Rich Answers Common Reader Photo Questions

My stint as guest editor here is coming to a close. I’ve received lots of emails over the course of the week with questions about photography and our upcoming photo workshop in New Orleans. So before I sign off, I wanted to answer a few of the ones that came up most frequently…

** Q. How do I know if my photos are good enough for sale?

** A. That’s easy. In New Orleans, one of the first things you’ll learn is how to take photos with good composition, with camera settings that produce the highest-quality images. You’ll learn how to use your camera to tell you if you’ve gotten the proper exposure and become familiar with the techniques pros use to focus a viewer’s attention on the main subject. We’ll discuss using the “Rule of Thirds,” framing, selective focus, diagonal lines, and more. You’ll also have a chance to try your hand at shooting in a studio with special lighting and real models.

Once you’ve learned all of this, you’ll be ready to find a market for your own photos. Which leads to the question people ask next…

** Q. How do I sell my photos?

** A. Lots of markets exist for photography, including microstock (where you sell your photos on websites like, fine art, editorial, and more. You’ll find a wealth of how-to information on breaking into these different markets in the e-letter archives, here.

At the workshop, we’ll talk about several of them as well. Shelly Perry, and others, will address the amazing opportunities these days in stock photography, which can be a real cash cow. I’ll give you the steps I’ve taken to develop a local business in fine art photography, and show you how I’m developing a portrait business, too.

There will be sessions on using your photography to help sell articles you write -- and on designing an article around your photos, too. (Don’t worry, you don’t have to be particularly literary to make a go of this… Jen Stevens is going to show you a fast, easy, fun way to combine words and photos and get them sold.) In each case, you’ll get step-by-step instructions on how others are selling their photos now. In other words, you’ll be hearing from people that are actually doing it successfully themselves.

** Q. Will you teach computer software programs like Photoshop? What program is best for me?

** A. I’ve used and taught Photoshop for over 20 years. But now there’s a very exciting program created by the Photoshop people called Lightroom which, as a budding photographer, may serve you better. It was developed exclusively for photographers. You can read about the difference between the two programs in our archives.

At the workshop, you’ll get to sit in on a thorough demonstration of Lightroom, learning all the ways it can help you organize, develop, print, and show your photographs. It costs about half what Photoshop does, it’s easier to learn, and it actually serves a photographer’s needs better, too. That’s why I like it.

You won’t learn all the steps to using this program, but you will see how easy it is to master and how it can serve almost all your creative and business needs as a photographer.

** Q. What kind of camera should I buy?

** A. I covered this in yesterday’s e-letter, and I’ll go into more detail at the workshop. But I want to stress again that just buying a big expensive piano doesn’t make you Billy Joel. Equipment is important, but knowledge is essential.

Ever since photography went digital, it’s been a lot easier to develop your photo skills. In the old days, in addition to walking 10 miles in the snow to school (uphill both ways), we had to wait days or weeks for the film to come back to find out if we did the right thing. And when we didn’t, we then had to try to figure out what went wrong.

But these days, by using a digital camera, you can compress years of learning into months (and, in the right environment -- like our workshop in New Orleans -- months into a few days).

Your digital camera can tell you everything you need to know about how to take a better picture. You just have to know how to read it, then practice, practice, practice. And unlike the piano, practicing photography is great fun!

Happy shooting!


Rich Wagner
Professional Photographer and Guest Editor, The Right Way to Travel

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.  Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]