When I first started taking pictures, of course I wanted to sell them. But I didn’t try until I met the folks at Great Escape Publishing and they told me how to go about it. A few months later, I got $150 for these four photos of Portland’s Saturday market…
Bonnie Caton here and you might know me as the photographer who specializes in stock and headshots but I like selling my photos to magazines, too.
The trick is starting small.
Large publications like Conde Nast and National Geographic don’t usually work with amateur freelancers. But small publications, local papers, and limited-budget websites do.
Whether you’re trying to pitch your photographs with a story or you want to sell your photos separately as a photo essay, it’s a good idea to start selling your photos locally.
Here’s what to do:
STEP 1: Pick up a few local publications around town and flip through them. Before you contact the editor, get a sense for the kinds of articles and photos they like to run. These are the kinds of photos you’ll need to have.
Ask yourself: Do all the photos have people in them? Are they mostly horizontal, vertical or both? Do they include close-up details, or are they all generally shot with a wide angle? Are they light and airy or dark and moody? Do they include a lot of food photographs, animals or places? Are the people in the photos young or old, perfectly coiffed and attractive model-types or real people you’re likely to see on the streets in your town?
STEP 2: Pick a topic that’s suitable for the theme of the publication. While it’s next to impossible to sell your island beach vacation photos to your town’s local restaurant guide, they might appreciate photos of a nearby farmer’s market, food festivals, or close-ups of fresh food or coffee. Make a list of the places you can photograph near you that fit the style of each publication you find.
STEP 3: Contact the editor. I like to take the photos first and contact the editor after I have them, so I know can fulfill on my promise. (This is where you can use your “personal assistant” to step in, so you don’t accidentally say the wrong thing or spend your time emailing back and forth when you could be out shooting more pictures.)
Editorial images typically sell for $50-$500, depending on where they are placed in a publication and whether they are accompanied by an article.
Here’s another one I sold to International Living…
I like selling my photos as stock, because it’s passive income and I like seeing where they end up – on a billboard, someone’s computer screen… printed on doormats at Bed, Bath & Beyond… I even had one of my images used on a coffin!
But I like selling to photo buyers at magazines, too, because they typically pay well — and I like the prestige of framing the clip on my wall like a real journalist.