Making Money From Your Images; An Online Event Photography Solution

“I’ve done the calculations time and again,” Gomez says, “and I couldn’t run my own site for anywhere near the cost.”

The photographic career of Jody Gomez started off simply enough, as a spectator parent when her son began riding steers. Frustrated by the poor quality of the pictures snapped and sold by another parent, Gomez began taking her own photographs, starting off with an entry-level 35mm Canon Rebel. In short order, Gomez was installed as the official photographer for the California Junior Bull Riders Association, which led directly to more bull riding coverage and other opportunities. As the work started rolling in, Gomez reinvested in her company’s success.

All Photos © 2008, Jody Gomez, All Rights Reserved

Today, she uses high-end D-SLRs to shoot everything from weddings and concerts to large events like San Diego Padres games and football matches for Pop Warner, the nation’s largest youth football organization. For all her high-profile event work, however, Gomez finds that “the bread and butter is still in the everyday event shooting.”

To help ensure she has enough time to get out and shoot those everyday events that generate a significant part of her cash flow, Gomez signed up with an online photo sales service in late 2005. “After two years of online sales, I can unequivocally say that if you are not selling online, you are wasting a lot of time that could be spent behind the lens, taking more shots.”

The online sales service Gomez uses is functionally identical to that recently launched by this magazine, Gomez detailed some of the features she relies on to make her business run as smoothly and profitably as possible.

A primary consideration, of course, is getting the photos online, so they can be seen and prints ordered. “I have the ability to upload quickly,” by first uploading every photo in a smaller size for online display. Then, when a customer settles on prints of particular photos, Gomez can “upload the optimized files when an order is placed.” This workflow ensures Gomez’s limited time is spent where it matters; rather than color correcting, cropping, and otherwise massaging every print, she can focus only on the prints actually purchased, while making every photo snapped available to her clientele.

Selling photographs is what it’s all about and Gomez says her online sales site is “one of the best marketing resources available.” Event participants know Gomez; she uses business cards so families know where to purchase prints and gifts.

Once a photograph is selected by one of Gomez’s customers, the service allows her to effortlessly “offer multiple products in a variety of finishes,” from the customary 4x6” glossy to popular gift items such as mugs, T-shirts, and even puzzles, with no inventory requirements. All the orders are fulfilled by a pro lab, which handles production, any necessary adjustments, quality control, and shipping.

In addition, vouchers can be used to pre-sell events. You sell a voucher at the event. It guides the customer to your website and they can order their choice of photos they’ve prepaid for. You can also set up package pricing, provide coupons, and more.

Gomez pays a modest annual fee, and the service takes a nominal commission against her sales. “I’ve done the calculations time and again,” Gomez says, “and I couldn’t run my own site for anywhere near the cost” of her service. Too, with a hosted service, Gomez does not have to concern herself with the actual operation of her sales site, the demands of which would have left her with “less time to actually get those shots!”

Gomez stresses, “What’s best though is that the e-commerce storefront is completely transparent. My clients are on my website, looking at my photography and then they can buy the images they want.”

Gomez’s website has been a large part of her success, as it helps her build awareness in her community and at the events she shoots. “Name-brand recognition is key,” she says, noting “that takes a lot of work.” Her online sales galleries are customized with her branding, and her orders are sent out under her name, where possible; the involvement of the professional service is almost completely transparent. Gomez’s brand is as front and center in her online operation as it is in the rest of her business. Those efforts have paid off, sometimes in flattering ways: high school students captured by her lens and featured on her site have been known to “act like I’m famous when they finally meet me,” Gomez recounts.

For all of her current success, Gomez started out as a hobbyist with a comparatively low-end camera and the skill necessary to wring the full potential from her equipment. Online galleries with a supporting sales system allow her to easily put her best work forward, and generate revenue from
that work.

These online photographic exhibition and sales services are a pivotal part of an explosive trend in the industry, that of hobbyist photographers turning semipro and letting their hobby help pay for itself, or finding new career paths opening and making the leap to becoming full-time professionals. In launching the Shutterbug Storefront, Shutterbug magazine hopes to help its readers turn their passion for photography into profit. With industry-leading pricing, and a special free offering for Shutterbug subscribers, the barrier to entry has been lowered to permit any photographic enthusiast to try their hand at selling their work.

Gomez’s photography sales site can be reached online at: Readers interested in getting started on their own site can learn more at: