Making Money with Overland Photography

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NathanPAnderson

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Hello all. I'm just wondering if there are ways to make a fair amount of money with my overland photography. I mainly do it as a hobby and I take pictures on trips with my friends. So I don't charge them anything to take photos. For starters, I'm a novice at best so I don't feel that asking for money from my friends for beginner quality photos is fair. Secondly, I'm not sure if there is really a market for something like this as there is for wedding photography or portraits or landscape. I have a great full time job so I won't be turning into a full time photographer, so I'm looking for ways to sell my photos in some form or fashion after editing, or ideas on how to market myself as someone who can take photos on weekend trips locally.

So my question is: Is there anyone here who has found ways to turn their overland photography hobby into a side hustle?

Some of my recent photos for reference can be found on my quick website I threw together:


Thanks!
 

Yaniv

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I like your website (and photos too)

is it some Wordpress based website?
I'm looking for something myself and your design is neat.

As for income,
That is my dream as well - I've joined a few commercial trips in the past, paying full money on those trips and took photographs officially
with the intention that they will like it and will hire me or let me freelance there, but it didn't went well... so still thinking on what to do to turn it into a side business.
 
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NathanPAnderson

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I like your website (and photos too)

is it some Wordpress based website?
I'm looking for something myself and your design is neat.

As for income,
That is my dream as well - I've joined a few commercial trips in the past, paying full money on those trips and took photographs officially
with the intention that they will like it and will hire me or let me freelance there, but it didn't went well... so still thinking on what to do to turn it into a side business.
Thank you.

I used Squarespace to build mine. I like it better than Wordpress.
 
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socal66

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Back about 25 years ago or so I was considering changing my profession from IT to an outdoor photographer. I went through that phase of wanting to do something new that I really enjoyed and trying to find a way to make that my profession and what ended up being the deciding factor to not quit my really good day job was researching what the market really was for monetizing my photographic ability.

At that time photography was still not digital so there was a cost-entry barrier for many related to film and developing that film. A "really good" photographer at that time would average around 3 "sell able" images per film roll of 36. The costs of the other 33 images (film + development) would be overhead that needed to be absorbed. Move forward to now and digital has greatly reduced the per image costs for photographers which has resulted in a much greater supply of images for buyers to choose from and this coupled with advances in technology accessible to non-professionals (cameras / lenses / digital processing) has created a marketplace that is very competitive.

Some of the major revenue streams included:

Stock photography. This was very competitive "back in the day" and you had to have a library of many thousands of images that was consistently refreshed to have a good revenue stream from that. Today that market is flooded and the only ones that make any money from that are in the "corporate clip-art" space that are able to get new subject matter that is topically timely (i.e. people in masks now, etc.) to market first. I think there are far too many outdoor photos in circulation to make any amount of money in this.

Articles for publication. One area that many outdoor photographers were successful in was selling their images as part of an accompanying article that could be sold as a package to print publications, such as magazines. There were many publications that did not have staff creating content (i.e. Airline magazines, etc.) that relied on freelance submissions. Photographers good at this could sell a handful of articles/picture sets each month at $400-$500 each and have a somewhat consistent revenue stream from here. Today many of those print publications have died and have been replaced with on-line resources that don't pay as much or need that content as many are their own publishers.

Photo Art Gallery. There has a much greater risk as you need to have a higher upfront investment to get things going which you could totally lose if you are not successful. It used to be much harder to create a fantastic large wall-hanging print that you could sell for thousands of dollars as it involved some form of large-format camera and mastery of its intricacies, darkroom magic, and a costly and tricky print making process. Today someone with art skills and intuition can create works greater in scale, vision and technical execution using a Sony camera, multiple exposures, and Photoshop.

Etc...

The only photo related area that I think has some opportunities for a good revenue stream vs. effort/risk would be in providing photo instruction / outdoor workshops. There are many folks now retiring or otherwise able to devote time / monies pursuing a photography hobby. If you have a good portfolio and the ability to market yourself as a skilled outdoor photographer that is a good instructor that can also lead tours to remote locations for photo shoots perhaps there are opportunities in that.
 

NathanPAnderson

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Back about 25 years ago or so I was considering changing my profession from IT to an outdoor photographer. I went through that phase of wanting to do something new that I really enjoyed and trying to find a way to make that my profession and what ended up being the deciding factor to not quit my really good day job was researching what the market really was for monetizing my photographic ability.

At that time photography was still not digital so there was a cost-entry barrier for many related to film and developing that film. A "really good" photographer at that time would average around 3 "sell able" images per film roll of 36. The costs of the other 33 images (film + development) would be overhead that needed to be absorbed. Move forward to now and digital has greatly reduced the per image costs for photographers which has resulted in a much greater supply of images for buyers to choose from and this coupled with advances in technology accessible to non-professionals (cameras / lenses / digital processing) has created a marketplace that is very competitive.

Some of the major revenue streams included:

Stock photography. This was very competitive "back in the day" and you had to have a library of many thousands of images that was consistently refreshed to have a good revenue stream from that. Today that market is flooded and the only ones that make any money from that are in the "corporate clip-art" space that are able to get new subject matter that is topically timely (i.e. people in masks now, etc.) to market first. I think there are far too many outdoor photos in circulation to make any amount of money in this.

Articles for publication. One area that many outdoor photographers were successful in was selling their images as part of an accompanying article that could be sold as a package to print publications, such as magazines. There were many publications that did not have staff creating content (i.e. Airline magazines, etc.) that relied on freelance submissions. Photographers good at this could sell a handful of articles/picture sets each month at $400-$500 each and have a somewhat consistent revenue stream from here. Today many of those print publications have died and have been replaced with on-line resources that don't pay as much or need that content as many are their own publishers.

Photo Art Gallery. There has a much greater risk as you need to have a higher upfront investment to get things going which you could totally lose if you are not successful. It used to be much harder to create a fantastic large wall-hanging print that you could sell for thousands of dollars as it involved some form of large-format camera and mastery of its intricacies, darkroom magic, and a costly and tricky print making process. Today someone with art skills and intuition can create works greater in scale, vision and technical execution using a Sony camera, multiple exposures, and Photoshop.

Etc...

The only photo related area that I think has some opportunities for a good revenue stream vs. effort/risk would be in providing photo instruction / outdoor workshops. There are many folks now retiring or otherwise able to devote time / monies pursuing a photography hobby. If you have a good portfolio and the ability to market yourself as a skilled outdoor photographer that is a good instructor that can also lead tours to remote locations for photo shoots perhaps there are opportunities in that.
Thanks for the great response!

I have looked into selling some stock photography but like you said it is very flooded. At best I could maybe sell and image for $10 and make $5 profit. Not worth it to me.

Writing articles is an area that I have tried and I semi-enjoyed it but have not pursued publishing into any magazines or online publications yet. I wasn’t really sure if that was worth the time invested. I have created a few articles. Here is one of the most recent. It is more of a blog, but I do think I could make it more professional and publish it as an article. Feel free to let me know what you think: Dewalt, Dents, Dessert

I have also though about teaching but since I have less than a year of experience and only an entry level camera, I am not sure I have much to teach that couldn’t be learned for free on YouTube. I will certainly look into that however.

Again, thanks for your time!
 
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socal66

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Writing articles is an area that I have tried and I semi-enjoyed it but have not pursued publishing into any magazines or online publications yet. I wasn’t really sure if that was worth the time invested. I have created a few articles. Here is one of the most recent. It is more of a blog, but I do think I could make it more professional and publish it as an article. Feel free to let me know what you think: Dewalt, Dents, Dessert
That is exactly what I was talking about. You'll just need to find somewhere that is looking for content like this. Perhaps self-publishing this might be an option if that is tough to find.

A good example of someone that is working it from multiple angles is at Back Roads West.

He provides walk thru's for trips to natural or historic areas thru YouTube videos that generate ad hits, the printed guidebooks he sells mentioned in the videos, the videos referring back to more info at his blog and website that has advertising, and more trips with their own YouTube videos, books, etc. It's all articles (written or spoken) tied together by the pictures of interesting and visually spectacular places he takes which is what draws people in. Perhaps a self-published South East USA version of this that provides resources for those interested in Outdoors, Nature, Historical, and/or Recreational opportunities that aren't obvious to folks might have a niche.
 

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@NathanPAnderson

I strongly recommend that you check out Dave Morrow's site and sign up for his photography and photography business emails. Here is an example form his blog:

He focuses on building the business along with your photography skills. He is an engineer who left the 9to5 to pursue a life on the road Overlanding and backing for months at a time interspersed with planning and building out for the next phase of his business.

regards,
Boort
 
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astroflashjones

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Nice website and great photos! There is a market but its a limited and very competitive one. You might want to try catering to overland businesses and manufacturers. Are there any retail or fabrication shops in the area? I sell some stock photos but mostly editorial. Overland and offroading might be a little too niche for that but you never know. Like Nathan said its a very saturated market and I'm not sure what kind of releases you may need if you have branding showing on vehicles.
 

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I'm a professional photographer, but primarily shoot to have assets for my full time journalistic work. Making revenue with a camera is not easy without specializing in a market willing to pay for images. Overlanding isn't really that market.

Regarding overlanding shots, if you ever read Overland Journal you probably saw hundreds of my images as I was the Senior Editor for many years. Good photos are not just good, they're relevant. So, it's really about taking the shots people need, and are willing to buy, not just shots of opportunity. If you can find and fit that need there's a better chance of selling those images. But, don't get your hopes up. The number of people able to pay for overlanding images is pretty slim. There are some, not many.

The other options for stock photography are not really attractive as the amount of work for the pitiful payoff is a deal breaker.


(This is a good example of a shot appropriate for editorial, but far from perfect.)
Noel_01_lead.jpg
 
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DaPyrate

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Hello all. I'm just wondering if there are ways to make a fair amount of money with my overland photography. I mainly do it as a hobby and I take pictures on trips with my friends. So I don't charge them anything to take photos. For starters, I'm a novice at best so I don't feel that asking for money from my friends for beginner quality photos is fair. Secondly, I'm not sure if there is really a market for something like this as there is for wedding photography or portraits or landscape. I have a great full time job so I won't be turning into a full time photographer, so I'm looking for ways to sell my photos in some form or fashion after editing, or ideas on how to market myself as someone who can take photos on weekend trips locally.

So my question is: Is there anyone here who has found ways to turn their overland photography hobby into a side hustle?

Some of my recent photos for reference can be found on my quick website I threw together:


Thanks!
I have often thought of this but other selling prints and stock I really couldn't come up with any other ideas. I'm glad you asked this.
 
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Dlnuckolls

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Hello all. I'm just wondering if there are ways to make a fair amount of money with my overland photography. I mainly do it as a hobby and I take pictures on trips with my friends. So I don't charge them anything to take photos. For starters, I'm a novice at best so I don't feel that asking for money from my friends for beginner quality photos is fair. Secondly, I'm not sure if there is really a market for something like this as there is for wedding photography or portraits or landscape. I have a great full time job so I won't be turning into a full time photographer, so I'm looking for ways to sell my photos in some form or fashion after editing, or ideas on how to market myself as someone who can take photos on weekend trips locally.

So my question is: Is there anyone here who has found ways to turn their overland photography hobby into a side hustle?
As a software engineer I often get these types of questions asked about my profession. Since the answer is roughly the same, here are my thoughts.

First thing to consider: Will making a living out of this allow me to still enjoy the activity? Often times folks start out enjoying an activity, then when they try to make it into a "business" or "side hustle", it quickly becomes more work than fun. This is not true for everyone, but something to consider.

Second thing to consider: What do you consider a "fair amount of money"? As with any venture, there will be competition. So you would have to ask yourself "what makes my images unique or stand out from everyone else?"

If you keep those things in mind, and still feel adventurous enough to give it a go, then full speed ahead! I did the same thing with software, and have loved doing it independently for more than 30 years now. So the answer is you can certainly get there, just make sure you look down the road and be aware of where it will take you.
 

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By the way, a common trajectory is to shoot with the end goal to use initial earnings to fund more gear, the best gear. By the time your bag of kit is worth $15,000 (a minimum average for most pros), finding pocket money from your shooting won't be a hard next step.

And don't rule out diversifying your skills. You may love to shoot overland shots, which may not pay much, but maybe you can crack out some other paying projects to make it financially viable. I think you're also on the right track with pairing writing with photography. That was my avenue into photography. I was always an okay shooter, but with better writing came a need for better images. If you can get proficient at both, that's a pretty solid way forward.

I would strongly suggest collaborating with someone who specializes in writer development if you go that route. It will shave years off the trial and error process.

...one last thing, there is zero money in landscape imagery unless you really make that your obsession. Shooters with landscape galleries typically spent decades getting to that level. I couldn't do it.
 

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I had a very rewarding career as a Electronic Video Camera/Camcorder Tech. Owning my own shop to videoing rocket launches at Cape Canaveral. It was one of those at the right place at the right time deals. My love of photography, part of my resume, is what got me in the “door”. If I was 50 years younger or had a son looking for a career I would be getting a Commercial Drone license and signing up for drone photo schooling, especially training in LiDAR. The job market is wide open.
 
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El-Dracho

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I had a very rewarding career as a Electronic Video Camera/Camcorder Tech. Owning my own shop to videoing rocket launches at Cape Canaveral. It was one of those at the right place at the right time deals. My love of photography, part of my resume, is what got me in the “door”. If I was 50 years younger or had a son looking for a career I would be getting a Commercial Drone license and signing up for drone photo schooling, especially training in LYDAR. The job market is wide open.
Agree - this will become a more and more interesting field.
You guys, in the US, have a consistent training/ apprenticeship to become a drone pilot, right? Unfortunately, here in Germany a standardized training consisting of theory and practice to become a drone pilot is not yet in place (except at the airforce), but there are several companies offering different trainings and certificates...
 

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Agree - this will become a more and more interesting field.
You guys, in the US, have a consistent training/ apprenticeship to become a drone pilot, right? Unfortunately, here in Germany a standardized training consisting of theory and practice to become a drone pilot is not yet in place (except at the airforce), but there are several companies offering different trainings and certificates...
Several months ago I had the opportunity to meet a LiDAR Engineer/ USGS Surveyor. Fascinating! The industrial, commercial side the opportunities are endless, construction, powerline bridge inspection, things I could never have imagined. We talked some pretty heavy electronic theory for about 2 hours. I was like a little kid with a million questions. The training and the opportunities are here in the U.S. He turned me on to some cool sites and newsletters on LiDAR technology. Photographers will adapt to this new exciting field. You might not like what your taking pictures of but your not paid for that, but your still taking pictures. Just like when I started out , just because I didnt like what the TV show was about I still ran a camera to get the experience.
I just read an article where airline pilots that are out of work because of the virus and seeing the industry will never be the same are taking drone training and changing careers to drone pilots.
 
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Flipper, I think there is a distinctive difference between creative imagery and imagery used for highly commercial enterprises. I have shot thousands of product images for print and digital publications and absolutely hate it, but it was a necessary thing. I tried shooting real estate thinking it could fund new gear, but quickly gave up as it was not creative at all and just boring, for me. So, while I agree a photographer has to adapt to the market if they want income, there are still parameters most shooters will stick within to make it worth doing. That's different for everyone.
 
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NathanPAnderson

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As a software engineer I often get these types of questions asked about my profession. Since the answer is roughly the same, here are my thoughts.

First thing to consider: Will making a living out of this allow me to still enjoy the activity? Often times folks start out enjoying an activity, then when they try to make it into a "business" or "side hustle", it quickly becomes more work than fun. This is not true for everyone, but something to consider.

Second thing to consider: What do you consider a "fair amount of money"? As with any venture, there will be competition. So you would have to ask yourself "what makes my images unique or stand out from everyone else?"

If you keep those things in mind, and still feel adventurous enough to give it a go, then full speed ahead! I did the same thing with software, and have loved doing it independently for more than 30 years now. So the answer is you can certainly get there, just make sure you look down the road and be aware of where it will take you.
I'm also a software engineer turned quality assurance engineer for a software development company. I don't enjoy writing code but I do enjoy my job now and the company I work for. I don't want to quit my job at all. Really I I think what would be best for me is journalistic articles documenting our trips or riding along with other groups and documenting their adventures and then publishing them like others have said above.
 

NathanPAnderson

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Flipper, I think there is a distinctive difference between creative imagery and imagery used for highly commercial enterprises. I have shot thousands of product images for print and digital publications and absolutely hate it, but it was a necessary thing. I tried shooting real estate thinking it could fund new gear, but quickly gave up as it was not creative at all and just boring, for me. So, while I agree a photographer has to adapt to the market if they want income, there are still parameters most shooters will stick within to make it worth doing. That's different for everyone.
I have been seeing these ads for real estate photography and I do live in an area with several large real estate companies. I wonder if that would be a good idea to start upgrading my gear?
 

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You might try a directed approach, off road shops, Jeep dealers etc. And provide a framed print they can display and offer to change them out regular on a regular basis, sort a print for rent idea. A lot of leg work and setup but it worked out well for a local fellow here, he was primarily general outdoors photography but his images were in lot of small offices
 
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Dlnuckolls

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As a software engineer I often get these types of questions asked about my profession. Since the answer is roughly the same, here are my thoughts.

First thing to consider: Will making a living out of this allow me to still enjoy the activity? Often times folks start out enjoying an activity, then when they try to make it into a "business" or "side hustle", it quickly becomes more work than fun. This is not true for everyone, but something to consider.

Second thing to consider: What do you consider a "fair amount of money"? As with any venture, there will be competition. So you would have to ask yourself "what makes my images unique or stand out from everyone else?"

If you keep those things in mind, and still feel adventurous enough to give it a go, then full speed ahead! I did the same thing with software, and have loved doing it independently for more than 30 years now. So the answer is you can certainly get there, just make sure you look down the road and be aware of where it will take you.
I'm also a software engineer turned quality assurance engineer for a software development company. I don't enjoy writing code but I do enjoy my job now and the company I work for. I don't want to quit my job at all. Really I I think what would be best for me is journalistic articles documenting our trips or riding along with other groups and documenting their adventures and then publishing them like others have said above.
I believe that people are happiest when they follow their dreams and passions. Documenting your journeys sounds like a great way to begin and have fun! Let me know where to tune in and I would like to follow the adventure!