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by jtanner on Thu Jun 08, 2017 6:02 pm
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I'm pretty new to trying to earn money with my photography. I've been a hobbyist for years, off and on, mostly focusing on birds and sports. Some significant life changes called me in this direction and I followed my passion to where I am now, which is spending lots of time in nature working on landscape and nightscape shots, lots of time working on editing and learning new techniques, and marketing-mostly through social media.
I've read many articles regarding this subject, including the pull vs push article here, which made perfect sense to me. So far I've found social media (mostly Instagram) rather ineffective. I am starting to enter contests. I placed in the top 20 in the first one I entered which earned a gallery spot for 3 months. A start.
Does anyone have any suggestions on paths or channels for increasing exposure?
I know it's a slow process, but time isn't necessarily on my side so I need to be efficient with my efforts.

Thanks for your thoughts on this!
 

by Mark Picard on Fri Jun 09, 2017 9:14 am
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The current edition (2017) of the book "The Photographer's Marketplace" is a good source of info when you're starting out
Mark Picard
Website:  http://www.markpicard.com
Maine Photography Workshops
 

by jtanner on Fri Jun 09, 2017 1:48 pm
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Mark Picard wrote:
The current edition (2017) of the book "The Photographer's Marketplace" is a good source of info when you're starting out



Thanks for the tip, Mark. The book looks like it contains a wealth of info. Ordered.
 

by bradmangas on Mon Jun 12, 2017 5:34 pm
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You need to learn to sell more than just your images. You need to learn to sell yourself. The internet is overloaded with great photography. There needs to be a reason people would buy your art as opposed to someone else’s.
People need, or at least want to know what they are buying, where it came from and who made it. Websites are not great at that. As a matter of fact, websites are about as impersonal as you can get.
Along with your photography you need to write. Write about why you do what you do and what your goals are with your work. Don’t make the mistake many other photographers do and go overboard on yourself. People do not care if you have a degree or what kind of equipment you use or if you travel the world. They don’t care if you were raised by artist parents or if you just started. Really they don’t. Those are not the reasons people buy art. They buy art because it connects with them on a personal level, “their” personal level not yours.
Don’t follow the crowd. Don’t produce the same old standard prints as most everyone does. Produce other products that include your photography. Print products such as folios. I have also found annual calendars are a great way to get your work and name in the hands of others. I don’t really recommend trying to produce a book. Everybody wants to have a book and typically will only be profitable by already established artists. Produce digital products such as pdf’s. Not necessarily to sell, as every photographer now is trying to sell ebooks. Make (at least some) digital products such as short ebooks free to download. They can be a great marketing tool.
Of course none of this does any good if nobody has ever heard of you or never sees you or has no idea about you. Having a website can be almost useless in this regard.
Try to get your work into publications. I believe Mark mentions "The Photographer's Marketplace" which is a good place to start. And as much as I hate to mention it, because it is a ton of work and cost initially, doing art shows puts you face to face with lots of people and possibly a few influential buyers.
 

by jtanner on Mon Jun 12, 2017 10:01 pm
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bradmangas wrote:
You need to learn to sell more than just your images. You need to learn to sell yourself. The internet is overloaded with great photography. There needs to be a reason people would buy your art as opposed to someone else’s.
People need, or at least want to know what they are buying, where it came from and who made it. Websites are not great at that. As a matter of fact, websites are about as impersonal as you can get.
Along with your photography you need to write. Write about why you do what you do and what your goals are with your work. Don’t make the mistake many other photographers do and go overboard on yourself. People do not care if you have a degree or what kind of equipment you use or if you travel the world. They don’t care if you were raised by artist parents or if you just started. Really they don’t. Those are not the reasons people buy art. They buy art because it connects with them on a personal level, “their” personal level not yours.
Don’t follow the crowd. Don’t produce the same old standard prints as most everyone does. Produce other products that include your photography. Print products such as folios. I have also found annual calendars are a great way to get your work and name in the hands of others. I don’t really recommend trying to produce a book. Everybody wants to have a book and typically will only be profitable by already established artists. Produce digital products such as pdf’s. Not necessarily to sell, as every photographer now is trying to sell ebooks. Make (at least some) digital products such as short ebooks free to download. They can be a great marketing tool.
Of course none of this does any good if nobody has ever heard of you or never sees you or has no idea about you. Having a website can be almost useless in this regard.
Try to get your work into publications. I believe Mark mentions "The Photographer's Marketplace" which is a good place to start. And as much as I hate to mention it, because it is a ton of work and cost initially, doing art shows puts you face to face with lots of people and possibly a few influential buyers.

Thank you for such a robust and well thought out response, Brad. I like your approach. My "The Photographer's Marketplace" arrived today so I will be doing some studying, brainstorming and reworking of things. I really appreciate the help!
 

by Jeff Colburn on Thu Jun 15, 2017 2:29 pm
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Hi,

I have several articles on my Articles page http://www.jeffcolburn.com/articles/ including: How To Survive As A Professional Photographer, How To Sell Your Own Stock Photographs, What To Charge For Your Prints and How To Sell Products From Your Website.

The Photographer's Marketplace is a good source of information, but realize that all the info in there is at least a year old, so verify the contact person before you send anything to a business.

Bradmangas is correct, you do need to sell yourself.

It's really tough out there for photographers, especially nature photographers. You will spend about 85% of your time marketing and promoting your business, and 15% of your time taking photographs.

You will also need to develop multiple income streams. That's how most photographers survive in the digital age.

Best of luck with your business.

Have Fun,
Jeff
Fine Art Prints and Stock Photography of Arizona www.JeffColburn.com See my ebooks in the NatureScapes Store 25 Places To Sell Your Photographs And Photography Skills and The Vanishing Old West - Jerome
 

by SantaFeJoe on Thu Jun 15, 2017 3:19 pm
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Well, Jeff
85% and 15% leaves no time for 45% post-processing! That's my biggest nemesis.

As Jeff said, you need to develop multiple income streams and be realistic with your dreams and expectations. The competition is far tougher than the film days. Few make it solely on income from print or media sales. Just look at the quality and uniqueness of the images on this site and others. Are your images equal or better in quality and do they stand out above them? You will find that you will be competing against big names and reputations, not solely image quality or content. There are tons of solidly established photographers who have great rapport with editors and publishers and may be highly favored to produce a needed image. Nowadays, everyone is a photographer and even cell phones are turning out usable images for many uses. Post-processing also overcomes so many shortcomings on the photographers part (less skill during capture required). HDR and ISO capabilities allow captures never before possible. Low light and stop-motion images are now of high enough quality to be useable in publications and for prints. Printing your own images also allows greater control of the final print quality. Papers are readily available to print versions of a print to suit varied tastes. Sorry if I sound discouraging, but I'd rather give you information based on reality and not just fantasy. I have long held that to make money in the photographic field, you must lead workshops/tours, sell related equipment, sell images (both prints and media sales), and hustle harder that most would ever care to. It can be done, but if your heart is in the field, you will feel cheated of your enjoyment of nature.
All this being said, I wish you well in your endeavors. Only you can decide how hard you wish to work to succeed, and how much time in the field will satisfy you.

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

by jtanner on Thu Jun 15, 2017 6:35 pm
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Jeff and Joe,

Thanks so much for your input! Great articles, Jeff. And Joe, you make some very valid points.

I don't get discouraged easily, if I did, I'd already be dead. I've beat back cancer 3 times so far and I'm still fighting. Despite that, I conciously chose this path because of a deep, burning passion. I just need to be very smart and strategic about my approach due to my situation. I guess I mean to say "smarter and more strategic than others." I know there's tons of competition in the field, but I view my path a bit differently and see competitors more as fellow travelers on a different path. As far as the quality of my images goes, I have confidence in my work. I always see room for improvement, which keeps me growing and striving for excellence--a moving goal post.

Again, I really appreciate everyone's input and experiences. So much to learn. So little time. One great thing is that I'm having fun learing. I love it and it keeps my mind off negative things.
 

by Ron Day on Sat Jul 22, 2017 9:26 pm
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"Some significant life changes called me in this direction and I followed my passion to where I am now."

To me, the fact that your fight with cancer aroused your passion for nature photography is very significant. That makes your story different. Tactfully use that to your advantage in business. Perhaps you can sell your beautiful prints to cancer centers with the inspirational message they were created by a photographer fighting cancer. Think how that message could inspire other cancer patients viewing your pictures in cancer centers. Wishing you all the best.
 

by jtanner on Sun Jul 23, 2017 1:07 pm
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Ron Day wrote:
"Some significant life changes called me in this direction and I followed my passion to where I am now."

To me, the fact that your fight with cancer aroused your passion for nature photography is very significant. That makes your story different. Tactfully use that to your advantage in business. Perhaps you can sell your beautiful prints to cancer centers with the inspirational message they were created by a photographer fighting cancer. Think how that message could inspire other cancer patients viewing your pictures in cancer centers. Wishing you all the best.


Thank you, Ron. That is one of the ways I'm approaching this. I've found that cancer can be a touchy subject with people because of the heavy emotional impact it has. The very mention of the C word and some people scatter like ants under fire while others are drawn in by the story and connection. Since I last posted about this, my wife and I have been doing a lot of work on formulating a plan to move this forward.
I really appreciate the great thoughts and info here. I'll keep everyone up on my progress. Thanks for the well wishes!
 

by Mark Picard on Tue Sep 26, 2017 9:40 am
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Make sure you carve out your niche in this business, meaning that you try to find and explore your passion in your own individual way. As an example, I often get asked to photograph weddings, where there is lots of money talked about. What people don't understand is that I would be a horrible wedding photographer and would not do a good job. My passion, like yours it seems, is photographing good old Mother Nature with all her beauty and magnificence, so I put all my energy into that. And don't forget to develop your own style (yes, there is such a thing!). I can readily identify several different photographers just by looking at their images beforehand before looking at who actually took them because of their own personal style of photographing, processing, subject matter, and composition. 

From what I see as far as marketing goes, I try to adhere to my 33% shooting, 33% editing/filing/post processing, and 33% marketing strategy formula. I have also determined that once you reach a certain level you can't achieve those numbers alone - there just is not enough time in a day to accomplish that. So I realized that I would need more manpower so my partner and significant other Anita basically runs the business. I also hire a part time person to work in the gallery doing everything from meet and greet to financial book work and production work. Being a control freak, I also do my own printing here in the studio, to not only save money, but also to have complete control over the printing process. I can produce something in a day as opposed to waiting for a lab to take a week or more to send final prints or canvases back to me. 

Work hard, always try to improve your photography and your business, keep your head down, and go for it!  :wink:
 
Mark Picard
Website:  http://www.markpicard.com
Maine Photography Workshops
 

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