(The following is excerpted from 99 Ways to Make Money from Your Photos, by the editors of Photopreneur.)
Stock companies serve newspapers and magazines, ad companies and Web sites. But they aren’t the only people who need images. The hospitality industry uses photography to decorate its walls, and interior designers can sometimes use photography, too.
Farmboy Fine Arts is a Canadian design company that provides artwork primarily to the hospitality industry, placing images in hotels around the world. Their clients include Sheraton, Westin, Marriott, Trump, Caesars and Hyatt, as well as many independent boutique hotels.
How It Works
For photographers, the firm operates in much the same way as a stock company. Photographers are free to send in their images, which are then made available to clients.
When a sale is made, the photographers are paid a royalty and a commission for each image licensed and for each time it’s used. One photograph used in multiple places in a hotel then would generate multiple payments.
Farmboy’s Stockyard Collection — its inventory of submitted images — is divided into six categories: abstract; architecture; landscape; lifestyle; organic; still life; and technology. The company tends not to accept images that are too “stocky.”
When you submit your work for review, Farmboy will tell you what sort of imagery works best for them so that you can narrow down future submissions. In general, Farmboy is looking for artistic works — the kind that are the most fun to produce and the hardest to sell.
Sometimes, Farmboy issues call-outs for specific types of images demanded by a client. For example, the company recently has been looking for city-specific images as well as works that are “edgy,” “conceptual” and “art-driven.” Photographs submitted as a result of a call-out and not used by the client are placed in the Stockyard collection.
Farmboy Fine Arts provides a rare opportunity for photographers looking to earn money from their artistic images. Their open submission policy means that anyone can submit images for review, and there’s certainly a sense of satisfaction that comes with knowing that your photos are hanging on a wall in a hotel somewhere.
But the rewards may be relatively low. Farmboy pays a commission based on its own gross profits. Photographers have reported incomes as low as $25 for each image and only $2 or $3 for each room in which the image is placed.
Farmboy might deal with art and sell to big clients, but the prices and bulk deals it strikes may make it the microstock version of commercial art photography, rather than a large commercial gallery.
And any images submitted also have to be exclusive. While you can sell an image submitted to Farmboy as a print, hang it in a gallery or exhibit it in a show, you can’t license the image in any other way. If an image doesn’t sell, though, you can remove it from Farmboy and try to license it elsewhere.
So while Farmboy Fine Arts is an opportunity to make money from your artistic images, it’s unlikely to make you rich — and it might tie up images that could be licensed to other buyers.
Farmboy Fine Arts asks that photographers submit a selection of 10 to 20 low resolution jpegs to [email protected] together with their contact information, or simply send them a link to their Web site/online portfolio.
As always, if you’re sending a link, make sure that the portfolio you’re showing them is geared towards the sorts of images that Farmboy Fine Arts is looking for. There’s little point in showing them your portfolio of senior portraits.
They will then let you know which of your styles works best for them and, assuming that your images are accepted, offer you an agreement. You will receive an artist code and can begin submitting high resolution images. After that, it’s just a matter of waiting for the sales to come in.
Tips for Success
1. Submit Often
According to Todd Towers, Farmboy Fine Arts’ president, photographers who license the most images through the company tend to be those who submit the most images and cover the largest number of subjects. Quality always counts, but like a stock company, with Farmboy Fine Arts, quantity counts too.
2. Do the Call-Outs
Whenever a company issues a call-out for images, it’s always worth paying attention. It’s a bit like entering a competition, but at least this is a competition which you know is going to award a prize. Best of all, even if you don’t win, the images stay on file and might net you a sale at some point in the future.
3. Try It Out and Pull the Pictures If It Doesn’t Work
There are no fees for submitting images to Farmboy Fine Arts, but if the images don’t sell, you won’t be able to license them anywhere else. On the other hand, if the images are just sitting on your hard drive, they’re not going to sell anywhere else anyway.
One strategy then is to submit your images to Farmboy Fine Arts and leave them there until you spot an opportunity elsewhere. At the very least, they’ll be in the running to earn you money.