Understanding the Mentality Behind Selling Your Photos

Model: Bec Fordyce

Model: Bec Fordyce

After the piece I wrote about the psychology behind pricing your images, I had a couple of conversations that while agreeing with what I said and believing it to make sense, there are still some photographers that hit roadblocks. While pricing your images has a bit to do with you and a bit to do with the person you’re selling to, the actual sale itself has a lot more to do with understanding the client.

Each and every single one is different.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung 85mm f1.4 portrait review images (1 of 3)ISO 1001-800 sec at f - 2.5

Let’s look at a number of scenarios:

  • The photo editor from a famous online news website
  • A company wanting to use an image of yours for an advertising campaign
  • The woman whose rich father is entirely paying for her wedding and has money to burn
  • The millennial

All of these people have different budgets, expectations, and may probably want different things.

Before I go on, keep in mind that you don’t always need to sell your photos or your photographic services–and in fact, you shouldn’t really be doing that to begin with depending on the client. If you’re just doing very standard work, then sure sell your photographic services. But if you’ve got a really unique product that no one else has, then you should be selling your creative vision, the ability to create it in photos and offering a product to that person that no one else will have.

That’s step one.

Now here’s step two: you don’t always need to sell an image and your rights to a photo away. You should only really do that for the right price. Instead, there is the option of licensing a photo. You won’t make as much, but you have more say in how it’s used and you’re still making money. But not everyone will want to license: the photo editor will do that for sure and so will the company; however the individual people won’t. They’re a totally different class of clients.

When doing this type of stuff, it’s usually always best to do it in person or on the phone. In person, you can make a lot of different mental notes about the person to figure out more about your client. It’s completely true that not everyone has thousands of dollars to spend on a wedding for example so that gives us two different scenarios:

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Fujifilm 26mm f1.2 portraits with Simon (2 of 2)ISO 2001-125 sec at f - 2.8

  • The higher end wedding
  • The wedding with little budget for photographers

For the higher end, essentially what you’re doing it taking into consideration the normal stuff like how many people there are, number of images promised, how long you’re working, albums, engagement session, etc. But for the wedding with less of a budget you have two other options:

  • Opt out and say no
  • Tailor a package for those folks. Maybe shoot without editing, for less time, etc.

Depending on who you’re trying to define yourself as as a photographer, you may or may not use the images for your portfolio. Every photographer does cash gigs every now and then for extra money simply because it’s usually easy work. In fact, lots of artists do it. Plus, it helps you cater to a crowd that doesn’t reacher for higher end fruit or that understands what you’re capable of.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 70D Portraits of Jesse (5 of 11)ISO 1001-500 sec at f - 2.0

So if you’re looking to make money with your photos, you’ll also need to network and hang out with the types of people that will probably want to use your services. And while it gets more complicated based on what industry you’re in and the economic level, this is what you should start thinking about before making a sale: define who your target market is.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.