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Making Money from Photos

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/20/2006 | Entrepreneur
The first thing to do if you want to make money from photos is learn how to take great ones. In the world of commercial photography clarity sells. The subject of how to take a good photo is too comprehensive for one article, however the following is important:

Have a decent camera.
Know how to use it.
Have an eye for detail and colour.
Be ready to grab an opportunity when it presents itself.

If you happen to be driving through the hills of Scotland and come across a lone piper (or even two), grab that camera. Watch for sunsets, moonrise, cloud formations and tree shapes. Keep a sharp eye on your pet for unusual poses, and visit your florist every so often. Flower pictures are surely many photographers bread and butter and they can be photographed in the light on your windowsill. Greeting card markets love photos of flowers, gardens and pets doing something unusual. Wildlife and nature are great for calendars and geographic magazines and educational markets.

Diversity is the keyword for topics in photography. The wider the range of topics you cover, the more likely you will be to get a sale. Anyone can make a good living from stock photos. Freelance photographer Lee Frost (UK) sells just as many photos taken from his own backyard as from exotic and far-flung locations. In fact he sold a pic of the dandelions in his garden to a natural health book. But if you love travelling, put your holidays to work for you. Travel guides, brochures and websites could be possible markets for your photos.

So what to do with that fantastic shot? The edges are sharp enough to cut with, while the clarity would bring tears of joy to many publishers. The main thing to aim for with any photo is to sell it to multiple markets. This is taken care of if you submit to a photo library. You dont have to be responsible for selling your own stuff then, but since the word is diversify aim to do both. Offer it to non-competing markets over several years, since you are not selling the copyright.

It is important for any photographer to keep a portfolio of his work to show. You never know when youll meet a prospective buyer who wants to look at your work and they will not be impressed if you have to rummage through a dusty desk to scrape them together. When you do score a sale, dont charge a pittance just because the picture only took a few minutes of your time. Youve spent years learning your craft and your photos are worth a decent figure.

If you really know what you are talking about and can take a fantastic shot, think of submitting it to a photographic magazine, along with all the details of the precise equipment you used and a step-by step account of your procedure. A bit of a challenge maybe, but worth the effort. There are many other markets to consider too; all kind of magazines, newspapers, catalogues, travel brochures and books. So grab that camera and start shooting.