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We spend a lot of time in this e-letter talking about how to sell your pictures to stock agencies.  See:

** Stock Agencies: What They Pay and How to Break In

** Birthday Parties and Baptisms: Where to Sell Your Photos

** Turn Your Family into Cash

And we spend a lot of time talking about how to include better pictures with your travel articles and how to sell photos to magazines and newspapers.  See:

** How to Send Your Photos to an Editor

But today I’d like to talk about selling your pictures locally… in your own hometown.

Professional photographer Rich Wagner called yesterday to say that he had made $1,300 from a photo he snapped just two hours before our call. Of course, I congratulated him. But I thought, “That’s not something our readers can expect to do, right? Or is it?”

Sue Wright made over $1,500 from sales of a single photograph she took at our very first Paris workshop. She got that first sale within eight days of her return home. And then she sold a few more photos over the next two months — until she had earned back the cost of the workshop fee.

And she’s not alone.  I run stories in this e-letter from readers all the time who have similar experiences to share. This one sells her photos for $500… that one sells his for $250.

So what’s the secret?  I asked Rich for his…

For starters, Rich has set himself up as “the” local photographer in town by making sure his collection of photographs includes all the town’s major landmarks:

The Town Hall… all the churches… Main Street… the high school baseball field… the cemetery… . the local ice cream shop… local farms… and even the cows everyone passes on their way to the airport.

In addition to that, he takes multiple shots of each subject during each of the different seasons of the year.  (That makes him not just a guy with a bunch of local pictures but rather the guy with ALL the local pictures.  And the whole town knows it.)

But really, his $1,300 secret is that Rich isn’t afraid to try new things. Ansel Adams said: “There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.”  And that couldn’t be more true.

Truth is, the shot that earned Rich $1,300 in two hours yesterday wasn’t one he’d ever thought to take before — even though he’s stood in that same spot, taking photographs of that same area, several dozen times a year for the last four years.

Like Ansel said: there are no rules for good photographs. And for Rich’s $1,300 shot he broke a few composition “rules” and created an image that goes against the grain of traditional photo composition.

The picture is of a famous landmark in his town — a tower that sits up on a hill, high above the trees.  Members of our Turn Your Pictures into Cash Program know this tower well.  It’s the subject of Rich’s $16,000 pumpkin patch picture, which is a vertical shot with the pumpkins in the foreground and the tower behind them off in the distance.

Yesterday, Rich took this shot as a horizontal — again, the rules of good basic composition say that this shot would be much better as a vertical because the tower is long and vertical and the a vertical format emphasizes the distance between the pumpkins and the tower.  And for years, Rich took it that way.  But yesterday, he tried something new and it paid off.

My point is simply that photography is subjective.  People like what they like — so don’t limit yourself.  (By the way, on our pet teleconference the other night professional pet photographer, Ren Netherland, said this same thing.  He said folks buy pictures from him all the time that he thinks are sub par.  He’ll catch a dog with one eye open and another closed and think it’s trash but the owner loves it because she thinks he’s winking.  It might sound strange, but you never know what people will like — or what they’ll buy — until you give them the option to do so.)

So make some time this weekend to head out with your camera and focus on the places that mean a lot to you locally.

This month’s photo challenge theme is Home Sweet Home so at the very least you should upload your best photo there for a chance to win our $2,000 grand prize in October.

And, even if you don’t win, snapping some summer time photos for your portfolio this weekend will bring you that much closer to building a complete set you can sell to local businesses and other folks in the area.  (For advice on how to do this, see this article in our archives)

Take care,

— Lori

Lori Allen
Director, Great Escape Publishing

 

PRACTICAL WRITING PROMPT OF THE WEEK:  Use Your Photos to Inspire an Article about Your Hometown

Jennifer Stevens defines a round-up article as nothing more than a collection of short snippets about places linked by a common thread.

When you’re out and about this weekend taking photographs of your hometown for your portfolio, be thinking about how you can tie them together for a photo round-up article.

For example, if there are a lot of historical homes in your area and you photographed a few of them for your portfolio, perhaps you can link them together with a story about which ones are still inhabited by family of the original owner.

Or, if you’re writing for a wedding publication, which ones can be rented out for weddings.  Or which homes offer tours.

Or maybe on your trip out this weekend you notice that one of your local landmarks is under construction.  Snap a picture and vow to come back later and get more pictures as the renovation progresses.  This will make a great photo round-up for your local paper.  And, if it’s one of your town’s major landmarks, you’ll have great photos for your portfolio too.

READER FEEDBACK:  We Just Received an Order for Greeting Cards Featuring Local Photographs

“Lori! I just wanted to let you know that I have just received an order for greeting
cards featuring local photographs to be sold in an art shop in town. This is a test run with great potential if they go well. I also have another spot to place them if this works! Thanks for all your help.” — Yvonne Johns

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.  Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]

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