How to Increase Your Image Sales by Using People

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How to Increase Your Image Sales by Using People

Self portrait taken on backpack trip and shot with wireless trigger on camera.

Photography of people in nature has a larger market than nature photography without people!  The sales figures support that.

I am referring to general interest outdoor publications that cover a wide range of topics and are many of the magazines we all wish to be published in.

For some photographers, photographing people is challenging if not a difficult area to get into. Many outdoor photographers specialize in the natural world because the draw is nature itself and other people around is a distraction. Others prefer to shoot to the demands of the market and the market demands people.

For some editors, a photo essay is not complete without photographs of people complimenting the nature photography.

Consider the editorial markets. Generally publications whose editorial focus is primarily nature related subjects will seek nature images to illustrate the piece, but often request images with people visiting the location. These images are often harder to find.

large sequoia trees sequoia national park
Parker Grove, Sequoia NP

Publications that are more activity oriented (skiing, hiking, adventure travel) will focus first on images containingpeople and may follow by inserting a few pure nature images. The editorial slant is often about the location and activities available for humans and less about the natural history story behind the scenery.

Some publications walk the line. The slant is about the natural history story and how humans explore it and here photos with and without people have equal appeal.

Explore your favorite magazines and literally count how many people images are included versus non-people nature images. This will give you an idea on how to shoot for this market.

Evaluate Your Shooting Plans

Consider the locations you plan to photograph and their marketability. For example, is the planned location a bioreserve with few annual visitors or a n

ational park with great scenery and a variety of hiking, biking, and family activities? The answer will aid you in determining the marketability of the location first and then what coverage you should have.

If for example, you are heading for Bryce NP to shoot winter scenic’s and you get some great scenic imagery. It just so

sequoia trees with hiker sequoia national park parker gove
I asked my hiking friend to stand in the shot. Parker Grove, Sequoia NP

happens when you return to the office that a publisher of national park soft cover tourist books is updating their Bryce book. They will want to see your winter scenic’s but also be on the lookout for snowshoeing and cross country skiing in Bryce. If you shot those subjects as well you have increased your opportunity to make a sale.

How to Add the Human Element?

You don’t need to hire models, rather go with friends or team with other photographers on your upcoming shoots and agree to pose for each other from time to time. Include these companions in some of the nature compositions.

Photograph applicable scenes with and without a person. A person standing at the base of a waterfall, hiking along a trail, backpacking (or pretending to backpack) or doing other activities can be shot on the same outing to photograph the waterfall.

adventure west magazine
This magazine called looking for scenics and people in western national parks and I submitted the scenics and the people. The people make the cover. They flipped it for layout.

Avoid the image of your friend photographing the waterfall. Images of photographers rarely sell compared to a well composed day hiker standing at the base of the waterfall.

Since your photo trip will most likely take you to other destinations, keep a colorful dome tent, camp stove, and backpack in the car and you can stage a camp scene anywhere.

Using a wireless remote to trigger your camera will allow you to be in your own photos when a model is not available. Be careful as it can be difficult to photograph yourself in a marketable manner so try many different posed positions.

Consider coordinating clothing before you leave on the trip. If your friend wears a dirty sweatshirt you have killed the chances of selling that image. I went to Target and purchased several cheap but colorful fleece pullovers and take them on my shooting excursions. If the scene is perfect for a shot with a person, I hand the colorful fleece to my friend and pose them for the shot.

By doubling your effort while in the field and shooting with and without people in as many compositions as possible, you dramatically increase your chances of licensing an image.

 

You don’t need to hire models, rather go with friends or team with other photographers on your upcoming shoots and agree to pose for each other from time to time. Include these companions in some of the nature compositions.

Photograph applicable scenes with and without a person. A person standing at the base of a waterfall, hiking along a

trail, backpacking (or pretending to backpack) or doing other activities can be shot on the same outing to photograph the waterfall.

Avoid the image of your friend photographing the waterfall. Images of photographers rarely sell compared to a well composed day hiker standing at the base of the waterfall.

adventure west magazine
This magazine called looking for scenics and people in western national parks and I submitted the scenics and the people. The people make the cover.

Since your photo trip will most likely take you to other destinations, keep a

colorful dome tent, camp stove, and backpack in the car and you can stage a camp scene anywhere.

Using a wireless remote to trigger your camera will allow you to be in your own photos when a model is not available. Be careful as it can be difficult to photograph yourself in a marketable manner so try many different posed positions.

Consider coordinating clothing before you leave on the trip. If your friend wears a dirty sweatshirt you have killed the chances of selling that image. I went to Target and purchased several cheap but colorful fleece pullovers and take them on my shooting excursions. If the scene is perfect for a shot with a person, I hand the colorful fleece to my friend and pose them for the shot.

By doubling your effort while in the field and shooting with and without people in as many compositions as possible, you dramatically increase your chances of licensing an image.

Do you photograph yourself or other people during your field shoots? Tells us how you do it.

For further reading check out these books:

5 thoughts on “How to Increase Your Image Sales by Using People”

  1. I always take spare clothes with me when I go off photographing so that I can put the camera on self-timer and jump in the shot. Sometimes I pack two or three sets if I’m out for a full day. I had an assignment last year to photograph a whole heap of places near my home base of Cairns for an airline, and people were needed in pretty much every shot. There never seems to be anybody around in the rainforest at 6 in the morning so I know I’m going to have to be super model again. 🙂 I think I should start charging myself model feels.

  2. Hi Paul-

    Thanks for your ideas. You have described a great way to do this and it works. I find it a bit challenging to photograph myself and get the perfect pose. This is why I use a radio trigger device on camera so I can keep shooting and adjusting my pose and hope for enough variety that the perfect pose is in the group.

    All the best!
    Charlie

  3. Hi Nathan-

    It is a good practice to try and capture both with and without people simply for the high chance of making sales. We all need that.

    Charlie

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