Photography is a double edged sword these days. Never has it been easier to grab a camera, take a picture and let the world see your great work in the blink of an eye. Never has it been harder to monetize your images to produce an income that is sustainable for earning a decent living as a photographer. There are plenty of avenues to generate to be sure. One can go through stock agencies to earn cash each time a photo is purchased, earning a small commission on what they sell. A photographer can sell digital images to a customer without having to do any work at all at the point of sale. A photo can be licensed by various media. Or, a photo can be printed and sold to a customer. This is probably the most widely chosen path in order to generate a sale.
So the question to be dealt with today is, can a photographer still make money by selling prints?
Why wouldn't they be able to? Well, the world has changed in such a way that images are everywhere, and in the palm of people's hands instantly. Smart phones have cameras that produce better images every year, and since most everyone has a smart phone they use those cameras to produce tons of images. Instagram, Snapchat and other applications have made sharing those photos so easy, and the photos are so free flowing that a picture has become somewhat of a commodity over the last few years.
This doesn't mean prints can't be sold though. The picture above is of a print I sold to a customer who had their photo matted and framed and wanted to show the finished piece off to me. This meant the person who bought the print had an emotional investment in it. It goes from being just a photo to a work of art that has value to the person who bought it. This print now hangs in their home, for them and their friends and family to see everyday. It produces a kind of happiness that a photo shared on Facebook can't match. It's this kind of connection that leads me to believe that a person can still do well selling prints provided they can sell them at a price that makes it worth a photographer's time and money.
The trick is finding the customers who connect with the photo and possibly the photographer's vision. This isn't an easy thing by any sense of the imagination. Sure, it may seem easy to upload a digital image to various print on demand sites and wait for the money to roll in, but the reality is the money won't roll in unless you're well known. Ultimately, it will depend on the photographer and their marketing skills as to how easily they find their target customers. Using online resources, local shows, word of mouth, social media, etc are avenues that all have to be explored in order for prints to be an income source.
So, can money be made these days by selling prints? I think so, but it's getting tougher each day. How much money is up to how hard the photographer works outside of taking the photograph.
With temperatures taking a break from the chill of winter and rising into the upper 60's on Saturday, January 17th I figured it would be a good time to go out and see some sights and try to cure a little bit of the cabin fever. So we traveled up Route 66 to the northeast from Oklahoma City and ultimately making our way to Foyil, OK before we called it a day.
Our first stop brought us to Pop's, a popular current day stop along the way where they have several hundred, if not more, flavors and brands of soda in addition to a small diner that serves burgers and shakes. We stopped outside and caught a picture of the over-sized soda pop outside.
Just down the road, we made a stop for a quick pic of the famous Round Barn in Arcadia. It was so beautiful outside and the sunlight was just right so the colors really popped.
Afterwards we traveled to the northeast along Route 66 and I was really surprised at the lack of sites along the way. If it weren't for the businesses in town reminding you that you were indeed along 66, you wouldn't be able to tell it from any other highway. We stopped in Chandler for a quick photo of the sign on the Interpretive Center that I felt turned out pretty well.
Next up was going through the small towns and then getting to Sapulpa where we stopped to eat lunch. Highway 66 turned into I-44 for a short while through the Tulsa area then broke off at Catoosa, where is where we made our next stop at the Blue Whale. It was easy to access and offered the opportunity to climb in, up, and around it. I climbed on top of the tail but since I'm terrible with heights I felt like a good breeze could blow me over into the water so I kept pretty low. We walked around the outer edges of the pond and we got about halfway around when the trails started to tail off into thorny bushes.
About 20 minutes later we stopped at the totem poles just outside of Foyil. The totems aren't really on Route 66, but actually on Highway 28. There were several totem poles and the artwork on the poles were pretty cool. It was worth spending about 15 minutes looking around and soaking up some sun while we were there.
All in all it was a great day to get out and travel into an area of the state that we hadn't spent a lot of time in. There were other attractions like the Motorcycle Museum in Warwick that we didn't choose to stop at although it could have been an interesting place to spend time. There were plenty of diners along the way and although traffic was a little heavier at times than I would prefer the roads were nice, and there are spots along the highway you can see where the old road went through. Well worth spending an afternoon learning about the Mother Road.
It was just a regular warm summer night, not much going on just watching a little TV and hanging out. Storms were expected to form, but nothing severe, just your regular garden variety thunderstorms. As one developed and moved into the NW part of Yukon, OK I peeked out and saw quite a bit of lightning associated with it so I thought it would be a good time to grab a couple of lightning pics. I drove down Highway 66 about three miles and turned to the north and stopped in the exact place I captured some of my most dramatic storm shots and a weak tornado just a couple of years back. This time I was facing west, and the sun was just beginning to set as the storm moved in, creating this orange glow that mixed into purple and indigo as if it were a real life painting. At the same time, lightning bugs were swirling around in the warm air, like little green glow sticks floating around. All of these came together in the photo I named "Lightning Bugs" meant as a play on words due to the bright strikes of lightning in the background. I didn't know it at the time, but the photo would become the most popular, most shared and most purchased photo of 2014. It just goes to show that some of the best photos can be captured on the least expected days.
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