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 4×6 (or whatever)… or you print them up ahead of time, and just have all the 4×6’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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