I got an e-mail from a high school pho­to stu­dent I met recent­ly. He was ask­ing how to be tak­en seri­ous­ly enough to make mon­ey from his good sports pho­tos of his friends.

A few basic busi­ness things do help… act­ing like a busi­ness per­son, being pro­fes­sion­al, being on time, always deliv­er­ing on time, track­ing orders and pay­ments very well, and guar­an­tee­ing that they’ll love your pho­tos or they don’t have to pay. But it’s tricky. And I find that today, peo­ple are fine with an aver­age snap­shot for free (tak­en on their cell phone!), com­pared to an amaz­ing pho­to for $10… You just have to find the niche’ where peo­ple appre­ci­ate great shots and you can give them good val­ue.

He was a great kid and I love to see that kind of ini­tia­tive and entre­pre­neur­ship (and he took nice pho­tos to boot!). I wish him well.

Here was our con­ver­sa­tion:

i’m the pho­tog­ra­ph­er
of mon­roe high school i dont know if you remem­ber me.

You bet… I enjoyed look­ing at your pho­tos, and it was impres­sive that you’ve already had pho­tos pub­lished!

i can take any pic­ture but i need more expiri­ence in this jobbecause in this work is eas­i­er to find prob­lems that take a pic­ture.I’m tak­ing pic­tures in the vol­ley­ball games in the school and i sell the pho­tos to save mon­ey to buy the cam­era I want
but the peo­ple do not take me seri­ous­ly and do not like pay me

Yes, that’s a big issue. Even when I sold pho­tos to friends, they some­times thought they should just get them all for free. Tough issue. I total­ly believe in being nice and giv­ing lots away, but then you spend lots of mon­ey on the cam­era and lots of time tak­ing the pho­tos.
Maybe what you could do is offer to the par­ents some­thing like this… for $20 (or what­ev­er you think is fair & they’ll pay) you’ll take lots of pho­tos at a few games, real­ly focus­ing on their child and then you’ll just give them the pho­tos on CD. That way they total­ly know up front there is a cost, but that you real­ly are work­ing for them, not just tak­ing a lucky snap­shot and try­ing to sell them some­thing… If you have 3 or 4 par­ents do that per sea­son, it could be worth­while.

Or maybe even go fur­ther and say you’ll get one nice por­trait of them in their game clothes after a game, and that’s part of the pack­age… maybe throw in a print or some­thing. I don’t know… but the idea is… what can you do to make it so much more than the par­ent can do them­selves and it’s worth some mon­ey to them.
And if you are mak­ing mon­ey this way, make sure they are get­ting tons more than they expect, and if you just can’t get good pho­tos of their kid… don’t charge them and give them what you take for free. Maybe that can be your guar­an­tee.
Maybe go to the first game of the sea­son and give away all of those shots, or share them on Face­book in small­er sizes… that’s good free adver­tis­ing, and peo­ple can see you take good pho­tos, and aren’t *just* out for the mon­ey, you are will­ing to share.
So that’s one idea. After you get enough mon­ey, you can use online labs like Smugmug.com and sell prints for more than they cost you… but there’s usu­al­ly a year­ly cost to do that. Also check out Printroom.com… see if either of them have small­er year­ly plans for free.
Or maybe you could try this… print all the nice shots from a few games… post them for free on face­book, Flickr, etc and tell your friends they can grab them for free… but that you’ll have prints in school for $1 per 4x6 (or what­ev­er)… or you print them up ahead of time, and just have all the 4x6’s. That’s what I did. Had them all with me… sold them pret­ty cheap per print. At the end of the sea­son you can give the extras to the coach or year­book.

and I do not like that because nobody in that school can take pic­ture as
which I take. i think — I do not think myself bet­ter than any­one thats whay

I need advice about work­ing in this busi­ness.


It’s good you know you do a good job. Look at lots of pho­tos and what good pho­tog­ra­phers do and keep improv­ing. But deep inside, know­ing you are good will help a lot in tough times.
I’ll post this ques­tion to my blog (with­out your name of course) so oth­er stu­dents can learn as well.

Keep it up and shout with any more ques­tions…

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