Getting stuck in the nine to five rut can suck the life out of anyone. If you’re looking to leave your job to indulge in your passion for capturing landscapes, then you’ve probably already been wondering how you can make money with photography.
Whether you’re just looking to make money with nature photography on the side or if you want to become a full-time, professional landscape photographer, finding a way to break into the industry is not as difficult as it may seem. In this article, we’ll take a look at what you can do to start making an income as an outdoor photographer, so that you can turn those whimsical daydreams into reality.
These days, each and every person who is able to capture the imagination of their audience has the ability to become an influencer. Having witnessed so many photographers swayed by the dizziness of exposure and giving their work away for free, you may have found yourself wondering whether there is a market out there for landscape photography. The answer is yes, there is! All you need to know is how to access it so that you can start earning an income as a professional landscape photographer.
There is still a market for landscape photography around the world. You just have to know how to access it. Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
Back in the day, it used to be a whole lot easier to make money with landscape photography. The genre was viewed as an art form that was largely inaccessible to most of the public, due to the expenses involved and logistics of travelling. While landscape photography jobs may not have been in abundance, the general lack of exposure meant that those with talent and who were able to get their work seen would do well in the field. Photographers had to build a professional portfolio, which would give them the opportunity to capitalise on their employment with commissioned work, all whilst making an income doing the thing that they loved the most.
You can make money doing what you love. Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
Things have changed a lot since then. Digital cameras have evolved so much that they are now available to anyone who even owns a smartphone. In addition, travelling has been made easier with the introduction of cheap airfares and accommodation. Virtually anyone is able to photograph landscapes and to get their work seen on social media. However, the underlying principles remain the same. As long as you follow them, you’ll be able to make a dent upon the landscape photography market today.
Just like other professions, your salary as a landscape photographer will depend not only upon the quality of the work that you produce but also on your education, certifications, additional skills and the number of years that you have spent in your profession. Whilst many landscape photographers are self-taught, those who can demonstrate proficiency in the field – not just in composing and taking a picture but also the post-processing and business side of things that come with it – will be a lot more successful than those who don’t have a foundation to build upon.
Your salary will depend a lot upon your talent and how you market yourself and your photography. Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
When you first start out professionally, you may make very little income as a landscape photographer. It might even be a struggle trying to put food on the table whilst setting up your business and maintaining your artistic or creative vision. Don’t despair though; as long as you have the talent to demonstrate in your work, then the rest will come with a bit of hard work and diligence. You may not begin making millions of dollars overnight but you can set yourself on the path to earning enough to make a living.
The key to becoming a professional landscape photographer is to have a business plan. This way, you can start turning a bit of extra money on the side into a salary that will be enough to cover your expenses and allow you to live comfortably.
The first step to starting a photography business is to write a business plan. Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
For most people, writing a business plan is about as alien as visiting another planet. On the bright side, you’ll only have to really write one out once a year, though it’s best practice to look over it monthly to ensure that you’re still on track to reach your goals.
When writing a business plan, take into account who your main competitors are – that is, other landscape photographers whom your clients may consider when looking for work similar to what you produce. While you may be tempted to pitch yourself up against the Ansel Adams of this world, the reality is that your work may be incomparable, which is why it’s also important to have your own specific style or to develop a niche with your landscape photography.
Writing a business plan will help you to pinpoint what makes your business stand out from the crowd. Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
Once you’ve pinpointed what it is that makes your landscape photography stand out from the crowd, you can start looking at who your ideal clients may be and how you can target them. This will also give you a bit of an idea of how many clients you may need to reach a certain financial outcome in a month, what exactly it is that you will be selling, as well as the costs involved in running your business. You can then calculate your gross profit, subtract your expenses and arrive at your net profit.
When setting up a landscape photography business, it’s important to realise that there are many different ways to make money as a photographer. As such, you shouldn’t just rely on providing a single service to your clients. The secret to success is to diversify your income streams. Read on to find out how you can make revenue as a landscape photographer in a variety of different ways.
This is perhaps the first and foremost strategy that most people think of when they ponder becoming a professional landscape photographer. There are a number of routes that you can take to sell your photos, the main one being in print.
Sell your work at market stalls. Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
You can sell your prints directly to the public by holding a stall at your local market, running an exhibition at a nearby café or restaurant where visitors will have time to peruse your work as they eat, or through a web-shop. Online marketplaces such as Fine Art America, Image Kind and Great Big Canvas are great for this purpose. Consider dividing your prints into open editions and limited editions – the former may be more affordable for your clients, while the latter is more exclusive due to a limited print run and can net you a higher profit.
License your images for books or self-publish your own items. Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
Aside from prints, it may be worthwhile to branch out into selling other items, such as postcards, mugs, mouse pads and T-shirts with your images. This is where online platforms such as RedBubble, CafePress, Zazzle and Society6 come into play, giving your customers the ability to tailor your landscape photography to their needs. If you prefer to take control of the entire creative process yourself, then consider producing the items yourself and selling them on Etsy.
Another great way to sell your work is to develop an annual calendar of your best work. Vendors such as Vista Print and Bay Photo allow you to customise your own photo calendars, which you can sell as Christmas gifts at the end of the year.
Make a calendar to sell your landscape photography. Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
Whilst selling your images as prints and items may be a surefire way to make an income, most of the time, the returns can be very small. Thankfully, you can also license your images to stock photography websites such as GettyImages, Shutterstock and Adobe Stock. The benefit of contributing your work to these companies is that they’ll find buyers for your images and handle all of the licensing agreements on your behalf. You will still retain the copyright of your images whilst exposing your work to a large audience of potential customers, including newspapers, magazines and other media outlets or websites.
You can make money with landscape photography through direct commissions with tourism boards. Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
Of course, it’s still possible to make money with your landscape photography through direct commissions. You can pitch your work to potential clients such as tourism boards, magazines, travel agencies, local authorities, heritage sites and outdoor businesses.
This is usually the second strategy that landscape photographers will think of to make money and along with it comes the drawcard of being able to travel to your favourite destinations. However, being a photography guide involves a lot more than taking people to beautiful places. To be successful, you’ll need to be engaging and to have in-depth knowledge of what you want to teach.
Running a photo tour in your local city is a good way to make money. Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
If you’ve never run a photography workshop before, then it’s a good idea to look into local photography groups or schools which may have a vacancy. Some photography equipment stores also hold workshops and seminars, so it’s worthwhile to check if they’re interested in adding you as an educator into their teaching calendar.
You can partner with other landscape photographers to run a bigger workshop. Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
You can also partner with other landscape photographers or travel agencies on established photography workshops to get a foot into the door. Once you have a grasp of how things work, then you can look at setting up your own photo tours and workshops for your own clientele.
If you really know your stuff, then you can make money by offering a range of online courses, classes and tutorials based upon what you’ve identified that your clients may be interested in. This could include anything from how to master composition in landscape photography through to using specific software such as the basics of Lightroom and post-processing in Photoshop.
There is a large market online for tutorials and classes in relation to landscape photography. Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
The benefit of offering online education is that you’ll likely only have to make these materials once. You’ll then be rewarded with a passive income stream as you can continue to sell your content. Try selling your knowledge via video tutorials on YouTube or online learning platforms, such as Udemy or Skillshare.
In addition to offering your knowledge to the community through learning platforms, try self-publishing your own eBook that people can access on their computers, smartphones or electronic reading devices. This is another great way to make passive income which your clients can download and read in their own time. It can also help to generate sales across the range of services that you offer, from prints through to tutorials and workshops.
You can publish an eBook on any topic, including the top places to visit for landscape photography. Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
It’s a good bet that if you have expertise in a particular field such as landscape photography, then there will be a publication or a magazine out there that will pay to have your knowledge in print for their audience. However, you may need to make multiple pitches before you see any success.
Writing articles about landscape photography is a good way to diversify your income. Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
Another way to do it is to set up a blog where you can post your articles and make income with advertising. You will need a lot of traffic for this to work and it’s a good idea to use your blog to guide your readers towards other ways that you can make an income, such as affiliate links.
Once you’ve figured out all the different avenues that you can use to draw in revenue, it’s important that you devise a good marketing strategy. This involves setting up your own website where you can display your landscape photography portfolio, making a business card to give out when you meet potential new clients, creating a newsletter with a mailing list and learning to use social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest to leverage your audience. Make sure that you keep up to date with the trends, like popular destinations for landscape photography, so as to keep your clientele interested.
Having a good marketing strategy is important to becoming a successful landscape photographer. Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
One of the best ways of acquiring new customers is through word-of-mouth, so anytime that someone is satisfied with your work, ask them to leave you a review or testimonial. Talk to people about your work and don’t be afraid of self-promotion – they’ll never even know what you do for a living unless you mention it!
Go all in if you want to make money with your landscape photography! Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
While you’ll still need a bit of photographic talent under your belt, chances are that by having a strong business plan, multiple avenues of income and a good marketing strategy, you’ll be able to begin making money as a landscape photographer. Success probably won’t happen immediately but with a bit of hard work, you could turn your passion for nature into the career of your dreams.
Are you thinking about leaving your job to become a full-time professional landscape photographer? Have you already done so? What has it been like and what would you do differently if you could do it again? Leave a comment below!