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When you first get a digital camera, the excitement is something akin to when you saw your first printed photograph. Right there in your hands, a little piece of time destined for immortality. The better Digital cameras have a lot over the film cameras, too – if you have a preview window, you’re able to instantly see the quality of your shot. No more wasted money on prints that you know will end up in the trash.
The good news is that your passion can earn you a bit of extra money – you can put all your practice and the goodies you’ve spent on to work for you. From magazines to stock photography sites to postcard printers, there are a lot of people out there willing to pay you for your hobby. All you have to do is make sure you know how to sell – and make sure you’re sending in quality photos. Magazines should be the main place you try to get your photos sold to, because they will pay you the highest rates and are the most likely to buy from a freelance or hobbyist photographer.
To begin selling to magazines, hit your grocery store and pick up 3-5 magazines that you enjoy the look of. Then, sit down and really study the photos that they include with their articles. Pinpoint the style of photography that the magazine uses most often – and honestly decide whether your style matches that, or if you could easily match it.
When you have found a magazine that fits well with your photography, send a few samples of your photography (make sure to keep originals or digital copies on your computer!) and a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) to the photo editor. Then, sit back and wait … do not send those same photos to another magazine until you’ve heard back from the first. It’s tempting, but if the first magazine accepts them, you’ll have a whole mess of trouble to deal with.
Another option is to work with a stock photography company (or two). There are currently several very successful stock photography websites online that allow photographers to sign up for free and upload their photos for sell. If this is the option you choose, make sure that your photos are the highest resolution possible, and consider creating several resolutions. Your work will have serious competition, so also be sure that you’re showcasing the most creative work you have. Finally, seriously consider the keywords you use. Stock photo websites work off of keywords – potential customers will search for a concept, a phrase, or a type of photo and you want to pull up in relevant results.