5 things to ALWAYS avoid when selling your photography

First published:
May 11, 2022
Updated:
April 3, 2024

5 things to ALWAYS avoid when selling your photography

First published:
May 11, 2022
Updated:
April 3, 2024

Selling your photography is an exciting venture, but there are some easy mistakes that you can make that can hinder your chances of success with selling your photos. Here's what to avoid:

In this guide:

1 Don't price yourself out of a sale
2 Don’t be too precious with your images
3 Learn the market (& don’t take things personally)
4 Don’t add personal marks that are hard to remove
5 Don’t let lousy image quality hinder a sale


Getting started with selling your photography is a rewarding and exciting venture, and there is much you can do to help you on the path to success (see our other guides on selling photography). However, there are also several things that you shouldn’t do, or at least avoid as much as you can.

Take note of these points below, which will ultimately help you become more successful with selling your images:

1 Don’t price yourself out of a sale

To you, your photography is one-of-a-kind, and it can be tempting to put a hefty price tag on your images to reflect that.

"...do market research before deciding how to price your pictures."

But remember, the photography industry is incredibly competitive, and as budgets continue to get squeezed, customers will not likely pay excessive amounts for images.

That doesn’t mean you should be undervaluing your work, however. Sometimes photography should warrant a high price to reflect your hard work, particularly if the image portrays a rare subject or is complex or challenging to photograph. But you should do market research before deciding how to price your pictures.

Look at photographers who photograph similar subjects and see their prices to give you a good idea of the market rate. It also helps to think about the lowest amount you would be happy with for your shots and work your way up from that figure.

The photography world is ever-evolving and changing, so with this, make sure you review your prices constantly too.

Make sure you do some thorough research before setting prices for your images - this help you get a good balance between the market rate and what you would be happy to receive for your images. Photo by Devin Lee Ainslie

2 Don’t be too precious with your images

It's natural to be protective of your photography; it's your passion, and that’s fine. But you need to be willing to relinquish some control when you're selling your images.

"Giving customers the impression that they aren’t worthy of purchasing your work will do your photography business no good."

What we mean by that is you shouldn’t give buyers too many rules on what they can or cannot do with your images. Buyers will often need to crop or edit your photos, within reason, to fit their project or house style. This is standard practice, and if you’re difficult with customers, it will put them off buying from you.

Be flexible and friendly, understand your customer's needs and be willing to accommodate wherever possible. If there’s something you genuinely have an issue with regarding their plans for your photography, let them know, but do it in an approachable manner.

Also, avoid being choosy over who can buy your images. Giving customers the impression that they aren’t worthy of purchasing your work will do your photography business no good.

Be flexible - if a customer needs to crop of edit your image to fit their project, let them, this can do attitude will help you get sales in the long run and build valuable relationships with buyers.
Photo by Leon Puplett

3 Learn the market (& don’t take things personally)

Over time you may find that some of your most commercially-successful images aren’t your favourites.

"If your favourite shots aren’t the most popular, don’t be tempted to throw in the towel... it doesn’t mean your photos  any less worthy of including in your portfolio."

Not everyone will share your taste for your photography, and that’s OK. If your favourite shots aren’t the most popular, don’t be tempted to throw in the towel - it doesn’t mean your photos are a failure or are any less worthy of including in your portfolio.

That’s just how the market works.It pays to research; look at images hanging on walls or used in articles and products. If you’ve got shots in your portfolio that fit these particular genres and styles, make sure you make these available for sale on your website or in your store.

Keep an eye on what the market is doing (i.e. what's selling and what isn't) and if you're personal favourites aren't your most successful commercially - don't take it personally.
Photo by Howard Double

4 Don’t add personal watermarks or signatures that are hard to remove

When selling images in an online environment, it’s natural to want to be protective. Copyright infringement is real, and there will always be some risk. But for most photographers, the chance of someone stealing your images and using them for significant commercial gain or passing them off as their own is minimal.

To add a layer of protection, any good image hosting site or store builder should allow you to display watermarks over your images, which are automatically removed after purchase (learn more about watermarks for Picfair Stores).

With this in mind, don’t try to take watermarking into your own hands by adding obstructive features to your images in post-production that cannot be removed. Customers won’t be able to remove your DIY watermark easily, and you’ll likely find them asking for a refund and put off from buying your images in the future.

The same goes for adding signatures to your images; while it may feel like a nice touch, buyers prefer a clean, text-free image and will only likely crop out any signature.If signing your work is essential to you, save it for only physical prints you’re handling and sign them on the back.

Make sure your images are clean and clear of any added watermarks or signatures - customers much prefer this. If signing your work is important to you, save it for the physical prints you’re handling and sign them on the back.
Photo by Jason Kessenich

5 Don’t let lousy image quality get in the way of a sale

Make sure your images are as technically perfect as they can be. Images that are too small or where the quality is compromised can significantly lower the likelihood of a sale.

"Images that are too small or where the quality is compromised can significantly lower the likelihood of a sale."

Save your photos at the highest quality file version available. So, if you’re saving them as JPEGs, save them at the minimum compression possible. Also, ensure your final image dimensions are as close to the original size as possible. A large image in pixel size unlocks so much more potential for it to be purchased, especially with commercial and editorial clients, but also for prints too. A photo that’s too small can look pixelated and blurry when printed on a large canvas and could prevent a customer from purchasing.

Avoid these scenarios as much as possible by checking quality and technical specifics before making your photos available for sale.

Make sure your images are as technically-perfect as they can be before listing them for sale on your store or site.
Photo by Jason Kessenich
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