Today’s post Inspired by the writings of the late Rohn Engh
If you want to make a living from stock photography, you need to follow a basic business concept: Positioning. If your photo collection is strong with images of automobiles, you should position yourself to become a valuable resource to editors who need these kinds of photographs.
Photographers should position themselves so well in their specialty area that they get put on specific photographer’s “available list” and speak the language of the special interest that photobuyers need for their readers and advertisers. These photographers can phone photo editors to let them know they’ll be in France or Italy, or inform the editor they’ve discovered a new aspect of their special subject matter. Nowadays, you don’t have to be a full-time pro to do this. The technology of cameras and the Internet will allow you to do this part-time, and still keep your day job.
To be a successful part-time stock photographer, you need to brand yourself. Hence the custom shirts (above) that I wear at automotive events. Think of a brand the same as you think of an artist’s style. When you think of van Gough, Matisse, Mondrian or Picasso you think of a certain style that identifies each of them. In the same manner, your specialization will be your brand. Your theme photos may be automobiles and when you submit your first selection of photos to a publisher, you want the photo buyer to say, “This photographer speaks my language.”
Once you sell your first photo to a publisher, it becomes easier to make subsequent sales. After a photographer establishes him/herself with a publisher, he can expect to stay with that publisher for an average of ten years. The individual photo editors or graphic artists at such a publishing house may come and go but the theme of the publisher usually remains the same. And, the business relationship may go on even longer.
And that is the beauty of marketing your own photos. You can choose to stay with only one or two publishers or go big time and deal with dozens who focus on that theme, and, of course, you can repeat the process with two or three additional themes, if you position and brand yourself.
The Sixth Edition of Sell & Re-Sell Your Photos: Learn How to Sell Your Photographs Worldwide by Rohn Engh and Mikael Karlsson is available from Amazon for $16.99. It is the definitive work on stock photography for anyone who wants to try making a living in this field. Years ago, when I purchased the first edition of this wonderful book, I made my first stock sale with days of finishing reading it.