Most photographers — whether amateur or professional — have hard drives stuffed full of images. And most photographers think that (almost) all of those images are wonderful, perfectly shot and could carry four- and five-figure price tags if they could just find the buyers. It’s not always easy to tell whether a photo is going to be a big seller, but here are 11 signs that you could be onto a good thing.
1. It Looks Like A Top-Seller
Yes, every good image looks like a top-seller but you don’t have to guess. Surf to microstock sites like Fotolia and iStock and you can see which images are winning the most downloads. If your photo looks like one of those, there’s a good chance it will sell like one of those.
2. You Get Big Wows From Lots Of People Who Don’t Know You
Photographers at sites like Flickr can be a very friendly bunch. If you praise their images, they’ll praise yours. (Which is actually a good way of driving traffic to your Flickr pages.) But when you show an image on Flickr and get a giant list of comments that far exceeds your usual round of applause, you’ve probably done something a bit special… and you need to get that image to buyers.
3. You’ve Shot A Rare Subject
Check out many portfolios and you’ll soon find that you’re looking at the same sorts of images over and over again. With such a large supply of well-photographed mountains, beaches and beautiful women available for sale, it’s inevitable that the prices are going to be low and sales of each are going to be few. Shoot something unique, such as rainfall in the Gobi Desert or a cat biting a dog, and you should find you’ve got a market that’s prepared to pay a lot more.
4. You’ve Shot A Business Topic
The number one selling topic on microstock sites is business. And ideally, business shots that contain models. There’s no guarantee that people in suits will get you giant sales, but if you’ve got a top-quality image like that, you’re at least halfway there.
5. You’ve Seen Similar Images On Websites And In Magazines
Reviewing the top-sellers on stock sites will tell you how close you are to producing a similar image but you don’t have to look that far to see commercial photos. If your photo looks like one you’ve seen in an ad or a magazine — and if you can imagine text running next to it or a company logo somewhere on the page — there’s a good chance buyers will too.
6. It Contains A Celebrity Doing Something Naughty
Paparazzi photos are some of the highest-priced images in the world. Although they always rely on the photographer being in the right place at the right time — and often too on the celebrity being indiscreet to the point of being dumb — if you’re lucky enough to shoot a star falling out of a club, you’ve got a top-seller.
7. It Tells A Story
Every good photo should tell a story, even the simplest of images shot at a press conference, on the street or anywhere else. Forget about capturing an image; capture a piece of narrative and you should be able to pick up a fat check or three.
8. It Captures The Zeitgeist
And the best stories are contemporary. A photo of three people talking on iPhones or standing bare-footed at airport security tell the sort of story that describes our times. There’s always a market for those kinds of images.
9. It’s Won Prizes
Competition judges aren’t buyers but they know a good photo when they see one. A prize-winning photo might not be commercial but it is likely to be good enough to sell as prints or posters.
10. The Money Comes In Quick
There might be a lot of images out there but when a top-quality photo arrives, buyers notice… and they notice fast. If your image start selling downloads quickly or generates offers, you can expect those sales to keep coming.
11. You Know It… You Just Know It
You might believe that all your images are wonderful but when you take a truly fantastic photo, you get that feeling in belly that tells you you’ve done something special. There’s no better sign that you’ve shot a winner.
[tags] best selling photos [/tags]