Saturday, May 23, 2009

Making a living as a photographer

Many times i get asked: "Do you make a living with photography on Samos island?" My answer is "yes" and sometimes people are very surprised about my answer. They are surprised because they think: "... how many photos of Pythagorion and Samos town could he sell? " Well, indeed if i where only photographing the beautiful sceneries around the island, my sales potential would be very limited.

To make a living with photography you need to create many sellable photographs, not only beautiful ones. A good sellable photograph is the one that could be used for publications like newspapers, brochures or magazines to visualize different themes.

The above shot is a sample of a sellable photograph. I shot it in 2008 at the airport of Samos island. After taking the photograph, i made it available to editors, Publishers, Graphic designers, PR-companys etc. via different marketing channels.
The photograph got licensed just a few weeks after it has been online and its now used in a brochure of the German State "Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety".

Here are the links to the PDF brochure, my name is mentioned on page 2, the photograph is published on page31


Michael Anhaeuser said...

Before somebody will ask, here is the answer: No, i do not sell it for 1,-€ at Microstock Agencies. The license fee is depending on the usage and calculated according to the price list of german organisation "MFM(Mittelstandsgemeinschaft Foto-Marketing)".

peter molz said...

Mike, I would like to mention some different aspects too:

There are many dedicated landscape fotographers around the world and they make a living out of that. But that means, they have taken a decision and really specialize on it and they are really willing to travel around the world.

They sell their plain photos too, but concentrate on producing books and live multimedia Shows and/or (internet) presentations based on their photos and videos. They are more like artists telling audiovisual stories!

That is quite a different type of business, because taking photos is only a part of the process to bring a multimedia product into the market!

Just two people from Germany as examples for a good combination for taking really beautiful photos and making a living on them. I've seen their shows (several times) and was very much impressed. :

1.) Rainer Harscher in Germany:
2.) Michael Martin:

And of course we have dedicated professionel photographers who have published beautiful books with their Fotos of Samos, e.g. Emanuelle Coupé with his book: "Samos a photographic journey"

With respect to "sellable photos" ;-)
- Photographers nowadays are confronted with the fact that they need to/are forced to upload thousands of photos to databases in the internet to sell a significant amount of photos!
- now let's assume, a photo is sold for the first time after 3-5 years resting in peace on a database in the internet: is it a sellable photo? Well, yes, because it was sold! ;-)

Michael Anhaeuser said...

Hi Peter, surely it is correct what you say. But i think you are missing 2 points here:
1. I never said that a sellable picture cannot be also a beautiful one. But not every beautiful picture is also sellable.
2.I was talking for Samos island, not about traveling the world. "Michael Martin" has a big success with his "Deserts of the world". If you stay on Samos island like me (not traveling the world), of course you can sell books and calendars about Samos island, but only from this i doubt that you will make a living of. Therefore you would need to spread out more destinations or bigger destinations.

Michael Anhaeuser said...

To clarify:
I do sell my Photos of Samos island, but not as much as i sell other photography.

peter molz said...

Thanks for clarification statement! ;-)

Samos indeed is a small, but nevertheless beautiful island. And a special world by itself!

I was curious and just visited:
- "flickr" to see: todays count is an already incredible amount of something in between 10112 (keywords: samos, greece) to 20717 (samos) photos about Samos mostly taken by tourists and amateur photographers.
All of these photos are accessible worldwide. That is the advantage of the internet. Among these, many beautiful photos. But of the people who visit this photo-database, who wants to pay for a picture ?

- on "alamy", the web’s largest stock photography site, todays count is 2781 photos of Samos (Samos, Greece), mostly taken by professionals and semiprofessionals. Mike and me, we together contribute 26% of all of the Samos photos there!

By the way, Michael Martin has announced to be on the road in Germany with a new show later in this year, looking back on "30 years of adventure"!