Perhaps you love taking photographs and get lots of compliments from friends and family. Apparently you have an eye for a great photo but does that mean you could make money by taking photos?
Now I’m not talking about setting up a studio and taking portraits or going out locally to make money as a wedding photographer. If that appeals to you then it is an option, but you can make money from photos as a part time income generator.
You could start to make money as a photographer without giving up your regular job. You have two main choices. Firstly you could try to get a commission from a publication or agency and sell photos that are ordered in advance.
Alternatively you can make money by taking photos that you choose and then try to sell them. If you choose this option then you should get in to the habit of carrying your camera with you as you never know when the perfect opportunity will present itself.
It’s always attractive to think we can make money from our hobby. You need to be honest and realize that taking a photo that will sell is not the same as taking your normal holiday snaps. So what do you need to begin making money from photos?
Equipment needed to make money by taking photos
You don’t actually need to spend on a top of the range camera to begin although it will increase your options. It depends to some extent on what you are going to photograph. You could choose to specialize and that will determine what you need.
If you want to make money taking photos of wildlife you will want a telescopic lens. However you could specialize by taking pictures of food for example. In that case you would want indoor lights and a photo box.
If your goal is to make money by taking photos of everyday life and opportunities that crop up unexpectedly then portability will be hugely important.
A portable tripod is a great investment. You can get fold up tripods that can be easily carried.
Some phones now have cameras that are capable of taking great photos. Keep an eye out for great photo opportunities that can crop up at any time. If you happen to be in the right place at the right time and get a photo that captures the moment it could make you a lot of money.
Composing a perfect photo
Whatever equipment you use the important thing is to become comfortable with the different features available. You can always improve and enhance your photos later using an app like Lightroom or Photoshop but understanding the basic rules of composition will help enormously.
The photos need to not only be interesting but obviously have to be in focus and sharp. Nobody wants someone with a tree or signpost growing out of their head.We looked at the basic theory of photography before.
There are numerous books available on photo composition or you could take an online photography course.
In general the rule of thirds is a good starting point. Your main subject will have more impact if it is not in the middle of the image. You should mentally divide the frame in to 3 x 3 sections. The main subject of interest should then be positioned where the imaginary lines intersect.
Practice makes perfect
Composition is something you get better at with practice so take lots of photos and notice how your eye is drawn to different areas of each photo. The great advantage you have today is that with digital photos there is no added expense to taking numerous pictures.
When we had to buy reels of film and then get them developed it was a costly business to take hundreds of photos. Now you are free to experiment.
Aside from the positioning of elements the other vital thing is that your images are sharp and in perfect focus. Zoom in close on your main subject, then zoom out to your preferred distance and you will find the focus will be sharper.
When composing any shot, always aim to balance the elements within the frame. Practice makes perfect as they say.
How to sell photos online
You may be wondering can you make decent money by selling stock photos. If you are going down the route of taking photos ad hoc, rather than seeking a commission in advance, then take lots of photos. You never know what someone may be attracted to.
You can upload your work to one of the recognized stock photo sites like DepositPhotos or iStockphotos or you could set up your own online store.
The advantage of using a recognized store is that you have guaranteed traffic rather than having to generate your own traffic. The downside is that there is lots of competition. Many of the stock sites have thousands of photos available for free download. so how are you supposed to make money?
Many of the photo sites give users the opportunity to make a voluntary payment for using your work. Although each payment is small, overtime they can add up. Most of the sites also have a paid for section so if your photos are really good you should consider that.
Go it alone
An alternative would be to set up your own online store to sell your photos. This may be easier if you choose to specialize. You will need to advertise your work to attract people to your site. This can be easier with a specialized site. If you become known for amazing food art photos then you can attract an audience that needs that on a regular basis.
You want to produce a portfolio of your best work and display that on your home page. Your site needs a wow factor when prospective buyers arrive.
You also need to integrate a payment option and protect your work using watermarks and protection against illegal downloads.
Selling anything takes work so you may need to spend a great deal of time marketing yourself and your work until you make a name for yourself.
Alternative ways to make money taking photos
You may want to think outside the box when looking for ways to make money from your photos. Rather than selling the photo itself you could put it on products. There are many sites where you can upload an image to be printed on to mugs, T shirts, cushions, placemats etc. Check out sites like Redbubble, Gearbubble or Zazzle to see what is available.
You could produce screensavers to sell. Inspiring photos with motivational quotes are popular as screensavers. Or you could sell downloadable products like journals online on Etsy for example.
Another market would be to make templates for use on social media. Instagram and Pinterest are social media channels that rely heavily on images. If you are creative you could turn your work in to templates for use on Canva or Photoshop. Many marketers who are not very creative will buy templates to promote their sites on these social media channels.
If your photography is outstanding consider writing articles about it. You could approach a photographic magazine with an article about how the photo was taken and the equipment used. This will give you valuable exposure as an expert in your field of photography. You should get a useful link to your own site.
There are all kinds of markets you can consider selling your photo’s to. Online magazines, print magazines, newspapers, travel brochures, and books all need photos. Keep your eyes open for any publications that appeal to your niche.
Don’t get it perfect, just get it going
The above is one of my favorite sayings. It you want to make money by taking photos then give it a go. Presumably you like photography to even consider this as a way to make money online. You may not make a fortune but we looked before at how you could make money from a hobby and photography is a great example of that. The more photos you take, the better you will get and you never know where it may lead.