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The Photo Market


Free Photos > The Photo Market • Marketable Photos

There are plenty of opportunities for professional photographers to sell their work.  There are four segments that comprise the photography market.  These segments are:
  • Advertising
  • Editorial
  • Corporate
  • Merchandise
Each segment has its own policies, rules, and regulations.

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Waterfront lighthouse replica.

The Advertising Market

The advertising market is comprised of organizations that use photos to create brand awareness or promote their products to the public.  Companies who frequently use photography for this purpose include advertising agencies, design firms, and public relations companies.  These organizations use their knowledge and expertise to choose photographs that will appeal to people's emotions, and invoke them to buy a particular product or use a particular service.  The advertising market can be further broken down into two additional segments — the consumer advertising segment, and the trade advertising segment.  The consumer advertising segment is designed to appeal to individual consumers, while the trade advertising segment is designed to appeal to those who make the buying decisions at businesses.  This distinction is important to the photographer, as they charge significantly more for photographs used in the trade advertising market.

When it comes to purchasing photography, there are two main groups who buy digital images for all market segments — creative organizations such as advertising agencies, graphic designers, public relations specialists, and publishers; and non-creative organizations that purchase and disseminate stock photography.

The Editorial Segment

Photographs used in the editorial segment are those that provide value to readers by showing them an image, and are not designed to sell them a particular product and service.  For example, a website article on birds may be accompanied by a photographic image of a hummingbird for the reader's reference.  Editorial photographs can be found in books, encyclopedias, atlases, magazines, multimedia programs, academic papers, newsletters and newspapers, documentaries and news programs, and on informational websites.

Unlike photographs in the other market segments, photographs used in the editorial segment do not require a model release.

The Corporate Segment

The corporate segment is one of the healthiest segments in the photography market.  That's because corporations all over the world depend upon photography to show others what their businesses are all about.  Unlike the advertising market, the point of photography used in the corporate segment is not to promote an organization's product or service.  Rather, it is used to promote the organization itself.  To further explain the distinction, let's say that a coffee manufacturer uses photographs in advertisements that show how delicious its coffee is, and also uses photographs in its annual report to show its coffee-making facilities to investors and others.  The former situation would be considered the advertising segment while the latter situation — the situation in which the organization is, in effect, selling itself — would be considered the corporate segment.

Photographs used in the corporate segment are commonly found in annual reports, company newsletters and magazines, company brochures, calendars, business websites, Powerpoint and other audiovisual presentations, and on posters.

The Merchandise Segment

The merchandise segment comprises those organizations that use photographs as part of a product for sale, such as calendars, picture frames, and greeting cards.

Photographer Resources

For more information about photography markets and the photography business, you may wish to investigate 2016 Photographer's Market and Guide to Building Your Photography Business.

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Bicycle brake
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Red geranium
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Catalina ferry girl, California.

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The Photo Market - Photography Market Segments