BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2005
 

Selling photos online


Although I am not a professional photographer yet, I am considering selling some of my photos online. Would selling my photos now online be a good idea, should I sell by other means or wait until I am a professional, or should I wait until I get a professional camera? I was looking at the following sites: digitalphotoshots.com, shutterpoint.com, and shutterstock.com. Are these sites good and safe to sell from and use? Also, are any of my current photos worth selling (and how much do you think I could sell them for)?


To love this question, log in above
10/30/2005 12:28:52 PM

 
anonymous A.    If you want to sell, any time to start is a good time; in a sense you are a pro when you begin to sell! The sights you have mentioned have differing business models, and many photographers supplying them: they each upload more 10000 new pictures every week from about 20,000 photographers at each site, so you need to have a very large portfolio to keep your pics current; and at just 20c per downloaded photo, you need to be very popular to make money at it.
That means you images need to be real eye-catchers. If you compare the quality of your gallery with the pictures posted on these sites, you will have a fair idea if yours are up to scratch.
You do need a more fully featured camera. The minimum file size a good stock site will accept is bigger than your current camera can produce. Some of the major sites won't take smaller than 11 megapixel images!
I suggest you persevere, do some courses (the ones on the site look ideal for a budding pro) and look into the options to get you started.
Hope this helps,
David


To love this comment, log in above
10/31/2005 4:26:11 AM

 
Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2005
  Thank you, David. Your response does help.

I do want to eventually (hopefully sooner than later) become a professional photographer. I already have a basic knowledge of digital photography (aperture, f-number, some techniques), and I also have a book on digital photography and Photoshop CS2, but would I need to take courses (betterphoto.com or in a classroom setting) before I could really take really good photos? (If I need to take courses, would a general photography course be good or would I need to take courses on different aspects of photography?)
I was looking at the Sony Cybershot DSC-H1 along with some accessories like telephoto/wide angle lenses and lens filters. Would the 5 megapixel DSC-H1 produce images that are very good and sellable, or would I need to get a camera with more megapixels before I could make real money on them? Also, would I need Photoshop to touch up my photos before selling them, or would Microsoft Picture-it (I already have that) be enough for any editing needs?
One final question: What are good ways to go about selling my photos? Thanks to anyone who responds and helps.


To love this comment, log in above
11/5/2005 7:33:46 PM

 
anonymous A.    Sony don't know how to make a bad camera, Ariel, but whether this is the one for you I couldn't say. Most "advanced amateurs" and pros favour single lens reflex cameras: there is a good section in the betterphotos website on cameras, including comparisons between various outfits, and http://dpreview.com/ also has excellent reviews to help you decide: but handle the camera yourself before you lay out your money!
I don't believe you need to take a course before you can take good pictures, but if you want to take consistently good photos which are also saleable, you would be foolish not to get as much exposure (sorry!) to experienced cameramen as you can. It isn't an artform, it's a business, and a very competetive one. You need to market your work and yourself; you need to understand the market(s) you want to sell to, and you need to figure out your goals and how to meet them.
The easiest way I know to begin is to go to local events, family parties etc. and take photos of everyone and everything ~ offer prints to the people who attend. Clear it with the host/organisers first and make sure you aren't treading on the toes of any official photographer...
But I'd do a course too.


To love this comment, log in above
11/5/2005 11:01:35 PM

 
Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2005
  Thank you again, David.
Why is it that SLRs are favored over high-end Point and Shoot cameras with good manual controls? Are SLRs special in any way that would atract pros more than good P&Ss? The main difference I see between them is the price. Is your Panasonic, for example, good for taking professional shots?
(By the way, I keep seeing people recommend dpreview.com, but I have found a web site with much more in-depth reviews. It is http://www.dcresource.com/)


To love this comment, log in above
11/6/2005 9:06:12 AM

 
Nicole Kessel   Hi Ariel,

You may want to check out this link in regard to stock agencies. There are different types to hook up with.

http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/QnAdetail.asp?threadID=19389


To love this comment, log in above
11/6/2005 9:39:17 AM

 
Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2005
  Thank you, Nicole. That thread was really informative and interesting. I've looked a little at iStockphoto.com and it seems interesting, but I still don't know exactly how I am going to go about selling my photos.
I would appreciate any more help on finding a professional camera and taking courses. I also want to find out a good way(s) to sell my photos. The types of pictures I would probably like to take and sell when I become a pro are landscapes and wildlife/nature.


To love this comment, log in above
11/6/2005 11:06:17 AM

 
Jennifer W
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/26/2005
  "The easiest way I know to begin is to go to local events, family parties etc. and take photos of everyone and everything ~ offer prints to the people who attend"

Just a comment that I've found this to be a good way to get money for my photos and give me the opportunity to practice with no pressure (because people aren't *counting* on me to get the shot). I go to dog parks and take pics of people's dogs, and then I offer the prints for sale. It works! :) I'm not making a living off it, but it's nice pocket cash.


To love this comment, log in above
11/6/2005 11:25:46 AM

 
Nicole Kessel   Ariel, point and shoot cameras only offer you limited flexability and your always stuck with the same lens. When you get into lenses there can be significant differences. The focal lenths, type, and speed all make a difference.

Photographers choose specific lenses usually based upon what they are shooting and what they're budgets will allow. Buying an SLR is a good idea if your really into photography because it can grow with you as you grow as a photographer.

Keep in mind that nature and wildlife photography is one of the hardest to get into. There is just so much of it out there you really have to know your marketing as well as your photography to be sucessful solely based on it.


To love this comment, log in above
11/6/2005 11:26:43 AM

 
anonymous A.    There is no question that a good compact can produce professional results. Top pictures taken before the advent of the SLR in the 1950s stand up by comparison with anything taken since. I own a Panasonic FZ10 (not the latest or most featured in the range) and its 4 megapixel sensor gives better A4 prints than many 6mp cameras. The 12x optical zoom and image stabiliser and ability to take true macro shots makes it extremely flexible. Getting too concerned about what kind of camera before you have a clear idea of the kind of photos and markets you want to approach is a bit horse-before-cart.
Have a look through some of the Betterphoto Galleries and see if there is a trend in camera type amongst the photographers whose work you'd like to emulate.
David


To love this comment, log in above
11/6/2005 1:13:50 PM

 
anonymous A.   
 
 
To add to what Jennifer said: I have also found dog clubs a good source of sales; I always give a complimentary set of prints to he club after an event (good PR even if it costs a few sales), and sometimes I make a special print and frame it as a prize for one of their annual events at cost or free.
My costs are easily recovered by sales of casual photos to members and the profits come from "portrait" sessions arranged on the basis of my work, the fact that I am a sort of honorary member, and word of mouth from satisfied clients.


To love this comment, log in above
11/7/2005 3:41:29 AM

 
anonymous A.   
 
 
To add to what Jennifer said: I have also found dog clubs a good source of sales; I always give a complimentary set of prints to he club after an event (good PR even if it costs a few sales), and sometimes I make a special print and frame it as a prize for one of their annual events at cost or free.
My costs are easily recovered by sales of casual photos to members and the profits come from "portrait" sessions arranged on the basis of my work, the fact that I am a sort of honorary member, and word of mouth from satisfied clients.


To love this comment, log in above
11/7/2005 3:52:13 AM

 
anonymous A.   
 
 
To add to what Jennifer said: I have also found dog clubs a good source of sales; I always give a complimentary set of prints to he club after an event (good PR even if it costs a few sales), and sometimes I make a special print and frame it as a prize for one of their annual events at cost or free.
My costs are easily recovered by sales of casual photos to members and the profits come from "portrait" sessions arranged on the basis of my work, the fact that I am a sort of honorary member, and word of mouth from satisfied clients.
Oh! Forgot to mention re compacts vs. SLRs. The compact has a smaller sensor array which leads to increased noise (similar to grain in film) at any ISO setting.


To love this comment, log in above
11/7/2005 3:57:05 AM

 
Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2005
  Thanks, you guys. All this information is very helpful.

David, do you mean that before I find a camera I should know what types of things I will be shooting (with a camera only, of course) and to whom I will be selling the pictures? (What about before I take a photography course?) With that I mind, are you suggesting that I get $1000 SLR even just as I'm starting out instead a very good P&S for half it's price? Will an SLR last while I am changing from amateur to professional?

Anyhow, you guys are saying that I should photograph local events, animals, etc., but then how will I become a career professional? Will people start asking me to do photography for them or will I have to go out looking for someone to buy my work? Are there any good online sites where I could sell my work that would help me become a career professional?

Thanks again to everybody who helps.


To love this comment, log in above
11/7/2005 9:13:48 AM

 
Jennifer W
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/26/2005
  Ariel -

"Will people start asking me to do photography for them ?"

That's the idea. :)

"how will I become a career professional?"

What do you mean by "career professional"? Making a living by photography alone? I suppose you just keep at it, hone your craft, get more people to enjoy your work, enter contests, generally get your work known so that people want it, etc.

I'm no expert, so someone else might have a better/another idea, but what about selling prints on ebay if you want to get started *right now*?


To love this comment, log in above
11/7/2005 9:46:34 AM

 

BetterPhoto Member
 
 
 
Heather@betterphoto-testing uploading an image to discussion thread.


To love this comment, log in above
11/7/2005 10:51:44 AM

 

BetterPhoto Member
 
 
 
heather at betterphoto.com-testing uploading an image to a discussion thread.


To love this comment, log in above
11/7/2005 10:52:29 AM

 
anonymous A.    No, I meant that you shouldn't rush out to get a new camera ~ persevere with the one you have, master it and tune your eye while you learn your craft. As you become more competent the areas of photography in which your kit is the limiting factor will become more obvious and you will have a much clearer idea of what kind of camera will suit you better.
You wouldn't buy a P&S and suitable compact is going to set you back about the same as a low price SLR.
This "career professional" tag...it sounds like you already have an idea of what being a pro means; what is it? Most professionals make their living as sall business people, and it isn't an overly glamorous career. Not many are regularly published in the glossies or spend their time in exotic locations or photographing super models.


To love this comment, log in above
11/7/2005 12:49:32 PM

 
Jay A. Grantham
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/21/2005
  To become a "career professional" you should KNOW who is going to buy your work. I spend many hours researching the (second) career path that I would like to venture down and have read many opinions. The bottom line, to be successful you need to know your business. I can't recommend any books personally on the subject, but I've read many resources on the web. Take the time to research the business of photography. There are lots of folks out there that share their troubles and successes.


To love this comment, log in above
11/7/2005 1:33:49 PM

 
Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2005
  Hi, David. My current camera is the 2MP HP Photosmart 635. It doesn't have any manual controls except EV Compensation, ISO (100-200-400), 3x Optical Zoom, and slight Sharpness/Saturation control. The photos from the 635 in my gallery are pretty much the most I can get out of this camera, and I already feel pretty limited. (The reason I'm considering a camera like the Sony DSC-H1 is because I would not have any of these limitations with this camera/camera accessory kit.) I don't know if I would be able to use this camera in a photography course because it is a low-end camera without manual control. Do you still think I should work with my HP for a little while longer, and then move on to a better camera?
From what I’ve seen, an SLR that’s within $400-$600 is worse (picture quality, flexability) than a similarly priced P&S (with the ability to attach lenses and filters and full manual control). Do you still think that an SLR would be better?

I think Jay understood what I meant by "how will I become a career professional?" I want to find out how to, after starting locally, get bigger and bigger in the photography business (which I currently know very little about). I’m not interested in a glamorous career, just in a business. If I do a good job at local events, will I probably still need to research or pursue potential buyers? Is that what you, Jay, mean by “you should KNOW who is going to buy your work”?


To love this comment, log in above
11/7/2005 4:25:08 PM

 
Jay A. Grantham
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/21/2005
  "If you build it, they will come"... that worked out pretty well.

"If you shoot it, they will buy"... don't bank on it.

Who is "they".. you should know this. If you want to be a studio photographer, you have to know how to sell to the people that are interested in that product. If you are a photojournalist or sports photographer, you need to know how and who to get your work to. If you would like to be a stock photographer, you have to know what images sell to who with what type of licence. You have to know how much other photographers charge for the same work (if you under charge, that hurts you in the long run and the industry as a whole).

Get on the web and do research.. go to a library and do research. There are several "career professional" paths in photography.. some very different than others.

To answer your question about a camera, under "reviews" (on the left) choose the digital camera calculator. If I was in your position "I" would probably get a relativly low priced P&S that was small enough to take with me anywhere that has manual controls (app/ss priority modes) and have fun shooting. If nothing else, it can be your pocket throw down when you don't want to carry around the equipment that you will purchase in the near or far future.

Have a blast, don't be in a hurry and good luck!


To love this comment, log in above
11/7/2005 6:39:20 PM

 
anonymous A.    I think all the advice seems pretty consistent, and Jay has summed it up pretty well. As to the camera: I don't know which SLRs are in that price range, but I agree that the Sony is a very competent piece of gear. For me, the Panasonic is the top-of-the-class in this group although I am very impressed by the newly released Samsung. The only issue with the Sony for me is it's minimum aperture setting which I believe is f8. The max (f2.7) is good, but you may wish for a smaller "hole" in bright conditions.
That said, it will be a long time before you would want more than any of these lovely machines can deliver.
There is one rule worth rememering: if it stops being fun, you're doing it wrong!
Good luck.
David


To love this comment, log in above
11/7/2005 7:16:28 PM

 
Fred W. Voetsch  
 
 
Any decent camera over 5 megapixels will do to start with and I would suggest you focus (AHAHAHAHA) on learning the basics of photography first before spending a lot on equipment.

Dan Heller has a great site about the business of photography at
http://www.danheller.com/
...it is pretty easy to understand and even FUN to read if you REALLY have an interest in learning about selling your photos.

Best of luck!

Fred Voetsch
http://www.AcclaimImages.com


To love this comment, log in above
11/7/2005 8:36:54 PM

 
Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2005
  Thank you everyone for the great advice and encouragement. I know that this thread has provided me with a lot of valuable information.

Thanks again, and of course, any additions to this thread will be helpful and greatly appreciated.


To love this comment, log in above
11/8/2005 10:21:28 AM

 
Anita Allein   Hello!

I'm currently selling my images mainly on three portals - shutterstock, dreamstime and bigstockphoto
and my monthly income is around 400 US dollars. Enough to buy extra camera gadgets etc. Biggest part of that income comes from Shutterstock, which ironically pays least per photo.

Of course for a nice regular income you also have to build yourself a bigger gallery, but you have to start from somewhere :-)

My camera is Fujifilm Finepix s5000. It provides a little over 3 megapixels and at the moment i'm gathering money for a new one. But this one has served me for 2 years alreay and I get everything done with it. It has it's major down-sides, but generally it provides a good enough techincal basis to make photos for microstock portals. And since my photos are constantly bought -> it goes to show that you don't even need a professional gear when you are a microstock beginner.

In case you're interested - here are the links to these portals (with my referal codes in the end)

submit.shutterstock.com/?ref=3525

www.dreamstime.com/res20742

www.bigstockphoto.com/?refid=6djkZEOYu9


--


Cheers, Anita


To love this comment, log in above
11/15/2005 2:12:22 AM

 
Karen Orr
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/15/2005
  Hi Ariel,

We have some great courses that would enhance your skills and knowledge as you work towards your goals as a photographer. I couldn't help but pop in and respond to your question about the business of photography with a suggestion that you check out Vik Orenstein's course "The Business of Photography". Here's a link:

http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/VIK04.asp

Let me know if you have any questions. Hope to see you in a future class.
Karen@betterphoto.com


To love this comment, log in above
11/15/2005 11:36:28 AM

 
Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2005
  I don't know if I really want a class.... I was emailing a BP member who sells photography. He said to get my prints from CostCo and frame them at Aaron's Brothers. Then, I would go to a co-op gallery or something and sell my work. What do you think of that idea?


To love this comment, log in above
5/24/2006 5:01:36 PM

 
Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2005
  OH!!! And what do you think of ifp3.com? They look great for selling photos and much better than stock image sites!


To love this comment, log in above
5/24/2006 5:02:57 PM

 
anonymous A.    Neat looking site, that ifp3.com. How useful they are as a sales outlet depends on who goes there, whether they find the images they want, how well you market your images (ads, links etc) and a lot of other factors. But at least there is a good free trial period for you to find out in.
Good luck, Ariel.


To love this comment, log in above
5/26/2006 8:01:47 AM

 
Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2005
  Thanks, David. And I could also link to it from my gallery and from my blog, scrattyphotography..com. I haven't signed up yet (I still need to figure out about making/framing prints, and taking better photos), but I figure if Alex Smith from Nigeria wants to buy some he can pls go through my site ;-) (just joking).


To love this comment, log in above
5/26/2006 9:20:30 AM

 
Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2005
  Okay, I just researched on my own, and ifp3.com looks all right. I signed up for their free 10 day trial, and I started setting up the site. As of now, you should be able to buy downloads for some images. Later, I will add more images and add options to buy prints. Check out my new ifp3.com site! http://www.scrattyphotography.ifp3.com/

I'm also trying to work out selling prints in person, and I'm still considering going to dog or flower shows.


To love this comment, log in above
7/17/2006 4:25:20 PM

 
anonymous A.    Very neat looking site, Ariel...a bit empty, yet...
How do they promote your images?


To love this comment, log in above
7/18/2006 4:24:59 AM

 
Fred W. Voetsch   As some who has started a web site at http://www.acclaimimages.com to sell my stock photography and had it turn into a real business that now employs 8 people, I can tell you that 'a neat looking site' means little.

What ifp3.com or any site or agency should do for you is market your photos and as someone who keeps an eye on my competition I can tell you that I've yet to hear of them.

Now this does not mean they are not worth spending the time and money on but you really need to do your research and hitch your wagon to someone who is driven and determined, or already well placed to market your photos, unless you plan on doing that yourself and you had better be an expert in marketing because it is much more difficult than taking the photos. :-)

Good luck!

Fred Voetsch
ACCLAIM IMAGES


To love this comment, log in above
7/18/2006 7:43:49 AM

 
Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2005
  Thanks, David. I just set it up, so I didn't get a chance to upload all the images yet or set up the shopping cart to my liking.

I'm also open to suggestions on improvements, as I get some flexibility (though not total) in configuring the site.

Fred, I was doing a lot of research before signing up, and it seems like this site is just what I was looking for. I don't think ifp3 goes out and markets the images, but I have optimized it with keywords, etc., so that it should show up in search engines and Google image searches.

This site is also very user friendly, and it protects my images very well.

I'm still not sure how I'm going to market my work. If I go out and attend photo art shows, though, my site would give people an easy way to buy my work. I also have a blog that receives a pretty good number of visits for being so new, and I market my images there. Additionally, I plan on signing comments and answers I make with not only my blog, but my ifp3.com site, too.

Anyway, I would still profit from this site even if I only make a few sales a year. I expect to get more, though.

Do you have any other ideas for marketing, since you now have a full fledged business?

By the way, I'm very proud of making my site looking neat and professional. If people visit it, they are more likely to continue to use it.

Thanks again, guys!


To love this comment, log in above
7/18/2006 8:44:10 AM

 
Robert M. Nicholson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/19/2005
  I posted this in another thread and think it will work here too.
______________________________
Hello everyone,
In my experiences I believe that BP websites are a great deal. Cheap and easy. I decided to go with other route...purchased web hosting service and designed my site myself. I wanted to learn how to design and host websites. You need a lot of time and patience for that kinda endeavor. I read many books of web design, theory and e-biz. I personally like that stuff...yup I'm sort of a computer geek...enjoy business and of course photography. So it works for me.
About the selling prints:

I previously set up paypal on my site and had the buying options, shopping carts...this and that! And I thought HTML was time consuming!

I recently finished Jim Zuckerman's class "Making Money with your Photography” and learned so much! I highly recommend this class. He taught me so much about the ins and out of the money making side of photography.

Personally I have not had to much success selling prints straight from my website. Most of my sales come from me going to local galleries and gift shops. My website is good to send prospective buyers and show my work off. But the most important thing...you need a high volume of traffic to visit your site. Even then....people might still be reluctant to buy anything directly from your site...in these days of hacking and identity theft!! Also not many people Google photographs for sale or art prints...if they did you would be paying big bucks to Google, Yahoo and MSN for those top ranking spots!!

Rob


To love this comment, log in above
7/20/2006 1:22:43 PM

 
Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2005
  My site's even neater, now! :)
Still working out selling prints, though.

Ariel
ScrattyPhotography
ScrattyPhotography Blog


To love this comment, log in above
8/2/2006 8:48:15 PM

 
Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2005
  Fred, what did you do to get successful?

Also, has anyone heard of Bravenet marketing sites for people?

And how important is it to have my own domain name as opposed a .ifp3.com?

Thanks!


To love this comment, log in above
8/8/2006 4:28:00 PM

 
Fred W. Voetsch   Ariel wrote:
"Fred, what did you do to get successful?"

Why shucks, ma'am, you're embarrassing me! :-)

Mainly I work hard and promote the heck out of my site, Acclaim Images.

I started a Yahoo Group, 'selling stock photography', at
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/selling_stock_photography/
that has a lot of good info posted about the topic. I learned a lot from another Yahoo Group, 'STOCK PHOTO', that is a bit more devoted to the traditional approach to stock photography, but is still a wealth of information.

Fred Voetsch
ACCLAIM IMAGES


To love this comment, log in above
8/8/2006 7:19:58 PM

 
Fred W. Voetsch   Oh, as for the domain name, I think it is INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT but only if you are very committed to developing and marketing it.

Fred


To love this comment, log in above
8/8/2006 7:26:48 PM

 
Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2005
  Okay, so your site a stock photography company with many photographers. I just want a place to sell my work (prints, too, btw - still working that out).

I can have ifp3 change my web address to just http://scrattyphotography.com/ (with the old address still working as the new) for $45 (one time fee), and I'd need to buy my domain from 1&1 or something. I hear 1and1 lets you buy an email address with your own domain along with a domain name for $6 a year. Is this good? $50.99 total?

Thanks.


To love this comment, log in above
8/8/2006 8:39:41 PM

 
Log in to respond or ask your own question.