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Author Topic: Professional Landscape Photography  (Read 4335 times)


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Professional Landscape Photography
« on: September 16, 2012, 12:30:39 AM »
I am wondering if anyone (preferably a professional landscape photographer) can shed some light on a few things:

1) How did you get your foot in the door in that industry?

2) How were you able to build up your name and get to a point where you can make some real money?
3) Have you found your Canon gear to be enough or do you use medium-format digital?

Thanks in advance.

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Professional Landscape Photography
« on: September 16, 2012, 12:30:39 AM »


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Re: Professional Landscape Photography
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2012, 02:44:21 AM »
I'm no pro, but I assume SOME may make money by placing their photos as stock images for sale. I've heard of people getting a nice amount of money for a single photo... Sadly.. I'm not one of them  :'(
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Pro Landscape Photography
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2012, 02:46:42 AM »
Hi !  ;)

I'm a professional and have been for twenty years. My website is here so you can see what I'm talking about www.rodedwards.co.uk.

The first thought that came into my head when i read your post was "Oh no ... not another one ..!"

I really don't wish to rain on your parade, but sadly, since the advent of digital imagery (and the internet), photography and in particular landscape photography has lost most of its commercial value. The market is flooded with very competent amateur photographers who are happy to supply their images to clients and publishers etc for little or no return. This has made it practically impossible for professionals to earn a living from just landscape photography.

If your work is exceptionally good and unique, there is always room for the best but if your work is not better than 99% of other professional photographers you will maybe make some beer money but undoubtably fail to earn a realistic living from just shooting landscapes. This is certainly true for us over in the UK and Europe but the USA market is bigger and perhaps very slightly more buoyant. Check out Peter Lik (www.lik.com), he is an Ozzie in USA and an expert in marketing his work.

In answer to your questions :

1 ) Hard work. Get an amazing portfolio together, market yourself and haul it around to your potential clients. Academic qualifications are irrelevant as no client cares if you've been to university - they only care about the photo.

2 ) It will happen slowly ... you need a lucky break. I'm still waiting for mine. :)

3 ) I only use Canon gear (4 x 22mp full frame dslrs). It's more than adequate for 99% of commercial uses. A few years ago I even had 12MP images cropped to panoramic (6mp) and blown up to massive 24 sheet posters in the London Underground. More megapixels are great but most clients won't notice or care. They just want cheap, high quality images.

In closing ... I'm really not trying to put you off from trying to become pro, but you need to think long and hard before giving up a secure job with a stable income. It's harder now that its EVER been to earn a living from just landscape photography so prepare for a life dedicated to photography. If you can pull it off fantastic, well done I have the greatest respect and will admire your work. My advice is keep the day job and when (or if) you start to earn good money then turn pro ... but don't expect it to happen overnight or over a couple of years.

Best of luck and just enjoy taking great pics ... :D

« Last Edit: September 16, 2012, 03:31:50 AM by Nitroman »


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Re: Professional Landscape Photography
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2012, 02:56:52 AM »
Incidentally, in answer to jVillaPhoto ... Over five years ago there used to be some money to be made from 'stock' landscape photography. Now, an image that used to sell for $500 sells for less than $50. You can try submitting to big agencies but may find you get a better return from selling your own work direct to clients. Agencies like Getty Images take up to 80% of your sale and leave you with 20% (less your costs and less tax). It's harder work selling pics yourself but you keep 100% of the profit and will learn a lot more about the industry and much faster. Trust me on this one ;)
« Last Edit: September 16, 2012, 04:22:31 AM by Nitroman »


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Re: Professional Landscape Photography
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2012, 04:22:06 AM »
One thing to remember when it comes to stock landscape photography, people have been photographing landscapes for decades with good equipment (film and digital), so most clients have built up huge libraries themselves, so only need to dip into ne work if there have been changes to the required landscape or if they want a unique view. However, if they want that, then they are likely to go for one of the big names or at least the established names to get it and will still want to pay relative peanuts, because it is such a saturated market. To some degree, it's the same with wildlife photography. The type of stock photography that still commands anything like significant amounts of money is concept photography and even then, it tends to be volume sales, rather than single large payments. If you can continuously think of concepts to advertise products, then you can probably keep afloat, otherwise, even the established names can't make a living purely from stock. The other potential target market is travel photography, as people still travel and travel locations tend to change much more quickly than traditional landscapes.
A couple of years ago, I was getting fed up with my job and consdering giving it up. I thought of several things I could do instead, including photography, but after some soul searching, I came to the conclusion that I would need to shoot subjects I don't enjoy shooting and at that point, it would just become another job and not something I enjoy, as I would also need to spend at least as much time marketing myself as taking photographs.
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Re: Professional Landscape Photography
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2012, 04:58:47 AM »
I do actually include Landscape amongst the professional areas our business covers.

To me, like much of pro photography it's about taking photos of places/locations/things that other people want you to take, not just places you like and trying to sell the photos. I include the built environment and feel it meshes well with the various types of architectural photography I cover.

Some years ago, when I was first planning the business side of things, I asked someone who travels a lot and has been in the business a long time, about where landscape fitted in?

They reminded me that there was no shortage of good photographers round the world, and good photos of nice places (more so, now we are further into the 'digital age') If you were going to make a living then you had to do work that was different and would get people wanting you for the work. Their work was in demand for company reports and corporate use.  One more reason that as a working photographer I'm strictly commercial (no weddings, no baby photos, no event work with prints)

As to kit - A 1Ds until I got a 1Ds3.  Still waiting for a camera that improves on the Mk3 enough (1D X doesn't for my types of work)

BTW, I do have a collection of assorted landscape stuff on our site, but that's not a major commercial part of the business - I sell far more large prints directly to companies. I think of the 'pretty landscape' side of things as part of our marketing efforts (Oh, and I enjoy it)

I do make use of stitching images for higher res, but not many clients want that more detail.


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Re: Pro Landscape Photography
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2012, 12:10:10 PM »
Hi !  ;)

I'm a professional and have been for twenty years. My website is here so you can see what I'm talking about www.rodedwards.co.uk...Best of luck and just enjoy taking great pics ... :D

Whenever I get fed up with this site, someone like Rod takes the time to post a well-thought-out and constructive reply. Your experience and perspective are reflective of much of what I experienced as a photojournalist thirty-some years ago. Professional photography is a tough way to earn a living, no matter which way you slice it. Talent is important, but talent alone won't cut it.

I have a filmmaker friend who, when someone asks him about going into filmmaking, his standard response is: do yourself a favor and study accounting instead.

I was fortunate, because I had other skills that allowed me to earn a decent living and support my family. Now, as I near retirement age, I can spend more time concentrating on photography for the love of the craft without having to worry about how to make it pay.

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Re: Pro Landscape Photography
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2012, 12:10:10 PM »