Steve

Do you make any money selling photo's ? I see that Getty Images and flickr and others will sell your photos and give a commision. What do you think of this ? Is anyone making money anymore taking photos? I was hoping to make a little bit selling photo's thru one of these agency's when I semi-retire next year.

Kelly

 

Kelly -

I'm really sorry for not answering this sooner.  I've been working hard trying to get our new site up and lost track of other things.

Yes.. I make money selling photos but I've been involved with some stock agencies for a long time and I don't share this information. 

This has become a very competitive and in some peoples minds explosive topic.  Ever since Getty Images bought most of the major stock agencies and then lowered their fees to in many cases just a dollar or two a use.. the market changed.

The good news for amateurs and part timers is its now a lot easier for them to make small amounts of money from their work.  For instance on Flickr you can sign up to let Getty use your images and depending on how an image gets used you might make enough to buy yourself dinner.  Obviously this won't pay the rent, but its a nice gesture for them using your images.

As the market changes.. and its changes a lot in recent years.. photographers are going out of business at an alarming rate.  The way I see it is that they're not changing with the times and sticking with their old ways is no longer working for them.  In today's market you need to be willing to reinvent yourself and this takes a bit of creativity and a lot more business know how.  I've always said "professional" photography is a lot more about business skills than camera skills and this is more evident today than ever before.

The most successful new photographers have found a niche.  Look for your niche and see what you can come up with.  And example of a niche would be what I did in Oregon prior to moving back to Thailand.  It happened by accident:

I was having a new custom home built and being a big DIYer (do it yourselfer) I always thought it would be very useful to know what was under a floor, under a cement slab, behind a wall, where all the pipes ran, elec, etc.  So every major step of the way I'd carefully photograph and document the construction on my new home and I made a notebook.  The first pictures started with unbroken ground with trees, and the last pictures were glamour shots of the completed home at dusk with the lights on inside and smoke coming from the chimney.  Everything between was covered.

The contractor liked this so much he asked if I could do the same for his other custom homes he was building.  At first these photos were to show new clients and for insurance purposes.. but soon the customers themselves wanted a set.  Soon they asked me if the finished glamour shots could include the family and the family pets..  My contractor tacked my fee on to his estimates and soon I was pulling in some decent regular money for not many hours of work.  Other contractors heard and I marketed myself to them.  Most of the people who could afford homes in this range had a bigger income and had kids getting married, birthdays, graduations, and more.. and within 2 years I was grossing more than any other photography business in the city.

A niche will provide income, allow you to meet prospective new clients, and to practice your skills as it grows and moves into bigger and better things.  This is my best recommendation.  Trying to earn money with stock photography these days is a no win situation.

I hope this helps

Steve

 

Steve

Hey fantastic answer !! So thoughtful of you to reply.

I want to be in Thailand so much but with my savings it wouldn't be great. I have tried and it was wonderful but need an extra $$ a month while IN Thailand. Working permits seem hard to come by and teaching English I don't think I would be qualified.

I guess and occasional free dinner from Getty photo is a start.

What do you think of Photo Booths ? I've seen a couple around BKK but I think they would be a hit in Pattaya and Phuket bring them to different bars set up for free then split profits with bar owners and lady's ? Once the novelty wears off, off to the next bar ? Would have to let a thai friend in on it I'm sure I'll do the selingl he does the delivery/partner part. Or maybe some sort of portable super fast wirless printer and a IPAD/Camera and do on the spot photo's. Sort of like you see in Hong Kong where the photographers do tourists in skyline shots.

Elephant shots, senic vistas/ tourist areas ? Much larger than the old poloroids that are still out there ? Again I probable would need to train my trusty Thai partner

Thanks again for your last answer !

any thoughts would be great

Kel

PS love that I dea about the houses.

 

Kelly -

No problem, questions like this give me the opportunity think about such things.

Photobooths are very much automated and there are tons of them everywhere you look being operated by minimum wage workers with no idea about photography.  I don't see much opportunity with photo booths.

There are also all kinds of "on-the-spot" photo services everywhere you go.  Go to the floating market and you won't even see them take your picture, but when you return from your boat ride they'll have your picture mounted on a plate or cup and try and sell it to you.

And there are millions of photos on the web of everything else you mentioned so its probably rare someone will be willing to pay for one.

Another cool idea I saw that paid off was a guy who bought a 3d camera and a laser that would etch a persons portrait INSIDE a square block of glass.  The  results were visually stunning.  I asked how much he invested and he had something like 30,000 USD's in the system and figured it would take him about 5 years to return his investment.  He'd sit out in the hot sun day and night at Suanlang Night Bazaar hoping to make enough each day to make the payments on his system.

Try and remember the average Thai has very little disposable income.  You won't find much profit there. 

All I can recommend is come over here and spend lots of time out and about and see what your imagination can come up with.  It's a hard game and if it were easy many would be doing it.  There are lots of talented farang photographers in Thailand and very few make money doing it.   Its going to take good photography skills, a great imagination, and excellent business skills.  But most of all it's going to take patience as you feel out the market, and perhaps years to establish yourself.

I wish you luck.

Steve

Please submit your questions to QandA@Bkkimages.com   All questions will be answered and most will show up in the weekly column.