A photo buyer calls for a picture of pigs. It could be about anything. A hundred responses go online and one lucky so-and-so gets the sale. That's 99 pictures deemed to be second, and that's no good in any race.
So, what is it about that winning picture that produced a sale? It may good lighting, it may be striking content... but hey, all the pictures submitted were about the same topic, so eliminate that one. Let's face it, there could be a million reasons for the selection of that winner, but there isn't!!
The winning shot is unusual. It's different from the rest. It's got something the others just don't have. It's got oomph. It's got pizzazz. Call it what you will' it's got that winning streak that just knocks spots of the competition. It has? Well what the heck is it? Tell me, and we'll bottle it.
It might be stunning exposure. Well it might. That certainly helps. In fact, exposure IS a factor, it must be spot on. However, that's not the killer factor. Picture researchers, editors and publishers don't set out to look for stunning exposures. No. That's not it. There is something else, an elusive factor that underpins every sellable photo. It's not something you can find by playing blind man's bluff either. If you want to sell photos You have to recognize it, pursue it, capture it, master it and make it work for you.
It there for all to see in practically every photo that sells and yet most people and even many photographers just don't see it. How can something so obvious be invisible to a creative eye? It's a mystery. I don't understand it. When I look at the range of submissions for any photo request, my heart sinks. Most photos betray a complete absence of this elusive essential quality. They are duff!
Shots taken so far away from the subject that life-size objects are mere pimples. Boring views that have 5% coverage of the intended and desired theme. Constant repetition of the same unimaginative angle. Yes, you've guessed it. I'm talking about composition.
If you want to sell photos, for pity's sake THINK about what you shoot. The first angle of view MAY be the best one, but I doubt it. The old gunfighter adage ..no matter how fast your are...seems to apply to photography also.
Stalk around your intended subject, look at it from all angles, make mental photos before committing one to film or digital memory, as the case may be. Don't TAKE pictures MAKE them. Fill the screen with powerful compelling artwork. Look for interesting shapes, textures, colours in the most fascinating combination possible, given the lighting conditions and your time constraints.
How you compose your photo says everything about you, so train your eye and mind to maximise your artistic ability. When you shoot in pursuit of beauty, you fulfil yourself. When called upon to make pictures of mundane everyday scenes, you will bring a eagle eye to scour the most pleasing elements of vision and combine them in a most powerful way. You will always be an unpredictable photographer who can capture unusual shots.
Shed the snakeskin of normality and kick out the usual suspects in favour of the racy, the dangerous, the exciting and discover how to enjoy your using your camera, finding the unusual angles and great whacking compositions that draw photo-buyers to you like flies to a honey pot.
You just can't achieve that by shooting the same stuff as the average Joe. Be a special Joe! Be successful and you'll sell your photos with ease.
About The Author
One of a series of articles by Robert Hartness, successful freelance and author of an hot-linked, flip-over, e-book, published on the web in October 2004. It offers a step-by-step guide to those on the threshold of freelance photography and is illustrated with 40+ published photographs. Acclaimed as a great reference source for serious freelancers. More information and order link - http://www.cashfromyourcamera.com