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Imagine the joy of one day completely out of the blue receiving an email from a major publisher of greeting cards or calendars asking you if you are willing to license a number of photos which they found in your online gallery and offering to pay you hundreds or thousands of dollars for the privilege of publishing your great photos!
This piece of apparently imaginative fiction may never become a reality for you, but on the other hand it might, and if you prepare for it and go out and look for it, there’s a far greater chance of it happening. In order to lay the ground for this miraculous event, here are five steps you must take.
Take photographs that publishers might want to buy from you.
But how would I know? I hear you ask. It’s not hard. Just have a look at the photos you see in magazines on the magazine racks, in calendars, in greeting cards and on the web. This will give you an idea of what people are buying. Find some that seem to fall in the general category of the type of photo you like to take: portraits, still lives, landscapes, action, whatever it is. The better you do your homework, the more likely you are to end up with sellable photos.
Publish, broadcast, share, exhibit your photos.
If you want a photo buyer to stumble across your masterpieces, then you must place them in his or her path so that this stumbling can occur. If you have all your fantastic photos on your computer at home, there is little chance that the photo editor of a magazine or publishing company is going to see what you have, let alone buy anything from you. However, if you post them on the web on your own website, in your blog or in one or more online galleries, such as the galleries provided for you by Photo Talk, then the chances of this stumbling occurring are much, much higher. Over and over again you will hear stories of a photographer who had great photos in online galleries or web pages hearing from publishers who wanted to know if the photos were available for purchase. You can create an online portfolio website of your own as well as share your photos on a number of appropriate websites. Photo buyers do look for material here.
Don’t compromise with quality! Don’t publish photos you are not proud of. Of course you can share those snapshots of family and friends that have value for you and them but are not anything anyone would pay to publish. But try to keep your “serious” photography that you think might sell separate (in a separate gallery for example, with a descriptive title such as “Fine Art Photos” or “New Orleans” or whatever it might be). Don’t include photos which are badly exposed, not quite sharp, poorly composed or have other faults. If you and your family and friends don’t go “Wow!!” then the potential buyer probably won’t either.
Prepare for the sale.
If you are not ready to discuss prices when you do get a call, you are likely to lose sales. The potential buyer will ask about prices and licensing and you need to know what to say. Think the thought through. Are you prepared to part with your wonderful photos at all? If so, what are they worth to you? What would be a fair price? Read up on the various rights of use that publishers seek. Make sure you have high resolution versions of the photos available to send to the client when you do get a sale. Work this all out so that if that call or email does come, you can respond rapidly and sensibly and close the sale.
Keep sharing, publishing, broadcasting and exhibiting your photos.
This sounds repetitive. It is! The more excellent photos you post and share in online galleries such as your Photography Talk gallery, your own website or blog and other photo sharing websites, the more chance you have of attracting buyers.
Your great photos are not going to make you any money if they remain hidden away on your computer. Start posting the best of them on PhotographyTalk and any other photo sharing website that gets traffic. Set up your own website. Start a blog. Get your photos out there. It won’t guarantee sales, but not posting them anywhere sure guarantees no sales.
It’s great to see your photos published and to get paid for it.
Check out: THE 19 MOST EXPENSIVE PHOTOGRAPHS EVER SOLD
David © Phillips is a professional writer and photographer living in Seattle, WA. You can find out more about him and his work at www.dcpcom.com.
Photograph(s) in this article are © David C Phillips, All Rights Reserved.