Make Money from Underwater Photography?


So, you want to be an underwater photogrpher
Starting out, I knew first hand that making money selling photos is quite a myth or only reserved for people with solid contacts with publications, corporate/marine conservation entities, member of a strong club or organizations who may help you sell a few photos for a while & get you published, but what lingered through my mind is after those favors have been served, whats next. 

Alliances are helpful but everyone wants either the top spot or after the same money you are after so how do you go about earning money from your Photography consistently & at your own terms. The other perceived revenue making venture is to create a coffee table book and sell it, but who would buy it, unless endorsed by someone big or your already famous, plus the guys on top already have a strong foothold of that side of the business. Do you think a pro photographer who has sacrificed and dedicated his whole life to his craft will just hand you over his main source of income? contacts? since you were nice to him/her over facebook, you think your buddies? (on a social network ''for show'' standpoint maybe) do think again... of course they will protect their turf like 'trigger fish with eggs'. 

Anyway, my assumptions on making money via underwater photography never really involved pushing to sell underwater stock photos. I viewed my photos and videos as advertisments, not to be sold, but as a showcase for...

1. Getting assignments underwater, mostly for entities involved in marine conservation efforts


2. Gain credibility as a Dive Trip organizer/ tour operator through my photography and videography

3. Possibly trigger people who love the water so much to hire me to take photos of them underwater

The paid ad revenue was more of an accident and was not even on my radar of things to think about. Months back, I earned USD3,200 dollars gross with the help of Viral Spiral (lets say its some kind of angel investor/content agent online, found my stuff on youtube) They got 30% comish plus less taxes came out around USD2.5k net) where they managed to sell one of my videos to a TV station in Japan, who needed clips to complete their Palau special promo reel.
first ever sale, had lots of correspondences like this late 2013 & FY 2014

show me the money :) revenue sharing
Youtube & Flickr were the main sites where my work were discovered. (Most editors use them to look for content). Had a free website on weebly but I haven't capitalized much on monetizing my posts. In terms of subscribers, I cant say its that impressive but my youtube account has a decent 500+/- subscribers (yes they come and go) and was brave enough to add much contacts on flickr, now I get probably a new contact every three days.

still active here, thankful to this site so am an extreme loyalist


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Instead of waiting for people to buy your work or wishing that a big name in the game taps you and chooses to feature you in his big publication or website, you can generate income via Ads via your own publication. Critical part, how to get eyeballs, thats where content comes in.

 In summary, I never really believed income from underwater photography will come from selling stock photos. Posted photos and videos must lead to something which what most of us call 'fun work' plus thanks to the world wide web', it offers us an opportunity to get a slice of the trillions of dollars being spent by advertisers annually... Harnessing that money, its all up to you :D Hope this helps trigger some ideas how you can convert your passions into something revenue generating.

I eventually got published many many times after NOT expecting it...


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2015 update

the straight forward answer to your lingering questions...
1. The median price for one photo to be published in a magazine is +/-USD50

2. A feature on the average can earn you as much as +/-USD200, story and several photos (3-5) (highest I earned was USD700 for an inflight magazine, they pay a wee bit higher than scuba mags)

3. Online prices vary, but lots of my paid cyberspace photos sold for about USD10-100

4. Paparazea.com earns +/-USD2.00 for every 3,000 visitors (used to do +/-100 visitors a day,3,000 a month- benchmark from online ad revenue. Currently doing 1,000+ visits a month with no new posts) 

5. In my three years being a freelance guide/photographer (solely relying on diving and photography as my income) 60% of revenue came from trips, 28% from documentation work/assignments, 9% came from stock photos sold to various media, 2% from broadcast sales and 1% from online ad revenue. Made an average USD15k a year (2013 was my banner year) but kept less than a quarter as travel expenses (plane fares, fuel, toll fees, car maintenance), gear upgrades (more diopters, lights) and replacing worn out and lost equipment ate up gross profits...plus factor in competition, with the advent of social media, anyone can do nowadays. Dont forget government taxes as well, so whats left...

is this worth all the sacrifice and lost opportunities to earn....

Unless you're a retiree with a comfortable pension, have inheritance funds to back you up, can live on packed noodles with you're meager savings, be a tireless 24/7 sales and marketing person, have GENUINE talent plus being passionate beyond words...



...yes, you can survive solely being an underwater photographer (its the same anywhere anyways -any industry), Find a sponsor/backer you can trust (resorts, gear manufaturers, conservation groups, environmental government units, publications in need) If you do want anything that bad, you will eventually get what you want, the key is being consistent to whatever strategy you've concocted (stick with it), or whatever makes sense to you..with your target market in mind, most important is just keep doing it if it makes you happy...


2016 Update 
no words, but happy grins when I saw this... :D
Oct 2016, happy grins all over again


passion photographer, cafe racer fanatic

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6 Komentar
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an eyeopener - putting your all in your passion pays - Being happy - sharing your happiness - comes back with accompanying cash -

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