Awakening interest

9 02 2011

My goal in photography for this year is to start offering my images for sale. I am thinking about the best way how to do it for some time now and it lead me to a question: how to attract possible viewers? How to awaken interest for my photos in them?

I don’t plan to make photography for a living. I want to take photos as I’ve been doing and I also think that my photos can make someone’s living place nicer or it can just make someone happy so why not to offer a print to them?

I’m thinking about possible communication channels which I can use for promoting my work not only for sale purposes but also for “showing my work to wider audience” because if something makes me happy in photography, it’s not when I take a good photo but it’s when others appreciate it or, on the other hand,  pinpoint to my faults so I can avoid them in future.


1.6 sec. @ 100mm, f/20, ISO 100

I am already using some ways of promoting my work such as posting on this blog, posting on flickr and sporadical posting on some forums of photographic communities. I must say that I was quite happy with my achievements in past but now I’d like to move a bit further.

When I was thinking about possible things that I can do, I got to a following list:

  • Posting photos on well known photo forums such as photo.net.
    I did this in past but the community is usually either so diverse or often so huge that it’s almost impossible to “be spotted” with so specific sort of photography that I’m creating. 

  • Create my own web page only about my photography.
    This is something I am seriously considering to do during this year. 

  • Organize a photo show in some gallery or public place.
    This is something that some of my friends and fellow photographers did and do but I don’t feel for it. I feel that the time and energy spent on organizing such an event will not pay back. Maybe I’m wrong. 

  • Offer my photos to some image bank or to a company printing photographs.
    This is also something I’m seriously considering. I plan to offer my photos via printing firm with which I have great recent experience and which offers reselling  photographers’ work. 

  • Harold Davis in his great article “Finding an Audience for Your photos” published on photo.net mentions e.g. promoting your work by sending emails to a possible audience group but I would really feel like a travelling salesman when doing this which idea does not makes me very happy.
  • Searching for web sites of other photographers and commenting their work hoping for gaining some attention of the photographer and her/his readers.
    I used this in past and I gained attention of some of you this way, for which I am very happy, but in general I think that this doesn’t work and it is quite time consuming. You can get few new contacts but very probably not more.
  • I can’t forget to mention social networks such as twitter or facebook.
    We hear about them all the time but to be honest nothing convinced me to use them so far. I see them as another black hole consuming more of my free time which can be spent more reasonably. Maybe I don’t only know what I am missing?
  • Last thing which comes to my mind now is participation in some photo contest.
    This is quite hard for me because of specific kind of photography I am focusing on. Most of contests that I saw had wide range of topics (portrait, macro, landscape, wildlife etc.) or only one topic but quite general such as “nature”. It is truth that I haven’t searched for any specific contests though. I can imagine that positioning in top part of some rather known contest is good door-opener to wider audience.

1/25 sec. @ 100mm, f/2.8, ISO 100

Now I would like to ask you for sharing your thoughts about this. I guess that some of you were or are dealing with the same question and I would like to know your experience and recommendations on what may work and what not.

Thank you for your tips in advance and enjoy winter!

Technical information: all photographies in this post were taken with Canon EOS 450D camera and Canon EF 100mm USM macro lens mounted to a tripod, in natural conditions, indoors.

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23 responses

10 02 2011
Dr.Ozdi

Many photographers have the same questions “How to sell my photos?” or “How to earn some money from my hobby?”. Be note, its seriously not possible. You can try it but you will just waste the time and energy what you can invest to your hobby. Only few photographers or photo-journalists have luck, for sure.
I use the Shutterstock and Pixmax, with approx 50photos in the portfolio, and earn about 12$ in two years. I checked portofolios of the best sellers and found photos what I’m not able to make or hate their taking. So, I sell backlinks and earn some small money from adsense. If you want to know more, just contact me.
Good luck!
Dr.

10 02 2011
Tomas Turecek

Thank you very much for your input Doc 🙂 Even though you really cooled my motivation down. Fortunately not enough to make me forget about the whole idea 🙂 I always wondered how many photos have some hobby-photographer sold during some time when I saw the photos offered by some stocks or other companies. May those low sold number be so low because of the society in our republic? I think that people are not used to buy art much here.

10 02 2011
Tomas Turecek

Oh, I haven’t realized that you are writing about stock agencies which have no relation to the place where we are living. Well, I think it may be really hard to be spotted in these.

10 02 2011
Jemny

Ahoj,

ja na prodej fotek pouzivam Dreamstime (cca 100 fotek) = 21 dolacu za 2 roky, istock (18 fotek) = 25 dolaru za 2 roky a shutterstock = 100+ dolaru za 2 roky s tim, ze po preskoceni 70ti fotek se zacalo slusne stahovat…

Cloveka, kdo rekne, ze se na fotobankach neprodava a ma tam jen 50 fotek bych neposlouchal 🙂 Sorry Dr.
Jsou lidi, co pridavaji 20+ fotek tydne… podle toho taky vypadaji jejich prodeje.

11 02 2011
Tomas Turecek

Ahoj,

diky za prispevek. Ono jde taky o to, nakolik jsou asi fotky vhodne pro fotobanku. Pokud nekdo dela trochu vic umeleckeho, na fotobanku to podle mne nebude moc vhodne. Nebo se pletu? Od kolegu, jejich stranky navstevuju jsem nabyl dojmu, ze treba v USA se fotky prodavaji dost slusne. “Kazdy druhy” fotograf nabizi sve “art printy” a netusim sice, kolik jim to vynasi, ale kdyby to za to nestalo, tak to nedelaji, no ne? CR je ale taky bohuzel dost maly trh, takze urcite je lepsi nabizet to celosvetove.

Jeste k tomu “po preskoceni 70ti fotek se zacalo slusne stahovat” – tim myslis, ze jakmile jsi mel v portfoliu vice nez 70 fotek?

13 02 2011
Jemny

Samozrejme, ze ne vsechno se pro FB hodi …
Art printy jsou zase podle meho neco uplne jineho…

ad 70 fotek: jojo .. proste jak se zacal pocet blizit ke 100ce, tak zacaly i ty prideje rust… ono mozna, ze je to i tim, co jsem tam pridal… obecne nejvice se prodavaji fotky s lidma…

14 02 2011
Tomas Turecek

Diky za reakci.

11 02 2011
Dr.Ozdi

Je to o tom, jestli prodas to co normalne fotis, nebo fotis abys to prodal.
1)Foceni+uprava+upload zabere spoustu casu. Nekde jsem cetl, ze zajimavy mesicni zisk je z 1tis fotek a je potreba neco nahrat mesicne, abys “nezapad”. Me jedna fotka, co normalne fotim zabere 1/2h a pak se moc neprodava….staci trochu matiky.
2) Ve fotobankach se samozrejme proda tuna fotek denne. Jenze pocet kupcu neroste, pocet prodavajicich ano.
3) Prodavat art printy je zajimavy…otazka je zase konkurence vs pocet potencialnich kupcu, a investovany cas. Pres sit tiskaren prodas hotovy obraz do tydne na druhej konec zemekoule.

Vyzkousej, dej vedet 😉
Dr.

11 02 2011
Tomas Turecek

Urcite nefotim proto, abych prodal. Fotim pro zabavu a rikam si, ze jestli se to lidem libi, tak proc jim to nenabidnout. Nicmene s prodejem printu musi byt clovek opatrny, protoze si nemuzes byt jisty, jak bude fotka vypadat, kdyz ji nechas kdekomu vytisknout. Ja mam zatim zkusenost s jednou “tiskarnou”, kteri delaji velmi kvalitni tisk a nabizeji primarne v CR, byt maji stranky v ruznych jazycich. Nejisty vysledek “fotolabu” je nejspis duvod, proc si nektere profici tisknou fotky sami. Urcite sem o tom budu nekdy v budoucnu psat.

13 02 2011
Anita Bower

Tomas:

A most challenging issue.

The first thing is to be clear as to your goals. You say you want to share your images for others to enjoy. You already do that via this blog, and you have the idea of a website.

But, you are more specific–you want to share your prints. You don’t want to go to the work of matting and framing and having an exhibit. I think this limits you. One way to get one’s work out there is through exhibits and sales through galleries (which would involved getting a gallery to carry your work).

One friend uses Smugmug as a website and sales venue. Mike Moats has some ideas also.

Good luck. You have some gorgeous images to share with others.

14 02 2011
Tomas Turecek

Anita, thank you very much for your comment. Re. selling my work – I would like to focus on selling via internet because I really don’t want to spent time on things related to exhibitions and galleries now. Nevertheless there is one problem with selling your stuff worldwide and that is getting reliable printing service which can offer and deliver your work to whole world. Right now I have great experience with printing service located here in Czech Republic but they don’t offer sending prints worldwide so I would have to do it myself and that’s additional burden. So I have to either take this burden or try to look for international printing service for fine art with good feedback and great results. Let’s see.

14 02 2011
Stephanie Ogg

Hi Tomas,

I started selling 2 years ago. We live in Campbell River (a small city in British Columbia, Canada.) I began selling to friends and family and announcing it on Facebook to more friends. Then I started selling at local markets. During the summer we have Sunday markets that artists and farmers sell thier goods at. I also set up a website using photobiz.com. I highly recommend them. Check it out if you are considering a website. I have decided to focus on selling to people in my town as I can have a personal connection with buyers. I have also hung my work up at coffee shops around town to get my name out. Many cafes here will display artists work for free, it’s a great way for people to see your work.

I have considered contests, but many are able to keep the rights to photo entries (I think).
Hope this helps.
~Stephanie

14 02 2011
Tomas Turecek

Thank you Stephanie. Your input is definitely helpful. It is interesting to see how different was your approach to what I am going to do now. Showing your work in cafes or other public places is good if the work fits the pace. I’m not sure about my work such a place. Thanks also for photobiz.com, I haven’t heard much about it, so I’ll definitely check it out.

I have a lot to think about now, Thank you once more!

Oh, if I may have a question – are you selling for fun or for real? And does the income from this satisfy you?

15 02 2011
Stephanie Ogg

Hi Tomas,

I am selling for fun and for real. I am serious enough that I am now a registered business and buy wholesale, but I am not making a huge income. I do have another job and my husband works as well. I sell because I have many friends who have convinced me that people will buy my work. It is rewarding to have others appreciate your ‘eye’ and feel moved by your work. My plan is not to get rich or make my living doing photography, but to do more then just sell to family and friends. I am learning so much as I go. It is great. Good Luck with your plans.
~Stephanie

15 02 2011
Tomas Turecek

Thanks for your reply, Stephanie. It sounds like you are happy with your current situation and that’s great. Thanks for encouragement!

17 02 2011
milkayphoto

You are going through what every serious photographer goes through. Promoting oneself and selling ones images is by far the hardest part of being a photographer. You seem to be well aware of the avenues and have given each deep thought. I’ve been selling my images for over 10 years now and I can tell you, it isn’t easy. I’ve never had much success selling online. I’ve only had success through years of showing at the same art shows and getting sort of a local following. If I wanted to spend every weekend in the spring, summer and fall, driving all over my state and adjoining states and sit in a tent hocking my wares, I probably could be more successful. I choose not to do that. I’d like a life.

The waning economy has been toughest on artists. Folks just don’t have much disposable income to spend on artwork. I’ve noticed a serious drop in sales over the last three years and don’t think things are going to improve any time soon.

I’m not trying to discourage you in any way. Just know that in spite of people telling you how wonderful your images are (and they are), it takes A LOT to get them to fork over the cash.

I’m currently trying to get my Playground Series into a local gallery. They’ve had my portfolio for over 2 months and are now just getting to reviewing it. If I don’t get a show with them, I’m not sure if I will continue.

I wish you much luck. If you are a good salesperson and are willing to put in the legwork, you should do well.

17 02 2011
Tomas Turecek

Thank you very much for your realistic view on this topic, Tracy. I really appreciate it. I’m not discouraged. I will definitely do certain steps to get on the market but as I still want to do photography as a hobby I don’t want to give enormous effort into it. For now I want to get my portfolio (well, a basis of it, at least) available for eventual buyers and create a promotional web site. That’s what I see in near future now and I’m not looking further. And I shouldn’t expect a wealth from it 🙂 Only time will tell if ti was good step and if yes, I’ll surely build on it.

24 02 2011
tomwhelan

Two lovely orchid images – and lots of interesting questions and thoughts.

– My experience is that the best sale volume comes from showing your work in exhibits, cafes, restaurants, art shows. That’s for print sales.
– Framing a big show is expensive – but a small exhibit in a cafe is not, and showing work in a local market isn’t either.
– I’ve had some success selling online, but it’s been image licensing, not print sales. It’s pretty sporadic.
– Develop a relationship with a decorator who uses your work as part of a package for decorating houses

Good luck – the key is putting your images in front of people who want to buy. You just have to to find them!

24 02 2011
Tomas Turecek

Thank you, Tom. I really appreciate your input. I think that following steps in my “get to market plan” are slowly shaping. The 1st step is offering my work (prints) online and promoting my work on dedicated homepage, another step might be contacting local small cafes and I know also one apartment designer so I’ll probably try to get into contact with her and offer her a cooperation. She already indicated her interest when I met her once.

8 03 2011
9 03 2011
Tomas Turecek

Diky. Je to zajimave cteni. Nicmene sve fotky chci prodavat primarne jako fine art printy a ne davat do fotobank. Kazdopadne diky za rozsireni obzoru, protoze jsem o fotobankach nevedel skoro nic.

7 04 2011
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[…] announced my goal for this year – getting my photos to a market – in one of my previous posts. I did some small preparations when a very pleasant surprise met me and […]

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