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What Are the Best Tips for Selling Photography?

Nick Mann
Updated May 23, 2024
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Etching out a career in photography isn't the easiest thing to do. With so many competitors vying for customers, selling photography is often a difficult task. Nonetheless, implementing a few tips should make it possible for a photographer to appeal to a wide audience and boost his earnings. These include making the most of each photo shoot, photographing what appeals to customers, experimenting with composition, and selling both online and offline.

The first part of creating photos that sell is making the most of each photo shoot. This means that a photographer should take as many shots as possible. Since creating great photography is usually a matter of statistics, the more pictures taken, the better the odds are of getting the perfect shot. A professional photographer might take 100 pictures of the same subject and place only one for sale. Anyone who hopes to sell his pictures must go the extra mile to increase his chances of success.

It's also important to appeal to customers when selling photography. Since customers are the ones ultimately responsible for the photographer making money, it only makes sense to shoot subjects they are interested in. Unless a photographer already has an established customer base, he will most likely want to stick to the basics.

In practical terms, this means photographing universal subject matter that is proven to sell. For example, it's typically best to stay away from things like one's family members, friends and pets. Instead, picking subjects like nature, architecture and everyday life usually work well. It can also be beneficial to research what is popular and try to capitalize on that.

Another tip for selling photography involves experimenting with composition in order to create photos that people want. Part of a photographer developing his own unique style means standing out from the competition. One way to accomplish this is to try shooting subjects from different angles. Also, tweaking things like color, contrast and hue during the editing process should help provide an interesting composition.

Additionally, one's odds of selling photography can be improved by selling both online and offline. When it comes to online promotion, stock photography websites and on-demand printing services are common venues. There is also the option of creating one's own website or blog in order to promote photos. On the other hand, common offline promotion methods include selling photography in a gallery or in an art related store. Diversifying sales techniques should increase the odds of turning a profit.

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Nick Mann
By Nick Mann
Nicholas Mann, a professional freelance writer with over a decade of experience, helps clients achieve their goals by creating compelling content that builds authority, boosts exposure, and drives leads and sales. With a relevant degree, he crafts engaging content across a wide range of topics. His ability to understand and communicate complex ideas effectively makes him a valuable contributor to any content creation team.
Discussion Comments
By SarahSon — On Jan 02, 2012

Don't forget about any local companies that might showcase your work. There are many companies and individuals who like to support local artists.

I have a friend who has a 'natural' cafe and coffee shop. She has a section in her shop where local artists of all types can display their work.

Our community also has more than one art fair during the year. It would be worth it to check in to having a booth at something like that. Usually there are artists and photographers from all over the country at events like this.

This way you not only get some local exposure, but can connect and network with people from other parts of the country too.

People are naturally drawn to excellent photos. If they have a chance to visit with the photographer and hear about the story behind the picture, it is much easier way to sell your photos.

By LisaLou — On Jan 01, 2012

@golf07 - I agree with your post about the online websites where you can download your pictures. If you do an online search for stock photo sites, you will have no trouble coming up with a list of good sites.

My son has his pictures on many of these sites. To get an idea of what is popular, some of the sites have sections showcasing what is selling. This is a good way to see what kind of photos many people are interested in.

Some sites also have a list of a specific types of photos they are looking for. While this might be a slower process than some people want, it is a great way to get some exposure without being out much money.

I think it works best if you have your photos for sale both online and offline. This naturally increases your odds for more people to see your work and make some sales.

By golf07 — On Jan 01, 2012

My niece is an excellent photographer and has been able to make a name for herself locally. This is not something that has happened overnight, but slowly over the years as she built her reputation.

This means that she started out taking graduation pictures and weddings, and slowly expanded her business as people saw her results and kept requesting her services.

I also know she has taken advantage of some online sites where you make money for your photos.

Even though you might look at some of those sites and think the competition is stiff, you really don't have anything to lose by getting your pictures on the web.

By kylee07drg — On Dec 31, 2011

When I decided to start selling my work to online stock photography websites, I did my research. I wanted to know what people were in need of the most before I decided on my subjects.

I performed searches on these websites for different things to see what was popular. The subjects that had the most photos available for sale were ones I knew must be in high demand.

I saw an overwhelming amount of ocean and beach photography, and this told me that it must be profitable to photograph. Because not everyone lives near or can get to a beach easily, they buy photos rather than snapping them on their own.

I took advantage of my proximity to the sea by snapping hundreds of interesting photos. I posted them online, and before long, I started making sales. I was glad I had looked into this matter before putting a lot of work into it.

By Oceana — On Dec 30, 2011

If you are a photographer trying to sell your art, it may benefit you to offer several different options for one shot. You could take a photo of an old house, and you could filter it in several different ways.

My cousin is a photographer, and he does this with his work. He mounts his photos on the wall of his art store side by side, and he has found that different treatments on each one appeal to different people.

He will make one a normal, full-color photograph. He will also do a black and white version. Then, he will apply a filter to it on his computer that makes it appear to be a sketch rather than a photo.

He has several tricks up his sleeve for altering photographs. He has his favorite methods, but if it doesn't add something wonderful to the photo, he won't use it. Each photo is unique, and different filters look better on some than others.

By Perdido — On Dec 30, 2011

@seag47 – I agree with you. I do prefer bright colors over sepia tone when choosing photography to decorate my home with, though. However, I still like to keep things simple and bold.

I found a closeup photo of a pineapple on a red-orange tablecloth. Though you could see the line where the table met the wall, the red-orange wall matched the table perfectly.

That meeting line provided the one division of space in the entire photo. The bright colors stood out beautifully on my green wall, and the cohesiveness of the photo is pleasing to the eyes.

I think that photographers who pick one thing to emphasize in each picture have a better chance of selling their work than those who shoot landscapes full of many different focal points. The more in-your-face a photo is, the more it can reach out and grab the viewer.

By seag47 — On Dec 29, 2011

I think that simplicity in photography creates a striking image that sells. Photos that I have seen in art galleries have mostly been based on this principle.

I remember seeing a large framed photo of a woman in a white dress standing in a field of dark grass. A single dead tree off to the side in the distance was the only other object of interest.

The photo was sepia toned, which made the dark and light shades contrast even more. The photo wasn't cluttered with any unnecessary visual information, and it did get sold, because it wasn't there when I came back a few days later.

By ceilingcat — On Dec 29, 2011

I think art galleries are still the best venue for selling your artwork. You can command much higher prices for selling artwork from a show at an art gallery than you can any other way.

Although, getting a show can be difficult. You have to basically convince the gallery that it will be profitable to show your work. Usually you do this by creating a portfolio that represents your best work. Then you would present this to a gallery owner or curator, along with an artist's statement and a copy of your resumes. Of course, it helps if you've already done a few art shows, too!

By JaneAir — On Dec 28, 2011

@indemnifyme - Interesting perspective. I think sometimes you really do have to create our own path in life instead of just doing what's "popular."

Anyway, I know a little bit about photography myself, and I think the best way to sell photography is definitely online. As the article said, you can sell to stock photo website, as well as create your own website to showcase your photography. You can also sell prints on website like Etsy that are basically marketplaces for hand created items.

The possibilities are pretty endless, especially with new technology. Ever wonder who shoots the pictures that come on cell phones to be used as wallpaper? It could be you!

By indemnifyme — On Dec 28, 2011

I have a degree in photography (although I don't currently work as a photographer) and I have to disagree with one thing this article said: that you should basically take pictures of what sells. Now, hear me out.

When I was getting my degree, I took this course where every week, we went to a successful photographers studio, met them, and heard about their career. No successful photographer I met said, "I just tried to shoot what was popular."

Instead, they made artwork that *they* were interested in, and success followed. So I think that's probably a better idea that making artwork you're not really interested in because you think it will sell.

Nick Mann
Nick Mann
Nicholas Mann, a professional freelance writer with over a decade of experience, helps clients achieve their goals by...
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