Can you make money from Nature images?

Our guest blogger this week is Manassas Warrenton Camera Club VP  Steve Heap. 


Many of us gain a great deal of satisfaction from searching out a beautiful or awe-inspiring location and creating a delightful image that captures the essence of the location. We have spent a lot of money on equipment, and certainly a lot of time in getting that perfect shot – and our friends are very complimentary about its beauty and often ask – why don’t you sell it?


Turning an image into cash is not as easy as it may seem. Almost everyone seems to have a good camera these days, and with the high technical quality from modern DSLRs and compacts (and iPhones!), it is getting harder to persuade people to part with a lot of money for an image that is probably much better than they could have done, but they still work out its cost in their head and start from there. You can try selling prints in galleries or at exhibitions, but there is a cost for each image sold, as well as the time spent manning the gallery.


The other approach is to try selling online. There are sites that offer to sell prints of your images, but the competition is fierce. There are also stock sites, which maintain a library of images for designers to license when they need a certain shot of a Caribbean bay to illustrate a magazine article. Without a doubt, the biggest sellers on stock sites are the shots of businesspeople around a table, or an attractive woman with a headset, but, with the internet making images available to any buyer in any country, there is also a market for attractive nature, landscape, travel and wildlife shots.


There is considerable debate in the stock industry between the traditional stock agencies like Getty who still charge several hundred dollars per license, and the online microstock agencies that sell images under subscription plans for a few dollars, but make up for it with high volumes. Of course, if your images are not exclusively offered via one agency, you can upload to many and multiply your chance of sales.


Is it easy to make money this way? No, it is not a quick path to riches, but it can be a useful way to pay something towards the cost of all that equipment!



Steve Heap has been selling images on the main stock sites for four years and has built up a portfolio of over 3000 photos covering travel, nature, product and portrait imagery. He has written an eBook on how to Get Started in Stock Photography available on Amazon and from his website, and he blogs regularly about his experiences in making money from stock photos at

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