determination you can succeed. The first thing you will need to do is to make a plan of exactly who you want to target. Is it a specific type of magazine? A business? A newspaper? Once you know who you are targeting, you can then do your research into the type of photography they want and put together a portfolio that is tailored for them. Remember, if you are lucky enough to get a commission from a client, ensure you go above and beyond what they expect.
If you are struggling to get commissions from clients and are a proficient writer, then sometimes putting together a package of a story and accompanying photos can increase your chances of earning money from your photos. Magazines and newspapers can find images easily from stock libraries; however, accompanying stories are harder for them to obtain so if you can do both, you immediately become more appealing to clients. Keep in mind though that editors are sent thousands of speculative stories with images, so make sure yours stands out of from the crowd, as well as being exactly in the style and tone that the client would want.
Research is key and you need to know and understand the clients business almost as well as they do.
Once you have earned yourself a bit of a reputation and got some work under your belt, you can offer your services to teach people photography. These might be one to one workshops or group session and will need to be tailored for different levels and also different genres. The success of this business model ultimately comes down to you and how much people enjoy your workshops and how much they feel they take away from it, but your reputation can also help. For example, some of the most famous photographers in the world can charge thousands of dollars per person for a workshop, but that is because they have the name and reputation that people admire. You will need to price your sessions or days accordingly.
It really is a wonderful feeling when you first see an income from your photos and although it has never been more difficult than now to make money from photography, it is possible, but you’ll need steely determination and hard work as well as great photos to stand out from all the other photographers out there.
Photo credits: Kav Dadfar – All rights reserved. Dreamstime.