Where you sell your wildlife and scenic photos will depend largely on the quality of your photography. Top wildlife magazines, such as National Geographic, may not accept unsolicited photographs, especially from previously unpublished photographers. So when you're just starting out with photograph sales, consider lower-paying alternatives to build up a portfolio of published photographs.
Before you submit any photographs to a publisher, whether it's a magazine, book or online venue, find and follow the guidelines for that publication exactly as they are stated. You must also understand digital photo resolution, as most publishers require digital copies of the photograph, even if the images are taken with an analogue camera. For print magazines, a minimum of 300 dpi at the full print size is usually the minimum requirement. Low-resolution photos don't print well in a magazine no matter how good they look on your home computer. Look for guidelines on the magazine's website, usually on the "Contact" or "FAQ" page.
Focus on Regional Markets
Look for regional magazines for your scenic photograph sales. For example, a magazine targeting readers in the Southwest might be happy to publish scenic photos of Arches National Park in Utah or the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, while a national magazine might not have any need for such images. If the wildlife is peculiar to a specific region, these magazines are also excellent markets. Newspapers are less likely to need wildlife photography, but it's a good idea to get to know your local newspaper staff and send them a portfolio. That way, if they ever do need an image of local wildlife, they will know how to contact you.
Target Specialty Publications
Many travel associations, book publishers and websites need location-specific images. Find a publisher--whether it's a magazine, book, boutique map or website publisher--that needs images of the areas you photograph. Animal-specific publications are another potential market for wildlife and scenic photographers, depending on the type of wildlife you photograph. Every region in the U.S. has at least one regional equine publication, so if any of your wildlife photos include mustangs or wild burrows, these markets may purchase your photos.
Break into Stock Photography
Rather than selling rights to your photograph, stock photographers license images to a variety of users. The licensing fee is generally much lower than an outright purchase fee, but you can license the same photograph multiple times. There are many stock photo websites on the Internet that will manage your photographs for you and take care of the payment gateway. However, if you use this method, you will not build a reputation for yourself as a photographer and may end up making only pennies per photo license. You can also license your wildlife photographs through your own website. This will allow you to retain the full licensing fee, but you will need to take care of your own marketing to enable people in need of wildlife photos to find you. To do so, contact the same markets you would use to sell the photographs directly (regional and specialty publications), but rather than selling the images outright, offer a nonexclusive license for a reduced fee.
Build or commission a high-quality website that showcases your wildlife and scenic photos. Make it easy for potential buyers to navigate by organizing and tagging your photos by subject and location, then provide a search function for the images. Make your contact information easy to find and always keep it up-to-date. Many art directors like to view online portfolios before commissioning work from a photographer, so only put up your best shots. You can also sell images directly from your website, if you choose. In any case, make sure to follow all tax laws on your photography income once you start making sales.
Anne Hirsh has been writing and editing for over 10 years. She has hands-on experience in cooking, visual arts and theater as well as writing experience covering wellness and animal-related topics. She also has extensive research experience in marketing, small business, Web development and SEO. Hirsh has a bachelor's degree in technical theater and English and post-baccalaureate training in writing and computer software.