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Can I earn any sort of living just from landscape photography?

LeighRebecca 13 267 10 England
14 Sep 2008 8:29PM
I'm sure every other person on this site would love to make their living from their photography, and a few even do it, but I guess it's a pipe dream for most. However, I have been a full-time mum for rather a lot of years now, and so have not been earning any income, so I have nothing to lose, and landscape photography has become a consuming passion since I took it up less than a year ago.

My question is - is it actually possible to make a little (i.e maybe equivalent to a part-time job) income solely from landscape photography? And if so, where does one begin? Or would it be essential to do some portrait work as well? If so, where to begin with that, too?

I intend to contact a local business link number for advice on any courses, help etc. but I know that people on this site have a wealth of experience and can also take a little look at my shots to see if I am just kidding myself, and have no hope really. Also, I just hope to get a few practical pointers in the right direction of where to even start if it is worth going for.

Thanks so much for any feedback at all that you could offer.

curlyfilm 16 139
14 Sep 2008 8:53PM
no help, but looking at the quality of your shots, which are excellent, i would say no problem, good luck! not that you need it!
LeighRebecca 13 267 10 England
14 Sep 2008 8:58PM
Thanks curlyfilm.
Overread 12 4.1k 19 England
14 Sep 2008 9:04PM
Landscapes can make money since people do like to not only look at, but also buy and hang them on the wall at home - so I would say that if you market well and produce a good product that you can make some money from the sales - though most photographers make more money from workshops, lessons and lectures (least those in the wildlife and landscape ares - shots where people are not paying you to take the shot, but for the end result - unlike weddings or portrates).

I would setup a good website and either print at home or outsource to one of the printing labs (many have a standard website construction package to you can setup a website that automatically forwards the orders to them) of course they take a commission from every sale and can cost an annual fee as well, but it can be worth it if printing and the associated costs are not your best area.

After that also consider local events, fetes, fairs and exhibitions where you can show off your work - some people even group together and rent some studio space in a town and put on an exhibition of their works - importantly make sure if you do anything out and about that you have little cards for people to take away - many might not buy on the day, but can be tempted back to a webiste later.
LeighRebecca 13 267 10 England
14 Sep 2008 9:17PM
Thanks Overread. Hopefully my niece should be able to help me to make and set up a website. I guess that's essential these days?
Do you have experience of local fairs etc for this sort of thing? Do you mean booking a table at a local craft fair and having framed prints to sell? Is that a good way forward?
Do large or small, framed or unframed, or maybe greetings cards tend to sell best? Or should I just produce a big variety? I've only got a canon ip4500 and tend to print on ilford classic pearl.
How do people generally find out what fairs etc are coming up? i've never done anything like it at all.
I guess I need some business advice pretty soon before I really take the plunge..
User_Removed 19 7.3k 6 United Kingdom
14 Sep 2008 9:22PM
Hi Leigh

This is impossible to answer objectively. Only you know how much you need to earn to make a living.

As a general observation and speaking of someone who does earn there living from photography, nobody makes a living from being a landscape photographer alone. And before anybody starts reeling off loads of names of professional landscape photographers, I bet not one of them makes there living from landscape photography alone.

All of them run courses, workshops, give talks, write books, run holiday companys, shoot other subjects as well as shoot landscapes and if you want to stand as a professional, you'll find yourself having to do this sort of thing too. It's no different for natural history shooters. I know of one very well known NH shooter who certainly does (or did last I heard) shoot the occasional wedding as well as the stuff I mentioned above.

So yes, there are professional landscape photographers but as a direct answer to your question, yes you can earn money from being a professional landscape photographer but I would doubt very much if you could earn your living from that string alone Smile

One last observation (and this has been mentioned loads of times but it's none the less true for all of that). Being a capable photographer is very different from being able to run your own business. There is an enormous difference between taking photos when your in the mood for it and having to live and breath it every day as well as running the admin, chasing up new business, keeping clients happy, chasing bills, doing accounts (which is what I am doing right now at 9pm on a Sunday night). The business side is b****y hard work and the photography seems but a small part of the business sometime. I haven't had a complete day off since April (and that's no exaggeration).

I'm certainly not trying to put you off as it's also very exciting (if you thrive on stress Smile) but it's important not to over glamorise and to be realistic about the business

I sincerely wish you the best of luck

Barrie Smile
Overread 12 4.1k 19 England
14 Sep 2008 9:28PM
You are thinking the right way (the business side) though I have no experience with the setup myself, but it is something that I keep in mind for "oneday" when I might have a good selection of shots to put up for sale.
I would say this as to products - the more variety the more chance you have of making a sale, of course it also means the greater your initial input into the project is going to be. Postcards have the advantage of being salable in local stores as well if you can get in the door (of course this means supplying stock which is again a gamble).

Most fairs are such are annual events so its just a case of finding them out - local tourist info would probable be the best people to ask - and then get your pitch in early for a table.
On the day (and of course this depends greatly on the size and type of fair) some things will sell and others won't - chances are full prints in frames might not sell since they carry a heavier price tag - mugs, posters and postcards = cheaper things = might sell off your table and can be good for recouping your initial pitch fee. Your website comes in now (and e-mail address) as a point of contact for your large - more expensive prints - since many people might not feel like commiting the money on the day.

That is about my limit on what I can say - I am sure there are others here that have done this to good success - good luck!
elowes 17 2.8k United Kingdom
14 Sep 2008 9:29PM
Making living money at photography is a hard business though making a bit is easier.

Your images are excellent but take a look at what sells and not at what gets scores on this site. For instance chocolate box / postcard sells no matter what some might say about it.

If you really want to go for it an investment in kit and time will be needed.

I have just been looking at a book by Waiting for the Light by David Noton. Gives a little in sight to the lengths he has gone to get the image.
LeighRebecca 13 267 10 England
14 Sep 2008 9:39PM
Barrie, that is a hugely helpful response. It's the business side of things that frightens me most. My husband is self-employed as a drving instructor, so keeping accounts is not so offputting, but finding business and marketing myself is not something I am hugely looking forward to. He syicks an ad in the yellow pages, and the rest is word of mouth, but I realise selling one's own photographs will be hugely more complex, and I do anticipate it taking a ridiculous amount of my time. But I make no income at the moment, and when my youngest goes to school ( he's 2 1/2 at the mo) I should have a fair amount of time.
I certainly can't think about workshops, talks, courses etc at my stage of development (being a beginner myself) but I can imagine how that would be a potential supplement in the future.
I also do rather enjoy portrait photography, but I'm not sure I would have the people skills necessary for that. And it seems that that would require even more self-marketing. But that is an option if I find myself unable to make any money from landscapes.

I don't thrive on stress, but I also don't HAVE to make money quickly, so I hope that might ease the potential stresses.

Do you think an a4 printer is sufficient, or do people tend to prefer larger prints?
LeighRebecca 13 267 10 England
14 Sep 2008 9:45PM
Thanks overread and elowes. I take the point about chhocolate box images. I must admit, I don't have too many, but I think I could certainly add some to my pf as I am sure you are correct about the nature of images that sell, rather than those that do well on epz.
Overread 12 4.1k 19 England
14 Sep 2008 9:47PM
For landscape shots for the wall I think you do really want to go beyond A4 if you can - hence why many outsource printing to labs where they have the expensive printers and ink supplies for far less!

Also a beginner you may be, but one's portfolio speaks volumes more than ones qualifications or kit - if you have the portfolio and the results (and know how you got them and how to repeat such shooting) then you can run some workshops for certain - of course one must also have confidance in ones own skills and teaching abilty and I would not pressure your into this line if you don't yet feel ready for such a venture
User_Removed 19 7.3k 6 United Kingdom
14 Sep 2008 9:52PM
Hey - I made a helpful post.... make it go green Leigh Grin

It sounds like you are in a good position as you don't have to rely on the income. I wouldn't even think of Yellow Pages in your line of business. You need to target businesses, hotels, tourist authorities, fine art companies (that sort of thing) if you want to concentrate on landscape.

I made the concious decision when I started that I was going to be a Photographer without any 'designation' although I had my favourite subjects. That in fact highlights one of the pitfalls of going pro and that is overnight, your hobby becomes a business and there is great danger of losing 'interest' in photography as it becomes a way of life (if you see what I am getting at). It happened to me once and it took me quite a while before I'd pick up a camera unless it was for a paid job. You do need to be prepared for that happening.

As I am sure you realise, there is no miracle way of becoming successful. I like to think I have done very well for myself. I've had no 'official' training or photographic education (I was intending to be a doctor and my qualifications are in Immunology Smile) and when I first went pro, I was quite expecting that I would need to be 'kept' by my partner. We now both work in the business full time and even have other photographers working for us as and when we need them. Skill plays an enormous part in a photographic business (it has to) but business acumen and a big fat slice of luck play their part too to a very large degree
User_Removed 14 1.5k 1
14 Sep 2008 9:55PM
I dont think you will make much money from selling landscapes, its a very difficult thing to sell. Also greetings cards have not got a great margin for profit on them so the pressure to obtain the right contacts who will purchase lots of them make this option not viable. Doing kids portraits is a better option. I do kids portraits and it has taken me over a year to establish my business. I started of doing kids portraits for my friends kids then only started doing the odd job. I am now getting booked with people whom have used me before and take a lot of pride capturing beautiful images of their kids as they grow up. I can make enough money to the extent that i can work on a saturday morning for about 3 hours between taking photos and editing them and can get a good enough order so i can get enough money to live on. I have comitments with another business i have so feel i cant give it up as i worked so hard to build it so feel that photography will remain a part time job with full time income for some time but think that in the future i may get a studio to make it a full time business. I think the key to making money is to identify where you are in the market with regards to what product you offer and what clients will purchase it and also concentrate on what is the most effective marketing techniqe to obtain these clients. A good business head is very important and will give you the edge. james
LeighRebecca 13 267 10 England
14 Sep 2008 9:56PM
Thanks, Overread, but that's a long way into the future for me.

My next question has no doubt been covered in the forums many times, but what printer would be best for larger than A4? And what paper for good long-lasting prints?
Also, where do people get their frames/mounts from? Or do people just use any local framing service? It seems that producing quality framed prints could be so expensive as to prohibit any profits?
Overread 12 4.1k 19 England
14 Sep 2008 10:00PM
If you are supplying the frame then factor that into the cost - price for the photo then addon the frames cost - granted it will cost more so print in a standard format (someone else will have to tell you what these are) and also sell your photos without frame, thus allowing people to get their own frames - which is why you have ot stick to a standard size - otherwise they won't be able to get them away from you (and are unlikey to speak good of you)

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