Professional Outdoor and Nature Photography 8: Starting Your Photography Business | Charlie Borland | Skillshare

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Professional Outdoor and Nature Photography 8: Starting Your Photography Business

teacher avatar Charlie Borland, Professional photographer for over 35 years

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

14 Lessons (1h 44m)
    • 1. Intro to This Course

    • 2. Are You Sure You Want to Be a Pro?

    • 3. 10 Commandments of Pro Photography

    • 4. Are You a Specialist or Generalist?

    • 5. What is Outdoor Stock Photography

    • 6. Who Buys Stock Photos

    • 7. The Idea of Concepts

    • 8. Finding Places to Photograph'

    • 9. Are You a Local Hero or International Nobody

    • 10. How to Find Clients

    • 11. How to Find Clients Pt 2

    • 12. Contacting Prospective Clients

    • 13. How to Sell Yourself

    • 14. Sending Images to Clients

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About This Class

Now that you have great images, who is going to pay you to use them? This course covers finding clients, working with them, selling yourself to them, and much more. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Charlie Borland

Professional photographer for over 35 years


Charlie Borland has been a commercial and stock photographer for over 35 years. Based in Oregon, his clients include Xerox, NW Airlines, Fujitsu, Tektronix, Nike, Blue Cross, Nationsbank, Precision Castpart's Corp., Mentor Graphics, Texas Instruments, Pacificorp, Cellular One, Sequent Computer, Early Winters, Cascade Bancorp, and AGC. He has won numerous awards for his photography and received recognition for annual reports he has photographed.

His imagery has been used thousands of times worldwide, including National Geographic Adventure and Traveler, Outside, Women's Sport and Fitness, Newsweek, TV Guide, CIO, Sports Illustrated for Women, Time, Backpacker, Sunset, American Photo, Outdoor Photographer, Eco Traveler, Southern Bell, to name a few.

Charlie has been teaching... See full profile

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Photography Creative

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1. Intro to This Course: I am Charlie Borland and welcome to my course ongoing pro part of my Siris on how to be a professional outdoor and nature photographer. If you've been watching this Siri's since the very first course, you have a good understanding of how and what to shoot. So now it's time to take a hard look at the business of being a professional outdoor and nature photographer. In this course, we will examine the realities of being in the business full time by taking a look at the products that photographers create, which is photographs. We will examine who buys those photographs and a whole lot more about how clients respond when they're looking for images. Just a Zim. Porton is having a clear understanding what subjects and where those subjects are that will make good photographs to sell. I will follow that by demonstrating the idea of concepts and photography, which is a solid technique for better selling images. Then it's important to understand that every business needs clients, so we will explore the many ways to find clients how to get in touch with them and how to sell yourself. So if you're ready to get started planning your outdoor and nature photography business, let's get started 2. Are You Sure You Want to Be a Pro?: so I want to start with a question. Are you sure you want to be a professional nature photographer? Are you wondering why I asked? Well, here's why. Many amateur photographers dream of being a professional and making their passion for photography pay enough to live that dream. It's the allure of traveling, exploring and photographing the landscape, wilderness areas and far off travel destination that drives many to take what they love to do part time and turn it into a full time business. Pros and amateurs have the same passion to be out there exploring, experiencing, discovering and documenting with the camera. It's the idea that being paid, doing what you love to do will allow even Mawr photographic opportunities, including travel to exotic places, and that, in turn, will earn enough money to fuel the same cycle. In reality, that idea that dream is really more of an illusion. Going pro brings a whole set of new challenges and hurdles dreams air free, but reality costs. Have you ever considered that amateurs might have more fun? The amateur photographer often has other means to make a living that, in turn, subsidizes that passion to photograph. Many have the latest and greatest gear and the means to travel from time to time. To satisfy that passion, the amateur can explore and experiment and make mistakes, and nobody cares. They can pick up where they left off and be comfortable. No matter their skill level. They can leave photography for other life's interests and return any time they wish. They never have to consider how to monetize their efforts or determine what to shoot for today's markets, since they're just shooting for the joy, there's not really a cost or expense that needs to be justified. They usually do not need costly business insurance, and if they have a regular job, they may not have to pay the outrageous costs of health insurance or rent. Office space would even have a business license. The amateur does not have to be a people person or master the skills of salesmanship or marketing themselves or even negotiating tough deals. The amateur has nothing to prove to anyone except themselves. On Lee. They care whether they're great or not. The amateur can pick and choose where and what to photograph based on places they wish to visit. They photograph for fun, being a professional is fun. Occasionally. The pro, on the other hand, has a great deal of time and cost to master their medium. Of course, soda amateurs. The pros constantly have to work on their skills to stay competitive, to meet clients needs. They need to own a lot of gear, and it's usually well used, and somebody needs updating. About every 18 to 24 months. The Pro spends most of their time on business needs, seeking out new clients and new business opportunities. They need to continually evaluate what to shoot. That has the best chance of a financial return that includes shooting subjects the markets demand but maybe less interesting to actually photograph. Working pros need to always watch the bottom line and are often trying to determine whether they can afford new gear, afford an employee toe, lighten the load or how to justify cost to shoot a destination they wish to visit more than shooting To meet market demand, they have to earn enough off their photography to make the house payment pay for business and health insurance, the car food, the Children's needs and save for those quarterly tax payments, all while banking some cash for the slow times. The pro needs to master self promotion, marketing image pricing for today's markets and develop the skills to fiercely negotiate a decent price. Went on assignment pros shoot with the client wants and the way the client wants it shot. The professional photographer needs to prove themselves constantly every single day to somebody they hope to do business with. They need to prove themselves to be worthy of a call back by having a resume of notable achievements. They simply need to stand out. They also need to spend years building a library of high quality photographs that can beat the competition. They need to prove they can handle the assignment, and that means having other assignments under their belt. The pro needs to push relentlessly at everything they do and often needs to be available seven days a week for any potential business. Simply put, the Pro wears a lot of hats. They need to create great images, process and archive those images, research new markets, promote their business, make sales calls, negotiate a sale, deliver the product and, no doubt a whole lot more. So who has more fun? The pro or the amateur. When a photographer turns pro, they're starting a business, and that business product is photography. That product must meet the needs of specific client base for that business to succeed, prose, compete against anybody and everybody, no matter their background. And today there's little difference between a pro and an amateur when looking at their photography. Most pros in today's markets struggle to find enough time or money to shoot as much as they wish. The business demands first and foremost their efforts to market the businesses products. This business, like any needs capital investment, in the form of equipment and marketing tools as well as financial resource, is to build an inventory of great images before Mitch in chemists generated. The business of photography has little to do with photographing nature, these states. It is now all about nurturing a business that creates and sells photography. If you're considering going pro, take time to seriously evaluate why, if it's all about the love of shooting, you may find your current lifestyle more enjoyable. Being in the business of professional nature, photography forces you to spend much of your time being the owner of a business, and in today's markets. There's nothing wrong with being an amateur who spends their time photographing simply for the joy. Now. I did mention previously that I was going to be very realistic in how I view the industry as it is today. But with all that said, I hope you don't feel deterred by any means because I will admit, honestly, I wouldn't want to do anything else besides being outdoor photographer. 3. 10 Commandments of Pro Photography: The next thing I want to talk about is what I call the 10 Commandments of professional photography. When you think about it, our world is jam packed with photographers. Many position themselves as professionals because it's a claim anyone can make when there's no definitive criteria for qualification. But does it matter? While some see this as a problem in the world of professional photography, others view that low threshold is an opportunity to fulfill a dream. While you might enjoy that debate, you may have already learned that titles, great camera equipment and even some beautiful images means very little when it comes to earning a living. As a professional outdoor photographer, the ability to create great images has little to do with business success. What does matter is how you set up, build product and market your business. Here are the 10 important considerations plan and vision To realize your vision, you must have a realistic plan that guides you along the journey. If your vision is traveling the world and photographing anything you want with a professional grade camera in exotic locations, then you might be better off becoming an international tour guide. While it can be said that those dream jobs don't exist. They are, at the very least, elusive. For photographers, reality is much different. You create a plan by asking, Where do you want your career to go? How do you plan to get there when you get there? How will you stay there? Your products? Your plan should include clear goals on how you will generate income. Will stock photography, prints, e books, workshops, classes or assignments? Be part of your product line. Each of these can easily be found among your competition. Will you do things differently? Prying money from tightly clenched hands is not easy for any photographer these days, so creating product demand is important. Start by listing each of the products and services you plan to offer and how you will handle them to set yourself apart the markets. Who do you believe will pay you for your products or services? The professional photography has evolved into two markets. One has shrunk and one has grown. The first is the traditional or commercial market, which includes editorial, advertising and corporate. The second market is the photography enthusiast. It's vital that you understand each of these markets because the products you create will be marketed differently. The commercial markets want your photographs, so you have to make them easy to find. Research continues to show that clients are attracted to photographers who show a specialty either in style, location or subject. You can shoot like a generalist, but you should market as a specialist. The photography enthusiast market has grown substantially. Some even suggest that photography has become the number one hobby in America. The photographic enthusiast will be interested in learning from you, perhaps by attending a workshop or reading your books here. Allowed online voice and great photographs gets attention, but more importantly, it's that your sales efforts demonstrate what they're user experience will be with your products. For example, a YouTube video showing participants enjoying a great workshop or a video describing your new E book and what they will learn will only help sell more delivery Once upon a time, I mailed slides to clients today when I asked, What's your deadline? The answer might be yesterday. So the question is, are you set up for rapid delivery of your products? That answer depends on each product, of course, but if you sell an E book. It should be an instant download, not something they pay for, and then you email to them. Stock photography should also be instant downloads. Unless, of course, you prefer to negotiate each sale. Well, that might be good in some ways. Are you missing out on the I need it now. Sales. We're gonna talk more about that in an upcoming lesson. By the way, your imagery on a stock photo website, whether a full Bloom stock photo agency or a co op site like photo shelter has the advantage of search, select pay and download without you ever lifting a finger. More importantly, the instant availability makes it easy for clients to give you their money. Professionalism. Are you the world's greatest photographer? If so, how do you exude that confidence? There is a difference between acting professionally and being in a profession. How you conduct yourself could make or break your business. If you act like an idiot, clients will think you're an idiot. Set your standards high as the pool of photographers out there is very deep. Make it easy for clients to work with you while eyeing the bottom line of profitability. If you make promises. Do what you promised. Meet deadlines. Do great work. Do what you can to earn the respect of your clients. Marketing tools. Successfully selling anything requires well planned efforts at marketing a promotion, and you should include online promotion. Different products require different strategies. And even with the greatest marketing tool ever, the Internet careful and well thought out strategy should be employed. Evaluate how extensive your reaches as in the size of your existing client list, email list or online followers. Promoting to commercial markets can be a combination of direct mail and email promotion, using teasers to get attention, such as a humorous or stunning image with read more links. Taking buyers to your site can work very well for your followers. Consider networking with other high profile photographers and websites and offer financial incentives to promote your products. I recently released a new E book called Outdoor Flash Photography, and I contacted many of my colleagues seeking their help. I set up an affiliate program offering 40% commissions on sales leads. I then wrote a guest post for numerous websites and others offered free book reviews, followed by a few mentions on some blog's and social sites, and the book sold about 500 copies. Pricing. How much should you charge? At some point, you've probably asked yourself that question. We all want top dollar, but there are examples everywhere of price matching and cut rates. Specials. Stock photography is no longer the product of an elite group of artists, and it shows all indications of being a commodity. Fine art prints are tough unless you are a noted exhibitor in a gallery handled by art professionals. If you enjoy a high profile, demand for your products can command a higher price when promoted effectively. People want a signed book, a good e book, a rare stock photo or that once in a lifetime experience of joining you on a photo workshop . And remember, we live in a group on world the too cheap to pass up model works. And there's a reason why, so your pricing should be realistic. Clients are everywhere. You might think you know all the markets for all your products, but have you ever really scratched the surface? Social media is one way to expand your sphere of influence among photographers, but is the best way to approach a commercial business. I'm talking about reaching out directly to businesses that are related to your niche or area of interest. This could be a wilderness lodge, a rafting company, a nature center or any outdoor related business that uses photography. Reach out and offer to volunteer for one or more of these businesses, or request an opportunity to photograph for them on speculation, meaning no payment unless the business decides to use your work. I have worked this way for decades, and at some point the money comes. Bartering is another option where you trade photographs you took for a business in trade for some of that businesses products, for example, I've traded photographs of a lodge for two nights, lodging and traded photography for a river rafting trip for two. I've also traded photography for 10 passes to a nature center. One reason I do this is the images I capture can later be sold a stock photography, attend the outdoor trade shows and hand out cards offered to shoot nature landscapes of the golf course without any commitment on their part and see what happens. Remember, all business is good business. Finally, don't forget to invest in your life photography is a lifestyle, not a job. It can be thrilling, but all consuming and it can lead to burnout. Is successful photography business these days requires extensive energy and time to simply maintain the status quo. Find a balance between work and life. Since you will likely be self employed, don't forget that all good things come to an end. That means invest wisely for the day. You won't or can't climb that mountain for a sunrise picture and never stop learning and creating. You were in photography because you love the adventure. Have a need to create, and that brings a lot of joy into your life. Be a photographer for yourself first and for your business. Second, remember, no matter how great your career, there is always someone you can learn from and someone who can learn from you. So give and take and remember, a professional is a pro at life and business 4. Are You a Specialist or Generalist?: Are you a specialist or a generalist? I've alluded to this a little bit previously, but I do want to dig in a little bit deeper now and if you don't know what I mean, Well, think about doctors is an example. The brain surgeon is a specialist providing care primarily to patients with brain issues. They trained for years to gain advanced knowledge about every aspect of the brain. They don't, however, work on hearts. Generally speaking, if a patient has a heart attack, the brain doctor is not the doctor called to deal with the heart attack. They bring in the heart specialist. The doctor who practices general medicine, helps patients with a variety of issues. But when a patient needs a special brain or heart care, they're referred to the doctors known to specialize. Professional photography in general is not much different. Nature photography is extremely competitive, and being a good photographers not enough to guarantee success. You have to be an incredible photographer with good images, a good marketing plan and a great business sense to get started. You must ask yourself, What do I love to shoot? Even more important to understand is that a beautiful photograph does not necessarily make Assailable stock image. Some of my favorites have never sold. This is important as you look down the road at what you're shooting or what you should be shooting. Many photographers go out and photograph whatever catches their eye and create a beautiful image. Then hope someone stumbles upon it and license it. They have no clue who the client buying the image will be. So it will be submitted to magazines and calendars in hopes that it eventually sells the generalised markets, a photographic product line that is varied in subject and would interest national or even international markets. They might photograph everything, including the national park system, all the states and provinces, including the local and regional parks, the wilderness areas, any and all waterways, forests and tourist destinations. They'll photograph wildlife when they stumble upon them and also capture recreational sports when they see active people. This general approach requires a substantial investment in time and money to train and photograph these destinations. To compete with the more established photographers in this arena, they really need to make a full time venture too quickly. Acquire the needed images, and it could take many years. This is how most nature photographers work, so generalists have plenty of other photographers to compete against. The specialists, on the other hand, has a passion for one particular subject, such as underwater photography or even mawr defined sharks. These specialists, once accomplished, photographers rise quickly to the top because of less competition. Their marketing efforts will focus on promoting them as the person to go to for sharks and , if their work is good, will quickly make them successful. This has created problems for some specialists, since most photographers enjoy the creative challenge of photographing many different subjects. It's common for specialists to want to branch out into other areas, and that is understandable. But selling this new work may be difficult. If the subject is not close to their specialty, such as a shark photographer deciding to be a ski photographer, they have to start over building the image archives and then marketing to a whole new client. Base specialists may see a more rapid climb to success, while the generalised has a broader range of markets to sell to, and that might take longer. If you were to take a look at the port fully of the average nature photographer, you may very well find a collection of moss, rocks and flowers more seriously. What I'm alluding to is the general Nature photographer has a mix in the variety of images contained in their portfolio and often with no theme. These same photographers may have a difficult time convincing photo editors that they are the one to work with uncertain projects every one of those portfolio photographs, maybe an outstanding and beautifully crafted image. But when it comes to photo editors looking at the specific talents of that photographer, they may be left wondering. What do you do? Consider the photographer who has won great photo from 20 West Coast national parks in their portfolio and then also consider the photographer who has an outstanding collection of 20 macro shots of butterflies from around the world. Which portfolio will be easier to remember? The photographer with no central theme to their portfolio or a good butterfly photographer who specializes clients, look for different talents or specialties in every photographer. Those with niche specialties tend to stand out from the general photographer, the photo editor at a scuba magazine or a general outdoor magazine looking for underwater photographer is going to go with the photographer who specializes in that area rather than the photographer, dabbling in underwater photography as well as everything else. A client planning a project on a specific type of wildlife will, most likely goat with the photographer they know specializes in that species. The advertising agency planning a big photo shoot for a tropical resort will most likely go with the lifestyle or fashion photographer to capture the beautiful people of the beautiful resort. Depending on the talents of that photographer, they may also be asked to do architectural interiors and beautiful landscapes of the resort so the client will want a photographer capable of doing it all. The client will not want to hire another photographer just for the few landscape photographs. So the successful photographer got the job because they marketed as a specialist but actually are a generalist. In many ways, it's been said before that specializing tends to open more doors than being a generalised. Most photographers have a passion for all photography and want to photograph of variety of subjects that may describe you, so it's best to understand that if you choose to shoot like a generalist that you have enough coverage of some subjects to appear as a specialist. And then your marketing as a specialist will land you more work. So, are you a specialist or a generalist? 5. What is Outdoor Stock Photography: So what is outdoor stock photography? Well, it's an existing photo where the photographer who created it owns the copyright, and it's a photo that has commercial value on a multiple use basis and that would interest a variety of clients. What that means is it's a popular stock photo for a variety of different markets. Whenever a photographer licenses the use of one of their photos for money, a stock photo has been sold. In the early days, photographers doing assignments for the editorial markets would have all the out takes from that assignment returned to them. At some point, it made sense to make those out takes available for relicensing for other uses. And this is pretty much how stock photography was born. But it didn't take long before the agencies and photographers realized that out takes from assignments weren't going to meet the growing demand for imagery. This was the beginning of the stock photographer who made some or all of their income producing stock photos for an image hungry market. Today there are more stock photo agencies representing thousands and thousands of photographers in what some say is a multibillion dollar industry. So finding your niche and a place to fit in is the next challenge, and we're going to take a look at some of the concepts behind good selling stock photos. What makes a good outdoor stock photo? It's generally described as subjects that are timeless and have long lasting appeal in commercial stock photography. These might be photos that are newsworthy, like hurricane damage or with historical value, like pictures of, say, Marilyn Monroe. The hurricane photos would sell right away. But when the new subsides, so do the sales. While the images of Marilyn Monroe will sell for many years, or at least a any time her name is mentioned in the news, the idea of long lasting appeal is good news for nature photographers. First, we want our images to have long lasting appeal and for the images to sell for decades. That is often not the case with more commercial style stock photos. They can lose their marketability when the clothing in the photos is outdated or the technology has changed. A good nature stock image can be a spectacular moment, like a waterfall, lightning or an animal antic. Many aspects of the stock photography business have changed over the last several years, and they'll continue to change. Photographers will still shoot the same subjects, but in many cases, and depending on those subjects, they will just need to be shot in a new way. Travel photography is an example needs to remain pretty current because publishers will not use city skylines as an example that air over two years old because, like fashions, skylines continually evolve and will change with new buildings. Not all good selling nature photography is timeless and has a long life in the markets. If the subject is newsworthy as an example, the life span or marketability might be short or as soon as the subject is no longer in the news. Natural disasters like the Great Yellowstone Fire in the 19 eighties or the effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill made for great selling images for a time. But as soon as that story was no longer in the news, image sales might drop, or at least until the stories revisited like the anniversary of the Yellowstone fire. The same goes for adventure photography, like a backpacker and a beautiful scene. It might sell well for a few years, but when the backpack and the clothing appeared to be outdated. In the photo, the sales will drop. Other attributes to good selling images are that they are interesting, unique. We're capture a spectacular moment. They're colorful, artistic and visually compelling. But if they're adventure images, they should be devoid of all logos or anything that clearly shows a company name or violates copyright. So you may need to retouch those out of your adventure imagery. Other ways to determine good selling photos is to simply view what's being published. Magazines. Related toe outdoor and adventure subjects are superb examples of the latest styles, techniques and even the locations that the markets are seeking. Publications evolved as well, and not everything published will continue to be shot in your style or even the subjects that interest you. For example, if you've been selling a magazine landscapes for years, and now you see that they are using landscapes with people in them than the natural response is to start, including people in your images, I will emphasize this strongly throughout the course. You will make more money with images having people in them. However, if people's not your forte that don't expect this transition toe happen overnight. Ease into it over time from here. Forward, though, continued to observe what is being published in your niche and your style and learn from that research on how to improve your own images to make them good selling stock photos. 6. Who Buys Stock Photos: So do you ever wonder who's going to buy your photography? Well, everywhere you look, photographs dominate us visually. Magazines, billboards, direct mail sales posters, in store windows, annual reports and pretty much everywhere on the Internet. Consider that in many of those uses, a photographer probably made some money for that photo use Clients of stock photographs are wide and varied from ad agencies, graphic designers in house corporate marketing departments, retail marketing departments, book publishers, church affiliated publishing companies, Web designers, manufacturing companies, magazines. And these are just a few the potential market for your photos. Isas BIGAS YOUR imagination There are several reasons why these clients by photos. The first reason might be that a stock photo says everything they want to say and delivers the message they're trying to convey to their customers. They may have no budget to pay a photographer to do a photo shoot on assignment. Or maybe they have time constraints without any time left to set up an assignment, shoot with a photographer or they simply like the look of your photo of, say, Mesa Arch in Utah, which they have not seen before, and they plan to use it in a calendar or a magazine. Another scenario, maybe, that they're trying to illustrate a concept such as teamwork or one of many other concepts . With so much stock imagery of these subjects available, clients would not take the time to hire a photographer to shoot these subjects on assignment. And when a photographer is usually paid by the day, how many days would the client be willing to pay a photographer toe, wait for thes marmots to arrive on the rock or to set up this rock climbing scenario to show teamwork? Probably not long if it all, if they hire a photographer to shoot climbers on assignment, they have huge potential costs. The photographer to do the location scouting time to cast for models. Higher those models for the photo shoot expenses to get everybody to the climbing location , housing all the parties in a hotel and, of course, many other production costs. Or they can simply buy this stock photo where the photographer already did all the work. And as a library of conceptual images like this one, the photographer can potentially make more money from a stock photo than getting hired to shoot on assignment. They could continue to market the same photo over and over and earn more money. Other sources that might pay you for photography or print sales, and this can include your prints in a gallery, a showing in a library, sales from your website or prints you sold from your booth at the art fair. It's getting pretty common for nature photographers to publish e books, both e books and hardcover books. Self publishing has never been easy or more affordable. Magazines also love writers who can photograph and write. So if you feel you are a writer, then more options become available. The markets are wide open for nature and outdoor photographers who have a good business savvy and the ability to dig deep and find the opportunities that exist. So every single day, keep your eyes open for new potential markets. 7. The Idea of Concepts: Ah uh years ago, client showed me a corporate annual report produced for a financial investment company. The cover photo of the annual port was a stand of giant sequoia trees shot vertically. The camera angle was from ground level, and the lower half of the picture was the forest floor. Centered in the frame and close to the camera was a small sequoia seedling sprouting up through the forest floor with ancient marks in the background. It was really a beautiful shot. The theme for the annual port was planting seeds for long term growth, and the client no doubt chose this image because it fits the concept they were looking for . The ceiling in the foreground represented planting seeds, while the old growth trees in the rear of the photo represented long term growth. It's important to understand the clients often search for photographs that speak visually and convey a specific message related to a theme and in this example was a photo combining old trees and a new tree. Concepts are a nonverbal way of communicating an idea. Conceptual imagery is all around us, although we may not recognize it unless time is taken to deconstruct the image and evaluate the message that the photograph conveys. One of the most widely used concepts is teamwork. Images that convey this concept are common and, for example, a poster on a company wall with an image of a group of people working as a team. The purpose of the poster is motivational to keep employees thinking they're part of a team . Another often used phrase, and then the light bulb came on usually refers to an idea having been generated, and it's often illustrated by an image of a glowing light bulb. There are many widely used concepts for which clients seeks stock images, and some of these include success, competition, family performance, quality, reliability, trust, fear, victory, security and so many more. As a nature photographer, you may wonder how this applies to what you photograph. It seems much easier to play these concepts to people photography than nature, at least at first studio or lifestyle. Stock photographers can prepare ahead by choosing a concept that men generating ideas before arranging models or props to carry out the production of that concept. But it's not so easy for nature photographers who choose a concept and then go to find something in nature which exemplifies that concept. Instead, nature photographer should always think in terms of concept and keep those in the back of their mind when exploring and photographing. Since the goal is to take an abstract idea that does not exist in a physical sense and then convey that idea of metaphorically in a photograph, keeping concepts in your mind allows you to observe your surroundings in a new way. When I think of the old growth sequoias in the ceiling, I'm not sure I would have found that shot. While immersed amongst these forest giants, the more often photographed angle is looking up through the giant trees, and this is a concept as well, reaching for the sky To give you another idea. A fellow photographer, mine made a nice image sale of another tree ceiling that was growing from a downed old growth tree known as a nurse log. The ceiling was about 10 inches tall and grew right from the side of the log. The concepts are nurturing a new start growth, and of course, many more ideas would work. That image would never have made it onto a calendar because it's not a striking image, but it was licensed based on the concept that other concept teamwork could be illustrated by wildlife image of a herd of wildebeests standing together and fending off a lion. A bear with two cubs could say family competition could be to bighorn sheep rams butting heads or these elk, a rock climber on a sheer rock wall, says Risk, while a climber on the Mountain summit could illustrate success, clients licensed nature photography for many reasons, and the reasons are unique to each of them based on their products. If you look at your client's markets and evaluate what they publish, you can get a good idea of how they fill their image needs. Calendar and card markets often seek the best and most beautiful images of nature, with less emphasis on concept. But many of these same companies produce products based on themes that do use concept photography. Go take a look at Callender's dot com, where it shows a variety of theme calendars they publish, such as sort of success, motivations and challenge Sort of success. Contains images of birds, soaring hot air balloons, hang gliders while the challenge calendar includes kayaking, snowboarding and rock climbing These calendar images were concept photos that fit a theme and were subsequently published by the calendar companies. The advertising and corporate markets traditionally pay higher and are not markets to overlook, while photographers do most of the legwork in the calendar and card markets by filling image requests. Ad agency photo buyers, for example, search for images through stock agents and online using keyword tags. This means they could find you, but it also emphasizes a crucial point we already know, and that is the importance of effective key wording, and that includes the appropriate conceptual terms back to the Sequoia Forest and the seedling. I'll give you an example. The keywords could or should include Sequoia National Park, Tree Trees, Forest and so on, but also concept growth new old rising reach reaching and so on. We'll talk more about keywords coming up, by the way, an important and powerful tool for creating concept photography is Photoshopped manipulation. Today, your imagination really is the limit. Photo shop has made it possible to convert just about any idea into an image, and this makes it perfect for images that don't exist in the wild. So your idea, your concept and how you plan to execute it are your biggest hurdle as you make your photography plans going down the road. Let your imagination loose while you are out. Wandering continued to seek the calendar image, but also look beyond that the ordinary may become the extraordinary selling image if it conveys a concept. Photograph is, well, images. I call photo elements. You can call them anything else you want, but what I'm really saying here is capture images like cloud formations and signs, say, an old motel sign or a highway sign. Photograph the moon and any other subject I find outdoors or when I'm traveling that I can later composite into a concept photo. Next time the weather's lousy and you're stuck in the office, dig through your photo files and create some concept images that make a strong statement. You can increase the mark ability of your images by thinking about and shooting concepts, not just shooting subjects. It really is true that a picture is worth 1000 words, and the best selling images usually do that. I just want to find and create photographs that are worth $1000 8. Finding Places to Photograph': Now that we have the basics out of the way, we're going to start taking a look at the fun part, the photography. As you set up your business, you want to get started building that image archive, and you want to find places where the subjects you photograph will be marketable. So I'm going to address the various approaches I used to find locations to photograph. We are all outdoor photographer's, and we want to shoot beautiful pictures and get paid for those beautiful pictures. So far, in this course, I've talked about shooting what you want versus shooting what you should, and this is a tough call for most photographers. We want to goto beautiful places to photograph, much more than places that might not be as beautiful but are more marketable. So I try to find balance, and here's what I do When it comes to landscape and nature photography, I look in magazines like outdoor photographer, Sierra backpacker, National Geographic Traveler outside Arizona, highways and magazines like Condi Nast or Islands. If I was going to be going overseas when I'm traveling, I grab all the travel brochures at visitor centers, and I also look at the local postcard racks when I might be in a store, say, in another state. When I'm in the bookstore, I check out the calendars on the racks, The books, the magazines and I've even found some locations of interest by watching the travel channel or art, Wolfe's television show travels to the edge. But above all of those, the one tool I found to be the best and most useful tool for finding locations is the Internet. It's the best and easiest source for researching subjects and locations. I subscribed to many Web feeds, which cover lots of subjects, from beautiful hiking locations to national parks, and I also subscribe toe websites dedicated to the environment. If I see a cool shot on the Internet with a name, I will then search that location online, and I always search with the keywords GPS coordinates, so hopefully a website pops up showing the GPS coordinates for that particular location, and then I enter those into my maps. We also know that any place that makes it in the news would be an image that is more marketable. Places that are proposed as a national park or a monument or areas to be designated as wilderness or a new nature park in some city, a proposed ski area or environmental news. These are all good ideas and should be photographed. I look at sites like Outdoor Photographer and in particular, their photo contests. There's brilliant and beautiful photography in there, and a lot of times the names are attached. If I think that this is something that's gonna be very marketable, I make note, and then I do that. Search for those GPS coordinates Many of these locations I photographed simply for the beauty, and I would then later market them to calendar and postcard companies. I also occasionally review the large stock photo agency websites for generating ideas. Sometimes you can go in and search with terms like top selling nature photography, and you might be surprised what comes up online Photo contests are another great resource of places to go, since they often mention where an image was taken. Plus many outdoors people who do a lot of exploring hiking or off roading will publish the locations, a visit on their blog's and again with those valuable GPS coordinates. Looking through all of those websites doing your online research might bring up the question about photographing where everybody else photographs, something I have discouraged and will repeat myself. But again, you're going to be able to figure out what is popular based on how many times the locations been published. And there's nothing wrong with revisiting popular places to get images that are in demand as long as you do it differently. As I mentioned earlier, I don't copy anybody's images but will certainly use their postings as part of my research . So once I figure out all these great locations, I want a photograph. I add these to what I call my idea file. Before the Internet, I would cut pictures out of magazines and brochures and stick them in a file cabinet by subject and location. And then, when planning a road trip, I would sort through the files and see if there were any places I might be able to stop and shoot. Today. That idea file is long line, and I use Evernote so I can access the info from all my devices. I create a note for each state with details of location, including those GPS coordinates. If I have that info occasionally, I will snap a picture with my iPhone of a particular location or something that caught my eye and add that to ever know the idea file is a great way to keep track of locations to photograph. So when you plan a road trip, you can review everything you have discovered about an area or things you want to capture along the route that you might be taken, you know, like Route 66. As an example. The next time I traveled to Texas, I will look in my idea file for places I want a photograph that I would never remember if I hadn't added him to that idea. File. 1000 mile road trip might include shooting a national park, local parks, the city skyline, random locations for nature photography, a historic gas station on Route 66 also the more environmental type subjects like nuclear power plant, controversial dam project and anything else that I have entered into my idea file. I will always shoot both sides of nature, the ugly and the pretty, because they're all very marketable. So now I'm going to talk about planning your trip. You spent a lot of time researching where you want to go. So the next step is to develop that shot list of locations you've researched. I usually lay out my trips in order to avoid backtracking because travels expensive these days. If I plan to photograph a national park or a popular tourist location, I usually just add those specific areas to my shot list. If I'm going into the wilds of a national park or a wilderness area or any far off remote location, I again search for those GPS coordinates. And if I have them, I add them to my computer mapping program, which, by the way, is map source from garment. Each waypoint I enter identifies the name of the location so I can reference it. And then those points air downloaded to my garment rhino. So I have them when I head out. There are many websites to help you determine sunrise and sunset, but the best site I have found is son Count, which tells you sunrise and sunset and the sons trajectory. You can then refer to your topographic map and estimate what angle the sun will be hitting the landscape that you plan to visit or like a mountain for example, is it going to be good at sunrise or sunset? This mapping software will help being able to review the sun's trajectory and from which angle for a particular time of year is extremely helpful. If you're planning a backpack trip into a wilderness area for specific mountain shots and know that the best time of the year happens to be in this summer, where you're going to get the best light, then that is a very valuable option in helping you plan. There are also several websites that report wild flower blooms, and also the schedule of autumn leaves these air obviously helpful if you plan to travel somewhere and want to capture these natural events, but you don't want to arrive too early or too late, there are other people out there doing that research for you, and those websites will help you plan your schedule. A few things I never leave home without includes from safety devices like the GPS, which I showed previously. I even take my iPhone since cell coverage is so widespread these days, when you park your car and head off on a bushwhacking adventure, it's an extremely good idea to have a global positioning device that is tracking your travels as you go. This allows you to turn around and use the GPS unit to follow your tracks back. Consider as well, and especially if you plan to do some serious backcountry photographic pursuits. Acquiring a personal location beacon. If you slip and break your ankle eight miles into the wilderness, you could be out of luck. A location beacon will send a signal via satellite within a couple minutes, and search and rescue will be contacted. Neither are very big or heavy, and you never know it could save your life. I'll tell you a story. A friend of mine got a permit to visit the wave in Arizona, which is extremely beautiful and very popular among photographers, and no doubt you've heard about it. It was a three mile hike with no designated trail but a number of rock Kearns to help guide the way we were there, maybe two hours, and it started snowing heavy and the landscape was becoming white. Well, I'm from the mountains in Oregon, where winters often left five feet of snow at my house, so I was never worried about snowshoeing into the forest. But my friends on this hike were all from Arizona, where it rarely, if ever, snowed and they wanted to leave. By the time we got packed up and ready to head out, the sky was white and the ground was white and there was little detail reminding us of the route we took in. Fortunately, three people had brought GPS units and tracked our route in, and we easily were able to find our way back out. Without these, it might have been a little bit more challenging and maybe even uncomfortably challenging. It's also important whenever you're heading out that you're checking the weather. Many areas in the western United States start the day with beautiful clear skies and a fabulous sunrise. But by afternoon, those thunderstorms that have built up during the day can release severe rain, hail or even snowstorms In the Southwest. It's common to have flash floods, and many people have tragically been caught in all of this. No matter how nice and beautiful it ISS, you should always take some sort of emergency gear. I carry a rain poncho and plastic pants, which fold up to barely less than an inch thick and sit in the very bottom of my camera backpack. That way, if I leave on a warm morning wearing shorts and hiking boots and the weather turns bad, I have something I can put on. Fleece jackets have saved more than one person's life and are lightweight and easy to carry . I always carry my cell phone, whether I have a signal or not. I may not have a signal when I left the car, but by the time I've climbed to the top of that ridge, the phone may have picked up a signal from somewhere. And then, of course, water. Plenty of water should be based on how hot the temperature is going to be now that you're ready to go out and shoot some outdoor and nature photography, have you decided what your niche, Wilby remember? You should photograph what you love and love what you photograph. If it's flowers you love to shoot, then go shoot. But keep in mind. There's not a big market for flower photography. There's a much better market for city skylines and tourist destinations. If you're passionate about rock climbing, biking or travel than focus your camera in that direction. If money is a driving force in getting you into nature stock photography, you will need to adapt to shooting subjects the markets demand. Whatever your direction, you must get started building your inventory of images today so you have a product to market and sell. 9. Are You a Local Hero or International Nobody: So we just looked at how to find subjects to photograph, and I'm sure you're ready to head out and get busy photographing. But there's one more concept to think about when it comes to deciding just what you're niches and what you want to be known for, and I call it the local hero versus the international Nobody. Most of us have a passion to explore new territory and wild places, and finding new scenes satisfies that inner desire to travel and create this urge. Drugs many of us and I know it drives me. I have a need to explore and discover with my camera. And it's that photographic wanderlust that takes me two locations far from home, looking for unfamiliar terrain and exotic species. New scenery is exciting, stimulating and expiring, and that's the underlying reason why many photographers travel far and wide. However, for those in the business of licensing their images does this strategy of focusing on distant locations really makes sense? Today's markets are saturated with photographers, so think about this. There's an excellent photographer in nearly every location, and that includes your town those days when photographers could travel the United States and the rest of the world and then deliver images ready for markets hungry to see them are pretty much over with the explosion of digital technology. Our world has more photographers looking to compete in the business of outdoor and nature photography than ever before. And when the economy is in the tank, many unemployed part time or aspiring amateur photographers are trying to make a go of photography on a more professional level. So to stay competitive and earn enough to make a living. Where should your camera be pointed? It's been a few years since I made my last photo excursion to the East Coast of the United States. And while there I captured some spectacular waterfalls in South Carolina, the Outer Banks in North Carolina, many historic sites and a whole lot in between as I traveled around the East Coast. When I got back to my office on the West Coast and reviewed my photographs, I evaluated them to establish which markets they might do best in somewhere suitable for the national calendar lines, while others were local attractions that would most likely be more attractive to a regional market or even a local photo buyer like the tourism office first North Carolina's Outer Banks. As I thought about this, I realized that I have the same list of calendar publishers that everybody else has. The's publishers seek images for a wide array of subjects, along with C Knicks from every state. I don't have a list of regional photo buyers, however, like a graphic designer in Columbia, South Carolina, who just might happen toe have the tourism account for a specific region of the state. That person then buys all the photography related to that specific tourism account. So finding all the right buyers in all the right niches for all the places that I have traveled through could be likened to finding a needle in a haystack. It could be very time consuming. How many photographers have better coverage of South Carolina waterfalls than I captured during my short trip passing through? Would a client by an image for me or even request images for me when my selection is not as extensive as the photographers who live there and have images taken in all seasons and in various lighting conditions? Those photographers are the local heroes, while I, with my limited coverage of South Carolina and the International. Nobody does it make business sense to travel the country or the globe, shooting the usual places and then market them to the same photo buyers that all photographers market, too. Could I ever spend enough time in Moab, Utah, for example, and capture enough imagery to compete with Tom Till, a well known photographer who lives there? He's the local hero. Unless you can stay in photograph a location for extended periods of time, you may never top the coverage of the local hero. In addition to having better access on a daily basis, consider that the local hero can photograph a place in all its moods in different weather, different seasons and a whole lot more. The local hero can react at a moments, notice to breaking news like volcanic eruption or a fire in Yellowstone. By becoming well known for shooting a particular area, the photographer brings attention to their home. And that's good for business, especially when that photographer becomes known for local coverage of the scene ICS, wildlife and historic places or even the adventure sports. So this begs the question. Are you better off as an international? Nobody with a little bit of coverage from a lot of locations or the local hero who specializes in the area closest to home. In other words, are you better off being a little fish in a big pond or a big fish in a little pond? The answer depends on your markets. Publishing markets, which have historically been one of the best places to sell your images, are shrinking for photographers who travel far and wide in today's photo markets. With the cost of travel, climbing and fees for photo usage drinking, the return on investment is not looking as good as it did 10 or even 15 years ago. If your business is primarily print sales, how do you market and sell them? It's possible that a website selling your prints globally can be lucrative. But displaying in a local art gallery or a local art show near your home base may be more profitable. For example, tourists often like to shop, so if your home base is a location popular with tourists, you have a client base looking to buy. Imagine yourself is a photo editor at a book publishing house, and your next project is a travel guide to South Carolina, you need waterfall images. So you dig through your file of promotional postcards that you receive in the mail from photographers and find many that feature gorgeous images from all over the United States but won promotion from a resident photographer announcing their new book on South Carolina happens to be in the mix. Who do you think the photo editors gonna call? Probably the local hero with extensive coverage. Being a local hero with local or regional specialization has other potential benefits as well. Editorial markets often a sign a photographer with a thorough knowledge of an area and with extensive stock photo coverage. Photo buyers from the other side of the country often search for a regional photographer to fulfill their stock and assignment needs for special projects, and this helps them keep costs down. These buyers know that Tom Till has extensive coverage of Utah's Canyon country and will most likely have an image that meets their needs, marketing and promoting yourself as a regional specialist. That local hero builds name recognition and increases potential opportunities not always afforded the international nobody. We all have photographic wanderlust we need and desire to explore and photograph lands unfamiliar to us. I am only satisfied myself when I visit a place I yearn to see and photograph with a full understanding of today's market realities. I can't occasionally travel far off places to satisfy that photographic waterless while never forgetting the need to specialize on my home turf. It's a lot of fun shooting like an international nobody, but business just might be better. That's the local hero. 10. How to Find Clients: by now you have a great collection of images. They're all organized. So now it's time to sell something and start adding some cash to your bank account. The business is not a business without a client buying a product, so it's time to start figuring out who they are and find them. There's really no magic here in doing us just plain old fashioned, pounding the pavement, so to speak. So everywhere you go everything you look at, keep an eye out for anything that could be a possible market and then make note of it one way or another. Photographers who specialize in outdoor and nature photography have traditionally concentrated on the same markets. Calendars, postcards, note and gift cards, books and magazines. This tends to be the focus of their marketing efforts, and it's a very crowded field. There are, however, many more potential clients out there than those mentioned who by outdoor and nature imagery, you need to be constantly alert for any and all potential companies that might buy your images. The first thing to do is start by asking yourself which markets are your images suited for ? It's really a good question to ask because we all want to have the cover of National Geographic, but our work may not be suitable. Self examination of your photography is critical, and it's also very difficult. But you must match your work with appropriate markets, or you will come across as an amateur. If you photograph horses and equestrian subjects, for example, National Wildlife magazine probably is not gonna be interested, so to speak, since they focus on wild animals. You also wouldn't send your cross country ski trip to Snowboard magazine unless, of course, it's a special event, and they asked for them. Understand that I'm speaking very generically here, but my points have more to do with understanding how it all works Most sales people talk about qualifying your client, and your job really is no different When promoting your photography. Qualify your clients. If you happen to be just starting out and we all have at some point, then you may not be ready for National Geographic or other magazines like National Wildlife outside Backpackers, Geo, National Wildlife Ski Magazine and many of the others that are considered top of the game. Many of those publications work with the top photographers who are well established. And while this might be a bummer, take it as a challenge to become justice established as the rest of them. The doors might be open, but only a crack, so it's your job to force them open further and walk in markets that will be better suited for you may be small publications that cover your area, such as Michigan outdoors as a hypothetical example, or a magazine that represents the state you live in. There are also national general interest magazines that are smaller in circulation and have wide open doors to newcomers such as Farm and Ranch, Triple A magazines, Birder's World and many others. Be careful in deciding who you're ready to market and submit your work, too, because remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Clients consider photography a product, and sometimes their search for this product is easily accomplished, and other times it's not. They have a need for photography, and we are the suppliers. The first step in finding those markets is doing the legwork. This means getting out and heading to the locations that sell the products you want to be published in and again calendars cards, magazines and more. These could be found in general or specialty retail outlets, but also the bookstores, the library and even sporting goods stores. I used to take a small pocket spiral bound notebook and head for these locations twice a year, where I would then go in and peruse and write down the names of the publishing companies, magazines, cards, their Web address, mailing address. But now, if I'm looking through the nature magazines, I will go to the Publishers Page and take a picture with my iPhone. Of course, you can't discount the importance of doing Web searches as well to find out who publishes calendars and other products like that. Here's an important question for you. What is it? The issue? If you're a niche photographer, you're going to look for clients in a much narrower area. While a generalist is going to look far and wide. The bookstore, again as an example, will have a display of calendars, coffee table books, general publishing magazines and gifted note carts. A retail outlet might possibly sell the same items, but they may be more specific to the stores clientele. Here's an example R E I, which is a mountaineering backpacking chain of stores, sells calendars, cards and some books in their stores. These products are specific to the types of clients of visiting the stores, so the images would be mountaineering, backpacking, canoeing, nature and similar. If this is your specialty than visiting and making note of who publish lease products is one way to add to your potential list of clients. If gardening is your specialty, you would not goto our EI to research clients. You would go to the garden store whenever I'm traveling out of state, and I mentioned this previously. When I stop at the grocery store to pick up some items, I will also stop and look at the book and magazine racks as well as postcards and see who's publishing what. There are many calendar and postcard companies that are in small markets. In other words, they just really cover Utah's an example, and they're based in Salt Lake City. The other reason I do that and again, I mentioned this previously, doesn't want to see what the locals air photographing. There's a dual purpose effort here, finding new clients while I'm there, like the postcard publisher I mentioned in Utah and new places to shoot while I'm there in Utah, I might snap an iPhone picture of the product of these publishers that I can then later market, too, as we know, the Web has become the greatest source of information that mankind has ever known. So if I'm heading to Iceland to shoot one ideas on where to go, I searched the Web. And also look for any calendar company that might be printing in Iceland. Calendar and I will also mention there's a book that's really been around for a long time, and it's still pretty good. It's called Photographers Market, and it's published by Writer's Digest Books. It's packed full of clients who buy photographs. This book includes all kinds of publishers, galleries, magazines and even a few ad agencies. These are not always the highest paying markets that are listed in there because the higher paying markets do not need toe list this way. They already here from, or photographers than they ever wanted in the first place. But this book is a fabulous resource for new clients, and especially if you're just starting out and trying to really find that first client 11. How to Find Clients Pt 2: the calendar markets are pretty competitive, but not out of reach of the qualified photographer with good imagery. I call these photo contests in many ways because you're submitting and hoping to win a spot in that calendar and are a few dollars. Sure, I'm being sarcastic. And like most photographers, I'm actually thrilled when I do have a calendar credit. We all love to see our work published. How much effort you decide to put into calendar submissions is totally up to you. You can sell a single image by submitting, according to their guidelines, your best shots from last year. But many calendar companies appreciated even Mawr, the photographer who can provide an incredible body of work to complete a 12 month calendar , making it a signature calendar with one photographer. There's also the magazines, and there's thousands of published in the United States every year and possibly justus many around the globe. It really is a huge market. Despite tough times, there are those high profile magazines we all dream of being published in, and even Mawr specialty niche publications to consider as well. These include publications for trade associations and one example might be the health insurance industry. There are many special interest publications, and I'll give you an example. The industry that represents wastewater treatment plants One magazine that represented this industry was my very first magazine cover, and I was so excited. The image they chose was gorgeous image of Mount Hood in Oregon, with a small creek flowing through lush wildflowers. They were in the business of treating water, and they chose my nature image to illustrate that point. And it paid 200 bucks, which at the time was pretty darn good. There are also small regional publications that might represent everything from tourism to crafting to even fine dining. Point here is Do not overlook the small regional publications, especially ones that might not even be in your niche if your goal happens to be to get into Oh, Outside magazine is an example, and you market yourself to them for years before ever making a sale. You might very well have done better financially by putting that same effort into closer regional publications. In today's markets, all sales and publication credits should be considered worthwhile. There's also local advertising agencies and graphic design firms as potential clientele. One of them will represent the local tourism division or the local sports equipment manufacturer or any related businesses that produce marketing materials featuring local photography. Don't overlook this part of the market. I have made a lot of money working locally, and of course, you won't succeed in business if you're only interested in the national and global publications. Some outdoor photographers choose to go to all the most spectacular locations to photograph , so they can satisfy that appetite for stunning scenery and adventure travel. But without much regard to the practical business decisions. Then they hope to sell those pictures down the road and generate income. But it's not always the most profitable approach. Instead, don't forget to pursue local and regional advertising agencies and graphic design firms in hopes that you can secure an assignment or self some of your stock photos to them. Why is this important to your business? Because photography used in advertising pay so much better than calendars and magazine markets and not say it again in today's markets, Not too many editorial publishers spend the money to send a photographer across the country or to the other side of the world on assignment. The best markets just may be the ones in your own backyard. So if you live in California, for example, and photograph California heavily, you want to market to California advertising and design firms. And don't forget to find the advertising agency that has the state tourism account an example of some of the advertising uses from my nature. Photography include the stunning lightning shot used just the Cover Oven I Clinic brochure , and it paid $400. Can you imagine that it beautiful waterfall on packaging for personal water filters that were designed for hikers paid $600 after some, unfortunately, really tough negotiations and the bummer was the guy wouldn't send me any prints samples. The same image was used in a horizontal format on a wraparound cover, and it paid $800 a series of 12 nature and wildlife images used on the cover of a catalogue for a manufacturer of green wood stoves, meaning ecologically green wood stoves not colored, not colored wood stoves, and I earned $250 for each image. Petra Cliff Image on the cover of of Technology Company paid $800. A guy standing on a rock silhouetted against the sunset was a cover, and it paid $2500. Now I will say pricing has changed a little bit over the years, and getting prices like this can still be done. Believe me, it can still be done. But it might be a little bit harder. And, of course, we're going to cover that a lot more. And back to clients. The thing to remember is that there substantially Mawr clientele out there, including the Web, niche publishers and corporate in house publishing departments. Finding the clients requires an investment in your time that is so important to success and what market research is really all about. There's a few other things that may interest you here, and one is called subscription services. The Internet is, without a doubt the most valuable resource for photographers. You can, of course, find all the free information on how to do just about anything photographically as well as where to photograph, when to photograph and websites geared specifically for selling your photography. There used to be quite a few of these sites that listed photo requests from buyers who were looking for specific images, but most of these sites are no longer around. One site that I can still highly recommend is egg picks a g p i x dot com, which is specifically directed at nature Photographers. Click on the photographer section and you will see all the services they offer, including daily photo requests that you could turn around and submit images to. This site. Does screen photographers in an effort to keep their pool of talent and images strictly professional. Another free service. It's out. There is stock photo dot net, and here you subscribe to this, and occasionally you'll get photo requests that come in well, pretty randomly. You have to be an established photographer to be allowed to join, and no matter whether you are or not, it's worth signing up. So again, go check out stock photo dot net And finally, another very good resource for finding clientele is a website called Art marketing dot com , and they sell mail lists, so definitely go check them out 12. Contacting Prospective Clients: Now that you've done all that research and accrued a really nice list of potential clients , it's timeto work on getting an invitation to submit your work to them. Many publishers I've worked with do not accept blind submissions, which means you do not submit without an invitation. So the first step, then, is to make contact with the publisher. And my approach normally is to write a cover letter and introduce myself. Describe what I photograph mentioned, my coverage of subjects, the amount of images I have and any publishing credits that I have received. Then I kindly ask, May I submit the next time they're looking for any photography? When you write your cover letter, do not include any personal thoughts or philosophies about your work or your goal is a photographer. Such as? My goal is to save the world through photography, or these images are the result of a mystical experience I had while hiking through a slot canyon in Utah. Well, nobody really cares, and this will make you look like an amateur and, believe it or not, I have been told that both of those statements I just read to you were actual real cases. Clients want to work with pros. They want to work with pros who are shooting great imaging all the time. And so you want to save your philosophical approaches for a magazine that you might one day pitch on a story about saving the world through photography. So here's my cover letter. It's short and sweet, and I can customize it when necessary and on target for a specific client. Dear John Doe. I'm a photographer based in Oregon, and I specialize in photographing the national parks of the United States. I am contacting you to inquire about submitting images for your upcoming calendar line. Have an extensive file of images from 25 years as a full time photographer traveling the United States. My digital files are all online, and I can easily submit a light box utilizing most online Resource is My work has been widely published in calendars, including ABC Publishing, Terror Publishing, Autobahn, Big Calendar Company and others. In recognition of your need for the highest quality images, I have enclosed a few color samples for you to reference and to present the quality of my work, I look forward to an opportunity to submit images and working with you in the future. Best regards. Charlie Borland. The point is, your cover letter should be short and to the point, and it can be written anyway. You feel best conveys your message. Should you establish a closer relationship with this client, you can then extrapolated on various aspects here. Photography and personal philosophies when they become important to your relationship with that client. Here's an example of one of the things that I used to send in the past that accompany my cover letters basically 1 to 2 high quality color ink jet prints to show sample images. This is the best way for them to see that you are qualified and working photographer rather than an amateur who thinks they're ready to market mediocre work, I should mention in the early days it was very common to send CDs, but the result was a lot of clients didn't take the time to load those into the computer toe. Look at your images while a printed sample is right there with your letter and can be reviewed almost immediately with very little effort on the client's part. Be sure your email address is also included in the letter, since they most likely will email you if they add you to their contributors list. Here's another example of another promotional print that I've included with many of my cover letters that specifically markets my adventure photography. Once you get established with a publishing client and calendars in particular, you can submit calendar proposals to them as you think of him. This can lead to some lucrative opportunities when you have a calendar with your name on the cover indicating that all the photography is yours. I have a relationship with a note card publisher, and when I get a new image, I think it's suitable. I submit a low resolution J pig in an email, and they have a specific email address set up for just image submissions. Sometimes they like it. Sometimes they don't. But as the old saying goes, you'll never know if you never go. Something that used to be very common in the early days of stock photography was called the Stock list. It's a document that lists all your photo subjects in alphabetical order, and you include this when you make contact and you send in those prints your stock list will mention the locations, species subjects or images in your collection. Here again, I put Arizona the top Wyoming at the bottom and everything else in between. But honestly, I'm not sure how relevant these are anymore. As I think buyers of photography no longer go through these lists. Toe look to see which images you might have, like a puffin or Yellowstone. I still have one, just in case they get a request. But it's been a long time since I've been asked to send one. I believe you will be more successful if you send a catchy printed promotional piece with your Web address and your searchable photo database and then wait for a client to say, Hey, I like what you just sent. By the way, do you happen to have an image of this? Clients need you and me for their projects. Because most publishing projects use photos from freelance photographers, some of these clients may see hundreds of thousands of pictures every year, and many will be bad images. This process is what creates the preferred list of image providers. If you consistently submit beautiful, high quality images, they're going to remember you and the requests will follow. If the work you submit is bad or amateur looking, they most likely will pass over and won't remember you. And then again, you won't be added to the list. So it's in your best interest to learn or understand what makes a great photograph. And even more importantly, what the particular clients by another way to reach clients is to call them. But of course, this may not be a very good idea. Think about the company that wants to sell you a home security system, and they call you at home right after dinner when you're sitting down to start watching TV and how much this could be a put off. Well, there's a Brazilian. Photographers out there in clients, in some cases feel exactly the same way. What about e mailing perspective clients in a cold called type situation? Well, in some cases, there are clients that prefer that over getting printed male, but the same time there's Justus, many who can't stand getting emails, either, And so here it's a very delicate balance, and somehow you're gonna have to figure out which way is best to approach specific clients . E mails often end up in the spam bucket where they unsubscribe or they just plain don't want to get him. So in this case, the print pieces better. On the other hand, there's clients who can't stand print pieces and prefer email, and there's just really no way to know. So you have to do your best because, as you know, it's really kind of a hit and miss situation. Find what works best for you. Try printed pieces, but also try the email and see what kind of responses you get. 13. How to Sell Yourself: when it comes to marketing are photography business. What we're really doing, in some ways, is marketing ourselves. While many things we sell US photographers are products or are photographic services, we should spend as much time marketing ourselves first and thes tangible products. Second, an example might be that you're selling prints at an art show where you're dealing with people looking at your work. Another might be selling stock images to publishers. Ah, story idea to a magazine or promoting yourself as an assignment photographer. Successfully selling ourselves to clients is about building a rapport with the customer, and you do that by understanding what they need. Then to earn their business, you need to provide a solution to their problem by showing your ability to fill those needs . Customers like to work with people they get good vibes from and those that they like. It's about building relationships. It's much easier to keep a client you've already earned than to find a new one. So while there's always work to be done, keeping a client, the rail work is earning the business in the first place. Clients who are looking for the perfect stock photo or considering giving you an assignment have a need that needs to be filled. Clients who are looking for a stock photo or considering giving you an assignment have a need while the client looking to buy your print at the art show has a want. Either way, they're both clients for your products. And having that stable of clients who worked with you is the only way to have a profitable business that IHS satisfying and fulfilling. So here are five considerations about selling yourself. Number one. You be yourself and because you are selling yourself than the best way to sell yourself is to simply be yourself. This often allows you to connect with those interested in what you have to offer. You must believe in what you do and believe in your product, as well as have the confidence that you are the best person for the project. You should never make excuses for your photography. None zero. Instead, sell only what you believe is absolutely the best you have and the best you can do. Number to share. Be open and honest and share your feelings, your successes, your experiences and even some failures. If you are talking with the right client or the right audience. Show your passion, Show your experiences. Share your authority, share everywhere online and do it for free. However, this should not be confused with other avenues of getting paid for your content or getting paid for that experience. Sharing for free is a method of marketing your products. If you're in a meeting and sharing your work to impress an art director or a photo editor, don't hesitate to share quick and simple stories, especially if it provides insight into a project and describes how you handled it. The customer will need to buy into you before they buy into your product. For example, think about your preferences for the business you frequent like an insurance agent or a hairstyles, or anyone whom you return to as a repeat customer. There are a 1,000,000 places to get a haircut, but you return to the person you like and trust. Build that same report with your customers, Number three Believe. Know your strengths and promote those effectively. This is not bragging or self indulgence. Clients can pick up on that very quickly, and they have most likely heard it before. Instead, talk about your strengths and your abilities by highlighting something. You're very good at a specialty, for example. Then promote those skills by discussing how you completed a project or how you solve someone else's problem. Clients need to believe that you are unique and rare, so sell yourself is an expert as an authority, be happy and smiley and even joke in a lighthearted manner. But keep in mind a little goes a long way. The goal is to build a relationship by showing your warm personality, but without wasting their time. Number four. Prove it. Don't fall into the trap of making claims that air here say, like I can photograph anything. Instead say, I have photographed quite a variety of assignments, and here are some examples. Or don't say you will love my work. I guarantee it. Instead, try. Here are some testimonials from clients who are very happy with my photography. If you're in the stock photo business, avoid saying I have the best stock files of wild donkeys in the world and instead try our stock files contain over 1000 images of wild donkeys. Our clients include XXX and A B. C D. Don't just say it, prove it. Number five. Listen, whether in a meeting or on the phone, let them talk and listen. As they do talk, it's not all about you share enough to give them a full accounting of your strengths and your abilities, but ask questions and let them fully answer. Often they will provide enough info about their needs, which in turn gives you an understanding of how you can fill those needs and be of service . Photography is very competitive, and there are many photographers for every client's needs. By selling yourself first, you will be in a much better position toe win over that client and then sell a product or service to them. You can then begin building a relationship that hopefully lasts a very long time and is, of course, quite profitable. 14. Sending Images to Clients: So So you're marketing is paying off, and now you're beginning to get once list from a variety of publishers. So what's a want list? Well, it's a list of images that an editor is seeking for an upcoming project or magazine issue. These are, in essence, a mass request to photographers who have earned the right to be on their preferred list of select photographers like calendars. These also are a photo contest in many ways, but that's how this game works. The winner gets a prize in the form of being published and then getting a check. Book and calendar requests usually come by email, although there may still be some submitting printed request by mail. Your goal, of course, is to get on that select list of photographers, so you start getting those requests. So here's an example of a request I got. It's been quite a few years ago, in fact, May 2009 but I still have the printed sample. It's from Oregon Tourism, and you will note that the subjects are wide and varied. Well, I've photographed all over the state many times, but I have only a few of the subjects that have listed here, and that's why they do this, because the requests air so specific. I may not travel all the way to the other side of the state to shoot the Tulip Festival, for example. But somebody who lives over there may have already photographed it. Here's another one from National Geographic Adventure magazine, and you can see it comes with a greeting. It's basically for the August September issue, and they're looking for activities and adventures to be used in there next weekend. Section. It requests that you send specific locations within certain areas around the United States , but they're also asking for lifestyle images if you think about it. Most nature and landscape photographers don't photograph people, and what that means is there's not as many images of people outdoors in some of these locations, so they have to specifically request them. Another reason I suggested early on about photographing people. So if you look at this list, you can see they're looking for the East Coast, the Central United States, some things that are specific to Wisconsin, the Rocky Mountains and the West. Then it has the deadline and how they prefer things be submitted to them, and you always want to follow the rules when it comes to their specific requirements. The other thing I want to mention here is what you do not see in those requests or Yosemite , Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon Arches National Park and so on, and I just use those as examples. The magazines has such a huge stable of photographers who would have all those subjects already. They don't really need to open it up to their general list of photographers. If they're looking for Utah, they might call two or three photographers that are already on their list down in Utah for things like Arches National Park. The problem is, if they sent that request for Arches National Park, everybody on their list, they would receive MAWR images than they have timeto wade through. Want lists usually include subjects that are more difficult to find. This is the reason that you, as a photographer, could do well if you specialize in subjects that fewer photographer shoot. Your goal should always be to strive for creating outstanding photography and earn your way to receiving those special photo requests that most people don't. Now here's a short video clip from the backpacker website and their request from August 2000 and 14. They actually post all their photo needs on Google docks and then hand out that link to a few of the photographers that contact them. It's very easy for them than to go in an update, make changes, add things, delete things and so on in any photographer that wants to submit to them needs to be paying attention to this particular wants list. If you look down through it, you're going to see they have a lot of different needs. They have a lot of specific things in specific locations, and they also show a few cover images as samples. They're looking for covers, and it says they're always looking for covers. So there, specifically looking for things that relate to backpacking, which once in a while does include a few landscapes. Okay, so you've got on the wants list, and now you're ready to start submitting some images for some of these photo requests. The first thing is, always make sure you submit specifically what they're asking for. If they're asking for a mountain goat in Glacier National Park, don't send them a mountain goat from Hell's Canyon in Idaho. If they want it specifically from Glacier, it has to be from Glacier. However, you can always contact them by email and ask, Hey, I do happen to have some shots here. I know they're not in Glacier, but they're from Idaho. They might just fit your needs. And here's a link. If you want to go take a look on my website, that's perfect. You're not too intrusive, and you're being honest with them. You're not trying to sneak in mountain goats from Idaho for a glacier request. Very important in the previous request that I went over. It specifically requested Minneapolis, Minnesota, and quote people paddling the Mississippi between Lake Street Bridge and ST Anthony's Falls . That is extremely specific, and that means paddling a kayak or canoe in Idaho or Illinois isn't gonna make it. It's specifically about Minneapolis. Just because you do not have exactly what they request. It does not mean that you can submit what you think they need. However, if the request was more generic, like canoeing the Mississippi River than you can, of course, submit some of these other images you might have. Just remember photo editors will encourage you to contact them by email if you have any questions about a specific request. But some will also clearly state no phone calls, while others will say Go ahead and call again if they want something specific and you have something generic, do not call for permission to send the generic images unless the request encourages you to do so. Now that you've got all your files organized and you just received a photo request, it's time to submit images. Almost all these clients will provide details on how they prefer you submit the photography and you need to follow that strictly a light box or a link to a light box is generally the most widely used option at this time. There might be a client who still allowing FTP, but really everybody seems to be moving more towards Dropbox so you can send the client a link to a light box that you created on your website so they can go take a peek at what you have, or they may request you submit images by Dropbox again. Just follow the rules that they lay out for you in the end again, the goal here is to earn the right to submit your photography for consideration. And it's really not that hard after you've processed your images, got him all optimized and uploaded on your website so that your website can be searched. Then you start reaching out to clients when they send your request. It'll specifically state exactly how they want things to arrive, so just follow the rules and you'll be just fine and hopefully make a sale.