photos that sell

Posted by & filed under Travel Photography.

If you’re like most photography enthusiasts, you have thousands and thousands of photos stashed on your hard drives – and you continue to amass more. 

You’ve read about stock photography, travel photography, and fine-art photography. And you’re intrigued by the opportunities to turn your photos into cash. You’ve improved your photo quality and practised your Lightroom skills. Now you are ready and eager to take that next step to becoming a money-making photographer. But where do you begin? How do you identify the kind of photos that sell from your growing collection? 

As someone who loves photography and shooting images (and lots of them) wherever I go, here are some easy first steps in selecting sale-worthy images from your archives:

1. Think local

Sometimes the best place to start is at home. You likely have dozens of photos from around your hometown: historic or architectural landmarks, popular events or activities, iconic landscapes. Look at your hometown with new eyes. Local people and visitors will buy photos of the places they love and the activities they enjoy.  But make sure you have an original perspective or new angle on a well-known object or activity. 

For example, it rarely snows in my hometown. But when it does, it’s beautiful. People love the snowy scenes, especially around Christmas. I routinely sell cards and prints of beautiful snowy scenes along a popular shoreline trail.

photos that sell

Kayaking is a popular activity where I live and kayak-related photos, like this, are always popular. The photo is generic, and people can imagine themselves there. Photos like this sell as cards at local markets, as art in local shows or galleries or even to stock agencies.

photos that sell

2. Think global

When we travel, we usually visit the most well-known or famous sites and locations – things like Paris’s Eiffel Tower, India’s Taj Mahal, or the ruins of Machu Picchu are photographed hundreds of thousands of times.  But publications or stock sites are always looking for fresh, interesting perspectives. 

For example, Vernazza, one of the scenic villages of Cinque Terre in Italy, is photographed every day. But this image, shot as I was approaching by sea, with the waves crashing in the foreground, offers a unique vantage point. This striking photo was featured on the front page of the travel section of the Vancouver Sun and helped earn me a byline for a story about my visit to the area. 

photos that sell

This image taken of a lighthouse off the coast of Capri in Italy is striking but rather generic. However, it’s my highest-grossing image on my stock sites, not because it is Capri, but because a lighthouse is a strong symbolic image that stock agency clients can utilize to portray many messages – strength, safety, security, trust. 

photos that sell

So, take the time to sort through you images. I’m sure you have some winners in there, too. Then think about where they might fit – stock, fine art, travel magazines – and take that next step. (If they need editing, be sure to follow Daniel’s tips here.) Good Luck!

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