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How can I monetize my photos?


David George Port Saint Lucie, FL

I have been taking photos for years and have amassed a large amount, many of which focus on Nature= flowers, animals, birds and other natural surroundings. I have also taken many photos at the Disney theme parks and Seaworld which would make great displays in hotels and resorts that could be used as a marketing tool for these tourist destinations. What should I do to get the word out to businesses that could use them? Someone told me it would cost $50 to have each photo copyrighted! That's not something I want to spend my money on hoping to get some attention

11 December 2020 2 replies Small Business



George Wilhelmsen Rochelle, IL

Hi David,

Here are a couple of suggestions. They aren't sure things, but you have to start somewhere.

For the record, I've sold thousands of photographs, including 2 covers, so I'm not going at this with no knowledge.

The majority of the photographs I sold were to magazines - and here is the hitch - they went with articles.

I toyed with selling to calendar suppliers, but never tried.

This is what I would suggest:
1. Look for publications (ANY publications) which feature nature photographs like yours.
2. Submit to them.
3. Look for calendars (now on clearance) at mall sites and Amazon. Note who the publisher is.
4. Look up that publisher, and send them a query as to whether they are buying or not with a few of your best photos to get their attention.
5. Consider sending stuff to your local newspaper that is seasonal. It doesn't pay much, but it gets your name out there with the cutline (photo by Your Name Here) which can attract other attention to your work.
6. Consider taking pictures that people need. For examples, some newspapers need pictures of sporting events, city council meetings. It gets your foot in the door for cutlines.

When you sell a photograph or article, you sell the First North American Serial Rights in most cases. The magazine / calendar / newspaper / publication provides the copyright coverage under the sale.

I will offer the caveat that I did all my photography sales while working a full time job. Photography didn't pay the bills. It kept me in good camera equipment for the most part.

Finally, you have to spend money to make money. Make sure you are using a professional grade camera (which is expensive). If you aren't, your file sizes may not work for the magazine.

I hope this helps. Thank you for your service!

George Wilhelmsen


Paul Tusting Salt Lake City, UT

Hi David,

It has been a long time since I shot photography as a serious hobby/semi-professionally, but here are a few thoughts.

I have known a number of people who made money using a stock photography database website. I just did a google search for "submitting images for stock photography" and a number of things came up, including this summary:

Claiming copywrite status on your images doesn't require a fee.
Using google again, I just searched "copywriting photography" and found this:

Searching through the various sites hosting stock photos (first link) will give you best practices on a number of things including technical stuff (what resolution/size, level of compression, file formats, etc.), but also talk about legal aspects (I'd be surprised if you will be able to sell photos with content from theme parks or with logos. Additionally, unless you are doing editorial work (i.e. like a reporter), you will need "model releases" for people in your images who could be recognized.

If you really want to do this, you'll need good photo editing software. The default for processing a lot of photos is Adobe Lightroom, and it is not very expensive (compared to photos gear) nor very hard to learn (it is a lot simpler than Photoshop).

I suggest starting with building a stock photography portfolio, as it will help prepare you for going after clients directly (which is a separate subject, and one that will almost make sense on how to do after you've been doing the stock thing for a while).

Hope that helps, Paul

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