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by DarkSide on Tue Mar 18, 2014 2:50 pm
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I've been shooting for years and have invested a lot of money and time into learning and gear. I do some portrait work on the side and sell a print here and there. What I want to know though, is how someone really becomes a pro nature photographer and a regular contributor to magazines, websites, etc and can make decent money selling prints?

Any thoughts and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Life is short - shoot good glass!
 

by Trev on Tue Mar 18, 2014 4:18 pm
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A website is a good place to start its like your shop front you need to be able to point clients to it to show them who you are, what you offer, some of your work etc. I don't think flicker counts everyone has one of those accounts, actually I don't:shock:. By the way your flicker link is broken.

As far as getting clients that's easier said than done. There is no easy answer. There are so many people out their trying to earn money from their photography image byers are spoiled for choice. Your need a point of difference, think about writing articles what other services can you offer.

You need to have more than just good images now days to earn a living in the photography world, especially nature photography. It can also take years to get to a level where the income is enough to support all your needs. A lot can depend on how financially secure you are before you get into it. Its a bit of a catch 22 for most; to spend enough time building the business, networking and being out in the field you need to be doing it full time, thats just to get started. But because you don't have the client base you're not bringing in the money. There is one thing for sure it won't happen overnight. You'll also need a lot of support from your family its not an easy road and it affects them too.

I'm lucky I love what I do, I don't always know where the next dollar is coming from but I have huge support from my wife. I have such a passion for wildlife and photography I can easily do 15 hours a day often 12hours and yet it never feels like I'm at work - its just what I do. Life isn't always about the money but how you live it.

I truly wish you all the best and you get to where you want to be with your photography.

Good luck.
Trevor Penfold
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by Steve Cirone on Tue Mar 18, 2014 4:31 pm
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Marry the money and/ or inherit it.
 
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Last edited by Steve Cirone on Wed Mar 19, 2014 3:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 

by signgrap on Tue Mar 18, 2014 4:48 pm
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Learn everything you can about how to Market your Photography
To become a professional it's not about how good your photos are, it's about how successful you are in marketing your photography.
Dick Ludwig
 

by SantaFeJoe on Tue Mar 18, 2014 6:45 pm
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What Dick said!!! Unfortunately, many of the most successful photographers have very large egos and, somehow it seems to work for them. Look up "Peter Lik". Regarding publications, seek out the photo editors of local magazines and newspapers. They don't always pay much, but it gets you published to start your career. Good rapport with them helps to get referrals to writers needing images and other editors, including book publishers. Who you know is as important as the quality of your images. After getting published in a few choice places, you will start to have tearsheets to show and you may have others seeking the use of your work. It's certainly not easy to make a living with nature photography after the advent of digital, but hustling is the key. Sometimes you must spend more time marketing your work than you spend in the field. If you ask many pro's, they will tell you that you must do more than just sell photos to publications or market prints to even survive. Many also teach workshops or give tours. The bottom line is wearing out the shoe leather literally and figuratively. If you enjoy time in the field more than marketing, it's not much fun having to hustle your work. Also, don't be deterred by rejection. It will come with the territory. And lastly, edit your work harshly. Never submit second class photos. If they get printed, you will regret having submitted them, and if not printed, they will still reflect on you negatively. Good luck!
P.S. If you search further down the Business Topics forum, you will find other threads similar to this one.

 
Joe
Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.  -Pablo Picasso
 

by Steve Cirone on Wed Mar 19, 2014 3:30 pm
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It is essentially fantasy to think one can make a living selling nature photos today.  Printed magazines are either dead or in hospice care.  My pals and I all quit selling photos back in 2003 when the digital revolution hit.  We switched to doing tours/ blogs and have been far more successful.  People generally want to learn where and how to make their own images today, not purchase them.  Or, they want to read about gear and buy it.

For example, my eccentric pal Ken Rockwell has become unimaginably wealthy by blogging 8 hours a day.   He is B&H Photo and Adorama's #1 affiliate.  Do the math on that one and it will knock your socks off how lucrative blogging can be.  Unfortunately Ken is no longer allowed to associate with his poor retro hippie pals of yesteryear, but that always comes with marriage. 

My other photographer pal, Karl Grobl, has also cut out a good career.  He so loves Angkor Wat Cambodia he just sold his San Diego home and moved there to continue doing tours in that part of the world.  He also does tons of photography for the NGO's of the world.

Point being, if you are young, super energetic, dedicated, smart (none of which applies to me), you can usually figure out a way to make a good living at some form of photography.

Personally I am retired, broke, and living on social security with an occasional photo tour just for grins.  It is a fun way to go, almost no possessions or worries.  My wife and I can pretty much go shoot at will.   I bought a good car back in 2007 which I hope lasts until I am no longer able to drive.  My photo gear was purchased during my 35 years in the bottled water biz, which was killed off by Costco and a hostile take over.

Point being it takes almost no money to have a blast with photography.
 
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Last edited by Steve Cirone on Fri Mar 21, 2014 2:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 

by SantaFeJoe on Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:17 pm
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C'mon Steve! Don't spoil the fantasy. Remember this thread:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=207839

And this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_expensive_photographs

And this:

http://www.aputure.com/blog/2013/02/19/most-expensive-photos-ever-sold/

Joe
Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.  -Pablo Picasso
 

by Steve Cirone on Thu Mar 20, 2014 8:18 am
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Good one, Joe! I am still smiling. E J said he had to be talked off the ledge after reading some POS photo sold for $2 mil.

After being around this photo thing for so many years I have at least figured out a little how big fancy photo museums work. Whoever gives the most money to the museum gets to either be the president or a big shot on the board. Often these folks know absolutely nothing about photography. What they say goes, so often we see POS images on the wall at the photo museums.

Same goes for the photo sales at say Christie's. A bunch of bone head rich people who likely made their fortunes like Bernie Made-off get together and bid up POS images at the auction. Just because a POS sold for $2 mil doesn't mean it is a great image. It just means people who made easy money are busy wasting the easy money because they really didn't earn it, they stole it. Easy come, easy go.
 
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by Tombenson on Thu Mar 20, 2014 10:09 pm
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Steve Cirone wrote:
Good one, Joe!  I am still smiling.  E J said he had to be talked off the ledge after reading some POS photo sold for $2 mil.

After being around this photo thing for so many years I have at least figured out a little how big fancy photo museums work.  Whoever gives the most money to the museum gets to either be the president or a big shot on the board.  Often these folks know absolutely nothing about photography.  What they say goes, so often we see POS images on the wall at the photo museums.

Same goes for the photo sales at say Christie's.  A bunch of bone head rich people who likely made their fortunes like Bernie Made-off get together and bid up POS images at the auction.  Just because a POS sold for $2 mil doesn't mean it is a great image.  It just means people who made easy money are busy wasting the easy money because they really didn't earn it, they stole it.  Easy come, easy go.

I decided a long time ago that the only person who had an opinion that matter about my photos was Alan Murphy ME!

As long as I see improvement in my shots, a dedication to the idea of non-harmful Wildlife recording and I have fun doing it, the rest will have to hang.
 

by Steve Cirone on Fri Mar 21, 2014 2:17 pm
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Right on, Tombenson. And so many have inspired me here with their amazing images. Offer Levy, Jim Neiger, Alan Murphy, especially Jody Melanson, KK Hui, just to name some of the old timers who never cease to amaze me.
 
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by Octavio Salles on Sat Apr 19, 2014 11:00 am
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IMHO, the only way to become a succesful pro photographer is to invest a lot in your career and be very patient. You will need at least a few YEARS to build the necessary experience, expertise and a great portfolio. Good isn't enough, you gotta do it great consistently and with a unique, different view. There are TONS of photographers out there with 500s and 600s... those kind of photos won't sell anymore, there are just too many great photos of almost any animal on earth made with tele lenses. Forget it. These photos are flooding the market. To be a pro photographer that still makes some money with top magazines and such, you gotta have a a very special work. Different is the key.

Be aware though that this is not a good career if you are interested in making money, even if you are succesful. Make no mistake, it's a great lifestyle, however, don't realistically expect to make a lot of money. There are too many amateurs screwing the work of professionals. For example, with photo tours and workshops... today it seems like anybody that has a "pro equipment" and a few good photos are making their own tours, even if they don't have a lot of first hand experience at the place they are guiding! In the Pantanal for example there are people guiding tours there this year without having EVER being to the place! Others have been only once. It's ridiculous... I wonder what their "guiding" will look like. The same with Photoshop workshops and so forth. So this is also bad news for the few of us that do real photography guiding.

I honestly think the nature photography business is saturated. I would wait to see what is really going to happen with the publishing market. If you're doing it for the lifestyle, ok, jump in. But don't expect the water to be warm...
Octavio Campos Salles
www.octaviosalles.com.br 
ONE last spot for my Complete Pantanal Tour in Sept 2019
 

by walkinman on Sat Apr 19, 2014 2:45 pm
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^This^ +1
 

by OntPhoto on Sat May 10, 2014 1:25 am
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Steve Cirone wrote:
some POS photo sold for $2 mil.




This is shocking (only because many of us do not know or have never heard of the artist in question) but not a surprise.  If Picasso just doodled on a restaurant napkin, it would immediately up the value of that napkin (from tens of thousands to over a million).  You and I can draw the Mona Lisa on the finest linen and it would just be thrown into the next laundry load. 
 

by OntPhoto on Sat May 10, 2014 2:25 am
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Steve Cirone wrote:
For example, my eccentric pal Ken Rockwell has become unimaginably wealthy by blogging 8 hours a day.   He is B&H Photo and Adorama's #1 affiliate. Do the math on that one and it will knock your socks off how lucrative blogging can be. 



Well, if being the number 1 affiliate means your website brings the most customers to the mentioned stores, I will guess hundreds of thousands of dollars.  I do not know what percentage on sales an affiliate makes or I would have a better idea.  
 

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