Although there are many photography genres out there, there seems to be a distinctive line between client and non-client work. With the majority of photographers shooting portraits, weddings and family photos, it seems non-client work, such as landscape and fine art photography, is a not as widely discussed. We talked to three fine art photographers who sell their work on Art.com, among other outlets, about the business of their photography.
“I started out as a news photographer shooting car wrecks, house fires and high school basketball games for my hometown newspaper,” explains Paul Souders of Worldfoto. “I was consumed with dreams of journalistic glory. But in reality, the assignments were pretty prosaic.” That’s when, after 10 years of working for his local newspaper, Souders decided to leave his journalism career to start capturing things that he felt were more meaningful: wildlife and landscapes.
“Small-town journalism is supposed to be about telling the story of your community. I kind of feel like that’s what I still do, but wilderness areas around the world are my community, and it’s those stories I want to show,” he says.
“I’m nearly as happy shooting modern cityscapes in China as I am chasing polar bears in the arctic.” As a full-time photographer, Souders makes his living working with two of the largest stock agencies out there, Corbis Images and Getty Images. He then uses that money toward new trips and projects to feed his passion.
“The photos can wind up nearly anywhere, from a two-page spread in National Geographic to a billboard in Mozambique to an advertisement for Mexican condoms.”
As fas as advertising his work, Souders admits he’s not big on social media:
“It’s hard to stay in touch from onboard a small boat in the arctic ice pack or on a safari in some remote corner of Botswana. Hard to imagine, but there are still places on the earth where you’re free from the burdens of social media.” So, he relies on entering competitions and on his agencies to share his work. That’s how Aneta Ivanova got her start, by participating in contests in her home country of Bulgaria, and abroad—but this 22-year-old, unlike Souders, also relies on social media to market her work.
“[Fine art] gave me the freedom to visualize what I was seeing in my head, and most importantly, it didn’t limit me in any way like some types of photography do.” Her best selling products? The ones she puts the most time and effort in. “The style is usually double exposure.” Ivanova sells her work on platforms such as Art.com and Society6, and she also sells usage rights to some of her images. And unlike Souders, photography is not her full-time job.
“I chose [fine art photography] because I can create whatever I want when I want without worrying if the piece I’m working will sell or not. I chose to continue doing photography while having a primary job from which my income comes.”
In fact, photographer Evan Morris Cohen admits to doing no marketing whatsoever for his photography.
“If people find me I’m sure they were meaning to click on someone else and found me by accident,” he jokes. The fine art photographer, whose best-selling photos are of architecture featuring empty streets of New York City and the Brooklyn Bridge, says that photography chose him.
“For years I drifted in and out of photography. Some years back I started collecting and shooting vintage cameras, and I drifted back into photography—and I’ve stayed ever since.” Customers love his vintage-looking photos, which are aimed to look like they were taken years ago.
“It’s what happens when you shoot with 50- or 60-year-old film. You never know how it’s going to come out, or if it will even come out at all.”
So whether full- or part-time, these photographers all have one thing in common: they have a passion for creating their own images out in the wild, without relying on the confines of client work.
“I don’t shoot with a client in mind; I shoot the images that capture my imagination,” says Souders.
To view more of their work, visit Art.com.