Do you have a 500GB hard drive filled to the brim with photographs that have never seen the light of day? Digital photography has made this dilemma common in the 21st Century. If you enjoy taking photos, there is a chance that you’re storing some photographic gold inside the vault of your hard drive. Open those vaults and learn how to sell photos.
Here, we will discuss who can sell photography, what makes for a great photo, some photography tips, and the top 10 places to sell photos.
Who Can Sell Photos
At one point in history, the fine art of photography was a closed market. Becoming a photographer who could sell photos was reserved for those who were privy to the technicalities of the complex machinations of complicated cameras and the chemical processing involved in developing negatives. Not to mention, they did it all in the dark.
The digital photo revolution at the turn of the last century has completely transformed the photography industry. With these advancements in technology, nearly everyone has access to a camera capable of producing high-quality imagery.
Photography is still a fine art. To sell photos, photographic images must represent the artistic nature of the craft. All art is subjective in the sense that its value is determined by the viewer. When creating impactful photographs, it’s important to keep the viewer in mind.
What Makes a Great Photograph?
Successful photography creates harmony by using the following elements:
- The photo tells an original story
- The photo evokes emotion
- Balanced composition
- Natural color, light, and shadows are utilized to enhance the image
The beauty of living at this time in history is that anyone with a camera can capture an award-winning photograph. Photographers with a strong awareness of the aforementioned photographic elements will produce the most stunning and successful images.
Tips for Getting Started
When you are just starting out and want to sell photos, there are key tips to keep in mind. Here are the insights for becoming a success at selling photos.
Define Your Niche
Establish and hone in on your photographic niche. What do you like to shoot? What is your style of lighting, subject matter, and/or emotional tone? These and other considerations are all important factors to consider when honing your niche in photography.
There are only so many times we can see an iteration of the same photo before we humans get bored and tune out. Avoid photographic subject cliches and be original. Find ways to be yourself and express yourself through your photographs.
Build a Solid Portfolio
Building a solid portfolio is easier said than done, but it’s a crucial aspect of succeeding as a photographer. Build your portfolio so the images fit together. When a stranger is viewing the portfolio, it should feel like a cohesive project, much like a book of photography would.
Brush up on your knowledge of online marketing, keywords, and how to tag photos. To sell photos online, you must have a working understanding of how to attract buyers to your work. The proper use of keywords, tags, and other online marketing tools will help you find your audience, or allow your audience to find you.
Limit (or eradicate) editing and the use of filters. Editing, photo filters, and borders are more popular than ever, but they are often unsuitable photos you want to sell. Most sellers are looking for natural, untouched, high-quality photographs.
Consider the Market
When taking photographs, consider how that photograph might be used in a marketing context. Who are you marketing to? Would the image allow for text to be added? Is your subject something that the market is overly saturated with? These questions can help guide you with shooting photos that will sell.
Top 10 Places to Sell Photos
There are many avenues to explore when deciding to sell photos. Here we will discuss the top 10 places to sell your photos.
1. Stock Photo Websites
2. Smartphone Stock Photo Apps
3. Social Media Marketing
4. Art Galleries
5. Art Fairs And Local Events
6. Personal Website
7. In Your Community
8. Pro Bono Beginnings
9. Newsletter Campaigns
10. Online Marketplaces
Stock Photo Websites
Stock photography websites are some of the best places to sell photographs. There are many stock photo websites to upload your photos to. The process is to submit high-quality imagery (each site will list their size and pixel specifications), add tags, and allow your photos to exist in the public sphere.
Buyers browse thousands of photos and purchase a license to use your photograph for their website or project. You will receive a portion of the proceeds from this license and the stock photography company keeps a portion of the money in trade for hosting your work.
Each stock photography website has individual standards and regulations for photo contributors. Read each company’s contributor information pages before trying to sell photos. Some many respected stock photo companies include:
- Getty Images
- Fotolia/Adobe Stock
Smartphone Stock Photo Apps
The rise of smartphones has created a correlating increase in apps designed to help you sell photos. The process of selling photos to smartphone apps is similar to the process with stock photo websites. Sometimes these stock photo apps aren’t as particular or exclusive as their website alternatives.
Uploading your photos to an app can help you get exposure to your work and gain both a following and cash.
New stock photography apps arrive on the app marketplace frequently. Some of the most popular apps to sell photos are:
Social Media Marketing
When you are just starting out as a photographer, it’s important to build a following. The more people who are exposed to your work, the greater the likelihood you will sell photos. One excellent way to gain artistic exposure is through the social media channels your already use.
Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter allow you to post your photos to a wide-reaching audience. Your friends or followers can also share your photos with others. You never know who might be looking for a quality photograph to use in their next big project.
Photography is an art, and no place reminds us of this more than an art gallery. Once you have your portfolio in order, highlight art galleries that feature photography exhibits. It is beneficial to create an artist’s packet you can send to galleries as an artistic version of an application.
Your artist packet could include small, palatable, but still high-quality, prints of your work, an artist statement, a short biography, and a cover letter specifically addressed to individual art galleries. Check with galleries to see if they prefer digital or hard copies of media.
Art Fairs and Local Events
Many cities and towns across the US hold arts and crafts fairs and flea markets. Book a table and sell your prints at one of these events. The perks of working at a local event include face-to-face interactions with your buyers, and the ability to set your own prices.
When you are serious about selling your photos, it’s a good idea to create a personal website with professional appeal. Highlighting your portfolio on a website or blog, dedicated solely to your work, adds a dimension of esteem that people (buyers) appreciate. When your website is up and running, you can add your URL to your email signature and to your business card to attract extra traffic to your site.
In Your Community
Many local businesses want to feature art by local artists. You could pitch your portfolio to any business in your community. Coffee shops, bars, restaurants, and even doctors’ offices often feature unique photographs on their walls.
Pro Bono Beginnings
One way to build your portfolio and get clients when you are first starting out as a photographer is to offer your services Pro Bono with the possibility of payment for a satisfactory completion of the job. Working Pro Bono means you won’t necessarily get paid for those early gigs, but you will when the client is pleased with your work. At the end of the day, this is a great way to solidify your portfolio.
Create your own newsletter featuring your photographs. You can start by sending it out to friends and relatives. Mention in your newsletter that any recipient is encouraged to pass the newsletter along to other interested parties. Keep your newsletter clear, clean, and concise. Let recipients know your work is for sale.
Another way to earn money from photography is to sell photos in an online marketplace such as Etsy, Amazon, or eBay. On these platforms, you create a profile for yourself and your photographs. You add appropriate tags and keywords to attract buyers to your photos. Benefits of using online marketplaces are that you set your own price and have the potential for global exposure.
Photography, as a process, has transformed in the last 20 years. Easy access to digital cameras open the possibilities for a variety of people to sell photos. With the right training, strategic keyword placement, and a dash of ingenuity, anyone can sell photos online, in their community, and beyond.