All photographers strive for perfection and anything less is very disappointing. In my experience photographers are too self-critical (and yes, I am guilty of this) and whilst it is always satisfying to bag those perfect shots, in the real world it really doesn’t matter.
I sell various photos on stock sites and print on demand stores, and it never ceases to amaze me the types of photos that people buy. Yep, photography definitely is subjective and an image that is hated by some will be loved by others, and there is no accounting for taste.
If you think that photos have to be technically excellent to earn some money I have proof that this is not the case. Early on in my digital photography I captured a really dodgy photo, and this was and still is my top selling photo to date.
My top selling photo consists of a row of beach huts on the Norfolk coast. The beach huts were shot in the middle of a hot and very sunny day, which meant there were serious exposure issues. With the high contrast (much higher than my poor little 450d could deal with) the exposure is well off with blown high lights and shadows that are too dark. Composition is okay but far from brilliant. The color version of the photo is pretty awful so I thought I would convert it to black and white in a bid to save it.
The black and white conversion I used wasn’t the “proper” way to do it, i.e. tweaking the different color channels and curves for a nice photo, and simply involved the “remove color” function in Photoshop Elements. At the time I was pretty new to photo editing and didn’t appreciate how to properly convert a photo to black and white. Basically, I did the black and white conversion the lazy way.
Anyone who knows anything about photography would rip my beach huts photo apart, and I wouldn’t blame them, however the general public, i.e. the customers parting with their hard earned money for it, seem to like it. To date I have had 409 orders for the photo on greetings cards, postcards and postage stamps. Some of the orders have been for a single card but some of the orders have been for several cards and postcards, i.e. a bulk order, which is cool. In monetary terms the beach huts photo has netted me just over five hundred bucks, which is more than it cost me to buy the Canon 450d and Canon 50mm f1.8 lens I used to capture the photo.
If you’re interested in my top selling photo here it is:
Even though photos don’t have to be technically perfect to be top sellers this is no excuse to be lazy and capture sub-standard photos. As tempting as it may be to simply turn the camera’s dial to full auto mode, snap away and upload every image for sale it is important not to fall in to this trap. Whenever I take photos I try to nail the exposure, I try to nail the composition and I aim to make each and every shot the best I can, i.e. I strive for perfection. I have never achieved perfection, and I don’t think I ever will but I do whatever I can to get there.
There are times when I specifically go out and shoot photos that I intend to use on stock sites and print on demand sites, and even on these occasions I try to capture the best photos I can, even though I know that there really is no need to do this to capture stock/print on demand photos that sell.
The point I am trying to make is that just because a particular photo isn’t technically perfect don’t instantly bin it. Even if you are not overly impressed with it and don’t think it worthy of your photography portfolio, it may be worthwhile uploading it to a stock site or print on demand site and let it do its thing. Who knows, that photo may turn out to be a real cash cow generating some decent income.
Making money with your camera – related reading
Stock photography isn’t the only way to earn money with a camera. Check out the links below for other ways you may find interesting:-
“Photography services you have to offer to make money” is an article exploring the key photography services you have to offer to clients if you want to make money with your camera.
“Earning money as a product photographer” is an article focusing on product photography and how to make money from it.
“Making money with corporate photography” is an article focusing on corporate photography services and how to make money providing them.
“Event photography tips” is an article providing hints, tips and advice on event photography, which can be very lucrative.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.