Success at selling your own stock photography comes from specializing in a subject area that interests you. Once you begin shooting in your area of interest the Internet can help you discover markets in ways that were not available to photographers in the past. And the Internet can help you find and develop a client base that is interested in your specialty.
If your collection of stock photos matches a particular photo buyer's needs and you develop an ongoing relationship, that relationship can become an important resource for the photo buyer.
But how do you find the photo buyers who are, at this moment, waiting to see your specialized photos? Let's take one example:
Children's Health. You don't need a degree in nursing or medicine to be qualified as a stock photographer in this area. Nor do you need to be a parent. All you need is the passion to express your interest and share it with your viewers.
Make a list of several subjects involved in your area of specialization or interest. In the case of children's health, this would include: parent, child, school, nurse, medical, allergy, pediatric neurology, asthma, and nutrition.
Using the query tab of a search engine such as Google, type in the word magazine, plus the word child and the word health. For example, the results of this combination: "magazine child health", retrieved over 20 possible magazine contacts. In fifteen minutes of searching, you can easily find one hundred potential outlets for your specific photography. Hint: when entering your choice of words, put the most important words (in this case, magazine, child, and health) early in your description.
In additional searches, replace the word magazine with "book publisher", "association", "organization", or "products". You'll find a few hundred more outlets.
Next, ask the magazines for their submission guidelines. These can also be found by using the search tool on the magazine's website. Frequently the magazine will include the photographers' guidelines within the "Writers' Guidelines" section.
How many photos should you submit once you have found a target market? A sampling of six photos is enough for the photo buyer to get an idea of your work. If you're e-mailing, put your best shot as the first of your six jpegs. Hint: check out the web samples or newsstand samples of the magazine to see the style of photo they prefer. Adapt your submission to reflect their preferences.
Rohn Engh is director of PhotoSource International and publisher of PhotoStockNotes. Engh is one of the country's most published stock photographers. He writes several columns and gives photo-marketing seminars nationwide. Books he has written include Sell and Resell Your Photos and sellphotos.com. To learn more about Rohn, visit his website at www.photosource.com.