22 Joint Venture Ideas for Photographers

Photography is a pretty lonely business. Usually, it will just be you, your camera and perhaps an assistant or two, and that’s all you need. When it comes to marketing though, you can use all the help you can get.

Here are 22 ideas to boost your marketing power with a partnership.

1. Team up with a café
It’s not a novel idea, but it still works. Ask a café or restaurant owner to display your prints and they’ll get free decoration while you get sales. Brandy, a 25-year old photographer who had been shooting for less than twelve months tried it and told us:

“I ended up selling a framed photo the first day my photos were up! I’ve since sold upwards of 80 prints.”

2. Get framed
Of course, those prints will need frames too. When Jeremy Mason McGraw put on an art exhibition at a friend’s home, another friend supplied the frames made by his business. Jeremy got to show off his art; his friend got to advertise his products.

3. Make a nursery bloom
Cafés and restaurants make good galleries because they have static viewers and plenty of walls. But you can also approach other businesses and shoot pictures that suit their topics. A nursery, for example, might be willing to host an exhibition that showed the sort of flowers they sell in the best possible light.

4. Cuddle up with pet-lovers
What works for flowers, could work with pets too. If you like photographing cats and dogs, try teaming up with a pet store, a dog groomer or a kennel. Again, they can host or sell prints while you get to market to a targeted audience.

5. Go eye-to-eye with children
And if those ideas work, then the same principle should work with children’s photography too. Take portraits of children, ask a children’s clothing store or toy store to exhibit them and at the very least, they’ll be bringing the parents in as potential customers.

6. Get into school photography
Not always an easy option to break into but one that can bring a lot of money when you succeed. Schools are filled with photography subjects who need portraits taken for their parents. The school gets a cut but the photographer does well out of the deal too.


Photography: Drjohn_2005

7. Win with a sports team
Just as parents want pictures of their school-age children, so athletes need photos of the team. Those could be action shots of the match or player portraits that can be signed and sold to supporters. The team makes a profit on each sale, you get a royalty on each image sold.

8. Help social clubs socialize
A group of people doesn’t have to hit a ball to be a team though. Every town has a string of social clubs from the Rotary to the Italian Food Lovers Association that run events and needs mementoes. Give them a call, ask if they need a photographer and offer to share the proceeds of the sales with the organization.

9. Fatten your income with weight loss centers
Weight loss centers claim that they can alter the shapes of their clients so take them up on the challenge. Suggest that you shoot the new intake at every weight loss class and shoot them again at the end. The center would then be able to provide before and after photos for every client while you could charge extra for the life-size publicity photos.

10. Share ad revenues with online publishers
It takes work to build a website with enough traffic to generate good ad revenues. But there is a short cut: offer to put a regularly updated gallery of your images on someone else’s site. Find a website on a topic you like to shoot and suggest a share of that page’s ad revenues with the publisher. Not many publishers will turn down good content that comes with no risk.

11. Join a campaign
Just as you can find a website on every topic you can think of, so you can also find a pressure group on every topic you can think of. The Harrisburg Camera Club teamed up with the Capital Area Greenbelt Association in 2007 to show off the Greeenbelt’s appeals. Which local group could use your images — and bring you publicity and sales in return?

12. Get famous with publicity seekers
Companies send out press releases all the time in the hope of attracting the press — and their photographers — to their publicity events. They’re rarely successful. But that doesn’t mean you can’t pick them up. Ask local businesses to add you to their contact list, pick out the most interesting-looking events and have fun photographing them. If you can come up with a good shot, try offering it to the local media.

13. Put a business on Flickr
There are plenty of businesses with a presence on Flickr and who are using it to publicize their work. So help them. Suggest to local restaurants, design stores and anyone else you can think of that you take their pictures, upload them to a Flickr stream and manage their stream. You could even link the images back to the store’s website and take a share of the sale as an affiliate.

14. Join up with Photoshoppers
You might be a whiz with a camera; a designer could be a wonder at Photoshop. Work together and you can supply the photos, the Photoshop expert can add the graphic magic — and you can split the revenues. Pixish could be a good place to find a partner.

15. Get creative with an artist

In Knuffle Bunny, Mo Willems produced a children’s book that combined photos of New York streets with his own sketches. The story was simple but the result was an award-winning best-seller. You might not be a story-teller or an artist. But you can leave those tasks to someone else while you focus on creating the pictures.

16. Join the theater!
We’ve already seen that sports teams want photos of their athletes in action but you can do the same thing with the arts too. Every theater puts photos on its walls to show passers-by what the show looks like. Ask to be allowed to shoot the rehearsal of an amateur production then set up a stall before the performance and split the revenues.

17. Illustrate the work of local authors
Most towns have local authors who like to set their stories in the fields and streets of the area. Shoot places mentioned in the book then get together with the author to exhibit them and organize a book-reading. You’d be marketing your images to the author’s fans while he’d be reinforcing his fan loyalty.

18. Join a band
Teaming up with an author should work because it lets you sell targeted products to a group of fans. You might be able to do the same thing with a band. Find a local group on the up, sign an exclusive agreement and make band photos and t-shirts to sell for a royalty on their site and at their gigs.

19. Outsource all the marketing
Jeremy Mason McGraw turned out to be pretty smart when it came to creating joint ventures. In fact, his career as a travel photographer really took off when he partnered with a marketing expert who sold his services while he did the supplying. Find someone who sells and you could do the same.

20. Make your sales go far with tour guides
Tour guides have a captive audience ready to listen to every word they say and hoping to find what they hear interesting and memorable. Having created that interest, they could then offer your souvenir photos of the places they’ve been describing while you both share the revenues.

21. Sell through local retailers
Any store can provide an outlet for your images if you’re just brave enough to ask. Bookstores are obvious places to try but anywhere with space for prints, postcards or calendars could be worth a query.

22. Help the homeless
Finally, we’re not too sure about this one but it’s an idea that we’ve been mulling since talking to Joey Lawrence about his photos of homeless people. In the past, the homeless have generated income by selling newspapers about life on the street instead of asking for handouts, but they could sell postcards too.

Hand out a bunch of your images to homeless people in your town and let them sell them for a couple of bucks each. You could take back enough to cover printing costs (and perhaps a small profit too), give passers-by the feeling that they’re buying rather than donating, and let people down on their luck make cash with dignity. At the very least, you’d get some great publicity.

9 comments for this post.

  1. Martin Gommel Said:

    Hey there ! Thanks so much for your list and ecouraging words in here ! Great blog btw ! !!

  2. Plínio Moreira Said:

    Great ideas.
    Team up café with a café or restaurant looks like a good venture.

  3. Bruce Elliott Said:

    There are a lot of really solid ideas here..... I linked up with a local rugby club about 3 years ago, I shoot the 1st XV each week when I can and occasionally cover the juniors on Sunday mornings.... I charge less than most of you would say I should, but... the pay off is the amount of work that it's brought in from pet photography and portrait shoots to weddings, PR and corporate photography.... and those jobs are now providing new leads in other directions. I set my business up on the back of it.

    The point? Don't just look at these ideas as a way of getting through 1 door. If you do it right they will provide plenty of unexpected opportunities that you would never have considered. Perosnally I would look for something that is community based that has a variety of people from all backgrounds likely to view your work. Good luck.

  4. Chad Said:

    This post is packed with many great ideas, thank you.
    I'm not sure if you have written before about how to make up contracts and rates to charge and etc? If not could you possible elaborate on this subject?



  5. xcollins Said:

    Is there more of a strategy to number 21 than just asking?

  6. Jayce Said:

    I like the last one. 22. Help the homeless. 🙂

  7. Landon Said:

    Here is another idea. The Picturewall Company sells a patented system of 10 frames with Pre-View hanging templates to create a flawless "Picturewall" in minutes. You can offer The Perfect Picturewall as part of a package to your clients - like you would offer a photo album full of your shots to a client. You then photograph the family, new baby or wedding etc. and then deliver the entire Picturewall with photos inside frames to the client. Now all they have to do is hang the entire gallery in minutes perfectly.
    You can purchase the Picturewall wholesale and resell as part of your package. It's a win win for you and your clients. Brilliant marketing idea. http://www.thepicturewallcompany.com/

    It took me awhile to figure out where to sign up o their site. Just click on the "my account button" then click retail partner registration. Fill in your business information. If you are a legitimate business they will get back to you with the discount code to purchase the system.

  8. Kelly Putnam Said:

    I agree with Landon (above). The picturewall company is a great idea for hanging fast and good quality frames. All you need is a hammer and a blank wall. Ten minutes later you have a gallery on your wall of family photos, wedding photos, baby photos, etc.

  9. tony Said:

    Helpful ideas here, (THANKS!) some of which I have tried - I now have 3 local outlets (+ website which is slow to get off the ground...) a Photo Shop down town (with rather, sad empty shelves I offered to fill with my greetings photocards and framed photos), a local Coffee Bar Community centre whuich promotes local artists and, best of all a florist who oset up shop literllay 50 meters away down the road! I dropped in to welcome them into the neighborhood and mentioned I have photos to sell and whether they would be happy to display them to sell. "No problem" was the reply and we have struck up a good relationship. No sales yet, but quite a lot of interest apparently, and the florist has commissioned me to make brochure of her next bouquets!!!
    The bottom line? GET OUT and GET ABOOUT, make contact with local shop owners, coffee bars etc. THERE'S NO HARM IN ASKING!
    Take alonmg a demo of youor work and leave a business card if they don't accept there and then. GET SOME COLOR into these places and you may be thanked!
    Best wishes.

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