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Old Photos Can Make You Money

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Unlock Your Photo Potential

I suspect most of us have got several photo albums at home, containing a wide range of photographs taken over a number of years - black and white and colour prints, taken on holidays and in the home. You may also have an old shoebox or two of forgotten photos that you haven't got round to framing or mounting yet.

If this sounds like you, now is the time to search for your shoebox! Why? Well you could be in a position to earn a lot of money from all those old photos stored away in a forgotten corner, by selling them to the markets that are crying out for suitable photos. The key to success is knowing where to send them.

You may think the only way to sell photos is by writing an article for a magazine, and then illustrating it with appropriate shots, but this isn't so. It's true that most magazines are in desperate need of photographic material, but it doesn't necessarily have to be accompanied by an article.

In fact, I have recently written to a couple of photographic magazines, offering photo based features on improving your holiday snaps. Both replied to the effect that they would be happy to see the photos, but they did not accept freelance articles! So you don't have to be a writer to sell to magazines in this country, or abroad. It's simply a question of unearthing all the markets which need the kind of photos you can supply.

So… how do you find out what markets exist?

Well, there are several ways of doing this. The best place to start is by examining magazines you read regularly. Many magazines pay fees for single photographs published on a letters page or readers' page. Others may require a short descriptive paragraph or caption to accompany the shot, but as long as you keep it short and simple, this should present no problems.

Going a little further afield, publications such as the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook and the Writers' Market will give you information on a whole selection of magazines and newspapers. You can then single out those which appeal to you, and which are likely to take photographs, and approach the editor for more information.

For the more experienced photographer who can provide slides, photo libraries and greetings cards manufacturers are also worth looking into. A preliminary query to discover their exact requirements would be the first step - but be warned. These particular outlets will accept only the most perfect and professional of shots. That said, if you can provide what they want, you could be receiving some big payments.

But for the amateur photographer who is keen to make some money out of the kinds of photos we all have in the album (or shoebox!), the best markets to try exist abroad - whichever country you may be living in.

Consider this. I live in the U.K., where my collection of photos is pretty average - snapshots of castles, days out at the seaside, pubs, trips to Oxford, the Lake District, and so on. And as far as the U.K. goes, my collection is pretty average. Many British editors can obtain their photos easily, without needing to 'buy in' from a freelance photographer.

Of course, if you happen to be 'on the spot' in a unique situation which the average photographer would probably miss, then your shots would be in demand. But you don't stumble onto such opportunities every day.

But if I was to offer my photos to America, for example, this situation wouldn't arise. American editors find it much harder to obtain photos of British subjects and places (the kind of photos I have in my possession now), because of the distance between countries. Sending a staff photographer out to get the required shots is not as easy when they need to go abroad to do it.

And this is where you come in - whatever country you live in. By obtaining details of magazines in a different country to the one you live in (the internet can be a good way to do this), you can determine the kind of markets which are likely to take your photos. Always query initially before sending valuable snapshots abroad though - it's cheaper. And make sure you always have copies.

Another advantage of selling your photos abroad is that you will be paid far more than you would be selling photos in your home country. You will be making editors' jobs much easier by supplying them with the photos they need, and they will pay you well accordingly.

So clear out your cupboards, dust off your albums and dig out your shoeboxes. You could be sitting on a goldmine which could earn you a tidy sum!

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