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What’s selling?

You’ve probably heard a photographer tell you how difficult it’s getting to make a good living out of photography. You’ve probably been told, at some point, “Don’t bother”. Should you carry on? Do you keep going, knowing what may lay ahead? selling

The quick answer is yes, of course you do! selling selling selling selling selling

There has definitely been a shift in the commercial gear when it comes to business, especially when it comes to self employed status or people on the brink of going it alone. But if you study your market carefully there’s no reason why you still can’t carve yourself a nice wedge of commercial cake.  So, with micro-stock causing headaches for many professionals and the fact that your neighbour’s best friend’s cousin’s son’s son, daughter, dog, cat and pet hamster all claim to be photographers and are willing do do it for free, how can you possibly sell your work? selling

Walk down the high street of your local town and you should be able to name at least a handful of places who are all purchasing images. Of course, you will need to put your business head on for a while, but that’s what is needed sometimes for you to spot opportunity. I stopped in for a coffee at a small cafe in Wales, noticed spaces in the framed pictures on the walls. I mentioned it to the manager and we got chatting about what would look nice etc… and left with a commission to shoot one offs for their walls. I also know of a photographer who was commissioned to do family portraits while waiting for a bus, after her car had broken down. Okay, it doesn’t happen every day but it does show it’s possible… and you never know where or who will buy. So keep your eyes open and see where pictures fit in, you never know.

So, what sells best? Well, that depends on your target market, but here’s a brief list of top sellers in general to help you out. selling

Landscape selling

Landscape photography has always been one of the top sellers. The content of your picture will also help the sale i.e. prominent places can play a huge part. A nice sunset over the hills is nice, but a nice sunset over the Taj Mahal at Agra can be nicer. Being too general with your image may prevent sales. Which is why many landscape photographer travel a lot. But what if you can’t travel? Start with your local town and go from there. You will often see beautiful landscapes of your local town in local shops or galleries, so it’s a good place to start. From there you may want to move on, farther afield. After all… all towns and cities are local to someone, right?

Make sure that before you start investing your time, your images will be different in some way. Add something different to your image if possible, there are probably more landscape photographers and enthusiasts than any other. So a little difference, may be noticed a lot.

Abstract / Macro

You can’t go for coffee without spotting an abstract or macro photograph adorning the walls. This is great news to a photographer in that field because when it comes to this style, there are countless images that can be produced. But saying that, it does take some forward thinking and a lot of skill. Once again, your target market is important. When you research you will notice the different trends of style, follow these trends the best you can. But as with everything, try to be a little different. Take a look to see how the image market is populated. When you do this you will notice that certain kinds of images will repeat themselves. Does this mean they are popular? Well, yes, but it may well be that they are free and that’s why. It’s not an easy task to determine which is which but you will get the feel of a given trend, and this can be helped along by already researching your target market i.e. Who buys? Where buys?… Knowing this will no doubt reduce your image research time. selling


This is a style which can encompass other styles within its wide and varied chronicles. The usual image here is one of no real ideology, allowing for an image to be used for more than one purpose. Everywhere you look you will find this kind of image, (especially Facebook) firmly placed within its context, allowing the purchaser to convey their meaning, idea, cause etc… whatever the context, the image will fit perfectly… but can quite easily be removed and used for an alternate meaning. These images, although popular, are not as easy to create as the quality is imperative. Careful planning and research is needed before you commit yourself. There’s no point in producing a perfectly good image only to find that your target market need an image at 7m x 2m. Not everyone thinks of where their image may end up being placed, but when it comes to commercial? It’s important to remember this. selling

Portrait Lifestyle

Becoming more popular by the day is portrait photography sales. This may sound great to many, it may even sound easy. Let’s face it, portraits are easy, right? Well, actually they’re not easy at all, in fact it’s quite possibly the hardest of all. For you to be able to start selling portrait pictures to your eager buyers, you will need to adhere to some strict guidelines. Emotion being one of them… Does your image say anything, feel anything. Do you smile when you view it? Does it leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling? These are all questions you should be asking yourself, there’s no point in meeting with a buyer who shows interest in your pictures, only for you to show images with no invested interest such as humour, emotion, sadness etc… It is where we learn once again about our old friend “Context”. Your image needs to say at least something, so context is extremely important. Showing a man clock-watching may be okay, but showing a man clock-watching in an office environment will work better. Remember context, if done correctly, will speak for you. It’s also possible to take popular portrait images without showing a face, sometimes this may work best for what you or your client need. You will also need to make sure you have all the correct paperwork completed, such as Model Contracts and Release forms; remember that without these your sales will be halted and images may end up being unusable. selling

So, there it is. Just a few of what is currently selling in today’s market. So, get out there and create some great images for sale… Before the market changes.

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