It concerns me as a photographer when I see the numerous articles and ebooks about making cash from your camera. 8 Easy steps or 10 ways to turn those snapshots into cash. And, “Hi shutterbug here’s a foolproof way to turn those photos into dollars”. Or, earn $200-$400 per day from your camera. With all the resource boxes pointing to, you guessed it, books and CDs that will help you make money from your camera or rather the authors make money from your purchase.
All of us who are photographers would love to make a regular income from the hobby or profession we love. None of us want to be told that it is difficult, it takes time and not many people make it. These dubious dealers give the impression that anyone can make money from their photos. Rubbish! If you take a look at the stock sites and see the quality of images for sale, you’ll realise that unless you are really talented you will never produce the quality that the buyers are looking for. Do yourself a favour. Do a search on the name of the ebook author who makes all of these claims using Google and then go to the major stock sites and do the same. Where are these authors making their money? From you! If it was so easy why don’t they have thousands of images on the stock sites? I rest my case.
Take a look at the guidelines for submission on the stock sites. Every last one of them requires a camera that takes a high resolution image. Some even state that they’ll only accept images taken on certain mid-range to high-end digital slrs. Don’t even think that you will be able to compete with your compact camera. You stand no chance. Your images are just not big enough.
I have been on seminars given by successful stock photographers from the microstock sites and all them state that it is tough, demands long hours of work and takes a long time to make a reasonable income. Some never make it despite quality, dedication and a lot of effort. It is not a part-time money making machine as claimed by the ebook authors.
If you don’t believe me go take a look at the forums dedicated to stock photography and you will see the discouragement and difficulties of would be stock photographers. All of them asking the same questions. Where did I go wrong? They went wrong by believing the promises of the ebook authors of the cash from your camera books.
So what does it really take to make money from your camera, if it is at all possible for the amateur? You have to make a decision to dedicate yourself to your photography even if it is part-time. Carefully consider the following points:
1. Dedication to the art of photography
If you are not a dedicated photographer striving for excellence in your art there is no real money to be made. Sorry that’s the bottom line. There are so many talented artists producing high quality images that you do not stand a chance if you cannot compete in this field. You need to up your standards and create images that are very high quality.
2. Dedication to detail
Every detail in your image needs to be perfect. This is what the buyer is looking for. He doesn’t come along and say, “now which poor point-and-shooter can I help make money today”? When a buyer is planning to put a photo on a billboard every detail must be perfect. Examine your images and ask yourself, “Would I see this image in a magazine?”
3. Dedication to quality
99.9% of snapshots won’t make it past the stock site evaluators. Their standards are very high. Sharpness, great colours and perfect composition are just some of the factors you must take into consideration when planning to sell your images. You have to be a photographer, either a pro or dedicated amateur regularly looking at the quality of your images and pushing the limits. Look at the books and magazines and compare your photos. Do they compete? If the answer is yes then you are getting close. The ebooks say that there are millions of people looking for photos for the school and class assignments or projects who will buy your images. Get real! If they have the opportunity to buy an ordinary snapshot or a high quality image shot by a top photographer both selling for a dollar, which would they choose?
4. Dedication to discipline
Discipline is key to any hobby or vocation and especially so with photography. You need to be discplined in your learning and improving your skills constantly. You need to be disciplined in your shooting and editing your images. And, you need to be disciplined in your submission of quality images to the stock libraries and photo sites. It’s a numbers game. The more quality content you have out in the market the more chance you have of buyers selecting your images. You cannot do it on a whim or when you feel motivated to do it. It is essential to have a commitment to the task and a disciplined overall process.
5. Dedicated to achieving results
If at first you don’t succeed try and try again. If at first you don’t get the results you desire don’t give up or try something else. Keep at it until you see results. It’s like the little green shoot popping its head above the soil or the tip of the iceberg. You are building the roots that will support the later growth of your business. If you don’t have a results driven motivation to see it to the end you will not achieve the success you set out to attain.
The formula the top stock photographers who are working at this full-time say they earn between $1 and $2 per image in their total portfolio per annum, i.e. if they have 10 000 images with a site they’ll earn on average $10 000 to $20 000 per year. Not the $6000 to $10000 per month the cash from your camera ebooks claim.
It’s a hard uphill road to success with photography. The photo world is competitive and saturated with good quality images. If you are to succeed you must break through the barrier from great to outstanding. You must stand head and shoulders above the rest in your quality and excellence. Your images must shout out to the buyer and catch his attention. If they don’t you will be relegated to page 700 and something on the stock website and there you will remain with all the other ordinary images never to be seen again. It is achievable, not as the cheap cash from your camera aurhors say it is, but as a result of hard work and excellence in your photography.