Nature photography can be an enjoyable hobby, but can nature pictures really be used for anything?
As a landscape photographer, this is a question I ponder often. I spend a lot of time getting just the perfect picture for my own personal enjoyment, but is that picture really worth anything more? Can genres surrounding nature photography ever be profitable?
It all depends! A photographer needs the right person, at the right time, with the right needs.
That’s why portraiture and photojournalism are so popular and profitable. Millions of families across the globe have photography needs all the time, whether it’s an engagement, wedding, baby photo shoot, senior portrait, family portrait, family reunion . . . you name it! Families are willing to pay for what they need. Same thing with businesses and news organizations. The challenge with nature photography is that nature pictures are timeless, there’s such an over-abundance of them, and there’s not a high demand for them. It’s hard to find a right person at the right time with the right needs.
But that doesn’t mean opportunities don’t exist.
For example. EmbassyMedia.com was launched yesterday (a FANTASTIC ministry that I heartily recommend!). I had done work for them in the past, so when I saw that their pre-launch site a few days ago with a so-so front page image, I immediately pursued steps toward seeing if I might be able to provide a replacement image. It worked! Here’s a screenshot of the front page with the new image:
So, this method of getting our nature shots off our hard drives and used for the good of others is one of several ideas that I can think of just off the top of my head. These ideas will help us get our nature shots used:
• Meet needs
Never pass up a good opportunity to shoot pictures for someone, whether it’s the genre of photography you enjoy or not. A friend of mine once asked me to shoot a portrait of him. I wasn’t necessarily the greatest portrait photographer, but he liked it, and evidently he thought I was a pretty good photographer because 5 years later, he contacted me to ask if I could help him as a campaign photographer for his run for State Senate. Campaign photography isn’t landscape photography, but it includes a lot of lifestyle, photojournalism and candid type photography that I enjoy more than portraiture. Plus, it opened the door to use landscape shots in his ads.
• Build connections
The more people you know who know you are a photographer, the more likely they will be to contact you when they have a photography need. I can’t tell you how important it is to build connections and relationships with people, whether or not you think they will ever be a potential buyer!
• Look for where nature shots are used
Take a look around you. Is there anything that uses nature images? Someone had to take it. Who did? How did they get it there? Sometimes it is not of our own initiative. BJUPress once contacted me out of the blue asking for a particular picture that illustrated a particular point they were wanting to make in a Physical Science lab manual they were publishing. This is definitely a lead-in for providing concept images in the future if I ever wanted to.
• Make something useful out of them
This is what I have done with my calendars. I haven’t pursued calendar publishing as a full time business, but it’s a nice thing to do along the side, and it actually makes a bit of money.
• Use them for instruction material
I am pursuing photography education as a profession, so it’s very handy to have a large database of images to pull from as I create diagrams and material. I’m not selling pictures. I’m selling what those pictures are talking about.
• Sell them on stock sites
At this time, I have no experience in selling stock photography because I have chosen to keep my images exclusive. Stock photography may be a great way to sell nature photography, but I have chosen to pursue other avenues instead.
• Sell them as fine art
I do not have experience in this area either, but it’s definitely a legitimate way of using nature photography. I guess it comes down to either you sell a lot for a little, or a little for a lot. I would think that maintaining professional, well-maintained, high-quality online and print portfolios would be necessary for anyone pursuing selling nature photography as fine art. You have some experience in this area? Leave a comment!
• Participate in Shoot to Serve opportunities
Instead of running a one-man show and trying to find the right buyer at the right time with the right needs all by yourself, considering participating in the Shoot to Serve forums here on Lenspiration. When a person in my circle of connections contacts me with a photography need, I post it on Shoot to Serve. PRO Community members then have the opportunity to shoot for those needs. It’s a great way to build your contact list, get your pictures used, and sometimes even get paid for it! Join the PRO Membership at half price for $9/month with a 10-day free trial when you use the following link: