Pictures that sell 10

How to make money out of your photography - some success stories.

Posted 19/Apr/2002 - 12:00AM

Following on from last month, here are examples of some more simple images that have reaped recent sales through my pictures library.

Easy stock sales

Don't know about you lot, but whenever I wander into a church (which isn't that often, it has to be said) I can't resist the temptation to photograph the stained glass windows. It's the colours that do it - on a bright overcast day, backlit strained glass literally glows. Shooting it's easy too - set your camera to aperture priority, stop the lens down to f/8 or f/11 and fire away.
I've sold a number of stained glass shots over the years, mainly to photo mags, but just recently one shot was picked-up by a book publisher for use in a children's science book, for which I received £52, and another in an encyclopedia for £45. That's nearly a hundred quid for two pictures that anyone could have taken.

Flowers are something else I've got a soft spot for and once or twice a year I'll go through a phase of taking loads of new pictures. All I do is pop along to a local florist, buy some interesting specimens then photograph them in windowlight on the kitchen worktop with a macro lens on my Nikon. I like shooting with the lens at its maximum aperture so depth-of-field is minimal and only a small area is recorded in sharp focus - it gives the images more of a stylish feel.
The shot of a yellow flower below was recently used on a website and my cut of the library's fee was just over £100. The picture of dandelions (taken in my back garden) was used in a natural health book, for which I received £36.
Yellow flowers seem to be the most popular, especially sunflowers. I've lost count of the number of sales I've had from this particular type of bloom, but the total is well into four figures and includes a sale to a greetings card publisher of the shot below for £150. Sold quite well apparently - should have asked for more!

My shots of Greece continue to sell well (planning another trip for this summer) and as well as the usual round of travel brochures and tour guides the example below, taken on the wonderful island of Santorini, was recently used as the cover image on a paperback book. I received £230 for that, but if past experience is anything to go by more sales will come as and when the book is reprinted (assuming it sells!)

Nikon F90x with 28mm and 105mm macro lenses, Fuji Velvia and Sensia 100
Number of sales: 6
Countries sold: UK, Germany
Uses: Books, website, greetings card
Total sales to date: £613

It's not what you know
Having contacts in the right places can make a big difference to your picture sales, and the more contacts you have, the better.
With the tenth anniversary of my freelance career just gone I've got to know a fair old few folk over the years, and occasionally old acquaintances pop-up out of the blue in need of pictures.
That happened just a few weeks ago when I was called by the marketing person of a major equipment distributor in the UK who urgently needed (like yesterday) three images for product packing.
Never one to turn down a sale (of three) I immediately put together a selection of transparencies and sent them by Special delivery. The next day, three shots were chosen for layout and the time came to talk money.
In a situation like this, when images are chosen for an unusual use, I tend to phone my picture library to find out what kind of fees they would charge. 'Around £1000 for all three,' came the reply.
When you're dealing with clients direct they tend to expect lower charges than a library would demand, simply because you don't have the same overheads - and no commission to pay anyone else.
So, with this in mind, I suggested a fee of £250 per image - £750 in total. The person on the other end of the phone line didn't faint on the spot, which is always a good sign, and the very next day everything was approved.
When you're selling pictures like this it's easy to let them go for a pittance, simply because it doesn't seem right charging a lot of money for something as simple as a photograph. However, my advice is never undersell yourself - and remember that while it may only take minutes to put together a selection of photographs to send out, it took years of practice to produce the kind if pictures people want to pay good money for so they're worth every penny.

Equipment: Pentax 67, 55mm lens, polariser, Fuji Velvia
Number of sales: 1
Countries sold: UK
Uses: Product packaging
Total sales to date:

Striding Edge
Looking back at some of my earlier library sales, a few surprises came to light.
This shot of Striding Edge from Helvellyn in the Lake District is one of them. I remember taking it because at the time my old girlfriend was doing her nut - she was terrified that we wouldn't get off the hill before dark, and all I was interested in was taking bloody pictures!

She was absolutely right, though looking at this shot now I can't say it was worth risking a cold night under the stars - apart from the fact that a few years after I took it, someone selected it for use in a brochure and I received a payment of £170. Being a tight northerner, that should have paid for the whole weekend!


Same with this picture of pipers in Glencoe, taken the same year. I was passing through on a dull day, noticed the pipers and pulled over so I could take their picture. Other tourists were milling around, so I grabbed a few handheld shots with my lens at its widest aperture - which served the dual purpose of keeping the shutter speed up and throwing the background out-of-focus. If anything I thought it might make a half-decent example of shallow depth-of-field, and anticipated one day selling it to a photo mag - which I did, several times. However, the main surprise was when it also sold through my library on three occasions, adding another £130 to the amount already received.
Not bad for five minute's work!

Equipment: Both Olympus OM4-Ti, 28mm and 85mm lenses, Fujichrome RFP50
Number of sales: 4 (through library)
Countries sold: UK only
Uses: Magazines and travel brochures
Total sales to date:£300


pfuller06/Aug/2012 - 9:42AM
ware can i post my photos so i can sell them

Leave a Comment

You must be a FPME member to comment. Join FPME Today!