Did You Ever Try Selling Your Photography…Part 2


 Did You Ever Try Selling Your Photography…Part 2

What is the problem with selling your photography as work?

One problem is that selling your photography as work can be confusing about who you are and what you want to do. If a person is not very clear on this, they may choose the wrong path- like choosing to become a photojournalist when they are really interested in fine art photography. This can make it harder for them in the future as time goes on.

Another problem with people who sell their photography for money or otherwise monetize their craft through selling, is that when people aren't around their work tends to be misinterpreted and cheapened because now there's commercial interest attached to it.
I think that this happened in the case of a woman I know who had a good reputation in her community and was very respected because of her work. She decided to sell some of her photographs because she felt as though she couldn't maintain contact with people. However, when people visited her studio all they did was critique her photographs rather than show interest in the process she went through to create them. They didn't respect that what they were seeing was the work of a person who had done years and years of research before putting out their work into the world.

Another problem with selling your photography is that it may alter the way you communicate with your subjects. In my case, I found myself spinning yarns and stories for my clients so they could better relate to what they were seeing on the screen. This is a fine line I have to walk between being a storyteller and a photographer. If I stopped telling stories and just photographed, my work would get lost in the background because it wouldn't be as interesting from people's individual perspectives. It would also risk alienating people who are used to hearing stories about themselves- which may make them not want to return for other sessions or family portraits.
It's a tricky balance.

Are there other reasons why you would decide to monetize your work?

There are other reasons why I may decide to monetize my work, but one of the main ones is because I didn't have enough time in my schedule to do what I wanted to be doing. I wanted to travel a lot more and take more photographs, but it just didn't allow me enough time in my day. But that was even before I started taking commercial jobs.
I also chose to monetize my work because I got tired of people in the arts community being so snooty and saying how what I was doing wasn't real photography.

What about selling your commercial photography work?

When I decided to do commercial photography more seriously, I began trying out different styles- like taking pictures for magazines and corporate jobs. Then after awhile, when I realized that there were some things that were really fun and interesting to me (such as family portraits) I didn't want to give up on them. So instead of just focusing on a few areas of commercial work, I decided to take contracts from clients who needed someone who could do whatever job they needed in their business.
This way I could try out different types of work and see which ones suited me the best.
Some things haven't changed for me since I began this kind of work and that is why I continue to do it. It's fun creating a product for someone else. You can see pictures on the print and then put that product into their hands and say "Here's what you paid for!" It's a great amount of satisfaction to be able to do something with your photography that you can feel good about delivering to someone else, especially if they are happy with your service and product.
It's also great to understand how something is used. You might make something for someone and then have to wait for months for it to arrive- which is frustrating. But if you know that they are going to use it, that's one of the reasons why you do what you do.
So in your opinion, do people sell work or is it more about commercial photography jobs?
I think some people sell work and some people do commercially driven work. I think in this day and age where everyone needs a website, most people are doing commercially driven work because there are emails, Facebook groups, etcetera out there where they can ask friends for referrals or advice on how to go about selling their work- even though the word "selling" is used very loosely.
Generally speaking, you're going to see people who are more skilled or knowledgeable in a certain area of photography- whether it be commercial or fine art- will get away with saying that what they do is "selling their work." But really what they mean is "doing things the benefits me." That's why you don't see commercial photographers who take pictures for companies doing fine art work. People don't do what they love and then complain about how hard it is to make a living.
So in your opinion, how do people get into commercial photography?
In my experience, people get into commercial photography the same way they get into any field- by doing simple jobs that pay some money and develop their skills over time. This is something I have done myself. I've done several test shoots on my own camera such as maternity sets or other fine art shoots for physical therapy practitioners, and will continue to do so in the future.
A lot of people do commercial photography jobs for their own enjoyment. They don't want to be doing a job that they feel is beneath them. I think that's fine. There's nothing wrong with being happy with what you're doing.
I don't think you see commercial photographers coming from fine art backgrounds, but I also think it doesn't matter where you come from because all it takes is just one client that sees your work and they can have you taking their pictures for the rest of your career.
But in the same breath, I don't think you should discount where you come from either because a lot of people are using what they already know- be it biology, physics, or even art history- to combine it with their photography work. Not all people who are into science or technology want to work with those things. Some of them want to work in business and would prefer to do things with their hands rather than just being stuck behind a computer all day.
Sometimes they find that working with physical products is more comfortable for them. It's just a matter of understanding what you're good at and putting your effort into improving that skill set instead of trying something new which may make you shy away from continuing down that path.


Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Chris. It has been great doing this interview for our readers and I hope you have found it interesting. We plan on running the rest of them in a few weeks.
If you have any questions for me about this interview, please leave a comment below or send me an email at gbajorek@gmail.com . I hope you liked reading! If you do, please share this post on social media so that others can benefit from what we have talked about today! Thank you!
All images © copyright of the author. Please do not copy without permission.


Interview conducted by: Glenn Bahorik (bbajorek@gmail.

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