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Thread: Making 'a bit of extra money' from photography - and some thoughts on some of the pros

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    Member CapnBloodbeard's Avatar
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    Making 'a bit of extra money' from photography - and some thoughts on some of the pros

    Hey guys,

    Sorry for the inactivity lately – just got back from an awesome 6 week trip across New Zealand.

    During that time it got me thinking. Now, I haven't done much photography lately and NZ gave me the opportunity to work on my landscape photography which I haven't done much of. Got a few I'm happy with, a few 'nearly good', and a bunch of crap. So I don't have the collection of stunners that others made, but overall I'm more or less happy and I can take it as a big learning experience too.

    When I was over there I'd flick through the poster displays you'd find in all the tourist shops...generally, the same couple of guys would have a little stand with a big flip book of a dozen or so posters that you can buy for a reasonably cheap price, and maybe a stand of postcards or such too.

    Now, some of these guys are good, but one or two of them had decidedly uninspiring images – photos which I probably wouldn't even bother editing let alone printing or selling.

    So that got me wondering does anybody on here make any money from their photography, and how did you go about this? I'd love to be able to sell some work...not looking at getting into full time work or anything, but I'd be happy making a few hundred dollars from selling some prints every now and then.

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    I hear you - your looking at the postcards and prints and thinking 'this is crap'. But hey, at least they are doing it, and thats the point here. Decide what direction you want to head in, sports, news, landscapes etc... then investigate what avenues you can take to sell some prints.... news, call the local news papers or start sending them same pics/samples...

    Just have a go and see what happens is best bet.

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    Member James T's Avatar
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    The 'postcard' people will usually have a substantial amount of investment behind them (from their own pockets of course). If you want to see any real return you have to print, and sell in pretty big numbers. Takes a heap of time and effort to do even half properly, more trouble than it's worth to me.

    Then you have to deal with the fact that Joe Public doesn't care about good photography on a postcard. Look at Matt Irwin as a Melbourne example.. it's not about excellent photography, it's clichéd shots of Hosier Lane and Flinders Street that sell. (No offence Matt if you're reading).

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    After the recent full time vs 'weekend warrior' (a.k.a. part timer) discussion this thread is going to be interesting.

    Some people set up a business with ABN insurance etc. and make money from that.

    Some people do a bit on the side (and don't have the overheads) and make money from that.

    In this case (postcards) I think the key thing is to be connected into some form of large scale printing and distribution.
    Guess who makes the big bucks there? (Hint: not the 'tog, unless they control it eg. Ken Duncan, Steve Parish etc. [good on them BTW])
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    There are many niches and areas where you could earn money out of photography but the trick is where to find them and seek them. You could then find that little niche and discover it has already been filled up and there's a long queue that came earlier before you. I don't mean to be discouraging, but that is the reality. You have to be able to stand out from the rest of the pack to get that niche.
    If you are into photography for the fun and pleasure of it, then there is no pressure except for the CC's you will get out of your photos...
    Last edited by RaoulIsidro; 28-09-2010 at 6:47pm.
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    Anyone get gift cards and or postcards printed for retail? Who would you recommend? ..with an ABN you can get wholesale printing done, is this correct?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shane.R View Post
    ..with an ABN you can get wholesale printing done, is this correct?
    To answer that specific question, in my experience - NO.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shane.R View Post
    Anyone get gift cards and or postcards printed for retail? Who would you recommend? ..with an ABN you can get wholesale printing done, is this correct?
    In my experience is more about the quantity you print, more than just having an ABN
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    Yeah that would be a given, no doubt - well to me anyway.

    Anyone else had cards printed for retail sale?

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    Postcards are about the location. You need to be able to have relevant photos for the area they are sold in. Specifically, your market can be very targeted. No use trying to sell Whales frolicking in the sea off the east coast of Australia..in Alice Springs. People will buy postcards related to the place they are. After all they send them home with notes on how they found the place on the postcard.

    So you need to look at where you want to sell them, what people in those areas are visiting as tourists etc, and target your subject matter at them. This can mean quite an outlay to get all the postcards printed and on display in the location. Remembering that the printer, you, the retailer all want a cut of the profits, so don't expect to make a lot per card.

    If you have the mind-set, the photos and the drive, go for it, but work out a business plan first. Find out what the costs are, find out what retailers are selling postcards for, try and find out what profit the retailer wants. Then work out all your costs. Work out your profit per card. Investigate what postcards are the most wanted in each region. Target the market. And go for it!
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    Why postcards? Why print? Companies like John Sands specialise in postcards and I'm sure they don't buy or manufacture one at a time. For instance they may do a travel series, 50 or 60 towns around Oz and then do 10,000 copies of each. The cost of the photos would be zilch and printing cost so low as to make the manufacture of the card affordable.
    If you can compete against that, good luck. The market is always open.
    Mind you, there's a similar avenue that can be lucrative. I do generic photos for credit cards, just one bank at the moment and get paid a fee per use. So, if a bank customer chooses my photo for their credit card, ka-ching. Now the fee is only tiny (per card) but when you consider they may do up to 30,000 copies per month it adds up. (Not that they (customers) will use your photo every time). Beats working for the average wage but you do need to understand that the quality of the photo takes last place compared to what you photograph. Bank customers can be a choosy lot.
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    These post card photos may seem shocking but the person buying it can relate to it as it's the every day scene. The buyer can't exactly relate to something like a amazing sunset years ago if they were not there, they can not relate to it. The average photo makes it feel like a memory of when there were there.
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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Redgum View Post
    Why postcards? Why print? Companies like John Sands specialise in postcards and I'm sure they don't buy or manufacture one at a time. For instance they may do a travel series, 50 or 60 towns around Oz and then do 10,000 copies of each. The cost of the photos would be zilch and printing cost so low as to make the manufacture of the card affordable.
    If you can compete against that, good luck. The market is always open.
    Mind you, there's a similar avenue that can be lucrative. I do generic photos for credit cards, just one bank at the moment and get paid a fee per use. So, if a bank customer chooses my photo for their credit card, ka-ching. Now the fee is only tiny (per card) but when you consider they may do up to 30,000 copies per month it adds up. (Not that they (customers) will use your photo every time). Beats working for the average wage but you do need to understand that the quality of the photo takes last place compared to what you photograph. Bank customers can be a choosy lot.
    I have a series of postcards of the east coast of Tasmania. These are sold through the visitor information centres along the coast, along with a few other shops. They do quite well, I make a profit of $0.60 off each one (not a lot, but it adds up, especially over summer). So you can compete against John Sands etc, if you investigate your market, have a good product and find the right places to have your postcard stands.

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    I stumbled into an 'up-market' (read: trinketty and overpriced) gift & homewares shop yesterday in my local beachside town to find a B&W shot of Sydney Harbour Bridge & the opera house printed on a fairly big canvas (not an overly good print mind you - Harvey Norman?) for the mere price of $575.

    I suspect the print probably sold to the shop for ~$200, at best. Still a decent profit to the "local photogarpher" mentioned on the price tag. Good on 'em, I say. Certainly got me thinking, there was nothing special about the shot, that's for sure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KillerTimbo View Post
    I stumbled into an 'up-market' (read: trinketty and overpriced) gift & homewares shop yesterday in my local beachside town to find a B&W shot of Sydney Harbour Bridge & the opera house printed on a fairly big canvas (not an overly good print mind you - Harvey Norman?) for the mere price of $575.
    ... there was nothing special about the shot, that's for sure.
    Maybe that is why it is still in the shop!
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    find your market and be active. i had my camera for 1 week and started selling photo's strait away from a shoot i had lined up two weeks prior.
    i have a friend that sold a surf shot to a major company of one of there riders for $6000 two weeks after buying his gear....
    shit can happen if you want it to......... if some one else can do it so can you, there only human too and also had to start some were.
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