Earning a good fortune through digital photography

Published: 26th June 2013 10:17 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th June 2013 10:17 AM   |  A+A-


Technology has created several jobs that did not exist in the recent past, while making a few conventional professions extinct. At the same time, it has opened up certain fields once reserved for the professional and enabled the common man to pursue it as a hobby, if not a serious vocation. Digital photography is one of the most noticeable on that list.

Once upon a time, photography (or at least some parts of it) was reserved for the professional. Simple models of the now obsolete film-based still camera were available, so that enthusiasts could try their hand at taking pictures.

But you needed professional help to develop and print whatever you captured  often three to four days after you finish the whole roll of film (usually 36 or 24 frames). That species is extinct now, thanks to modern technology.

Today, thousands of people in our country fancy themselves as ‘semi-professional’ digital photographers, the entry criterion being owning (or having access to) a digital camera, a computer and a Facebook (or Google+) profile to upload their work.

A pretentious ‘First name - Last name Photography’ watermark that appears prominently on their heavily photoshopped images supposedly makes it look professional.

I must say, some of these photographers are quite good — if you don’t mind the photoshop influence. The fact that most of them have a separate professional life (often unrelated to photography) makes it. If you are one of them, here is how you can turn your ‘interest in photography’ into a lucrative hobby, if not a profession.

First of all, you need to understand that a mere ‘photograph’ for you might be ‘relevant/exclusive content’ for a media organisation, especially if the subject has news value and you were the only person at the spot with a camera when some incident took place.

That means someone might be willing to pay you in exchange for the right to publish that image. The price you command would depend on the actual photograph itself, and how unlikely it is for a similar one to be available elsewhere.

Uploading an exclusive photograph on Facebook could mean that you (unknowingly or otherwise) have given up some portion of your rights to that image. Watermarks are unlikely to protect you there.It might be a better idea to upload it to your own blog or website. Read the terms of service very carefully in each case.

If your brand of photography isn’t really about newsworthy material, but more about pleasant looking frames such as a beautiful piece of scenery or still life, there is still hope.

Stock photographs are very much in demand by creative agencies and designers who prefer to depend on already available images, rather than spending the time or money to commission a professional photographer.

For example, a designer who is looking for images of a rose to design a card for a florist has two options — either hire a photographer to take a picture of a rose, or purchase an image at a cheaper rate from a reputed image bank like iStockphoto, Shutterstock, Alamy, etc.

As a photographer, you can sell your images to these services, or you can strike a deal with them to showcase your images. Depending on the requirements of the end customer, and the purchase agreement, you could fetch anywhere upto a few thousand dollars for your picture. Licensing agreements vary widely, so don’t make assumptions on this.

If you are not lucky enough to find buyers for your photographs, there are other ways to make money. Given the easy availability of cameras and a shortage of talent, there is a reasonably large space for photography instructors.

You can use Facebook to gather publicity for such ventures. Alternatively, you can tie up with new publishers and bloggers to provide photographs for their content. As long as you are clicking away anyway, why not make some money out of it?



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