When the pandemic forced us into isolation, many of us had to find new ways to pass the time and new subjects to photograph. Lithuanian photographer Justinas Stonkus is not an exception. When the pandemic hit, he had to find a replacement for his photography gigs without leaving home – and so he did. With […]
You missed out on that big first wave of Instagram stardom, you jumped on YouTube too late and now your Facebook page’s dwindling audience lives exclusively in Murmansk.
You feel like your landscape photography is as good as (or better than) all these big-name photographers and you just want a slice of the cake. How can you turn your landscape photography skills into dollars?
There’s good news and there’s bad news. The good news is that it is possible to make money from landscape photography, the bad news is that there are a few hoops to jump through along the way. Here is my guide to the best way to maximize your income.
This one’s easy. Everyone’s looking for that shortcut to a winning shot — a quick and simple way of transforming a photograph from the ordinary to the exceptional. Lightroom presets will never do that — they’re almost completely pointless — but your potential customers don’t know that!
So here’s the drill. Go and download someone else’s pack of landscape photography presets and tweak them very slightly. Now give them pretentious sounding names (such as “Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion”), export them, and bundle them up. Before you stick them on Shopify always remember to give the pack an aspirational and pretentious name like “Autumn Soliloquy”. Add a couple of your better photos (they don’t need to have any relevance whatsoever to the preset pack) and you’re golden. Now watch as a parade of useless photographers queue up and demand that you, “Shut up and take my money!”
You’d rather be out taking your own shots and picking out keepers to hang on the walls of your very own gallery, but you’ve got to pay the bills, right? This step to financial independence is the famous photographic one-to-one. You offer tuition to people with all the photographic intuition of a spatula and earn filthy lucre for whoring yourself out. It’s simple.
Simply advertise your services on your social media platforms and offer half or full-day packages, out in the landscape, where photographic novices can learn all of the secret skills such as ‘light’, ‘composition’, ‘the rule of thirds’, ‘tripods’ and ‘capturing the serenity of nature in all its glory’.
In order to make it look like these sessions are over-subscribed, remember to put the occasional post on social media saying that you have had ‘cancellations for a fully booked session’ the following weekend, but that if they are quick they can ‘secure one of the strictly limited spots’.
Almost certainly the only way you’ll ever make actual money from your landscape photography. The photographic calendar is a mainstay of the C-List Landscape Photographer’s money-making arsenal, a guaranteed annual pay-off, and rare ray-of-hope in an otherwise bleak financial landscape.
Simply try and find 14 decent shots from the tens of thousands you took over the course of the last year and stick ’em in a Snapfish calendar template. Give it a suitably arty name, such as “Resplendent Vistas of the Artichoke Peninsula” and you’re good to go.
Remember to get them on sale by July though, it’s no use trying to sell them in December because your customers will all have bought your competitor’s effort.
Sometimes people will message you on Facebook, raving about your photography and asking you for a print of a particular photograph you took. You will excitedly go off and get a quote from your local printers and send it to the eager beaver customer and then you will never hear from them ever again. This is because nobody wants to pay any more than about $50 for a two-meter stretched canvas with a floating oak border, including delivery, and if your quote exceeds that they will simply go and buy a generic print of palm fronds from their local DIY superstore.
So if you want to make money from prints you have to dispel the notion that you are selling ‘fine art photography’, embrace the bargain basement and sell $15 prints you produced yourself on your Canon Pixma printer and framed in plain white $3 frames from K-Mart. Easy.
Nothing screams maximum-effort-minimum-return like licensing your photographs on stock libraries. All you have to do is upload your photograph, spend an hour painstakingly selecting appropriate keywords, then add a title, category, location, description, and model release and you’re good to go.
Now just repeat this several thousand times to ensure that a few make it past the stock agency’s reviewing panel. As you’ll only be earning about $0.75 for a print resolution license of your photograph, it’s important to try and get as many photos up there as possible. If you apply yourself to the task, you might earn enough in a year to buy yourself a cappuccino.
This is one of the leading growth areas in revenue for C-List landscape photographers. As with most photographic sectors, a corporate middle-man will do better than you out of the process, but that shouldn’t stop you from pursuing this worthwhile money-making enterprise.
Simply sign up with an agency such as Pixsy or Copytrack and then add your images to their database. They will then scour the Internet searching for websites that have used your photograph and when they find an offender, alert you to the infringement. Then all you have to do is give the agency the go-ahead and they will pursue the offender and seek financial redress from them.
Unfortunately, most copyright infringement is centered in China and no agency will ever bother pursuing financial compensation from Chinese businesses as they have free rein to steal whatever they want from whomever they want and use in any way they deem necessary. Also, any image you ever uploaded to a stock library can’t be pursued. However, you will still find there are plenty of hapless idiots out there who think anything that’s online is fair game and you can sue them for all they’re worth or, you know, the market value of your shot.
If the success of famous YouTube photographers has proven anything, it’s that looking excruciatingly uncomfortable in front of a camera is not a barrier to financial freedom. If you’re prepared to film yourself out and about taking your photographs and then spend a full day editing your video and then uploading it to YouTube, it’s possible that you might attract an audience. Spend several years building a subscriber base that climbs out of the double digits and eventually Google will deem you worthy of carrying advertising on your channel. Then just sit back and wait as the monthly payments for $10 or $15 make all those endless hours, days, and weeks of effort worthwhile.
It’s the photographer’s dream, encapsulated in one word … Patreon. Oh, how we love you Patreon. If enough people pity you sufficiently to throw in a few bucks, it’s entirely possible to eat out once a month on the proceeds of your Patreon fund. Unfortunately, it’s also entirely possible that nobody will throw a few bucks in your direction and you’ll end up looking like that toothless harmonica player busking outside the nearest strip mall with a few coins and a button in their begging bowl.
It’s pretty tough to become an actual influencer in this day and age. Unless you are a spectacularly beautiful young woman, then you will find it hard to achieve the sort of social media follower numbers that businesses consider influencer-grade. But do not despair!
These days there’s a thing called a “micro-influencer”. Micro-influencers are people who have crawled over enough broken glass on their hands and knees to achieve between 1,000 and 50,000 followers. That’s right — with as few as 1,000 followers on your Instagram account or 2,000 subscribers on YouTube you are officially classed as a micro-influencer. This does not mean you will be invited to stay at five-star beach resorts in the Caribbean or comped free business class seats to events and festivals. However, you might score a new set of ND filters for your camera or a cheap Chinese-made knock-off of a Fitbit watch. And who doesn’t like knock-off Fitbit watches, right?
We’ve all seen them, the little list of blue links in the description of the YouTube video, or the bullet points in the ‘My Kit’ section of a photographer’s website. They’re Amazon affiliate links and if someone clicks on that link and then buys something – you get a cut! It’s virtually free money – you’d be crazy not to!
For every successful sale you point in Jeff Bezos’s direction, you’ll earn an amazing 4% of the purchase price, after taxes and deductions. So if someone buys a $2,000 camera within 24 hours of clicking on your link, you’ll get $80. How good is that? So get yourself an account and include a load of links to very expensive equipment that you ‘recommend’. Make sure you don’t put that list on an About Me page on your website which no-one apart from your mum’s ever looked at – preferably stick it somewhere click-baity that you can generate a ton of views on. Maybe reach out to a young female bikini influencer, do a travel photo-shoot at a scenic location and refer to the camera equipment that made the photos possible with links to your Amazon affiliate account. Easy money.
The key to earning money from blogging is to lie through your teeth. People don’t want to hear the truth, they want to hear pipe dreams. Articles that do well on photography blogs tend to be ones that suggest it’s possible to earn a living from landscape photography. So go with things like, “How I Earn $200,000 a year from landscape photography” or “How I Made $50,000 in a Year from Calendars” and then pull a load of made-up facts and figures straight out of your a**. The reader will have no way of checking their veracity and you can clean-up with all those lovely AdSense dollars and affiliate links.
Being a C-List landscape photographer is to accept a life of graft and solitude, but with diligence and perseverance, it is possible to earn a salary comparable to that of a French fry attendant in a fast-food restaurant or an entry-level call center operative for an insurance company.
Maximize the income streams available to you, never pass up an opportunity to shill yourself, and moderate success in a tightly-defined local region will surely come to you.
Author’s note: This is a self-own and a bit of fun. I am a proud C-list landscape photographer, so please don’t doxx me and leave angry comments just because my little article rang true.
About the author: Andy Hutchinson is a photographer and journalist based in South Coast, New South Wales, Australia. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of his work and words on his website, or by following him on Facebook and Instagram. This article was also published here.
Plenty of Fujifilm gear has leaked over the years: from instant cameras to medium format. Most recently, we saw the now announced GFX 100S appear online – but did it really leak? In this brilliant and hilarious ad, Fuji tells us “the truth” about how the company’s latest medium format camera got to leak days […]
One of the most widely published photos shot during the inauguration of Joe Biden this week doesn’t feature Biden at all, but rather Senator Bernie Sanders sitting in isolation while wearing a big coat and homemade mittens. In case you somehow missed it, the photo has taken on a life of its own as a viral Internet meme.
Freelance photojournalist Brendan Smialowski was documenting the event on Wednesday with his Nikon DSLR and telephoto lens when he captured the independent senator from Vermont sitting with his now-famous posture.
After the meme went viral, Bernie Sanders’ campaign even turned the photo into a $45 “Chairman Sanders Crewneck” sweatshirt, with 100% of the proceeds going to the charity Meals on Wheels Vermont. The item has already sold out.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Smialowski reveals that he snapped a couple of quick shots of Sanders while his mind was actually focused on other politicians at the event who have been more prominent in the news in recent weeks.
“The picture itself is not that nice. It’s not a great composition. I’m not going to be putting this in a portfolio,” Smialowski tells Rolling Stone. “This exact moment, I took two photos. It’s funny because the second one — for me — I thought was better. But I sent the first one because the moment — his posture, his pose — is a little better. But the composition was garbage. It was messy, but it was a better moment.
“I always say that in photojournalism, composition comes second to content. And content is the moment. Make it look pretty after.”
As with many memes of this sort, the photographer behind the photo had no idea what was coming when he shot and submitted the photo — Smialowski says he shot the photo because it was a “nice moment” and a “good slice of life.” In fact, Smialowski says he would have never created a meme-worthy photo if he had the choice.
“If I could know, I would never take a meme,” the photographer tells Rolling Stone. “I would be more than happy to never have a meme.”
After rioters stormed the US Capitol last week, one of the surreal photos that emerged showed a smiling man walking off with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lectern in the Rotunda. Then things got even more bizarre: people began calling for “Via Getty” to be arrested for his actions.
Getty Images chief photographer Win McNamee was the man behind the now-infamous photo that was quickly published by news outlets around the world.
“While this “Via Getty” misunderstanding brings some humor to what was truly one of the most unfortunate and even disgusting events in our nation’s history, it highlights too that social media can spread misinformation so very quickly.” – Via Forbes
Neil Kramer has spent close to a year quarantining with his ex-wife and mother in a two-bedroom, one-bathroom Queens, New York City rent-controlled compact apartment. This has produced a sitcom of chaotically humorous photographs that are actually based on real-life situations that have occurred while they are holed up.
His mother usually spends winters in Boca Raton, Florida, but when her plans fell through, she asked her son if she could stay with him for the winter. At the same time, his ex-wife, who was in California, had a roof leak that destroyed her apartment, and she asked if she could come and live with him temporarily.
“At first, she was just staying here a few weeks,” Kramer, an event/street photographer and TV writer, tells PetaPixel. “Then the pandemic hit and realized that she was too scared to be alone and looking for an apartment in LA, so basically stayed here… we didn’t realize it would end up being a year.”
Mother Elaine took the master bedroom, and the ex-wife, Sophia Lansky, the other bedroom. Kramer was relegated to the lumpy couch in the living room. This living situation soon became stressful. His kooky coronavirus pod was not working, and Kramer considered family therapy.
But instead, Kramer decided to use phototherapy! They would recreate a stressful situation that had occurred in the recent past and do a complete photoshoot with mother and his ex-wife, Sophia, a Hebrew and Russian language translator and actress. Maybe he figured that if they rethought it, they could resolve it.
I actually started the project more documentary style, but it just didn’t work. I realized that a photographer has to be somewhat an observer, and when we are scrubbing groceries, no one wants the photographer just standing there taking photos. It’s like that perennial case of the photojournalist who captures the guy dying on the street but doesn’t help. So was pushed to use my more film school approach of restaging stuff.
How did his ex-wife even agree to these crazy photo sessions?
“Well, she knows me as a slightly crazy artsy type, so it wasn’t surprising,” the photographer says. “But she figured it was just going to be seen by a few friends on Facebook.”
“To be honest, once I bought a few lenses, I got too cheap to upgrade,” Kramer says. “If I can do more work, I will immediately get a newer full-frame Sony.”
One of the problems is that he has to be in the photos as well, and if he is going to enact complicated scenes like when all 3 of them are doing different things in the bathroom, how do you keep continuously pressing the shutter?
Kramer starts researching the camera and finds the intervalometer.
“I didn’t even know what it was,” he says. “Then I saw some video about using it for time-lapse, so I figured you could use it instead of a timer but for multi-shots.” Idea!! What if he set the intervalometer to shoot 6-7 shots 10 seconds apart?
And what about viewing the images to get the pose/expression right? No problem there too! He loaded Sony Imaging Edge on his Dell, and now there was a monitor to look at with tethering. Although Kramer shoots in RAW, he does not “use the editing part. I later put it into Adobe Lightroom.”
He restricts the shooting to about 30 frames per session.
“I really had to overcome my perfectionism because I had basically unpaid actresses for a whole year,” Kramer says. “In a way, I had to learn to collaborate more. Like sitting with shots afterwards and letting them choose which ones they liked.” He even coaxes them to work on his photo projects by bribing them with Dunkin Donuts.
In the Sony a6000, you used to be able to focus with the phone, but they stopped it with the latest cameras,” explains Kramer. “Frankly, the tethering is a pain in the ass…and everyone starts looking at themselves on the monitor… [and after the shoot], so a few of the shots are not the best shots, but the ones where her hair looks best.
The Sigma 16mm f/1.4 was never used in the past, but now in the tight quarters, it became the lens of choice “90 percent of the time” to get everybody in the frame.
“Although it distorts near the edges, I suppose, it helps give the photos a slightly off look,” the photographer says.
Kramer is now getting better at his photography and discovering new things. “I’ve made a few prints…. just at Walgreen’s, and I have already seen that the colors are way off…. so, I have a lot to learn, and even buy… like a better monitor that is calibrated.”
My father was one of those crazy guys with a super 8 camera and always taking photos, so he was my first connection to photography. I know this will make people hate me, but I was a bit turned off early on by darkroom stuff being a wimpy, hypochondriac New Yorker worried about chemicals, so I really didn’t get into photography until the iPhone, like many others.
I had to quickly learn compositing with Photoshop, like in the shot where we are all looking out of the window. Sony and Godox didn’t have the power to give me what I wanted, so I experimented with three shots composited. I was so shocked at how easy it was and almost felt ashamed of breaking the law of realism, but at the same time, it was cool, certainly cool, and I did not even figure it out!
Kramer enjoyed street photography in the past, so “once or twice [during the pandemic] tried street photography, which I love, but it seemed too scary and not fun because everyone in the street looked miserable.”
The photos have a humorous side, but Kramer does not want to shoot just funny pictures. These are realistic and mimic situations that have occurred, like struggling to use the one bathroom, listening to pandemic press conferences, and all the disinfecting rituals to keep his mother, who is in her eighties, safe.
But even though some of the photos are funny, I don’t really think of this project as funny. We might have reacted as funny, but this last year was actually pretty scary—especially those first few months when Queens was the epicenter. If I just posted humorous photos, I don’t think the project would have been as impactful. You almost need the reality in between, so not just farce. We do have a pact to keep it somehow real. Even the crazy shots are based on real experiences we had the day before, and we were just too stressed to deal with it. So, we deal with it in a photo.
They even had a Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade right inside their house, with all three handling animal-shaped helium-filled balloons representing the floats.
Although this experience has mostly been therapy, it has been a great learning experience. “Shooting in your tiny apartment is way harder than being in a studio. And dealing with your family can be more frustrating than a paid model. They usually give you ten minutes before some TV show is going to be on.”
Kramer has received wide recognition for his photography, which he originally just posted on Instagram. It was very soon picked up by The New York Post, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and a few TV appearances, including NBC’s Today Show and others. They have even been featured in The Times of Israel. And he keeps getting requests from England, Germany, Russia, Slovenia, and others for interviews.
And this photography has even made Kramer wiser to the ways of the world.
Shooting two women, both over 35, makes me more aware of how photography in some ways is a burden on women sometimes, like I can just look crappy, and no one cares…. but the photo world, especially on Instagram, is so dominated by young perfect women, that it makes other women self-conscious
So, what’s in Kramer’s photographic future? The pandemic may still be around in early 2021 despite the start of vaccinations. He has already amassed 10,000 followers on Instagram who want to see more of his awkward situations, so he will continue his creative impulses and phototherapy, too, as long as this sitcom is on. After all, three’s company!
About the author: Phil Mistry is a photographer and teacher based in Atlanta, GA. He started one of the first digital camera classes in New York City at The International Center of Photography in the 90s. He was the director and teacher for Sony/Popular Photography magazine’s Digital Days Workshops. You can reach him via email here.
Image credits: All photos by Neil Kramer and used with permission
“Gear doesn’t matter!” “Yes, it does!” We can argue forever (and we most likely will), but we can also turn this common argument into a great joke. This is exactly what Eric Floberg did with his latest video. It lasts under one minute, and that’s all it took for Eric to show that gear does matter. […]
I promise this is not actually a serious comparison. It is hilarious, however. Sony’s new a7S III is the pinnacle of its latest video technology, and it brings with it a plethora of advanced features and capabilities. But let’s not forget Sony’s once-popular line of Handycam camcorders. This great video takes a look at the two and why the Handycam just might be better.
We love seeing a good music video here at DIYP. Over the years, we’ve featured quite a few super-creative ones. But today here’s something a bit different. Filmmaker Sam Newton has created a song and a music video that cracked us up. It pokes fun at all kinds of folks in the industry: those who […]