There are all sorts of ways of selling and promoting your images on the Web these days. With microstock and niche stock sites, professional sites and photo sharing sites, it feels like photographers are spoiled for choice when it comes to ways of putting their images into the hands of potential buyers.
It’s always impressive then when someone spots an opportunity for a whole new way of promoting photography online.
Meg Maglach though seems to have done just that.
Determined to reduce her carbon footprint by sending e-cards for the holidays instead of paper cards, Meg searched the Web for images that would be spiritually uplifting and suitable for everyone.
All e-Cards are Dull
She didn’t find any. What she discovered instead were cards that were cartoonish, dull and embarrassing. And if she did find good photos they were on greetings that couldn’t be personalized.
“It occurred to me that what I was really looking for didn’t exist in any meaningful way,” she recalled. “And not just for the random holiday, but for anytime — fine art e-cards with a unique presentation and the ability to customize with quotes, music, fonts, borders, etc.”
That realization led Meg to make two decisions. She decided not to send any e-cards that year; and she chose too to create a site that would let people choose high quality images, personalize them in the way they wanted and send them as greetings. With photos supplied by her husband, a professional photographer, as her foundation, she put together a business plan and found investors.
That was in 2005. Today, HarmonyWishes is a year old and has just started accepting submissions from any photographer who wants to promote their photos. The pictures demanded are eclectic but should be “positive” and suitable for a service that Meg describes as “the prayer flag of e-card sites.”
“A HarmonyWishes image embodies too many things to be narrowly categorized,” says Meg. “It is uplifting, hopeful, spiritual, positive… Or a private moment… Or a celebration… Or a tearful moment. You know it when you see it.”
The best way to understand the sort of images that HarmonyWishes is looking for then is to browse the site and get a feel for the type of photos on offer.
Spread your URL, Make Sales
And then choose carefully. HarmonyWishes only accepts six images per quarter from each artist and removes photos that have been on the site for more than a year (although those photos can be resubmitted later.) That means photographers would have no more than 24 photos available at any one time.
“So artists need to be selective and send their best stuff,” Meg warns. “We are not a dumping ground for their stock portfolio!”
The benefits to the photographer are fairly simple. The site itself is another place to show off your work to potential buyers, and the URL to your own site that’s included with each card sent means that you can distribute samples widely while drawing potential buyers in to your own store. Meg points out that in addition to members of the public spreading images around on the photographer’s behalf, photographers can also send the cards to their own potential clients and even use them as event or gallery announcements.
Delfino Cornali, for example, a painter whose works are also offered on HarmonyWishes, states on his home page that his images can be sent as e-cards and links back to the site. He also provides a page where people who would have received a card can buy the original of the image they were sent.
There’s no limit on the number of cards that people can issue but HarmonyWishes does charge an annual subscription fee of $19.95 — both to photographers and to users.
That might sound a little steep to photographers who have grown used to being able to put their images on display for free, as well as to those already paying fees to sites like PhotoShelter and Flickr. That’s especially true when you only get to display 24 images at a time. But it would only take one print sale a year to justify the price, and twenty bucks is a small price to pay for the sort of distribution that HarmonyWishes might be able to bring to your best — or at least your most serene — photos.
And it might just inspire you to spot another unexplored niche in photography promotion and build your own website.
(HarmonyWishes is giving away 100 free one-year subscriptions to readers of Photopreneur. To request your free membership, simply contact Meg at [email protected], and mention that you saw the offer here.)