5 ways to make money with wildlife photography

Making money from photography is challenging especially if you are not in the commercial or events industry. For a non-commercial genre such as wildlife photography, the question always stands - how do you make money from it?

Wildlife photography, in particular, is a popular genre yet at the same time one of the most difficult, if you want to make it a living. One of the reasons is the saturated market.

Try hopping on to Instagram and browse for #wildlifephotography. You will see thousands of photographs being posted every day. Both hobbyists and professional photographers are competing on social media popularity.

That being said, here are some of the ways you can make money with wildlife photography.

brown deer near tree by cmonphotography

Sell stock photos

Selling stock photos is one of the ways to earn with wildlife photography. It is not the most glamorous and high-paying, but it helps, especially if you sell a lot of images.

Some notable stock photo sites are Shutterstock and Alamy.

All you have to do is upload your photo to these sites, label them properly, and wait until someone purchases your photo.

Uploading is the easiest part, waiting is the hardest one. It might take days, weeks, or even months until someone buys your photo.

So in some ways, you may earn from selling stock images. But at the same time, it is not a surefire way to earn. It is not a get rich in 7 days scheme.

Person holding phone by Lisa fotios

Start a social media account, build a following

As mentioned earlier, you may check Instagram to see the latest or the most popular wildlife photographs uploaded. Once you check the image, do not forget to check the profile too. Most of the time the popular ones will have thousands of followers.

These social media engagements, whether on Facebook, Instagram, or even TikTok, might be the key to success. Your profile will serve as the key to gaining commissioned work and more clients.

Your social media profile will serve as your portfolio too. Update it regularly and grow your community. There are tools in these apps that help you analyze the images that have better engagement too.

Besides growing your community, having lots of social media engagement will help you gain connections too. You may use it to talk to other photographers and learn about their craft.

Another advantage of having a social media community is brand partnerships. A lot of brands partner with their social media influencers to promote their products.

Brands sometimes pay influencers too to feature their brand. If not paid, you may receive items or exclusive discounts in exchange of getting featured in your profile.

zebra grazing on the field by Hendrik Cornelissen

Do workshops or photo tours

Workshops are a great way to earn as there are a lot of people who are eager to learn from experienced mentors.

But before you run a workshop, you need to have an excellent portfolio. Let your work speak for yourself and why people should learn from you.

Photography tours are also an option.

For example, if you are already a regular visitor of a certain wildlife park, you may talk to the rangers or park administrators that you want to conduct a photography tour. Talk to the necessary people such as guides so you have assistance when out in the wild too.

Conducting a photo tour is a tough task as you need thorough planning. Sometimes, it will take years before it happens.

Take Idube Photo tours by Kevin Dooley as an example. Their tour this 2022 is several months away, yet they are already inviting participants.

This is to arrange the tour perfectly and there will be no issues when it comes to logistics, itinerary, etc.

Elephant by Abhas Jaiswal

Be different

It is kind of repetitive, but the market is saturated with photographers. With the internet, you are now competing with photographers from all over the world. This means that you need to step up your game and be different.

Be different in the sense that you do not just go with the flow. You have to create your own brand - have your own niche and unleash your creativity.

So how does being different help your earn?

There are countless photos of elephants available out there and people can just buy those easily. But if you have a different photo or a touch of artistic flair on your image, they might purchase yours instead.

white owl by david selbert

Diversify your products

Just because we are talking about wildlife photography would mean that you are stuck with selling prints. You may use your photos as a basis for other products to sell.

Going back to the photo of an elephant. If you have a great close-up of an elephant, you can have it vectorized and put into a shirt as extra merchandise.

Technically, it is not a photograph anymore as it is vectorized, but it is still based on your image and you own the rights to it.

You may also print your photos in a mug, postcard, mouse pad, and other custom products.

Earning money with wildlife photography is not an easy task but it is not impossible. Challenging? Yes, yet it is rewarding at the same time.

Feel free to share your wildlife photos with us on Instagram @ProMediaGear.
April 13, 2022

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