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How to make money from your photography

English / Español

If I start by saying that I don't know how to do it, surely you, dear reader, will leave without reading this post, although I recommend you to stay

This summer I have had the chance to sell some photos, something that has not happened to me during the year and thanks to these sales and to some buyers I have learned to give a price to my work.

In some previous posts I asked you how much a photo is worth and I told you what happened to me with a fellow countrywoman who wanted to buy a photo from me and compared my price and my photo with the prices and photos at IKEA. She didn't want a photo, she wanted an ornament. Well, thanks to her and other customers I have learned to price my photos.

Photo for collectors
Photo from Volume I of the collection of 100 photographs.

The price of what you sell is not only set by you, but also by the buyer, if he agrees, an "agreement/contract" is reached in which you sell him what he wants to buy. What is expensive or cheap for you is not expensive or cheap for others. How much is an apple worth in your country? Is it expensive or cheap? Surely, however expensive it may seem to you, it is much cheaper than a 45 euro apple from Japan, yes 45 euros. Is an apple expensive for 45 euros? It depends, some people don't find it expensive, although it's true that not everyone can afford to pay 45 bucks for a piece of fruit.

Let me tell you about my experiences with the sale of my photographs.

November 2021, A client I teach Spanish to in Hong Kong

I'm not going to say her name, but I'll call her Pat. Pat is a very wealthy person, she has a flat in a very expensive area of Hong Kong, she dresses very well, she has a good car, her three children go to international schools (one of those that pay 2000 euros a month = 6000) and according to her instagram she dines in restaurants that I would never afford, who knows, maybe the dessert is a 45 euro apple. I'm happy for her.

Pat asked me for some photos to decorate her house although I knew from the first moment that it was not to decorate her house but to give me a hand, she selected 14 photos from the 2000 that I have on my website and asked me to print them at sizes that did not match the proportion of the photo, (if you do not understand this imagine that the photograph has a proportion of 20 cms x 30 of everything in the frame and she wanted it 20x20 thus cutting out certain subjects and points of interest that appear in the photograph). I refused to print them as my photos have to keep the proportion that I have given them.

Even so Pat insisted that she wanted the photos and understood that I would not print them but she wanted those photos and she wanted to print them, she asked me to send them to her by DRIVE and that she would manage the printing. I NEVER SEND MY PHOTOS BY DRIVE! It's my work and I don't want it to be shared and printed as many times as people want, but even so, for fear of losing the client, I agreed and sent her the 5 photos that she selected in the end. I didn't want to charge her anything out of respect and because besides wanting to keep the client I like her very much and I respect her a lot, besides I hadn't wasted much time or money in printing.

Do you know how much he paid me? 3000 euros for 5 photographs!

I didn't want to accept so much money but in the end it was for my pocket.

Summer 2022. Miss Compatriot

The compatriot lady is a Spanish lady who also lives in Hong Kong, she is also wealthy and her children, all 4 of them go to one of those international schools with flat and expensive fees (depending on who looks at it).

This lady had seen a photograph on my facebook page that she liked and she called me asking me for a price. When she found out that I was charging about 40 Euros for a photograph that already cost me more than 20 she threw her hands to her head and told me that in IKEA the framed photos cost about 10 Euros, I invited her to go to IKEA LIKE THE ONE WHO INVITES THEM TO GO AND GET FUCKED, this lady didn't want a photo, she wanted an ornament.

This compatriot asked me with all the nerve in the world if she could download it from facebook and print it herself, I told her yes, that it was totally free and that's what I suppose she must have done, download it and print it on a sheet of paper or any paper where photos should not be printed, it's cheap, it's true, but it has nothing to do with it. I will not talk about it any more.

Don't give your work away, put a price on what you do.

A journalist who inadvertently bumped into me

Hir name is Gillian and I hope he reads this post. I met Gilliam 8 days ago when at a fundraiser for a neighbour on the island where I live I went along to help with some photos and books. Gillian liked one of my photos and told me he wanted to buy it and in 5 days he would be leaving Hong Kong, he wanted to see more photos and I invited him to my house and showed him the 800+ photos I have in print (I'm as heavy as the one showing the wedding video). He bought 10 photos for himself and 3 for two friends he wanted to give as gifts.

He knew the value of the photos from the moment he touched the paper, he saw the moment and understood that a photographer is dedicated and makes money, little but money with his photographs.

He paid without complaining and what I liked the most was how he looked at my photographs and how he talked about them, that is a real satisfaction. Without a doubt he has been the best client I have ever had (apart from Pat who paid me so much money).

Namura, my Japanese friend

Namura is a Japanese friend of mine in Hong Kong, he is more of a photography geek than I am and only three days ago I told him about all the things you have read so far in this post. We remembered what we talked about a month ago when we were together at the AFFORDABLE ART ART FAIR IN HONG KONG, that if you don´t sell expensive, you are not going to sell. At this fair we saw paintings, photos, expensive handicrafts, although I repeat, dear reader, that it depends a lot on who looks at it and appreciates it.

Let me summarise the conversation I had with Namura

- How many photos do you sell a year Miguel? - Namura asked me

- Very few, it's closer to zero than to ten - I answered him

- It's not bad if you get money for just one sale, how much do you earn for each photo sold?

- More satisfaction than money - I answered

- Well, you're being an asshole - He finished while nodding his head-. You have to give value to your work, you're always going to sell more photos than others photos but you have to try to sell them all.

- But people don't buy photographs," I replied, half indignant because I didn't want to listen to a sermon even though I knew he was right.

- There are people who buy and people who don't, you have good photographs and if you don't sell more it's because you don't know how to sell and you have to learn that.