Money and art have always seemed to have a poor relationship with one another. Being known as a “starving artist” has always seemed like the only option for those of us who are more creative, who wish to pursue a career within the arts. However, this is not necessarily the case anymore. Hell, it may never have been, as evidenced by the millions of dollars that Michelangelo made through commissions. Bet you didn’t know that one!
So, when someone gets into landscape photography – and they decide they wish to make money doing it – they come up with a ton of issues. Landscape photography is not at all something you should get into if you are chasing money. This explains why so many landscape photographers have a full-time job, do some other photography on the side like shooting weddings, et cetera. Yet for those who wish to make some sort of money with this work, I shall provide you with five options.
For those of you who do not know, stock photography is used by hundreds of thousands of people and companies for a ton of different reasons. Most of us see these sorts of photographs turn into memes, such as the one below, or they can be found on Google Images with the obtrusive watermarks that say things like “Shutterstock.”
The good thing for you is that this sort of photography encompasses all other genre of photography. You can easily upload an image to a website like Shutterstock and get paid for it whenever somebody else buys it. Of course, the amount of money earned will not amass to anything huge unless you are lucky, it is still something. My recommendation – and what I plan to do eventually – is to take whatever images you have that will not be used for your social media or portfolio, and throw them onto a stock photography website. By doing this, you are able to make money off images you would not be using anyway. Instead of just taking up space on your hard drive, these images are now making money for you!
This one is tough. I would love to teach you guys how to create beautiful imagery in person, traveling together to an amazing location, doing what we love together, with me taking your money: it would be awesome. Yet I do not feel confident enough in my own ability to do this. You, on the other hand, may. Maybe you feel as though what you are doing is so different than what other artists are, and you have the following to teach these skills to. So, I say go for it. You can make a ton of money off of it with only a few participants. When I finally get around to doing this in a few years, I plan on finding the highest price point that I can charge people while still gaining participants, and then sticking with that price. Keep the number of people low so you can have that one-on-one connection with each participating photographer while also being able to keep track of everything. You really only need a few true followers who are willing to spend money and support you.
Speaking of tough, this is very difficult to get. This is not to say that it cannot happen, though, for hotels and airlines are always looking for new photographs to blast all over their buildings. Throw out a bunch of cold emails to some hotels near you and see if they will get your images on their walls. Eventually, you will get companies emailing you about your work in hopes of using it for websites, billboards, et cetera. Another option would be to look for new hotels or buildings that are being build; talk to the lead CEO of the company about creating images for them that can be used for advertising.
This is where the number of your followers really comes in. Thanks to the terrible algorithms of social media, it is very difficult to gain traction with your work. If you do gain enough followers, however, you are able to work alongside of big brands. Although you may not be able to make money from these opportunities, you can instead get some great gear for free. Not the same thing, I understand that, however it is still something and will lead to new opportunities in the future.
Saving the best for last, selling prints is the most common way for landscape photographers to make money. However, many seem to do it in a poor manner, thinking less of quality and more of quantity. I plan to do an article on this soon, but for now, keep in mind that you should be valuing your work. For all of those hours you have put into each image, why bother selling it super cheap just so everyone can afford it and you can sell a ton of them? Instead, place some value on your work, do limited edition runs, and sell less, for more.
Video work has quickly been gaining traction throughout the years with many people having speculated whether it will take over still-image photography. An awesome way that you can get some cash is by creating video content on YouTube and throwing on some advertisements. Like stock photography, it will not be a lot – especially since YouTube is demonetizing far too many videos – but it can still be some gas money to help get you to your locations.
I hope this helps give you some inspiration as to how you can gain some money off landscape photography. As I am still learning, I must apologize that this is not as in-depth as possible but, as I learn more, I will continue to up the quality of my blog posts.