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02-06-2008, 09:42 AM   #1
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So are you making any money at this? Share ideas.

I've decided to do some weddings this year and look at other opportunities around here to build a business around photography. Nice thing is that here, there are tons of weddings and not enough photographers. Probably second only to Niagara falls in Canada.

Lots of tourist opportunities and commercial work as well.

What spawned this was I ran a quickie ad 2 weeks ago in Kijiji online classifieds and within 10
days had 14 serious inquiries and 4 with paid deposits. Getting new emails almost daily. The other 10 say they want me but I haven't had the time to meet them yet. I only wanted to do 4-6 to build up a portfolio as all my previous stuff was several years ago and on film. Looking at it now, I wasn't that good. But I didn't charge much.

So I thought that if you're up to sharing your ideas, then post the ones you don't mind in public.

So me?
1) Wedding/special events this year.

2) Build a bigger portfolio for next year to cater to the tourist trade and gift stores. framed prints (gift store) and canvas prints (designers-furniture stores).

3) Maybe a calendar or a CD of jpeg images (10-15) that can be purchased for $20/each and the buyer can do their own printing.

4) 2009, renting some studio space and starting to do higher end paid work as well as the typical family/school/grad type stuff.

I like Stu's idea with the clocks and with his permission, might give that a try.

So anyone making any money at this?

02-06-2008, 09:52 AM   #2
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i am making zero dollars
02-06-2008, 11:31 AM   #3
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I have sold 1 of my geese pictures, 2 or my full moon pictures (and the people have asked for a picture of a half and thumbnail moon). I have also sold a couple of prints of a gentleman from his retirement party. Thats what I have been able to sell. Maybe this year will be better than last year.

Jim
02-06-2008, 12:19 PM   #4
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I used to make money from my photography, but not enough to live on. That was fine with me as I was only using the cash to buy lenses and stuff. I started by submitting some of my pics to a local magazine. The exposure I got from having my work published in that magazine led to being able to sell some pics to a postcard company, a professional organization, the Chamber of Commerce, and even a local tv station for use as a background on their news set. Other than the postcard and news set, my pics were mostly bought for one-time usage only and were used in brochures.

02-06-2008, 01:47 PM   #5
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I was making 10-12% of my income from my cameras. Now that i was bought out, its more like %100.

LOL

Basically the money i make from horse shows helps in buying RRSP's, new gear, printers etc.

Dave
02-10-2008, 07:11 AM   #6
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Back in the 60s I heard a definition of a professional photographer that helped me decide on a photography career in civil service, it was... "a guy with a camera and a working wife."

Yar (Ray) in Pensacola.
02-10-2008, 07:24 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by YarPcola Quote
Back in the 60s I heard a definition of a professional photographer that helped me decide on a photography career in civil service, it was... "a guy with a camera and a working wife."

Yar (Ray) in Pensacola.
I guess I should point out that back in the early 60s there was still some stigma attached to being a married man who had a working wife - it implied that you weren't successful enough to support your family. I know this sounds archaic today, but the 60s saw a lot of changes, and this was one of them.

Yar

02-11-2008, 03:47 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Peter Zack Quote

So me?
1) Wedding/special events this year.

2) Build a bigger portfolio for next year to cater to the tourist trade and gift stores. framed prints (gift store) and canvas prints (designers-furniture stores).

3) Maybe a calendar or a CD of jpeg images (10-15) that can be purchased for $20/each and the buyer can do their own printing.

4) 2009, renting some studio space and starting to do higher end paid work as well as the typical family/school/grad type stuff.

I like Stu's idea with the clocks and with his permission, might give that a try.

So anyone making any money at this?
Wedding shots are too tough as the expectation for a paid photographer is so high these days. When people want to whine, anything is possible. Event photography is easier to plan and more fun to do. I personally prefer event photography where the shooting time is less and things are more predictable: parties, baby shower, functions etc.

Extensive port folio is fun and nice to have something to show the history of your photo styles as well. Having large prints and lug them to various stores are quite a pain, looking less professional as well. All my films in the past are just left in the cupboard, accumulating dust. What a waste! But to get them organised is just simply too time consuming.

The CDs are great ideas. Great at the touristy spots. I was approached to give some files to the german tourists (around 20s) at a local forest. Basicly they just copied my files from my SD card to their ipod. hehe. (they are canon users btw)

The studio protraits are tough business. I had to do quite a few ones charging none for the service as people do not like the shots. At the middle of last year, I joined an agency where a photographer is needed to snap away model-wanna-be or actors who want to be included in the agency data bases. So you get to exercise your photography skill on a variety of people without too much concern about offending them with ugly images. It is either you have the shot or get out kind of thing. hehe. These shots could be used as part of your port folio as well. some of the models would approach you after the shoot to get another set of shots if they like your style. etc

At my local hospital, I offered free service to all my colleagues and juniors. It is a great thing that everyone wants to pay a little from time to time. Capitalist

It is hard and tough thing to make ends meet. I think any small reward from the photography is fun. But definitely not likely a life-sustaining strategy
02-11-2008, 09:02 AM   #9
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Best of Luck Peter - I make squat on photography in fact it is completely on the wrong side of the balance sheet for me , albeit the intangibles such as enjoyment cannot be underestimated

I like the CD idea - another idea and one I have a passion for is make a DVD presentation with titles and music - you can even make these presentations for the Web to allow potential clients to see your work. There are hundreds of products that will do this , my software of choice lately is one called Pro Show Producer it is not cheap (I think it was around $250.00) - but is has some amazing features and can be used for some amazing shows. Users Forum where you can see some examples

I considered having a side business doing these shows / presentations but could not come up with a reasonable cost structure. For example I did one for my Mother-In-Law's 65th Birthday - there were recent photo's and a lot of scanned photos' my wife and I worked on this for over a week - mind you a lot of that was me learning the software , still I could not justify what I would charge eg: here mom enjoy that will be $1000.00 It was a huge hit and now everyone want s me to do one for them .
02-12-2008, 03:20 AM   #10
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Location is a key to opportunity. I am the only halfway enthusiastic/professional photographer in the Indigenous community where I live. I get to do weddings for cost or a couple of crayfish or whatever. I am paid a little bit of money along with a free weekly paper for any PJ stuff I manage to scrounge for the local newspaper. (A word for my sponsor)Torres News - News from Torres Strait and Cape York - Home Other events come up and these get covered for the local council at cost plus a bit more. The people on decent salaries such as government employees I charge for sittings or weddings which helps pay for more camera stuff. I don't like to charge too much anyway while I am on my learning phase.

I also do the CD thing with a tourist shop/gallery but that is very seasonal. I am in the exploration stage of producing a range of prints with matte that can be framed later. Tourists are usually travelling by 4WD and don't want to carry big breakable stuff.

A couple of times I have sold CDs and prints at small tourist market. May do a stall at the annual agricultural and pastoral show later on if I put more stuff together. Greeting cards and postcards for example. This is not a wealthy community although the residents do enjoy having their pictures taken so there is not a big market for the pricy decorative products. family records and commeorations are where it is at.

As Dave (daacon) says there is a lot to be said for the enjoyment of the act of picture taking itself. Both for taker and taken. Earning a little money is just an extra.
02-12-2008, 11:16 AM   #11
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I shot a wedding for a couple that my wife works with (it was nice of her to make my labor her wedding present to them. LOL) late in 2007.

They ended up giving us a $100 gift card for a local high-end steak place. So I guess if you disregard my time in shooting and editing the shots, I made money. I guess I could have ended up with nothing more than a warm fuzzy feeling. LOL.

Other than that I sold a few hundred dollars worth of prints last year as well.

So, yeah, I made some money, but not near enough to cover equipment purchases. Hopefully 2008 will be more profitable.
02-12-2008, 11:57 AM   #12
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I did a wedding for a friend back in 1986 and swore never again.

Not because it turned out badly, but it requires a very thick skin, to deal with all the relatives who try and take over the wedding.

The shots actually turned out well, in fact better than the ones done by the photographer who did my wedding, which had some shots directly in front of an old photograph. Glare off the glass ruined the best shots. (ps, make sure the bride has her flowers in the shots, I didn't notice she dropped her's at the time for some group shots)

When I consider how much we paid, obviously there is money to be made if you can do it right.

For nature and landscape prints, the issue is how to get them sold / published/ the best way I think would be if they fit into another business you have already. Picture framing, or local gift shop souviner shop etc.

I personally don't do this for profit, but for the fun of it, and although I am building a portfolio, I am doing that just for me also. Maybe in the future (10-20 years from now) but not now any way

Last edited by Lowell Goudge; 02-12-2008 at 12:04 PM.
02-12-2008, 12:48 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
I did a wedding for a friend back in 1986 and swore never again.

Yeah, I would probably still have hair today if I had refused to shoot weddings for some of my friends. lol
02-12-2008, 02:26 PM   #14
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I used to make half my money at photography, when didn't have a car and worked for my city newspaper. That was a great experience, and also made me realize I'm not much into snapping pictures of people who didn't necessarily want their picture taken. So no papparazzi job for me!

But I have been funding most of my equipment purchases lately. So I'm not making enough money at it to file taxes, but I fully funded my 40 Limited, the new computer mainly for images (and a few games - whaaat?) I've been entering a local calendar contest every year since 2000, I won 2nd place a few times for a couple hundred dollars, and I've gotten a monthly picture all but a couple years, but if you don't "place" you only get $50.

Lately I've been making photo books and taking them around for people to order pictures. It's been really fruitful. I started out with a "proof portfolio" book from mpix.com, for $18, and I made some Christmas money. I didn't like the size of the pictures though, they were quite small, so I started doing 4x6's and pasting them into a book of my own.
So I've been selling basic prints, 5x7 through 16x20, and framed versions too. Good frames aren't cheap, I need to find a wholesaler if I can. Of course I can skimp and go the Wal-Mart route - but I treasure my stuff more than that. They do have a few decent quality frames there, but the prices are comparable to the really nice ones at Michaels (an arts and craft store).
I take them in to work, but I don't sell them for a premium. I cover my costs and maybe can buy a few extra things, like a few extra prints and some frames. I have a local history museum interested in me possibly doing a show, and I'm going through my stuff the past few days getting ready for one last print order before I put it together.

It might be an exciting year for this stuff. I like your idea's Peter, and everyone elses.

But the biggest joy I actually got so far was a panorama i did for a lady I work with. There is an old horse racing venue in Vermont that's been long closed, I guess she had lots of memories there. She asked if I could go there (they were tearing it down) and take a few pictures.
So I went there and did a panorama track and the old building. It made her cry when I showed it to her, some special memories I guess.
02-12-2008, 04:29 PM   #15
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I am making about 20% of my annual income from photography now. I still shoot for the fun of it, I stick to things I know I am good at and enjoy doing.

I started attending local car club racing days taking shots because I liked taking photos, then a couple of people bought them off me. Now I still sell some shots to driver and sponsors, but these don't even come close to paying for the petrol to the event. I mainly concentrate on shooting for magazines as these are the guys with money. I'm now in the position I know a range of magazine editors across a range of genres and if there is an event coming up I think will be of interest to one of them I shoot them off an e-mail and find out if they are interested.

However the single biggest reason I push for magazines to run my photos is the exact reason I started taking them in the first place, to create a record of these peoples achievements and get them some recognition. If an event isn't published it still goes up on my online gallery aso the people in them can view them as a record of their day.

Anyhow, to my goals for this year:

1) Put all my earnings into a seperate account to buy new gear. Whether this means a brand change or not I don't know yet, but all this will happen about the start of June.

2) Do some formal training so I know how to do a few techniques better.

3) Do some street photography over the winter period and put together a portfolio so I can hopefully sell some local landscape photography to these trendy cafe's that are popping up and seem to love that stuff.

All that being said I would like to take some time off from taking photos over the winter as this summer has been very hektic and has stretched over 6-months of shooting every other weekend.
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