Pictures that sell 5

Lee Frost gives tips on how to make money out of your photography and shares some success stories.

Posted 30/Aug/2001 - 12:00AM

Lake District
With such naturally-beautiful scenery all around, it's hard not to take successful pictures in the Lake District. However, for this very reason the place gets saturated with photographers and selling the pictures you do take can be quite tricky unless they have something different to offer, simply because there are so many available.
   With that in mind I spent a weekend shooting well-known locations in black & white a few years ago. The weather wasn't particularly great, but when you're taking black & white pictures it doesn't matter so much if the sky's grey or the light is flat because you can bump-up the contrast during printing, burn the sky in, tone the image and all-manner of things to produce a dramatic print. I also like dull weather for black & white - it has a certain mood that I find appealing, and that translates well into grey tones.
   Having eventually printed the negatives, a year or more after taking the original pictures, I tentatively submitted them to my main library. Black & white landscapes aren't renowned for being big stock sellers, but I thought I'd chance my arm.
   Luckily, they accepted quite a few - I copied the prints back onto transparency film - and sales have been steady ever since, both in the UK and overseas.
   This success was no doubt helped by the fact the shots were chosen for catalogue use, which meant they were seen by picture-buyers all over the world, but if I hadn't taken a chance and submitted them in the first place they wouldn't have been seen by anyone or earned a penny in repro fees.

Equipment: Pentax 67 and 55mm lens; Olympus OM4-Ti and 180mm lens or 28mm lens
Number of sales: 6
Countries sold: UK, Ireland, USA
Uses: Advertisement for Railtrack, book cover, brochure, magazine inside, leaflet for carpet manufacturer.
Total sales to date: £1120

Thames Embankment
Here's another black & white shot that has been resonably successful to date.
   It was taken several years ago at a time when I was making regular trips to London to shoot stock. Usually, after an afternoon and evening of shooting, I would stay overnight with a friend in North London then take the tube back into the city at dawn the next morning.
More often than not the second day was a disappointment, with bad weather descending and bringing my stock shoot to a halt. In fact, I began to think I had a curse because I never managed to get two consecutive days of good weather in London.
   On this occasion, instead of heading straight for home, I loaded a roll of Fuji Neopan 1600 film and decided to take some grainy black & white shots of the drab weather. It was more for my benefit than the picture library's, but when I printed the shots up and sent them off for editing, this image was selected and published in a general catalogue, occupying half a page so it looked nice and prominent.
   Since them it has been selling steadily, and in doing so has taught me a valuable lesson - if you're in a commercial location, no matter what the weather doing take some pictures - you just never know.

Equipment: Olympus OM4-Ti and 28mm lens, Fuji Neopan 1600
Number of sales: 10
Countries sold: UK, Ireland, Japan, USA, Italy
Uses: Brochures, but overseas uses unknown
Total sales to date: £520

Bath Abbey
This shot of Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths was one of the first shots I sent to my main picture library, back in 1993. It's nothing great, I'll admit, and to be honest is was a snapshot, taken on a weekend visit to the city. There were people everywhere, I had no tripod with me, but I happened to be lucky with the weather on the day so I took a few shots.
   On my very first sales statement from the library it appeared as one of three shots that had sold that quarter, back in 1994. The latest sale appeared on my statement dated April 2001.
   Okay, so this particular picture hasn't made me rich - far from it. But I've included it this month because it's a good example of a bog standard record shot that can sell and sell for years - there are seven years between the first and most recent sale, and I expect there will be more to come.

Equipment: Olympus OM2n and 28mm lens, Fuji RDP100
Number of sales: 6
Countries sold: UK, Ireland, Italy
Uses: Travel brochures and books
Total sales to date: £320

Roads
Pictures of roads have always been good stock sellers, simply because they're so symbolic - the journey ahead, moving forward, advancing, new horizons; all that malarky. Wherever I am, I therefore make a special effort to take pictures of roads - especially long, straight ones that stretch off to the horizon. This years I got some great shots in Namibia, though places closer to home including Scotland and Dartmoor have been fruitful too.
Here are a couple that have been selling steadily over the last few years.

Equipment: Pentax 67 and 55mm lens; Nikon F90x and 28mm lens
Number of sales: 14
Countries sold: UK, Slovenia, Spain, USA
Uses: Brochures, magazine inside, leaflet, corporate CD/AV/video
Total sales to date: £680

Comments

Philip Carr09/Mar/2012 - 10:53PM
Difficult to achieve these sort of sales these days with micro stock sites paying 10c an image to photographers!

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