How Do You Start Making Money With Photos?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by SolracSelbor, Dec 9, 2007.

  1. SolracSelbor macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2007
    #1
    As you can tell I am new to dSLR, but I have heard a lot of people saying that they sell their pictures. Im not looking to get into "trying" to sell my pictures anytime soon due to lack of experience and skill, however i would like to know how you go about selling your photos and actually making money. Like do you have an agent, or do you sell them on shutterstock.com or the like. Where do you begin?
     
  2. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    Dec 30, 2006
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    #2
    It took me a few years to start making money out of photography, and I'm still just 'scraping by'. :)

    There are 101 ways to generate a pro or semi-pro career... and all of them pre-suppose that you can shoot saleable/publishable pix at every time of asking. So you will have a lot to learn. I'm not trying to be negative, merely pointing out that there's a lot of competition out there. Good luck...
     
  3. marclapierre13 macrumors 6502a

    marclapierre13

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    Jul 7, 2005
    #3
    As a amateur/ semi pro, I would suggest places like fairs, as in craft fairs, and what not. I used to enter them a while ago when I was doing some other crafts, and I am considering next year going in the Christmas one to enter some Christmas cards, and postcards, and framed pictures.
     
  4. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

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    Feb 19, 2005
    #4
    Merely from personal experience I never really put a tremendous amount of effort into selling anything. I'm a bad salesperson and frankly it's never been a direction which I wanted to take. However, what has typically happened is I would give prints to people like close co-workers and that has turned into a couple events, some family portraits, senior portraits, and a couple of weddings. I've had some prints in a fair and have sold from that fair, that is where the flattery really came from because those were complete strangers who never met me until I sold them their print.

    Earlier while working for a photographer I was selling platinum prints. From a wedding shoot we'd have the bride return to the studio in her dress and we'd do some studio shots. Once I learned to use the 8x10 & 11x14 view cameras and make my own contact prints from those negatives I was left to my own to round up business. I think from there I worked with a dozen or so clients and made some nice cash. The first print always paid for the platinum, the second paid for the other materials, the profit came from the other 10-12 people I shot. That is a market that people have to understand in the sense that it's not just any 8x10 or 11x14 b&w print they're getting.

    I've never shot stock before and I do not believe I intend to. Again, my efforts have been focused elsewhere with my education and career. I guess if I put more effort into it I could probably scrape by but I haven't much interest in doing so nor would I say I possess the skill level that people shelling their cash out to me deserve. That's not to say the customers I have had weren't satisfied, it is only to say that I believe there are people out there who have a better eye and more time to devote to the craft.

    Your best bet right now is to try and focus on saleable prints. When you get there start looking at galleries (local/small) and such. It never hurts to ask around if you can hang your prints somewhere. Be prepared to put some money up towards nice prints, matting, and framing.

    The photographer's market is hugely saturated. At one point having a niche was great but now even many of those niches are flooded. Digital photography has created many picture takers that have sold prints therefore elevating many of them to levels of "professionals" in their own right, which ultimately led to the saturation of the market.
     
  5. seenew macrumors 68000

    seenew

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    Dec 1, 2005
    Location:
    Brooklyn
    #5
    it's depressing spending $120,000+ to get a degree in photography, even from such a reputable school and still be worried about what exactly I will end up doing for work.

    I have pretty much sworn off studio photography (weddings, senior portraits, family portraits, events, etc) after doing a few already. I never liked the idea, and after trying them, I found my distaste to grow even further.

    I don't think there is an easy way to start making serious money with photography. At least, that's what I'm getting. I'm into other arts as well (painting, drawing, etc) and all media I use influences each other, so I hope to develop my own style and eventually be in demand for more creative jobs, even if said jobs are technically 'commercial', I think with modern advertising being what it is, a lot of it is close to fine art. And I could always do that on the side.

    Either, way, I'll have to live single for a loooooong time to pay off this debt. :(
     
  6. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

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    #6
    I'm curious, what school was $120k for a degree in what...photographic arts?
     
  7. hondaboy945 macrumors member

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    Apr 25, 2006
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    Orlando
    #7
    My wife is finishing up her BA in Photography from the University of Central Florida and I spend about $1000 per semester for classes for her. 2 Full time semesters and 1 summer semester is about $2500 in tuition a year. Books around $1200. Now if you factor in equipment and supplies you may very well get to the $120K mark. Well, just kidding about that but youu do get up there in cost of travel, film, cameras, lights, meters, studio time, and every other thing that one needs for this degree. She just finished her large format class and I think that we spent around $1200 just for all of the extra things for that one class (film is nearly $100 a box, and there is not very many pieces in the box). Luckily most schools have rental equipment available for students because the 4x5 that we were using was around $2000 and the 5D that we use is $2700 plus all of the lenses that we use. Not to mention that if you want to shoot with an 8x10 large format camera, damn. And forget about getting a new medium format digital back. I love that fact that she is passionate about the art and get great joy seeing her succeed at something that she enjoys, but fortunately we can live off of my salary because it is hard to get started.
     
  8. seenew macrumors 68000

    seenew

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    Dec 1, 2005
    Location:
    Brooklyn
    #8
    Savannah College of Art and Design, a BFA in Photography. Tuition is over $24,000/yr (and rising steadily each year) and cost of supplies and living on campus brings it to around $40,000/yr currently. I'm one of the lucky ones with the highest scholarship offered short of a full ride, so it would be closer to $160-170,000 for four years if I didn't.

    It's worth the money, so far at least. Best facilities and faculty in the nation, if not the world (not just for photography, either)

    But yeah, I'm still borrowing about $20,000/year. :\

    edit: guess I should mention tuition and all that covers all cost of darkroom equipment and chemicals (black and white and color), including access to over 70 enlargers (that I've counted, there's probably more) at least 3 full studios, all kinds of lighting... The photo building alone is a renovated art deco styled office building that's five stories tall. I still (obviously) have to buy any film and paper I need, and a film and digital SLR and whatever lenses. They do have view cameras to check out, though.
     
  9. eRondeau macrumors 6502a

    eRondeau

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    Mar 3, 2004
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    Canada's South Coast
    #9
    The Secret Formula...

    Politicians + Hookers + Photoshop = $$$
     
  10. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    #10
    Yep, blackmail was my first thought about how to make money with photos.

    There is also the cases where you would work for a private investigator taking photos of cheating spouses.
     
  11. galganog macrumors member

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    May 1, 2006
    #11
    Get out of photography while you still can or enjoy your job in the food service buisness when you get out of college.
     
  12. Dfndr90 macrumors regular

    Dfndr90

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    Nov 27, 2006
    #12
    Sounds like your a Rochester Institute of Technology Alumni. Or does another school charge that much also.
     
  13. mcarnes macrumors 68000

    mcarnes

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    USA! USA!
    #13
    You become a doctor first so you have enough disposable income to do fine art photography properly. ;)

    Fine art photography is the only truly rewarding field in photography, imo. Photojournalism is cool too, but it is work. In any other field you are just someone else's bitch, and it becomes just a regular (low pay) job. Very few photographers actually make a decent living off photography alone. Some do, but it is rare. The days of LL Rue and Galen Rowell are gone. These days everyone is a photographer.

    I'm talking about real photography here, not paparazzi, etc.
     
  14. srf4real macrumors 68030

    srf4real

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    Jul 25, 2006
    Location:
    paradise beach FL
    #14
    I've registered a business name with the state of Florida, am writing off all the investment I've made in gear as business expense, am marketing myself through friends and new contacts, fellow photographers, my website, word of mouth, and myspace:eek:

    Still haven't earned a dime yet. I believe it will happen, but for now I 'give' away my desirable images to the grommets for self promotion. I am keeping all of the fine art type photos to sell once I have made a reputation locally. In no hurry, but I have so much fun shooting I don't care if it makes a profit or not.

    Def not quitting the day job.:p
     
  15. Consultant macrumors G5

    Consultant

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    Jun 27, 2007
    #15
    A problem is charging too low of a fee. For those doing shoots, that would be:

    Salary + Insurance + Equipment depreciation cost + Other Costs = Revenue required per year

    Revenue required / Number of shoots per year = PROFIT per shoot.

    Even if you have a modest goal for salary, the amount you have to charge is pretty high.


    Compound that with the problem that there are tons of amateurs / friends/ relatives who wants to do it for free, even if you have $20k in equipment and experience.
     
  16. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

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    Dec 23, 2006
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    In my imagination
    #16
    In this day and age you'd better find another outlet or specialization to make money. Everybody is a photographer and everyone is a pro because they have a Nikon D300 or a Canon 5D and they think their images are the s**t. Real photog have been undercut by these GLOSS photographers and they are finding it hard to make a living because suddenly, everyone's standards have been lowered and Uncle Bob's D40 takes pictures just as good as the pro's D2xs.

    Basically, if you are trying to be a photographer, good luck and God bless. If you can do something else with your photography then you will be a good worker for a company. If you can do three things well, you will be a good employee, three things with creative genius and you can start your own company. If you can do Multimedia Production across the board and add your own creative flavor to the dulling world of media and journalism then you will be wealthy.

    Other than that you are just going to be some schmuck with an expensive camera. Sorry to break it to you that way.
     
  17. jwt macrumors 6502

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    Mar 28, 2007
    #17
    Is there any money to be made by ad revenue on a photo website? I look at photo websites all the time and rarely see any ads. Is there just no market for it?
     
  18. gauchogolfer macrumors 603

    gauchogolfer

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    Jan 28, 2005
    Location:
    American Riviera
    #18
    You could work for a technical company making posters, etc. for trade shows and publications...

    Sounds crappy, I know.
     
  19. srf4real macrumors 68030

    srf4real

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    Jul 25, 2006
    Location:
    paradise beach FL
    #19
    Go out and take photographs of the things important to you and that you enjoy in this world... that way even if no one ever gives you a cent for all your hard work you will still have a collection of priceless images to behold.:D

    As far as making money, it's all about marketing just like any other business. I know a nice lady who takes pictures with her Canon high priced gear... doesn't know anything about aperture or exposure or what a fast lens even is (but she has one)... keeps it on AUTO mode and gets mediocre jpegs... makes $60 bucks an hour off the tourists at a local beach. She has a business card, website, and connections.;)
     
  20. valdore macrumors 65816

    valdore

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    Jan 9, 2007
    Location:
    Kansas City, Missouri. USA
    #20
    Every once in awhile I'll sell a few prints here and there, but certainly not enough for me to quit my day job. Damn that would be nice though. I've found that posting my crap all over the Internet helps as far as visibility is concerned.
     
  21. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

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    Dec 23, 2006
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    #21
    Only if enough people come to visit your site, and the business that buy ad space find that they market to those people that visit your site.

    As for making money with photography, you could do it on a print by print basis, but you will starve. The best bet is to do it on a services rendered basis. Go out and find a client to shoot for, and keep shooting for them and other clients. You can do the fine art photography stuff but you will end up trying to sell an idea that what you have is art. Unless you are that good of a photographer or the people buying your work find something amazing in them.

    Like taking photos of cats in various scenes for cat lovers. That niche market stuff.
     
  22. seenew macrumors 68000

    seenew

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    Dec 1, 2005
    Location:
    Brooklyn
    #22
    You guys are a real gang of downers, you know that?! :( :eek:

    Ah well. I'll find a way to make it work. I've got faith in my own creative ability and experience in other media that I know I'll be able to (someday) make a nice living doing what I want.
    It might be hard, yeah, but I think too many people just settle. I don't settle. I won't just roll over. ;)

    Call it arrogant or childish, but I'll do it or starve trying. :)




    (enough emoticons? haha! let me throw in some more, for good measure. :cool::p;):D:eek::(:eek::confused::):apple::rolleyes::mad::eek::(:eek:)
     
  23. Chipart macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2007
    #23
    Some tipps from somebody who has been through it:

    - First of all sorry for saying this, but photography for money is a profession! Having just bought a camera and asking for how to make money is as realistic as having just bought a trowel and asking for how to make a fortune in the construction business

    - There are three distinct sub-markets which have their own rules. In the beginning it is best to fokus on one of them. These markets are: Stock, Art and Assignment (this one can typically be split up in Press and non-press (weddings, etc.)).
    - For Stock, you need many stupid, yet high quality pictures. Therefore if you have 1000+ pictures of apples (green, red, yellow apples; alone in front of a white, black, red backgound, in baskets, on tables, appletreese, etc.) this is your market. Some recent plattforms for amateurs pretend to open this market even for non-pros, but playing lotto is a more reliably stream of income (if you have a meaningfull stock, there are better ways to earn money, if not, you will never get out your cost of these plattforms anyways)
    - For Art: Start with local crafts fairs and reginal competitions.
    - For Assingment: Working for a local newspaper a couple of months for free is a good start to get used to difficult "on location" situations. This can compansate a little bit for the practice others gain through their training. In general it is a good idea to "buy" some references, i.e. it is a good idea to sell your first couple of weddings for a price below material cost to get practice and references (again, for trained professionals it is part of their training to create their reference-portfolio).

    - One general there is a simple rule for almost any business: If you can't sell it to your friends and family, you can't sell it to a stranger. Therefore it is a good test for you, if your friends, brothers/sisters, etc. are willing to pay for your work...

    Yours,
    Chip
     
  24. SolracSelbor thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Nov 26, 2007
    #24
    Therefore, to sum it all up, with all this said and done, we can say with utmost confidence that photography is nothing more, nothing less...then an expensive hobby, for most of us.
     
  25. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    Dec 30, 2006
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    Wherever I hang my hat...
    #25
    One problem is that everyone wants to go from being a hobbyist photographer, with a handful of snaps that the family likes, to a fully-fledged professional. And it's seldom that quick or that easy. Even breaking even, financially, takes some doing!

    I've scraped by for years by combining landscape photography with writing. The two skills are a 'perfect fit', though not exactly money-spinners. Most photographers can't write; most writers can't take a decent snap. So there's an advantage to be gained right there.

    Other landscape photographers publish cards, calendars, limited edition prints, etc. There's an editorial market to supply.

    There's plenty of competition, 'cos landscape photography is fun. The pictures have to be uniformly good. But taking good pix, on a regular bass, is easy compared to finding markets for them. :)
     

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