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T.F. Photography Jun 6, 2011 11:29 PM

Photography Business
Hi guys. I am trying to decide weather or not to start a small business with my photos. I was wondering how you go around to doing that. Do you go online and start a website, with an online store? And any general tips? Thanks!

VTphotog Jun 7, 2011 12:02 AM

There are different kinds of photography business, as there are different kinds of photography, as well as many levels. What sort of photos? Portrait? Wedding? Sports? Landscape?
You might want to start out with a pro account at a photo hosting site, and sell through it.


T.F. Photography Jun 7, 2011 10:16 AM

Mostly nature and landscape.
Wait, i can sell through a photo through a photography site?

JohnG Jun 7, 2011 11:42 AM


Originally Posted by T.F. Photography (Post 1232265)
Mostly nature and landscape.
Wait, i can sell through a photo through a photography site?

The bigger challenge with selling landscape photos is: who is your audience? And how do you market to them? Let's say you get a smugmug pro site. Who is going to know the site exists? Who wants to buy your photos and how do you get them to your site? Are you looking to sell prints people will frame and put on their wall? I submit you're better off looking at local art galleries and researching how you could get your work displayed. With the billions of images on the web and the tens of thousand of galleries out there, the chance that someone will find your gallery is pretty slim.

zig-123 Jun 7, 2011 12:23 PM

John's points are all valid. I would suggest the following steps:

Join an art association, artisan guild and/or photography club in your area.
The purpose is to network with people who have the same interests as you.

Many of these organizations have places, exhibits and shows where you can participate in selling your work.

Another important reason to join one of these organizations is that they will jury your work. The first question a gallery will ask you is : Have you had your work juried. You wont get anywhere if your answer is no.

As for selling on the web, unless your name is Clyde Butcher or Ansell Adams, expect to sell zilch on the web.

Good luck in your journey.


Saltine713 Jun 7, 2011 4:34 PM

If you are having questions about this, then you are not ready for a business. You need to know all of the aspects of the business first. If you don't know about pro hosting sites that can sell your work, then you need to get some more knowledge first.

VTphotog Jun 7, 2011 4:50 PM

One possible way to get your feet wet, is to print some of your photos as note cards or postcards, and sell through small stores in tourist areas. You may also be able to display framed prints for sale in these places. Some places will take your work on consignment and pay you when it is sold, minus their commission. Others will want you to pay the commission fee up front.


PeterP Jun 8, 2011 11:05 AM

One part of our business is selling prints and licensing image files.
We picked photoshelter to run our image archive as it can handle RM, RF, and print sales in various forms and we found one of our photo-heroes ( Art Wolfe ) uses it.
So if it was good enough for him. we would give it a go.

Depending on your planned business model you need

state (province), and county (township) business permits and licenses.
Federal/provincial tax numbers (you do need to collect and pay taxes!
Business insurance,

Decision on what type of business you are going to run, sole proprietorship, llc s-corp, etc.

Depending on what you are doing for a photo business if someone has an accident on your property or because of your equipment on location how you are setup determines what they can go after.

Also includes what they can go after if your are sued over image contents,
IE: Image includes private property or people you did not obtain a release for.
Being a member of PPA/PPoC helps here they have lawyers that can assist with these annoyances.

Or if you are doing contract type work (weddings / teams / portraits) and you get nailed with a failure to perform. (your images are no good, lost or the customer just does not like them)
Lots of fun,

yes having a website is a start then you need to work on SEO (search engine optimization) so you start to show up in google
Real fun and very low return for all your work.

Here are some staggering numbers
photoshelter itself was boasting it had 65,000 photographers all trying to sell their images
and there are a lot of other services just like it .SmugMug is another popular one which also has a huge number of photographers slogging their wares.
It really takes a lot to stand out from the crowd and get noticed.
The market is really badly flooded with nature / landscape / wildlife / bird images they are some of the most popular images for people to take and as a result are the hardest to sell.

Same goes for weddings/portraits every town has a constant turnover of people coming into the field then dropping out quickly. It is a lot of work to do properly, thanks to low-balling by weekend warriors and shoot&vburn artists the field has become difficult to make a living at.

However after all that, if all you want to do is sell some prints as a hobby
hitting the art fair circuit and trying some local galleries to see if they will carry your prints can work out nicely for a few sales here and there.

Can't stop without at least one or two links !
Best Business Practices for Photographers by John Harrington is a good read for those wanting to run a photography business.
as is ASMP professional business practices in Photography

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