If you’ve been taking photos for a while now and are thinking of turning professional, trying to turn your hobby into a part time business, or just want to make a little extra cash to pay for the new lens you’ve been drooling over, there are many options for sales outlets. This article takes a look at just some of the possibilities.
Stock Photography Agencies
Stock agencies are libraries of images where someone who needs to use an image for a purpose such as a newspaper or magazine article can purchase a license to use the image. These days almost all stock agencies have online collections, where people can search the library, pay and download the image immediately.
The advantage of stock agencies is that they market your images for you. This can be a big plus in the online world, as you are able to show your photos through an established website without having to build one. Associating yourself with a reputable agency will also add to your credibility as a professional.
The downside of selling stock photography is that it is a numbers game. You will need a large collection of images to be able to earn an income. You will also pay commission to the agency for each image sold. This can range from 20% to 50%. Agencies also expect regular submissions to keep their libraries current. So you need to think of an agency as a business partner.
Your own website
Having your own website has the advantage over a stock agency website of being all about you. A website devoted to your own images rather than sharing with competing photographers has huge potential for gaining exposure and sales because of the size of the web. The downside of having your own website is that you need to put a lot of work into designing a website that shows off your work and can bring customers. This can be expensive and time consuming, and is better thought of as a long term strategy.
With the internet boom it is easy to forget old fashioned methods. Art fairs or markets are a great way to show your work to potential buyers. You also have the huge advantage of meeting customers face to face and being able to talk about your photos and answer questions. You also have the chance to sell yourself and gain peoples trust, which is half the battle of selling anything.
The downside of exhibiting your work this way is that it can be expensive to display. The costs of framing your prints, setting up a display and paying stall fees all add up. You also need to keep in mind that your potential customer base is much smaller than the global reach of the internet
So which method is best? The truth is there is no right or wrong answer to this as different methods will work for different photographers depending on where you live, the type of photography you do and the number of images you have. The best option would be to combine all of the above and get your work out there to as wide an audience as possible.