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September 16th, 2009

7 tips to help the right people find your photos

Posted by Art Wolfe

How many people will ever see your photographs? If you’re planning to sell your images, it’s your responsibility to help people find them. Even if you’re a world-renowned nature photographer with your own T.V. show like Art Wolfe, building an audience can be as important as clicking a shutter. Here are seven tips from Art to help photographers drive traffic to their work. Sign up for Art’s free webinar on October 5 to learn how he makes his stunning images, or watch his archived first webinar here.
Aerial view of Lake Natron, spotted with a flock of flamingos. ©Art Wolfe

Aerial view of Lake Natron in Tanzania, spotted with a flock of flamingos. ©Art Wolfe

I’ve talked and written about how photographers need to look beyond the stock agencies to market their images. There are a host of pros and cons to these alternate business models, but the need to drive traffic to your website is always the tallest hurdle. No single approach will do. Instead, you need to attract attention, and keep it, by projecting your brand across a range of media platforms and by creating mutually beneficial collaborations. Here are some tips for how all kinds of photographers can do that.

1. Collaborate

Once you have a collection of images, see if you can create an association with other photographers to market a particular class of subjects. Photoshelter makes that easy with their Virtual Agencies, but there are several ways to accomplish the same thing. By grouping your work with that of other photographers, all of you can offer a wider selection of similarly themed work to potential buyers. My work is available alongside images from Thomas Mangelsen and David Doubilet at WILD, our virtual agency.

2. Organize

If each photographer does a good job of file naming and keywording, a buyer is more likely to find your image collection. Online galleries also allow you to display a larger selection of your work than an editor at an agency would allow. This is not an invitation to self-indulgence, however; show only your best or most saleable work.

3. Prioritize

I steer clear of microstock. If you can produce what the market demands in high volume, there is money to be made there, but it tends to encourage “treadmill shooting,” a mentality of “generate content” instead of creating art. Forgive me if I stick to Rights Managed and Royalty Free.

The sun sets over the southern Atlantic ocean as ten thousand nesting pairs of black browed albatross settle in for the brief summer night.

The sun sets over the southern Atlantic ocean as 10,000 nesting pairs of black browed albatross settle in for the brief summer night. ©Art Wolfe

4. Contact

Once your collective is up and running, or even if you decide to fly solo, contact all your existing clients with the news. Buy and use lists of prospective clients, like those provided by Agency Access and other services.

5. Connect

Social networking is all the rage, but it’s best to think of it as a means to an end, not the end itself. You can join Facebook and LinkedIn, post galleries on Flickr, keep a blog up to date, and Tweet incessantly, but if you aren’t using them to forge strong links with people in the real world, that’s all time that could be better spent.

6. Participate

Participation is the really important thing. Join groups, comment on blogs, provide content for free — for example, a blog post like this one. These are all good ways to establish links and forge partnerships with perfect strangers (although Miki and liveBooks are hardly strangers).

7. Research

Most importantly, make your presence know in the arenas your customers troll. Photographers tend to post where only other photographers will find them. Instead, ask your customers where they look for information and find ways to become a part of those groups and sites.

Think of yourself as a market researcher and get inside your customers’ heads. Then make your website a magnet by sharing those things that appeal to your customers most. Again, free content attracts visitors and brings them back. If you have good content and have done your research, visitors will eventually become customers.

Be Part of the RESOLUTION: How are you helping people find your photographs?


  1. September 16th, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    Mark Klein

    Thank you, that was encouraging and empowering!

  2. September 16th, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Gene Lowinger

    Great advice. It’s a bit daunting to market oneself in this digital age. So much time and effort need to be spent away from the camera. I just started my blog at to compliment my Livebooks website at Lucky for me, I enjoy writing. People skills are essential in this market.

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