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Free Photos > The Photo Market • Marketable Photos

If you are a photographer who is interested in making money from your photos, one thing you will want to concern yourself with is how marketable your photos are.

free seagull photo
Seagull at the New Jersey shore.

In order to ensure that your photos are marketable, you must first know yourself and your potential market — or markets — extremely well.  Ask yourself questions like "What kind of photos do I take?" and "What kinds of individuals/organizations would be most interested in buying my photographs?"  A photographer who has a portfolio full of landscapes, for example, will most likely have a vastly different market from one who has a portfolio full of pet portraits.  Next, make a list of potential buyers.  Your list may include organizations, individuals, magazines, newspapers, public relations specialists, and advertising agencies.

There are no hard-and-fast rules regarding exactly where you market your photographs.  Some photographers have very narrow niches and only sell to one or two individuals or organizations, while others are more diversified and sell to a wide variety of organizations and markets.  Some photographers sell only to local buyers, while others use internet and stock photography sites to sell their photographs all over the world.

Regardless of how many people are on your potential list of buyers, one area that all photographers must concern themselves with in order to ensure maximum marketability is specialization.  Why is specialization so important?  Well, buyers want to know that they are buying the best photographs, by someone who has extensive knowledge of the subject matter.  When you become a specialist in a certain area and build a reputation for taking excellent photographs that reflect a solid understanding of the subject, buyers are more apt to purchase your photographs.

In addition to taking technically correct photographs that show knowledge of the subject, photographers must also tailor their images so that they meet the needs of their buyers.  This can be done by studying other images that currently appear in the magazine, journal, on the website, or wherever else they appear.  For example, the images projected in a fitness publication will be radically different than those projected in an Arts and Crafts publication.

Once you have made a list of potential buyers, and know more or less what they are looking for based on past and present images, request photo guidelines from each market.  After you have those guidelines in hand, you can submit your photographs accordingly.

Once you begin submitting photos, develop some sort of tracking system — computerized or by hand — that indicates which photos have been sent out and to whom, as well as which photographs have sold.

Pay particular attention to the photographs that sell.  Who have they sold to?  Are they selling to the same markets over and over?  What do these photographs have in common, if anything?  If you can pinpoint what specific markets like about your photos, you can use this information to make sure that you keep taking — and selling — marketable photographs.

sea grass on dunes
Sea grass
on sand dunes.
pine tree at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Florida
Pine tree,
southern Florida.
wild horse, Corolla, NC
Wild horse, Corolla, North Carolina.

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