Money in Photography - Up Close and Personal

Tedric Garrison

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Like most people I know, I like taking pictures of nature; waterfall, rocks, and flowers. However; also like most people I know, I have made very little money from those pictures. Can you make great money from nature shots? Yes. Is it extremely competitive and very hard to get into? Yes. Is there an easier way? Yes.

For most of us, the best way to make money is to get up close and personal. Usually this means people shots; although sometimes, pets also qualify for this type of shooting. What I’m talking about is shooting events.

Events can be broken down into two categories; A) Things that happen once in a lifetime, and B) Things that happen over and over again. The things in Category “A" can usually bring more money to begin with; however there is also a lot more pressure. The things in Category “B" usually make less money per job; but tend to lead to multiple jobs.

Category “A" could include: Weddings, Sweet 16 Parties, Births, Graduation, and even death. Sound strange? Think about it; at a funeral, you have family and friends who may not have seen each other in years. Death is rarely expected, so often the subject has not had pictures in years. This is the last chance to get photos or memories. It’s not an area people often think about; you have to sell them on the idea.

Category “B" could include: Drama Events, Sporting Events, Family Reunions, and Portraits. This category usually gets less money for the individual event, but not always. I have shot Family Reunions (for example) where I made more money in half an hour of shooting, than I make doing a wedding (five to six hours of shooting).

Always remember to shoot more than what you are asked for, or even more than you might think is enough. Especially with one time events, it is often impossible to go back and do it again. A person called me once and said they had a bunch of family coming over for Mothers Day, and asked if I could take a group shot. The longer we talked the more this sounded like a family reunion. My response was: “I can shoot the main group shot, but I will take other shots too. I make it a policy to never to only develop only one or two shots on a roll. ”

I actually shot: The mother (with and without husband), the main Family Group, a four generation shot of Daughters, five individual family groups (with and without Mom), all the kids for the main family, all the kids of the individual families, all the couples from the individual families, all the grandchildren, and all the great grandchildren. Always shooting two or three shots, to make sure no one blinked.

They only asked for one shot, and I might have sold that one shot five or six times. But with what I offered, I got 24 individual orders, and many of those orders were running $25 to $35 each.

Keep in mind that everybody does something. They may or may not be into standard events like soccer or drama; but they may be into things like coin collecting or gardening. If you can figure out what it is that people are into, you can figure out what they need pictures of. Don’t wait for them to come to you. Drops hints, make suggestions, let them know you are in the business of making memories.

The key to making money in this business is making memories. Young people don’t always think in terms of memories; they think more about what they can do, and what they can show off. But those same pictures; down the road, will still be great memories. The more memories you offer, the greater your chance for success.

This Article Written By: Tedric A. Garrison Cedar City, Utah

Tedric Garrison has done photography for over 30 years. In college he was an Art Major, and firmly believes that “Creativity can be taught. ” Today; as a writer and photographer he shares his wealth of knowledge with the world, at:


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