Anyone who follows my photography blog, or at least spent the time reading a post or two will know that one of my passions is trying to make a bit of money with my camera. Knowing that someone likes my work, and is actually prepared to spend their hard earned cash on a photo I took is satisfying and makes it all worthwhile. Earning money to go and buy that new lens, or other bit of expensive photography kit by selling a few photos also makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.
I will try and sell photos of all subjects and genres (other than the photos I take from commissioned shoots of course) and won’t think twice about posting up landscape photos, nature photos, wildlife photos……. If I shoot it I will try and sell it.
The largest motor sports event at my local race circuit was held the other day, and since motor sports is another passion of mine I thought I would get down there with the camera. The intention was to take the camera and get all the photos on Friday (the free practice and qualifying day) leaving the race day free for me to enjoy the racing and capture the odd photo, if I wanted.
The Friday is usually a quiet day (most people are at work or don’t bother attending the free practice) meaning I could wander around the circuit taking photos from all the corners and the “hot spots”, which would be full up on race day. Free practice is usually a relaxed day where you can get a good photo of all riders in all classes. Unfortunately, this was not how it happened this year………
Over the years I have invested quite a lot of money in photography equipment (a lot more than I really want to think about let alone divulge) and now have some decent motor sports photography kit, and I thought this would give my photos a bit of an edge when it comes to selling them, but this was not going to happen this time.
Walking around the circuit I noticed there were a lot of people milling around, and the majority had cameras around the necks, slung over the shoulder or were carrying a photography bag. There were more people with a camera (or two) than without, and if asked to estimate I would say 8 out of 10 people had a camera with them.
The cameras I saw, weren’t basic point and shoots but top end dlsr cameras that are designed for fast action photography. Hanging around people’s necks were 7Ds, 7D mark IIs and 1Ds (being a Canon shooter these were the cameras I recognized although I am sure the Nikons I saw were the Nikon equivalent) none of which are cheap. Attached to the camera bodies were the white Canon L series lenses (Canon 70 - 200, Canon 28 – 300, Canon 100 – 400, Canon 400mm primes and Canon 500mm primes) all of which are serious pieces of glass costing a pretty penny or two. Yep, there was a lot of money’s worth around, much of which was identical to my set up.
As well as using the similar kit to me the other circuit goers were also taking similar photos to me, which given there are only so many corners on the circuit and you can only get to specific parts of the circuit was to be expected.
So with loads of people using exactly the same motor sports photography kit as me (as well as the Nikon equivalent), standing in the same corner as me, taking photos of the same racers as me, and using the same settings as me means there are going to be several identical photos floating around, and there will be nothing to differentiate the photos.
I know not everyone will try and sell their motor sport photos, but I bet many of them will, or at least try. Approaching the individual racers, the circuit marketing team, the local press etc. in a bid to sell a photo or two isn’t going to work as the “I could get a similar photo for nothing so why would I buy a photo from you?” argument will be used. The only place I am likely to get a sale or two (if at all) is to put the photos online.
Selling photos online isn’t easy and whilst there are some people who strike it lucky with an image that goes viral and makes loads of sales, this is a rare occurrence. Selling photos online requires time and effort in sharing, marketing and creating awareness. Yep, it takes up a lot of time and even then there are no guarantees they will sell.
With so many people taking the same style of photos with identical kit has decreased the amount people are willing to pay for my motor sports photos, if I can even persuade someone to go for my photo in the first instance. I am just one person in a small city in the East of England, and I am sure this scenario is happening at all race circuits the world over.
Fortunately, I don’t have to rely on selling motor sports photos to earn a living because I would be hungry and homeless. I don’t envisage making any real money with my motor sports photos (although it would be nice) but I am going to continue putting up my photos for sale and try.
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.