It’s well known in the business of photography, that photographs of news worthy subjects sell and sometimes very well. I’ve written about this before and the need for outdoor photographers to create images the markets will want.
Paparazzi’s for example, have been known to make a fortune capturing images of celebrities in ‘news making’ situations. With some foresight and good ideas, so can nature photographers.
Outdoor photographers shoot just about every subject that has to do with the outdoors, nature, and how humans interact with the outdoors, but often they lack that news making ingredient. Those images often languish waiting for a buyer, if there ever is one. So what should you shoot? Here are some ideas.
There is already a huge glut in superb imagery of most outdoor subjects. Taking note of what’s in the news related to anything outdoors such as nature, the environment, and even the politics surrounding all of it, can be quite profitable. Today’s hot topic: Global Warming!
There is really nothing new here with shooting these ideas. It’s just the topic has changed some. My stock agents suggested 25 years ago that we shoot ‘pollution’ and ‘green’ and the ‘environment’ so as I ventured across the lower 48 in my pickup camper for two years, I photographed the national parks, cities, and scenery, but also the smokestacks, river pollution, livestock feed lots, and anything I could put in front of the camera that said ‘pollution’ and ‘environment.’
Today however, the keywords are Global Warming and if you wonder whether there is a market for images covering that topic, just do an online search. You can find articles covering all angles of the topic from internationally recognized environmental photographers James Balog and Gary Braasch, to news site like CNN (interviewing a Middle Eastern environmental photographer) and Corbis profiling one of their contributing photographers specializing on global warming.
What to shoot
This is always the million dollar question, but a search of stock agency websites like Getty and Corbis show a vast array of images captured on location across the globe as well as conceptual images that were be created on the computer.
From images of real icebergs melting to digital composites showing a lawn turning to cracked mud, it all boils down to the idea. You don’t have to be chasing tornadoes, heading to the Arctic looking for melting icebergs, or be the first camera on scene after the next devastating hurricane. You can create images with a strong chance of selling by generating an idea and then executing it. And once you get the images captured or created, get them online quickly.
Here’s a sampling of photos ideas to consider and these just scratch the surface:
Receding ice or glaciers
Power generating plants or any facility with smoke stacks belching smoke and gases
Forest fires or the after effects
Underwater (the effects on marine life)
Arid conditions showing water shortage
Where to shoot
If you are fortunate enough to venture off on an Antarctic photo adventure or a trip to Iceland or the Arctic, do some research ahead of time and see what is written in regards to global warming in the region you are visiting and then plan accordingly. That research will at least make you aware of photo ops to be on the lookout for.
Consider volunteering for organizations doing research or working on behalf of global warming and environmental causes. Volunteerism can provide access to otherwise inaccessible locations allowing you to capture imagery you would otherwise never get and the images can later be marketed for a profit.
No matter how you feel about the politics of environmentalism and global warming, you can be certain that high quality, well thought out and captured images, have a place in today’s photo markets. That makes photography of global warming a potentially profitable angle in a tough stock photography environment.