If you do a quick Google search for selling landscape, nature, or any photography for that matter there is a common theme between them all. Selling photography is flat out tough. There are literally millions of photographers armed with DSLR's and many of them are very good at what they do. A great percentage of them get into photography because they love it. As that love grows, so does the urge to make a living doing it. It's not long after that most find out how tough it is and even though they may bring in some side money enough to possibly pay for some equipment that's about as far as it goes.
But, some of us are hard headed, including me. I started out taking pictures of storms with a point and click and got to the point where my pictures just weren't doing any justice to what I was witnessing. So, I made the investment and upgraded my camera, got some glass and went out and did my thing. After a while, I had a good stockpile of photos that I had taken over the years and thought I might take the chance that someone in the billions of people in this world would find one of my photos nice enough to spend their hard earned money on. It took a while, but I found a couple of places to list my photos, worked on my pricing and business model and finally after months of trying to get my work out there I received my first order. It was one of the most exciting and scary things all at once. Now someone was paying me for the work that I had put in, and I had to provide the goods. This included processing the photo, packaging it, and sending to the customer all the while hoping that it would get there in great shape. Luckily, it did and it was one of the most satisfying feelings. Each order I receive feels the same way these days, and it is one of the driving forces in capturing the perfect photo. Not only do I find satisfaction when I do good work, but when someone else feels the same way there is no words to describe the great feelings.
But, to get back to the topic....selling photography is tough, making money is even tougher. When many people sell photography, the market get saturated with millions of photos. When the market is saturated, not only is it tough to get found, but then you have to compete so you lower your pricing. When you lower your pricing, margins drop or maybe fall to break even or lose money. It doesn't take a business genius to figure out this doesn't make for a great business.
So.....what can be done to possibly turn a profit? (Notice I didn't say make a living).
First of all, your photography has to be good. People don't want to buy a blurry photo of a sunset with power lines and the apartment complex off to the right. Learn to compose your photos in a way that presents your subject in the best way possible, whether it's people or tornadoes, or flowers, etc. Make it interesting, no matter the subject.
Second, find your outlet. There are so many places to sell photography, and each one has their advantages and disadvantages. There are online outlets like Smugmug, Zazzle, 500px, Fine Art America...the list goes on and on. You may need to list in every place you can to be seen, and even this doesn't guarantee you will make a sale. Local places like coffee shops, restaurants, local stores, etc. can be good places to display your work to a local audience. This of course requires getting out and pounding the pavement, and again is not a guaranteed way to sell your beautiful photography.
Third, find your market. What kind of photography do you do? If it's people you like to photograph, maybe doing family portraits or engagement photos is the way to go. If you like landscapes, you want to be connected to people who spend money on that type of photography. Possibly someone who is doing home decor, maybe the locals who live in the area and can relate to the photo. For me, it's those who are interested in storms and find them fascinating.
Fourth, determine your price. Don't undercharge for your work. You put a lot of time and money in creating that photo. Consider the real cost (equipment, travel time and expenses, cost of production) and set your pricing at a margin high enough to make it worth your time. Pricing your photography low can actually discourage customers from buying, and does nothing for you or the market in general. Photographers work hard to hone their craft, and being undercut devalues all photography.
Lastly, just do what you love. When you enjoy what you do, it translates in your work and people can pick up on it. It's part of what brings value to the photography, what you put into it and how someone can relate to it. Even if you don't sell one photo, as long as it brings you joy it is paying dividends.
Leave a comment below and let us know if you have been able to do well with your photography business.
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