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How to Start a Stock Photography Business

(A photo blog will soon start on ddz.kr by Awu from Formasaurus.)

Learn to sell photos to online publishers and other users by using established stock photo websites.

For someone who loves photography and has invested time, money and energy into their hobby, a small business that helps recoup some of the investment and gives a “home” to some of those photos makes a lot of sense.

While not all photographers can manage to land contracts with National Geographic or another big name magazine, those with some ability and decent equipment can easily manage to set up a part time business that lets them sell photos online.

Read Stock Photography Site Requirements

It is a smart idea to begin a business selling photos by making sure they will be accepted by some of the different stock photography sites that offer royalty free downloads of photos to busy publishers, graphic designers, etc.

Reading over the site requirements for each site the photographer is interested in using as a “storefront” for his or her work allows the photographer to see if he or she has the skills needed to make photos the site will accept.

Some sites, such as istockphoto.com, require photographers to pass a test before allowing them to upload photos. Taking the test before he or she is ready to actually upload photos can help the photographer take the kind of photos that will meet the sites’ needs.

Create a Group of High Demand Stock Photos

Most royalty free photo sites are so overloaded with great nature photos that they tend to be very picky about the quality of photos that are uploaded. Even if someone does manage to get a nature photo accepted, there are so many competing photos that downloads tend to be low. The key to making a good income selling photos online is to create high demand stock photos that are scarce on the royalty free sites.

One great place to find out which photos are in high demand is the site itself. Many of them list the subjects they’d like to see more of.

For example, istockphoto.com has an entire page of wish list subjects for photographers to review.

Dreamstime.com has a more general description of what it is looking for, but still provides some guidance.

Start Selling Photos Online

Once a photographer has created several stock photos that seem to meet the needs of the different sites, he or she needs to get them off the camera and onto the sites.

After checking size and clarity and removing any identifying information, such as logos, he or she is ready to begin the process of signing up at the site or sites that seem to be the best fit. The steps can take some time to complete, but, once the photos are uploaded and approved, he or she can simply wait for the first sales to trickle in.

While there are many ways to make money with photography, selling royalty free photos online is ideal for many hobby or beginning photographers who want to earn a bit of money without having to set up a studio or full scale business.

As they upload more photos and promote their pages on the stock photography sites, they may just find that their little online photo businesses are earning a substantial amount of residual income.

How to Succeed with a Pet Photography Business

Starting Out and Earning Money with Pet Portraits and Photographs

Despite the fact that most people have a digital camera and can edit photos themselves, there is still a big market for professionally taken pet photos.

There is, of course, a big difference between pet snapshots and pet portraiture. The best dog and cat photographers have learned their craft from experience, lots of practice and have probably taken digital photography classes.

Learn Digital Photography

A digital photography class that specializes in pet photography will typically cover modules such as:

  • How to interact with animals during a photo session in order to get the best shots
  • Equipment- lens choice, backgrounds, lighting, props
  • Taking pet photos in a studio and on location
  • Using aperture and shutter speed creatively
  • Lighting- natural, diffused, strobes
  • Lighting and mood
  • Posing, perspectives and photo session tips and techniques
  • Developing an individual style
  • Marketing
  • Starting a pet photography business
  • Compiling a portfolio

If a pet photographer is serious about a venture of this nature, a course will probably be an excellent investment. Many photography schools offer a one or two day workshop which can also be helpful when starting out.

Tips on Starting a Pet Photography Business

According to professional pet photographer Martyn Chillmaid, “Photography is the art of solving problems, then clicking the shutter- this is just the culmination of a process that includes research, organization, obtaining props and models- making sure that the final result does the job.”

If a potential pet photographer is just starting out, they should buy the best equipment that can be afforded at the time. Once the business takes off, photographic equipment can be upgraded.

Understand that pets, like small children, can be difficult to photograph. It takes patience to succeed.

They are often unpredictable and can be unsettled or difficult to manage if they are brought to a studio out of their home environment. They can’t always control bowel movements, so be prepared to clean up now and again.

Research what competition there is and adjust accordingly. Dog and cat photographs do not have to be taken in a studio, consider going to people’s homes to take portraits on location. If there are a lot of pet photographers in a specific area offering the same genre, try something different like pet pop art photos.

One of the best ways of advertising is to compile a portfolio of pet photographs that have already been taken. This will showcase the pet photographer’s work and also help the client decide on what style of photography he or she wants. Misunderstandings can be avoided in this way.

Consider joining a professional photography organization or look for relevant forums to get up to date information and trends on the pet photography business.

Photography Business Startup Guide

Book by Charlene Davis Helps Professional Photographers Get Started

Book Review:

  • Start Your Own Photography Business.
  • Studio, Freelance, Gallery, Events
  • Entrepreneur Press
  • Charlene Davis
  • 978-159918124-0
  • 131 Pages
  • $16.88 U.S.

Whether you want to run your own photography studio, travel to exotic locations to photograph events, or maybe just snap pictures part-time for pay, you can find out what you need to know in this new book.

Start Your Own Photography Business addresses a variety of situations: Maybe you are just beginning your career, laid-off from your regular job, looking to switch careers, or recently retired but still full of energy.

Regardless of your individual situation, Davis says that it has never been easier to turn the hobby of photography into a lucrative, professional business.

Part-time and Full-time Careers in Photography

Combining a passion and talent for taking pictures with a strong business plan could lead to a successful career in photography, whether as a full-time operation with a studio and employees, or part-time on the weekends working out of your home.

Davis provides many useful tips for getting started, including descriptions of photographic specialties (fine art, photojournalism, wedding photography, portraiture, stock photography, etc.), creating a business plan and mission statement, obtaining additional education, choosing a location, legal matters, licenses and permits, business equipment, hiring staff, marketing your business, and handling finances.

In addition to her own knowledge (Charlene Davis has authored other business startup books for Entrepreneur Press), she interviews five professional photographers with various specialties to offer their own insights into the photography business. These photographers – with varying degrees of time and money to devote to photography – also have a range of opinions on techniques, equipment, and business ideas for getting the job done.

Digital Versus Film

Davis also explores the growing area of digital photography and compares the pros and cons of digital versus film. In a section titled “Technology is Not Evil,” she details the impact of the digital revolution.

The book cites a statistic from a study by the research firm InfoTrends that predicts that by 2010, 90 percent of all professional photographs will be taken with digital cameras. She concludes that digital photography is here to stay and that photographers need to make a conscious decision how they intend to incorporate this technology into their business.

Helpful bright ideas, smart tips, and beware notices are included as boxed items that complement the text, in addition to helpful forms such as a startup costs worksheet and a job description worksheet. In the Appendix,

Davis includes photography business resources, a glossary, and an index. For anyone looking to start a photography business, this book is a great place to get ideas and inspiration.

Using Commercial Photography

Multiple Uses of Professional Photography for Your Business

After receiving your commercial and product images from your photographer, there are a multitude of ways those images can be reused again and again.

Many businesses who have used a professional product, commercial, or promotional photographer have hired one for a specific need. Whether it was a shot for an advertisement, a series for the website, or several shots at a promotional event, the business owner is now left with one or more images that have only been used once.

Professional photography for your business is an investment, and upon receiving the photos, view them as a return on that investment. The images have a multitude of uses that can keep returning your investment.

Below are a few ways in which to make your professionally taken images work for you, ways they can be reused in order to get the most bang for your buck.

  1. Online. There are two ways to benefit by using your images online. The first is having an online shop. Images accompanying an online store will let customers know exactly what they are getting, and in return they will be more likely to make a purchase.The second way of using your images online is to open up a portfolio website. Especially advantageous to artists and businesses looking for investors, it allows people to see what is being offered, not only product wise, but also in terms of location and other aspects of your business.
  2. Physical Portfolios. Superb for artists wanting to showcase their work and get it into galleries and studios. It’s also helpful for businesses looking to expand by bringing in investors.
  3. Items for resale. Another great one in particular for artists and artisans. Create postcards, greeting cards, poster prints, or anything else you can imagine by placing images of your work and reselling them for profit.
  4. Publicity. All too often overlooked, if your business is having any kind of publicity event hire a photographer to take pictures of the proceedings. These can be used for press releases, websites, brochures, or any promotional materials and can showcase what your business does beyond your products or service.
  5. Print advertising. Take images and have a single one you use all the time, or several cycled on varying weeks.
  6. TV advertising. Most businesses don’t think of using their still images for TV, but it can be quite effective. Take a moment and watch the advertisements on television and notice how many of them use entirely still images, or incorporate them into moving ones. Many TV listings channels also have relatively cost-effective methods of advertising as well, and still images can be a great tool for these.
  7. Create a catalogue. A great one for businesses that do wholesale. Have images of all your products so that customers can really see what they’re buying.
  8. Display. Your images don’t have to be relegated to only advertising and promotional purposes. Many photographs can be placed on the walls of your location as well as being used for promotion. Images of employees and events are a good example of this. Some of your favourite shots of your products can also be printed and framed. They can make great points of interest for your walls.
  9. Packaging. Using images on packaging can be extremely effective. Do some research, look at what other manufacturers and companies are doing, and think of ways to use your images the same way, or a new and interesting way.

Uses for your images don’t stop there. New and creative ways of using the images are only limited by the business owner. Take a look at the images, and for each devise a way that the same image can be used over and over again.

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