Selling Their Digital Photos

By: hotpotato
The massive growth of the Internet and the corresponding growth in Internet related commerce has created an enormous market for digital images. This in turn has created an opportunity for photographers other than those who are already professional to really cash in by selling their digital photos online.

Of course there is more to being a digital photographer than just pointing and shooting. And to be a really successful commercial photographer, your focus will need to shift at some stage from the technical aspects of photography to its commercial aspects. In my experience successful commercial photography is 30% photography and 70% marketing.

The following are some tips garnered through my years of experience that I would pass onto any aspiring commercial photographer.

Tip 1 DO NOT SPECIALISE
Thatis right: I said do not specialise. When there are literally multiple markets for you to sell images to why would you limit yourself to just one or two.
The key here is multiple streams of income, which means catering to multiple markets. You need to be willing to do whatever and take photographs of anything anytime.

Tip 2 WOW THE CUSTOMER
You always need to be in a position where your customer would rather hire you than buy a camera and do the job themselves.The reality is that some people have an eye for taking a good photograph and others do not. Your customer should firmly believe that you fall into the former category and not the latter.In order to do this you need to put together a stellar portfolio that contains at least one of every type of image that you are presenting yourself as a master of: a portrait shot, a headshot, an animal shot, an action shot etc.
Your portfolio should represent the absolute best of your work. If it means taking a 1000 shots to get that one perfect image do it!

Tip 3 GET MODELING AND PROPERTY RELEASES
Nothing hurt more than taking a perfect shot that could make you thousands and not being able to use it because you cannot find the person in the shot to get a modelling release signed. If they are recognisable you need a release, otherwise it is an image you cannot sell or use.

Tip 4 CREATE A SYSTEM
You need a system that allows you to keep track of all your images and modelling releases and pull them up at any time. You never know when a reprint will be requested or for when someone may decide to take you to civil court for republishing an image that they signed a release for many years ago. You need to be able to keep track of the images you own, releases, who and what rights you sold to whom and whether you have registered copyrights or not. Keeping offsite backup when possible is also a great idea.

This is not an exhaustive list of the steps that you need to take to successfully sell your photographs, but by following these tips you will avoid some of the more common pitfalls when starting out in a freelance photography career.
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