Jun 18, 2005

Market Your Photography Business

By Roy Barker

Setting up your own photography business it easy, you don’t need office space in can be done from your own home. However this is not the easiest type of business to market, especially if you are new to the business. Quite often to market this type of business you need specialist contacts, and your newness to the business precludes you from having these contacts, unless of course your surname is Eastman.

Don’t underestimate the power of marketing, because it is the tool that can make or break your business. You need to market your photography business. Marketing is the commercial aspect of transferring goods from one owner to another. Without this tool you are lost, but don’t despair, there are effective avenues you can explore to market your business successfully.

First of all you need to decide what form of business you are going to set up, there are only two basic types - Assignment photography and Stock photography.

Assignment photography covers jobs that you have been hired to photograph. In other words you have a specific target to photograph. An example of this type of photography is to cover Mr X’s wedding. This type of the photography is the bread and butter of photographers, however it is unlikely to win you the Pulitzer Prize for photography.

The photographs will have a limited appeal, in the case of Mr X’s wedding; no matter how technically perfect those photographs are, they are going to have a limited appeal. They are simply not marketable outside the field of the family of Mr X.

Stock photography, is exactly what the name suggest, you have a stock of photographs and you have to market them. You have taken the photographs without having a buyer. This type of photography is much more speculative, and you may waste a lot of resources. You may have to invest a great deal of time and or film, depending on whether you are using an SLR camera, or a Digital Camera. Non-professionals think these photographs occur when you are in the right place at the right time. In reality though, being in the correct place has an element of advantage, who can forget the child on fire from Napalm running out of a village in the Vietnam war; often they are a particular photograph taken out of a series of hundreds. Whilst these photographs are often more exciting to take, they can be boring as well, and you may never quite get that photograph that “Says it All”.

There are effective ways to market these stock photographs, which is wonderful for the beginner because you do not bear the cost of the marketing. There are several stock picture libraries on line. You submit your photographs to these libraries, and they then sell the rights for others to reproduce them. The price structure on this type of photography depends on its content and also where it is sold. It may go on the front page of an encyclopaedia with a print run of half a million, and it may go on someone’s private web site. There will be a different rate for the type of photograph and its market. When your photograph is sold the library will deduct a percentage of your commission for marketing and of course profit.

Most photographers when they start will combine these types of business to varying degrees. There are several ways that you can boost your marketing profile without actually spending any money. Join a local photography society is one way, another is to go to your local town hall and see if your local chamber of commerce has a group of professional photographers. Another more involved way to market your business and bring it into a higher profile with the local community is to offer to teach photography free of charge. Yes I know the chances are that you are working from home, but why not offer to do it in a local school.

The debate is still raging about SLR cameras versus digital, and it looks like it will for some time to come.

It is still fair to say that most photographers want great imaging, in a compact affordable package. Improved design techniques for the digital camera are now delivering a viable alternative to 35mm film, but one of the drawbacks to marketing this type of film, was the time consumed producing digital photographs at home. Home development often does not give a professional finish. There are now photo development agencies online which will give you great images. You upload the photographs on to your chosen site and they will print them and forward them on to you. This way you can ensure crystal clear prints to your instructions. Kodak gallery allows you to share your prints online afterwards by allowing you storage space, which means that you don’t even have to scan your pictures. Don’t forget to check out our other articles for great hints and tips for every step of your business development. Make your business work for you!

Whilst marketing is a very important aspect of the business, it does not compensate for lack of quality. Sharp clear prints sell, and others don’t. Make sure that you invest in good quality basics, such as a tripod. It is not necessary to invest in products you will use once a year, if you need them then hire them, especially when you are just starting. Even if you use digital, it is still a fact that the lens is more important than the camera. Make sure the equipment you buy is going to work for you. Extra time spent asking questions before you buy will pay dividends later, in terms of money saved. Everyone wastes money at some time or other, but being forethought and researching can reduce that substantially.

Publisher & author: Roy Barker. Roy is the author of Income from Photography, an ebook which guides the reader on how to start up and market a Profitable Photography business. It can be viewed at http://www.profitable-photography.com. Other related and reviewed services & research sources can be found at http://www.profitable-photography.com/html/117/ The information on this and adjoining pages may be reprinted and used on other sites providing all information remains unchanged and the article and all pages remain as they are found here in its current font size & image with all links in tact.

Stock Photography: GOING DIGITAL will show you
  • How To Get Started - What you need to do to begin--or continue--in stock photography, today.
  • Choosing Your Markets - Where and how to find photo buyers the easy way. How to let them know about your stock photography services. How to get them to take a look at your work. How to cultivate their continued interest in what you do.
  • How To Market Your Stock Images - The marketing process. Benefits in marketing your own work as well as why you might choose not to do it yourself and work through an agency, instead.
  • Working With Agencies - What they expect. How they operate in a digital world. How you can work with them online. Information about the agencies I've used to market my work.
  • Your Stock Photography Website - Why you need one. What your site should and should not be. How to use your website in your marketing. Where and how you can get your own "agency" webspace if you don't want to create and maintain a website of your own.
  • Digital Cameras - Why you may want to semi-retire your film camera and concentrate on shooting with a digital camera, instead. The criteria your next digital camera should meet for your work to be better accepted among photo buyers.
  • Scans & Scanning - Why you need a film scanner if you have stock images on transparency film. How to clean up and improve your scans. Interpolation, file types, file sizes... how your scanned images should be handled to meet the needs of most markets.
  • And much more...