The complete guide to selling your travel photography
THE NICE THING about selling photography is that anyone can do it – you are not dependent upon physical ability, age, or background. It’s all about attitude, effort, and outlook.
Presenting Your Portfolio
Step 1. Organize Your Photos
The easiest way to store and share your photos is with an online photo album site. There are many to choose from, and your choice of site would depend upon your application. Here are two examples: Flickr and Smugmug.
There are photo communities, photo blog repositories, file storage services, printers that will store your photos, photo album sites supported by advertising, and paid-subscription sites that allow you to license your images.
Many sites are free. Some have restrictions. The sites may have limits for image file size, storage space, and duration of storage (e.g. your photos may get deleted after 90 days of non-usage).
For a monthly subscription, you can often upgrade to a “premium” service, which may increase the size of files you can store and reduce the amount of advertising you endure.
Some sites permit printing and licensing, so you can make money off your photos, similar to stock photography.
Step 2. Make Your Own Web Site
Creating your own website has become almost mandatory if you want to sell your photographs professionally. If you are motivated you can learn web design yourself. Or else, hire a professional to create a website for you.
First find a web host. Your ISP (Internet Service Provider) may offer this, or you can sign up for a paid account with a hosting company.
Web hosting rates are going down and can vary between $10-25 per year. You can get your own domain name for a few additional dollars.
Include text to describe the pictures so your site will get found on search engines such as Google. Include an email address and/or phone number so you can be reached.
You can include copyright info if you like (e.g. Copyright Trent Burkholder Photography 2007). Don’t get too nervous about people stealing your images.
Magazines and other companies respect copyright rules. Besides, an image on the Internet is usually too poor quality to be printed well.
Remember- it’s better to display your images on the web risking theft, rather than hiding them in the closet, where no one can see them except spiders.
Where To Sell Your Travel Photography
Now that you’ve uploaded and organized your best work, here are 11 places you can market and sell your photographs:
Magazines are a good way to see your picture in print. There are many magazines covering a wide variety of subjects, and they need pictures for each edition.
The Photographer’s Market is an excellent directory that lists hundreds of magazine listings where photographers can submit their images.
The book also provides valuable insight into what types of pictures each market desires. The brief description in Photographer’s Market will help you to make intelligent decisions about which pictures and articles to send to the various editors.
2. Web Photography
The Web is the easiest place to get your photos published.
Websites are constantly in need of photos to showcase on their web sites. Different types of web sites require certain genres of photography.
Web sites use low-resolution images, which means you don’t need an expensive, high-megapixel camera, and you don’t have to worry about unauthorized usage in other media since printed media requires higher-resolution images than typically found on the Web.
For example, an office site will require images of people in office settings, equipment, or images conveying a work environment, whereas a website offered by a travel agency will depict images of exotic cultures and open-air market settings of different countries.
Real estate agents, tourist/convention-and-visitor bureaus, and companies in the tourism industry are also often looking for good travel photos.
3. Commercial Advertising
Commercial advertising is where the money is. If you can sell a picture for an ad, you could be cashing thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars.
Advertisers require exceptionally high quality. The picture must be sharp, very high resolution, correctly exposed, and with accurate lighting across the picture.
Simply a “good” photo of your baby is not good enough for a baby-product advertiser. Professionals have a team of helpers, lighting gear, and big high-res cameras for commercial photography.
In some cases, you may have to compromise your integrity as a photographer to sell a specific image. You decide if you are willing to do that, in order to earn an income.
Postcards are the lowest-cost printed products. You can make your own quite cheaply, which means low-risk and easy market entry for self-publishers.
There are many online printers for postcards. You could make samples on your own inkjet printer, take them to local stores, and ask for feedback.
5. Stock Agencies
Most publishers already have a photo solution and don’t want to work with “small-timers” and “amateurs.” So, why not let someone else promote your work?
Consider using a stock agency. They represent your work and depending on the images sold, the photographer gets a commission.
With the Internet and digital photography, there is a proliferation of web-based agencies. Find an agency that fits your quality of work.
Select one that lies between the big three professional stock agencies of Getty, Corbis and JupiterMedia, and more amateur and hobbyist-focused “microstock” agencies such as iStockPhoto, ShutterStock, and Everystockphoto.
You can even split your work over several agencies, particularly ones that accept “non-exclusive” submissions, which means that they don’t prohibit you from submitting the same photo to another agency.
6. Combining Your Writing and Photography
Magazines are always looking for stories, so try packaging your photos with a pre-written article.
Think of some interesting and unique angle about your trip or the subject of your photos. Write in the style of the targeted magazine, with a similar word count. If you keep the rights, you can re-package the same article for different magazines.
This does not mean you have to write like Hemingway. With photographers, editors expect to do a certain amount of reworking on the writing. Photographic magazines in particular look for photo/article packages.
Magazines often have fixed pay rates. There is no negotiation. Articles are commissioned and paid by word count.
Photography rates depend upon the size printed. A full page, for example, pays more than a half page, and the cover shot pays the most.
7. Greeting Cards
Travel photos create beautiful images for greeting cards. Images of nature, wildlife, and temples make wonderful greeting card images.
Consult books that have sayings for greeting cards for special events like birthdays, Hanukkah, and Christmas to insert in your card.
Various software devices like Publisher now make it possible for you to make your own professional greeting cards without having to spend a penny. It only costs you energy and time.
8. Photography for Functional Products
Any product that can display a photo is a potential revenue source for photographers.
Magnets, T-shirts, mugs, plates, stickers, cards, mouse pads, bags, the market is unlimited. You can license your photo for others to use on products, or make and sell your own products.
Publishing Your Own Travel Photography Book
The two basic ways of publishing a book on travel photography are 1) Finding a publisher and 2) Self publishing.
Finding a Publisher – Read the publisher’s guidelines. Once you get some magazine articles published approach book publications with your photographic samples.
First submit a book query. Then, if the publisher is interested, he/she will ask for a complete book proposal.
Self Publishing – Another way to get your book published is to do it yourself. If you are not concerned about making a vast amount of money, then you may consider self-publishing.
You can print your book at a regular printing press, pay a publishing company to do it for you online. However, the distribution and marketing will be your sole responsibility.
For an example, see Timen’s book of Southeast Asia photography.
Getting your travel photography book published is useful in several ways:
- You are having a gallery opening and would like to give attendees a printed book that discusses and displays your photography
- You want to send a copy of your book along with your portfolio to curators, philanthropists, and jurors
- You want to have a few copies of your book at your studio, for visitors to browse through
- To earn an income
However you decide to publish and sell your work, remember, persistence is key. Best of luck!
*With experienced faculty, a robust curriculum, and an active and networking community of fellow photographers, the MatadorU Travel Photography program will teach you how to become a travel photographer.