Pictures that sell 8

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

Posted 28/Nov/2001 - 12:00AM

Maldives
Investing in an expensive trip away to shoot stock is always risky because, despite your best intentions, there's always a chance that the picture may not sell particularly well. This can be for various reasons, but usually competition from other photographers is the most common if your own work is of a high quality.
   It was therefore with some trepidation that I set off for the Maldives in April last year in search of stunning, tropical beach scenes. I spent a week looking for them, found fewer than I imagined, but I got the chance to explore and photograph numerous wonderful islands in the main atolls and came back £1500 lighter when the cost of film and processing was added to everything else.
   Fortunately, 18 months or so later I can report that the shots are beginning to sell. Nothing major to date, admittedly, but so far I've recouped about 35% of my costs, so hopefully by this time next year I will be in profit.
   If I don't I'll just have to accept that some you win, some you lose. But I'm not worried because that loss will be compensated for by sales of pictures that cost pennies to produce - like some of those discussed here. I can also think of far worse things to do than spend a week barefoot, exploring tropical islands and paddling in the Indian Ocean!

Equipment: Pentax 67, 55mm lens, polariser, Fuji Velvia
Number of sales: 7
Countries sold: UK, USA, Germany
Uses: Newspaper editorial, websites, travel brochures
Total sales to date: £645

 

 

Business concepts
In the last few months, 'Business Concept' is a heading that has started to appear on my picture library sales statements with increasing regularity.
A is thanks to efforts made a couple of years ago to shoot pictures based around business, money, and other conceptual ideas. Everything was shot at home, in fits and starts between writing assignments. I worked exclusively in 35mm, using a 105mm macro lens, shooting in windowlight or using a slide projector for illumination. I basically just experimented with ideas to see what I could come up with using a copy of the Financial Times, a pair or specs, a FiloFax, fountain pen and various other props.
The results were dispatched to my picture library where, to my delight, a large number were retained and a dozen or more were later selected for catalogue use.
I am now beginning to see the benefit of sticking my neck out and trying something new. Best of all, my only costs were film and processing so already I am seeing a profit ,and sales have only just begun to trickle in.

Equipment: Nikon F90x SLR, 105mm macro lens, Fuji Velvia/Sensia
Number of sales: 10
Countries sold: UK, Germany, Australia, Sweden, Switzerland
Uses: Times Ed Supplement, Lloyds Magazine, Exhibition panels, most uses unknown
Total sales to date: £665

Stone Wall
I'm always intrigued when shots sell that required absolutely no photographic skill or creativity to produce - but obviously, I'm not complaining!
Take this close-up of a dry stone wall on Dartmoor. I only shot it because the weather was so dull on the day that the landscape itself looked flat and boring, but so far it has earned over £200 in sales - all of them through the National Trust Picture Library.
As a photographic image I actually like it - I love the pattern, detail and colour. But as a stock picture I never expected it to sell in a million years. Just goes to show that if you put the right picture with the right library...

Equipment: Pentax 67, 135mm macro lens, Fuji Velvia
Number of sales: 4
Countries sold: UK
Uses: Presentation wallet, National Trust Membership print and members booklet
Total sales to date: £210

Leaves in Autumn
The story is the same for these shots as that of the dry stone wall. I love taking pictures in autumn - the colours can be mind-blowing - but wherever I am I make a point of shooting a few close-ups of fallen leaves on the ground as well as wider views because experience has taught me they can be good sellers.
I don't expect to get rich from sales of pictures like this, but a crucial part of stock photography is covering your back in as many ways as you can so a shoot breaks into profit as soon as possible. For the sake of a few minutes and another roll of film things like this can't be ignored - and anyway, I enjoy shooting them.
The sales I've received so far this year from autumn leaves - £352 - would pay for a week in the Lake District!

Equipment: Nikon F90x/Pentax 67, 50mm standard lens/135mm macro lens, Fuji Velvia.
Number of sales: 6
Countries sold: UK
Uses: Photographic magazine, National Trust Gardens promotion, article on chemicals in leaves, mailer, children's nature book etc.
Total sales to date: £352

Maldives
Investing in an expensive trip away to shoot stock is always risky because, despite your best intentions, there's always a chance that the picture may not sell particularly well. This can be for various reasons, but usually competition from other photographers is the most common if your own work is of a high quality.
   It was therefore with some trepidation that I set off for the Maldives in April last year in search of stunning, tropical beach scenes. I spent a week looking for them, found fewer than I imagined, but I got the chance to explore and photograph numerous wonderful islands in the main atolls and came back £1500 lighter when the cost of film and processing was added to everything else.
   Fortunately, 18 months or so later I can report that the shots are beginning to sell. Nothing major to date, admittedly, but so far I've recouped about 35% of my costs, so hopefully by this time next year I will be in profit.
   If I don't I'll just have to accept that some you win, some you lose. But I'm not worried because that loss will be compensated for by sales of pictures that cost pennies to produce - like some of those discussed here. I can also think of far worse things to do than spend a week barefoot, exploring tropical islands and paddling in the Indian Ocean!

Equipment: Pentax 67, 55mm lens, polariser, Fuji Velvia
Number of sales: 7
Countries sold: UK, USA, Germany
Uses: Newspaper editorial, websites, travel brochures
Total sales to date: £645

 

 

Business concepts
In the last few months, 'Business Concept' is a heading that has started to appear on my picture library sales statements with increasing regularity.
A is thanks to efforts made a couple of years ago to shoot pictures based around business, money, and other conceptual ideas. Everything was shot at home, in fits and starts between writing assignments. I worked exclusively in 35mm, using a 105mm macro lens, shooting in windowlight or using a slide projector for illumination. I basically just experimented with ideas to see what I could come up with using a copy of the Financial Times, a pair or specs, a FiloFax, fountain pen and various other props.
The results were dispatched to my picture library where, to my delight, a large number were retained and a dozen or more were later selected for catalogue use.
I am now beginning to see the benefit of sticking my neck out and trying something new. Best of all, my only costs were film and processing so already I am seeing a profit ,and sales have only just begun to trickle in.

Equipment: Nikon F90x SLR, 105mm macro lens, Fuji Velvia/Sensia
Number of sales: 10
Countries sold: UK, Germany, Australia, Sweden, Switzerland
Uses: Times Ed Supplement, Lloyds Magazine, Exhibition panels, most uses unknown
Total sales to date: £665

Stone Wall
I'm always intrigued when shots sell that required absolutely no photographic skill or creativity to produce - but obviously, I'm not complaining!
Take this close-up of a dry stone wall on Dartmoor. I only shot it because the weather was so dull on the day that the landscape itself looked flat and boring, but so far it has earned over £200 in sales - all of them through the National Trust Picture Library.
As a photographic image I actually like it - I love the pattern, detail and colour. But as a stock picture I never expected it to sell in a million years. Just goes to show that if you put the right picture with the right library...

Equipment: Pentax 67, 135mm macro lens, Fuji Velvia
Number of sales: 4
Countries sold: UK
Uses: Presentation wallet, National Trust Membership print and members booklet
Total sales to date: £210

Leaves in Autumn
The story is the same for these shots as that of the dry stone wall. I love taking pictures in autumn - the colours can be mind-blowing - but wherever I am I make a point of shooting a few close-ups of fallen leaves on the ground as well as wider views because experience has taught me they can be good sellers.
I don't expect to get rich from sales of pictures like this, but a crucial part of stock photography is covering your back in as many ways as you can so a shoot breaks into profit as soon as possible. For the sake of a few minutes and another roll of film things like this can't be ignored - and anyway, I enjoy shooting them.
The sales I've received so far this year from autumn leaves - £352 - would pay for a week in the Lake District!

Equipment: Nikon F90x/Pentax 67, 50mm standard lens/135mm macro lens, Fuji Velvia.
Number of sales: 6
Countries sold: UK
Uses: Photographic magazine, National Trust Gardens promotion, article on chemicals in leaves, mailer, children's nature book etc.
Total sales to date: £352

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