Last Updated on 08/14/2017 by Chris Gampat
One of the most difficult things to do as a landscape photographer is making money. For many, it trumps being able to figure out the perfect exposure to use and the right time to wake up to catch the sunrise. Lots of photographers used to sell stock photography and yet others do sales of prints. So if you're looking for ways to make money, consider thinking just a bit different.
Being an Influencer
Sure, you're a photographer, but there's no reason why you can't use your work to simply wow people and gain a following. From the large following, you'll be able to be an influencer on a certain platform. When you gain this following, brands will be happier to work with you and pay you to reach your following.
When it comes to sales, many photographers don't know or understand how to price their works. The truth: it has to do with a number of factors. The idea that I like to use when it comes to prints has to do with three different photographers. Let's take me, Colby Brown and Peter Lik; and let's say we all shot the same photo. Due to Colby's and Peter's larger and more established names, they'd be able to charge more. Peter also has an incredibly aggressive sales team though.
So here are a few other tips:
- Find and sell your printed photographs at a high end art fair, one that attracts wealthy buyers. Don't waste your time at an art fair that does not attract the kind of buyers who can afford your work. With that said, use good printers, paper, and only your very best images.
- Prints are more likely to be sold when a person has a connection to the photo. It could be a place the person has visited; for a fisherman, it might be a type of fish they like to catch (trout, salmon); for a hunter, it might be the kind of animal (ducks or deer) they like to hunt; for a bird lover, maybe a rare bird at its nest.
- There's also the possibility of selling at a tourist location like Times Square or something else. Those can be tough though unless you're doing something very different as most people don't really understand art; hence why you should go after the folks with deeper pockets. If you are selling at a tourist location, make sure to have superb shots of the local landmarks or icons. For example, moose work well for Vermont; people go to Vermont to see moose, but they are actually hard to spot, and many people are disappointed that they didn't see a moose; they might buy a print of a moose to make up for it.
- It's good to have a smattering of images that are not local, to give the buyer the sense that you are a cosmopolitan photographer who has been around. This helps a whole lot with street cred. When someone walks into my apartment for example, I'm happy to show off my Banksy. Why? The name: there is an amount of bragging rights associated with it.
- Ask yourself: what would you want on your wall? How do you want to be perceived by your friends and family when they come over to your place? The subject must be the kind of thing people like to hang on their wall. Nobody is going to buy a print of a macro image of a caterpillar or a worm, no matter how technically good. People want happy, colorful, cute images. A cute bear cub will outsell a moth or insect!
- Make sure to have some images with "kid appeal". Wealthy buyers will buy that cute bear cub image because their kid likes it.
- The print must have exclusivity of some sort to attract high-end buyers; so limited edition prints can do really well. A wealthy buyer wants to feel they have something not everybody else can have. If anybody can buy a print online from a website, it has low exclusivity. If the print is numbered, it has some amount of exclusivity. So for example, you can have maybe 10 silver gelatin prints; and that's it. There are no more. If the print is only sold by the photographer in person at three art fairs in Vermont, it has high exclusivity, and thus is worth more. The only way to get it is to travel to that art fair!
- The image should have high "wow factor" that the buyer would immediately understand they could not take themselves, for example, or something dramatic or unusual happens in the image that you don't normally see. If your image is something a buyer has not even seen in real life, they won’t feel like they could take it themselves. A bird bringing food back to the nest, or a flock of seagulls in just the right spot in a lighthouse image. If someone thinks "I could take that", they won't buy it (doesn't matter if they are wrong; you don't want them having the thought).
- If you can, put out prints that "go together". For example, a vertical image of a male bird facing right, and a similar vertical image of a female bird of the same species facing left. People want to hang images together in their house in a harmonious way.
- Maybe it goes without saying, but the image, print and frame should be stunning.
- It should go without saying that sales of prints at a collective's gallery space can be difficult to sell unless you're Magnum Photos. Don't mix your photos with someone else's paintings or fine art. A photo will always suffer in comparison with original paintings. Display your work in its own separate space if you can (the presenter uses a trailer he pulls with his truck).