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Monday, June 15, 2009

Taking Stock

Putting your photo skills to work for extra income

This Article Features Photo Zoom

stock
Turn your photo habit into extra income when you learn the basics of selling your own microstock.
If making money from your passion for photography has crossed your mind, there has never been a better time. The microstock boom has made it easier than ever for even casual photographers to sell images on the side and grow from there.

It helps to have a solid understanding of the photo business today, and a course like those offered by the New York Institute of Photography (www.nyip.com) is a great way to get started. In revising its professional photography course last year, NYIP developed lessons that cover topics like basic business communication, how to open a studio, finding freelance work for publications and how to market a photography business. Their Complete Course in Professional Photography covers all of these essentials.

Providing business training to students has long been a part of the school’s curriculum, but it’s now introduced earlier in the course, and the 30- to 80-page lessons are packaged into condensed books and audio CDs.

Chris Corradino is a student adviser at the school and helped design the lessons. On the discs, he really stresses the importance of building a solid website because that’s what has helped his own career take off. “Having a website with search-engine optimization, blogging, getting on Facebook and Twitter—these are all really valuable tools for getting yourself and your work out there,” Corradino explains. “With social-networking sites, you can really create your own community of photographers. Through my own site, I’ve met photographers from across the country.”

The web has become invaluable for photographers because it’s an immediate way of establishing your presence, sharing information, generating sales leads and reaching new audiences. In addition to the web, NYIP lessons get into specifics like negotiating contracts, pricing your photography, insurance and legal protection, model release forms and other issues that don’t come up when you’re just out shooting as a hobby.

“Even before the economy went sour, one of the areas in which we’ve been outstanding is in providing business training to students,” NYIP Dean Chuck DeLaney says. “Now, with the economy, learning more about business is of more interest to all photographers.”

Since 1910, NYIP has offered home-study courses in photography, instructing 20,000 students in the United States and abroad at any given time. With a staff of working pros doing the training, students learn techniques and get advice from experts while completing the course at their own pace.

Other new features in the course include information on the latest digital cameras, photo-archiving technologies and trends in photographic specialty areas, along with complete instruction in traditional photographic techniques. Students receive more than 30 photography lessons in addition to the supplementary business lessons. There also are 20 hours of audio lessons, along with six hours of DVD instruction, in which NYIP faculty members review the key points of each lesson and offer their perspectives on how photography is changing.

One of the distinct advantages of NYIP’s approach is that faculty members personally review each student’s work, with the same instructor following a student throughout the course. This makes the criticism more valuable because the instructor knows what areas need improving as the student advances. Each student also is assigned a student advisor who’s there to answer questions and give advice.

You have the gear, so why not learn to use your favorite hobby as a source of income? With the right tools and training, there’s an international market for your best photographs.

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