This is a photo of me hard at work (!) in the Aurukun Wetlands of Cape York, far north Australia. I was there photographing with a group of travel writers and was just about to head out to photograph some brolgas we'd heard calling that morning. It was taken by my good friend Louise Southerden, a wonderful travel writer and photographer.
This was one of those mornings where I just have to pinch myself when I think that I actually get paid to do this! I realise that I am very lucky and I also realise that many of you also probably have a dream of selling some of your images, even if it's only to cover expenses.
So where do you start? I'm not going to turn this into a blog about becoming a professional travel photograher, as I want to concentrate more on the photography itself, but I thought it would be a good idea to point you in the right direction of some resources to help you if that's a road you feel like taking.
Let's start with some books:
Probably the best book I've found on the logistics of running a photography business is Tom Zimberoff's epic book Photography:Focus on Profit. This really is an amazing book and it even comes with free Photo Business software.
The second book is Negotiating Stock Photo Prices by Jim Pickerell. It has a great guide to thousands of possible different uses and the prices you should aim for. It's US based so some of them might be a bit higher than what you can get in other countries but it's a good starting point to give you some idea of the value of your images (hint: they're worth a hell of a lot more than the $1 or so you can get on those microstock sites!)
WhenI first started I used this fantastic book John Shaw's Business of Nature Photography It's a bit dated now in terms of its talk about film cataloguing and text based databases but it's got a lot of great information about starting a photography business in such a specialised field and a lot of what he talks about is very relevant for travel photography as well.
And the last book I'm really going to recommend if you're having trouble keeping up with all your digital files is The DAM book by Peter Krogh. It literally changed my life in terms of the way I work with my digital pictures.
If you're a blog and web kind of person then there are a few great sites. Probably my favourite photography business blog is John Harrington's This is an amazing resource full of lots of good information about running a photography business. He also has a fantastic book which gets rave reviews. I've yet to get a copy but it's on my list!
Another great blog about promoting yourself is the Burns Auto Parts blog by Photo Consultant and all-round photo marketing guru Leslie Burns-Dell'Acqua. Or Selina Maitreya's Port Authority site. A couple of women dedicated to improving the lot of photographers.
If you want to look at a couple of stock libraries that might be interested in what you have the ones I use are: Lonely Planet Images, Alamy, and the new kid on the block is Photoshelter
If you'll notice I haven't mentioned any books on how to take photos. That's deliberate. If you want to sell pictures it's a given that your pictures are good enough. The business side of things is what you really have to get a handle on if you want to do more than just sell your soul.
There are plenty of wanna-bes willing to give their work away for peanuts just to make themselves feel good. If you really want to make some money as well as help the photography industry and your fellow travel photographers then I recommend that you get a feel for the business side of things. Don't sell your stuff cheaply, value your worth and take such beautiful pictures that people can't help but pay you lots of money to publish them!
Next week I'm going to take a specific magazine assignment and show you exactly what's involved in preparing for, shooting and then submitting a job. Stay tuned!
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