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View Full Version : How do you make money from Photography?




crazydreaming
Oct 31, 2005, 10:06 AM
Originally asked in this thread: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?p=1869746#post1869746

That's getting off topic, so here it is. How do you get started?



bousozoku
Oct 31, 2005, 10:10 AM
I've become attached to one high school sports team locally and it's given me the opportunity to photograph them and others at tournaments. Plus, others have invited me to photograph their teams. It's not exactly lucrative because I want everyone to be able to afford photos.

njmac
Oct 31, 2005, 10:35 AM
There is an interesting reply here (http://forums.creativecow.net/cgi-bin/new_read_post.cgi?forumid=17&postid=589813&archive=T) in the Creative Cow forums. Originally, the poster was trying to dissuade someone from going into the video business because of low rates, hard work, and expensive equipment. He was saying how much better photographers have it:

My still photog friends get $500 for a sitting or $1500 / day. Their investment in gear is about 1/10 what mine is. The amount of time they spend on a project is about 1/20 of mine. They all drive newer cars and have nicer homes and take more vacations than I do. They all work less than I do. If I was still freelancing for the networks Id even have less to live on, Id be gone all the time, and I wouldnt own a single frame of anything Id shot.

Most of my still photographer friends own all their own negatives and make a good living selling stock shots and authorizing reprints. One of my good still photographer friends back in Seattle runs a single man shop, works out of his home, shoots mostly wildlife and thoroughbred horses, and had nearly $2,500,000 (thats right two and a half million) in sales last year through 3 galleries (Seattle, NYC, and Leavenworth a tourist trap - WA), magazines, thoroughbred horse raising clients, and the internet.

How many videographers do you know that came close to that? This is a tough business, and unless you are lucky and talented enough to be in the top 5%, making a living is tough. Freelancing is extremely tough. Just Shooting video is no way to get rich. Boneheads that shoot 30 minute infomercials for $3000 make it hard on all of us and they should be tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail.

A friend of mine recently had a Bat Mitzvah for his daughter. They paid the still photographer nearly $5000 to come and take photos of the family, the service, and the party and supply them with a scrapbook album and some framed prints for the parents and grandparents. An hour after the party was over the stills were uploaded to a printer that compiles the album, provides online proofs, organizes delivery to the clients and does the shipping. The only thing the photographer has to do is cash his check. His total time commitment to the project was about 10 hours. They offered the poor schmuck that shot the video $500.

BakedBeans
Oct 31, 2005, 10:41 AM
selling fine art photography (my website will be up soon!!! im just finnishing off the flash) basically printing giclee prints and selling them for a fair amount of cash.

i own and run a website specifically run for professional photographers, they range from 'erotic' studio artists to fine art and landscape, there are lots and lots of ways to make money. we also have photojournalists.

devilot
Oct 31, 2005, 10:46 AM
Sorry if this is too OT, but do professional photographers get better pay/jobs if they have better credentials? And what constitute credentials-- an art uni? I mean, aside from a portfolio and past works that have been published or whatnot... just curious.

njmac
Oct 31, 2005, 11:00 AM
I also found some interesting topics at http://www.garryblack.com/asksto.htm.

This photographer sells stock photography and makes over a hundred grand a year. He tells the story of how he got into stock photography on his site. He was very persistent and I'm sure taking great photos didn't hurt.

Chip NoVaMac
Oct 31, 2005, 12:48 PM
Sorry if this is too OT, but do professional photographers get better pay/jobs if they have better credentials? And what constitute credentials-- an art uni? I mean, aside from a portfolio and past works that have been published or whatnot... just curious.


That seems to be the $64,000 question. Having taken Photographic History classes in college, I scratch my head at some of what is considered by what passes as "art" that demands the $'s. But there I am talking of fine art photography.

As to "studio" work, it is all about style and vision. Most can pick out an Arbus, Karch, or Avedon. And that is how they sell themselves.

Mike Teezie
Nov 6, 2005, 11:20 PM
That seems to be the $64,000 question. Having taken Photographic History classes in college, I scratch my head at some of what is considered by what passes as "art" that demands the $'s. But there I am talking of fine art photography.

As to "studio" work, it is all about style and vision. Most can pick out an Arbus, Karch, or Avedon. And that is how they sell themselves.

Same here. Some of the stuff we study that is considered art beggars belief.

Especially when you learn what some of these prints sold for.....

mizzi
Nov 16, 2005, 05:19 PM
shooting bands. i've got a website up and that helps a ton. i also shoot some models or girls who think they'll make it as models if they can just get some nice head shots...

whatever works. advertising on Myspace has been quite lucritive as well :)

Cooknn
Nov 16, 2005, 07:05 PM
As mentioned in other threads I shoot QTVR 360 virtual tours (http://www.realtor.com/Prop/1052682355) for real estate. I didn't know a thing about photography until last year when I bought my first camera and pano rig. I did have an evening job in the same office with about 150 real estate agents though :p A year later and my business is growing rapidly. I've got a killer new rig and I have new clients coming on board every week. I'm doing this with a full time job and an evening job as well. Need. More. Hours.

It might be cliche but it still holds true - it's not what you know, but who you know... Capitalize on existing relationships and those will lead to referrals. Once the ball starts rolling the money starts coming in ;)

Chip NoVaMac
Nov 16, 2005, 08:59 PM
It might be cliche but it still holds true - it's not what you know, but who you know... Capitalize on existing relationships and those will lead to referrals. Once the ball starts rolling the money starts coming in ;)

That seems to hold true whether you are talking commercial jobs, or fine art jobs.

I know for some of us, we are gun shy when money gets mentioned for our photography skills.

phonic pol
Dec 2, 2005, 07:11 AM
Hi guys, why not post your websites here? I think most people in this thread would like to see them and it's free publicity for you! Cheers, Phonic

seenew
Dec 2, 2005, 09:11 PM
I've become attached to one high school sports team locally and it's given me the opportunity to photograph them and others at tournaments. Plus, others have invited me to photograph their teams. It's not exactly lucrative because I want everyone to be able to afford photos.

I know what you mean-- last summer I shot photos for a horse instruction camp that my girlfriend was helping to counsel, and at the end of the week I found out that several of the girls were there with financial aid, so I felt bad charging anything too high. I ended up cutting my original price by two thirds, and still not everyone was able to get a CD.

bousozoku
Dec 2, 2005, 10:01 PM
I know what you mean-- last summer I shot photos for a horse instruction camp that my girlfriend was helping to counsel, and at the end of the week I found out that several of the girls were there with financial aid, so I felt bad charging anything too high. I ended up cutting my original price by two thirds, and still not everyone was able to get a CD.

I had an incident at a wrestling tournament where the school's principal had hired some sports photography company while the coaches knew me and wanted me to photograph their team. After being hassled by the company's photographer, I found that they were charging more for a 5x7 than I was charging for a 13x19 at my highest price. What's worse is that I don't think they sold too much since they didn't know how to shoot wrestling. However, they had the technology--touch screen customer view and choose printers and L-series Canon lenses. Still, there is something to be said about being good rather than just having good equipment. :p

seenew
Dec 4, 2005, 12:30 PM
I had an incident at a wrestling tournament where the school's principal had hired some sports photography company while the coaches knew me and wanted me to photograph their team. After being hassled by the company's photographer, I found that they were charging more for a 5x7 than I was charging for a 13x19 at my highest price. What's worse is that I don't think they sold too much since they didn't know how to shoot wrestling. However, they had the technology--touch screen customer view and choose printers and L-series Canon lenses. Still, there is something to be said about being good rather than just having good equipment. :p

Yeah, I remember being jealous of my friend having a 6MP camera when I was shooting with 4MP, but his shots were never that great; resolution can only help so much, you've gotta have an eye and other skills, too.

CanadaRAM
Dec 4, 2005, 12:35 PM
I also found some interesting topics at http://www.garryblack.com/asksto.htm.

This photographer sells stock photography and makes over a hundred grand a year. He tells the story of how he got into stock photography on his site. He was very persistent and I'm sure taking great photos didn't hurt.
But making a million on stock photography is like making a million being a rock star: Many, many people try, only a few break through and establish the reputation, the contacts (or the right agent) and the sales to create that kind of income.

> it's not what you know, but who you know

Yes indeed.

It also helps if you establish a niche market where there are buyers with money and not a lot of competition -- like cooknn has. Shooting sports teams and schools is a really hard way to make a living.

iGary
Dec 4, 2005, 12:48 PM
It also helps if you establish a niche market where there are buyers with money and not a lot of competition -- like cooknn has. Shooting sports teams and schools is a really hard way to make a living.

Yes, it is.

Color correction and processing is a nice way to make money. ;)

I charge $1.50 a file or by contract.

As for the rest of my work, I keep it local - work is in a lot of coffee shops and restaurants and most of my aerial work is word of mouth.

I've stopped doing advertising shooting. Publishers are a royal pain in the ass to deal with (nearly had to sue one this year - took a cease and desist order to get him to pay).

There is not a lot of competition around here for the things that I shoot. It soud also be said that I make more money from color processing and freelance writing then photo work (prolly 70% to 30% ratio). It's a perfect blend for me. :)

I get to play with pictures all day, write when I have down time, and take my own pics when I please. :D

edesignuk
Dec 4, 2005, 12:51 PM
My boss got some pics of his young daughter taken...only set him back about 4k :eek: and for that you still don't get the RAW 'negatives', so if he wants anymore he still has to go back to the guy and shell out cash. Insane. Awesome payday for the photographers one day of work though.

bousozoku
Dec 4, 2005, 01:05 PM
My boss got some pics of his young daughter taken...only set him back about 4k :eek: and for that you still don't get the RAW 'negatives', so if he wants anymore he still has to go back to the guy and shell out cash. Insane. Awesome payday for the photographers one day of work though.

If you want a certain look, it's the safe way to go. Getting someone who's unknown is a tricky affair, even though they could be really inexpensive. I'm sure your boss could have gotten everything--for about 4 times what he paid. :eek: I've given away that sort of thing to friends for which they would have paid someone $1000 here but couldn't afford it. We had to struggle a bit more to get the look but of course, for a friend, what else can you do but your best?

rjphoto
Dec 9, 2005, 08:26 AM
My boss got some pics of his young daughter taken...only set him back about 4k :eek: and for that you still don't get the RAW 'negatives', so if he wants anymore he still has to go back to the guy and shell out cash. Insane. Awesome payday for the photographers one day of work though.

That's like $7000 US!!!! That's not right!!!!

I'm not charging enough.

Those pics must be awsome. I need to see that. Think you could get us a look?

efoto
Dec 9, 2005, 09:13 AM
That's like $7000 US!!!! That's not right!!!!

I'm not charging enough.

Those pics must be awsome. I need to see that. Think you could get us a look?

I'd love to see a link to that photog's site as well....for such an exorbitant price his images had better be the best things I have ever seen, regardless of subject.

£4k is insane, $7,005.60 :eek: according to the updated Unit Converter widget. I've never heard of anyone paying anywhere close to that. Hell Sear's does portraits for $20 or less, and those aren't the best but are 'fine' and only $20 :p. Even $200 sounds reasonable....but $7k!!!