Selling your photos

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by LucasLand, Jul 4, 2014.

  1. LucasLand macrumors 6502a

    LucasLand

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    #1
    i was wondering if any of you had success selling any of your photos? are there any opportunities online you can mention to sell your photos?
     
  2. Apple fanboy macrumors Penryn

    Apple fanboy

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    #2
    Not wanting to burst your bubble, but you have just ordered your first DSLR and you already asking about selling your photos?
    I think you might want to learn your craft a little first.

    Also I know some excellent photographers who don't sell there work. It's a very saturated market. That's why just about every pro photographer still shoot weddings etc as a means to make money.
     
  3. LucasLand thread starter macrumors 6502a

    LucasLand

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    #3
    i don't need to be preached because you know i just ordered a camera. i was just asking about it for general knowledge. I can ask about brain surgery too even though I haven't enrolled in medical school
     
  4. Apple fanboy macrumors Penryn

    Apple fanboy

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    #4

    Not preaching. Just telling it like it is. There are sites who will host your photos for sale, but they take quite a big cut.

    Or you can create your own. At least a couple of our regulars do. See below.
    http://pauldrobertson.net/

    http://www.erinbabnik.com/
     
  5. d.steve macrumors regular

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    Jan 6, 2012
    #5
    Wouldn't discount his advice or words, though. It is saturated and you would have to find a niche and market to it.

    Are you talking about career or just make a buck to fund the hobby?
     
  6. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #6
    Online sales only work really well for event photography. While I get a few online sales, they're generally through people I know or who already have one or more of my images. Person-to-person and gallery sales are really the only good mechanisms anymore, and galleries are getting more and more difficult to get into. Even then, you're not likely to make a lot of money unless you're in an area that has a good art/tourist economy and your work stands out from the crowd.

    Heck, even when you're better than the competition, it's difficult to get a foot in the door.

    Paul
     
  7. MCAsan macrumors 601

    MCAsan

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    #7
    Join as many local photo clubs as possible. Put images into month reviews and exhibits. See how the local market responds to your work.
     
  8. Cheese&Apple macrumors 68000

    Cheese&Apple

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    #8
    I'm not suggesting that anyone would want to buy my photos but the thought of turning a hobby that I enjoy into any form of business would take a lot of the fun out of photography for me.

    Everyone has their own needs. Personally, I work hard at my day job and find photography to be a great way to relieve the stress of work.

    There are other factors to consider as well such as insurance. All my gear is covered under a rider on my home insurance policy. The insurance premium would be more if I used the equipment for any form of business including online sales. I doubt the I could generate enough income from selling photos to even cover the cost of the increased premium.

    ~ Peter
     
  9. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #9
    There's a saying..."Give someone a camera, and suddenly their a photographer. Give someone a flute, and they own a flute."

    But.. yes... lots of photographers are making money selling their photographs. However, many many many many more more are flooding the market with underpriced, mediocre, run-of-the-mill images. Initially, you will need to compete with that larger group. For general subjects you will need to convince a buyer to part with some money. A buyer who can get a very similar image for free (even if not legally) from the internet.

    Which is not to say 'don't try it'. Just don't count on retiring to a future dream home with this new income stream.

    People who are selling their images are, as stated above, filling niches. That is... they are taking photos of subjects that no one else is. This was years ago... but someone I took a workshop from had been hired to take photos of white lab rats. He realized that this was niche that needed filling and he spent months photographing white lab rat and mice. For a few years he made fortune from his stock library sales. Something like 90% of the photos of this subject published were his. Until a few other photographers figured it out and flooded the market.

    If you can find a niche like that, fill it.

    I think it's also true to say that a lot of people don't buy the photograph, they buy the photographer. In other words... they know you, they know you're work, and they'd rather work with someone they know than someone they don't know. To get this kind of work you need to schmooze and work your social networks.

    It has always been the case.. ( well at least since the days of the wet-plate :) ) that taking a photograph takes a fraction of second. Everything is prep time and follow up. Maybe more so now.

    Don't forget that when you start selling your photographs you need to start thinking about usage rights and protecting your copyright. Also, at some point, getting the appropriate insurance, business licence, and tax forms. If you are doing event photography the insurance is especially important. The most frequent claim made is to fix/replace stuff the photographer has accidentally knocked over. You get clumsy when you close one eye and use the other one to look down a long tube.

    Good Luck.
     
  10. Oracle1729 macrumors 6502a

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    Feb 4, 2009
    #10
    There are millions of people who think it would be cool/fun to see their work. There's maybe a few hundred who are successful. If you want to work at it, you will spend a lot more effort on marketing than taking pictures and you'll hate it. And 99.99% you'll fail anyway

    I have a lot of my pics on my own walls at home, I've sold a few to friend that way (at the cost of printing). I also have some on my desk at work and I've sold some to co-workers (at a modest profit).

    I sell pictures online through a microstock site. Each picture that's good enough to sell generates $1-2 per year. Think how much effort it will take to even pay for a lens that way. Sure it was fun at first when I'd find one of my pics online but I haven't added anything new to my microstock portfolio in years.

    Your chances of making a success selling your photographs is about the same as a kid with a guitar someday selling a platinum album. It happens, but don't hold your breath.
     
  11. Apple fanboy macrumors Penryn

    Apple fanboy

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    #11
    I'm sure you could sell your images to wildlife magazines etc.
     
  12. The Mad Kiwi macrumors 6502

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    In Hell
    #12
    Flickr is a great place to sell photos, I've sold images to companies like Virgin Airlines, Volvo and others through flickr. Lots of advertising agencies look for photos on flickr. It's certainly no way to make a living but it's always a bonus when you get them. Make sure you ask for a decent amount of money initially and work your way down.
     
  13. CharlieBrandt09 macrumors 6502

    CharlieBrandt09

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    #13
    I just recently took up the hobby. I love it so far. I am hoping to ONE day, be able to sell something I shoot. Anything. I will in turn use that money to invest in more glass, gear, courses, books, etc. May be one day it will become I self-sufficient hobby. I would be more than happy with that.

    Has anyone tried 500px? I see on their site that all the photos you upload can be sold. Anyone here ever sell one on there?
     
  14. mofunk macrumors 68020

    mofunk

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    Americas
    #14
    @OP Most of my selling is from being hired as a photographer at an event or portraits. Building up a portfolio helps. From there you can decide if you want to sell online. It really depends on what kind of photography you are selling.
     
  15. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    Boston
    #15
    I've never been tempted to sell mine, though I have and some people offer $$ for some and others telling me I should put them up for sale during my town's art fair.

    To be honest, I might have gone that route, if it wasn't for having kids and dedicating most of my time towards them, then towards my hobby - no regrets.

    I think the advise that others gave is sound and its hard to break into the business and selling. Its better to hone one's craft and then in the course of time, you'll get people interested in your photos.
     
  16. Cheese&Apple, Jul 6, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2014

    Cheese&Apple macrumors 68000

    Cheese&Apple

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    #16
    Thanks for the kind thought AFB. :)

    I know we tend to be our own worst critic but the thing with wildlife photography and I suppose much of photography in general is (stock images aside), when you think you've got the killer shot, check online and you'll likely find that someone has done it better than you.

    I do try and compete against others but for the sole purpose of learning and improving. I have enough fun with photography by posting shots in threads like MacRumors POTD and printing calendars to give to friends and family at Christmas.

    ~ Peter
     
  17. seadragon, Jul 6, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2014

    seadragon Contributor

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    #17
    All the doom and gloom...

    If we're talking about a hobby and just looking to make a few bucks on the side, why not try and sell your photos? I don't see a downside to trying at all. It's dead simple to setup a SmugMug account or something like that these days.

    As far as the message "it's hard to break into the business". Who cares? What business ISN'T hard to break into? Everything is competitive these days. If you don't try, your chances of succeeding is absolutely ZERO.

    With all the social media we have now, your chances of getting some customers are much higher than in the past. Sort of like how the music industry used to be that you had to have a label to make it. Not anymore. Some people have become successful from just posting YouTube videos of their band.

    Even if you only sell a few photos and don't make much money at it, the feeling of satisfaction that someone purchased your photos may be worth it alone.

    If you were jumping into it full time and the sale of the photos would be your income, that would be different of course. That's where common sense would dictate that you can't just dive into something full-time and expect to make a living at it without experience.
     
  18. KevinMac macrumors regular

    KevinMac

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    #18
    Well said...
     
  19. baypharm, Jul 8, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2014

    baypharm macrumors 65816

    baypharm

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    #19
    It is inherently more difficult to sell photos now than it was in 1970. Everyone has a cell phone it seems and they do decent stills and video. There is always room for one more. If you happen to come up with a once in a lifetime photo then you will have no problem selling it. Same with videos on YouTube. Look at Justin Bieber....

    I had taken a series of outdoor nature type pictures that I thought were pretty good. I had them framed and was intent on giving them to my then girlfriend, Julie, who was in 12 grade at an all girls school in Pennsylvania. I drove up to see her one cold winter and when I got to the school she insisted on introducing me to her friends and teachers. She mentioned that I was a pretty good photographer. I told them about the photographs I had brought along. Well they ended up buying all 12 framed pictures and cut me a check on the spot. They wanted them to hang in the hallways for all to see and wonder upon. So, for me it was a lucky draw of the dice. You just have to keep shooting and be ready for any opportunity.
     
  20. VI™ macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    OP - How do you want to sell them?

    Starting a website, taking pictures for a client, and posting them on a site so that they can purchase them from you is easy enough. The other way, basically stock photography, is like fishing.

    I'm not too up on the stock game, but it looked like at one point royalty free micro stock was the way it was going. Apparently it's harder to go with a company like Getty, but you make more money and your photos aren't perpetually licensed to the lowest bidder. With micro stock, you put your pictures on a website and some company can purchase them for $.50, $.75, etc... and use them endlessly. At that point, it's like they took the photo themselves and can do anything with it. If some company were to come to you and offer you $5,000 for an exclusive license on that photo that you've sold numerous times on a micro stock website, you couldn't legally sell it to them as it's already out there being legally used by 10 different companies that have netted you probably about $6.50 in sales.

    Needless to say, a lot of photographers aren't fans of micro stock. But that's not saying you can't be successful if you put enough work in to it and this is where the analogy comes in.

    If you're fishing for sales, you need the best bait. Trying to put landscape photos up when generic workplace portraits are hot will net you less sales. And like fishing, you'll catch more fish with more lines. Having a catalogue of 500 images will be more likely to make you more money than say 100 similar quality images. But like fishing, there's luck involved.
     
  21. deeddawg macrumors 604

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    US
    #21
    The real question is what can you do that few others are doing, are there buyers looking for that, and how to get in front of them?

    To use the fishing analogy: Using the same bait as and fishing in the same spot as everyone else will result in limited success (at best). You can't really compete on price since amateurs selling their time for a fraction of minimum wage are a dime a dozen. That leaves content and market differentiation. Figure out where there aren't as many other people fishing and/or figure out a better bait / technique than the competition.
     
  22. lukejc1 macrumors 6502

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    Wisconsin
    #22
    As mentioned above, a niche to focus on really helps. I live in a very popular tourist county in the Midwest and my niche is images of local landmarks to sell to tourists. I started selling prints at local farmers markets and art fairs this summer and have had some pretty good results.
     
  23. baypharm macrumors 65816

    baypharm

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    #23
    That's awesome! Do you print them yourself on an inkjet printer and/or frame them any special way? Have you tried selling CD's of your images to tourists or are you having better luck with the single photos?
     
  24. JDDavis macrumors 65816

    JDDavis

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    Jan 16, 2009
    #24
    Interesting group of responses and I think everyone is giving accurate advice in thier own way. There are absolutely positives and negatives to selling or attempting to sell your photos and there are many angles to the "business".

    I put myself squarely in the hobbyist group and haven't had the desire to try to sell anything. I have had two instances where a stranger contacted me and wanted to buy an image to hang in thier house. I sold them to them for the cost of printing and shipping. It was very gratifying to know they enjoyed the images enough to be willing to pay for them. I use Zenfolio and it's 99.99% for personal use but it does allow for others to find your work and purchase it if they wish. I also like to send family members gift coupons so they can purchase prints of family (for free).

    I'd love to make a living at what I enjoy doing but I also don't want to ruin what I love doing by trying to make a living at it. I like baypharm's post about the once in a lifetime photo. I think that's something I hope for in my photography. I like seadragon's response too. If you never give it a try then you will never know what might happen.

    I think if you set out to make money being a photographer then you might be successful if you find "your niche" or are great on the business and marketing end. I'd like to think if you photograph because you love it and the images you keep and display mean something to you personally then that will show through in the image and others will see it and appreciate it. You might really connect and make a lot of money that way or you might just have a lifetime of photos that you really enjoy. Either way would be fine for me.
     
  25. lukejc1 macrumors 6502

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    #25
    I have them printed at either a local lab or a lab online. Then I put them in simple mats. I put the matted prints in a clear bag and they're good to go.

    I haven't offered CD's with my photos though.
     

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