Book reviews: The Business of Nature Photography
Ever dreamed about becoming a part time or even full time wildlife photographer? If you
have (and haven't we all?) then this book is the book for you. The famous wildlife and
nature photographer John Shaw has written a book specially on the subject of the business
side of wildlife photography. The subtitle is: "A professional's guide to marketing
and and managing a successful nature photography business". And this is exactly what
you will find in the book. There is no information on how to make photographs, exposure,
techniques etc. For this kind of information you could refer to one of his other books or to one of the other photography books reviewed on
this site. This book deals only with setting up a business as a wildlife and nature
There are six chapters and an appendix in the book which I will describe here.
- Getting started
You have got the idea of becoming a nature photographer. What does this mean? What
essential equipment and films do you need to get started? There is some very good
information on what editors and clients want. This will be essential if you like to sell
your work. John Shaw very clearly describes these issues in detail.
- Office work
Many photographers are interested only in the photography. They want to be out in the open
photographic breathtaking landscapes and exotic animals. But there is also the practical
side to this. You need to store and caption slides. Organize them so you can find them
back quickly. John Shaw tells you from his personal experience. This chapter might not be
as interesting to some people as they want to be "out there". But do read it it
several times, because it will tell you what a nature photographer can't live without.
There is also some information on computers and databases, but as this book was written in
1996, the information is slightly outdated. Still the system of how to organize your
slides remains the same. Read this carefully. There is nothing more frustrating as having
to re-organize thousands of slides, with re-labeling and re-captioning them! It was nice
to find out that the system John Shaw uses is very similar to the system I have thought
out for myself.
- Finding clients
Very important! Since it will be the clients that pay for your work that will
support you and provide you with money to pay the bills, this chapter is vital. John Shaw
tells you about the different types of clients, what they are looking for and how to find
them. There are sample letters on how to contact clients you can copy or use. Many
photographers are more into photography then marketing, but this chapter will tell you
what to keep in mind. There is also lots of information on stock agencies and how they
operate. Advantages and disadvantages and specifics to look after for.
- Sending out submissions
When you have found a client interested in your work, you will have to send him a
submission of your work. John Shaw clearly explains how this can be done. How to pack and
ship. Legal stuff about terms and conditions. What cover letters to write and so on. Again
there are several sample document printed which you can use or adapt.
- Writing and publishing
The best way to break into the business is to write articles that accompany your pictures.
Many photographers seem to forget that magazines have text as well as images and if
editors can buy them together this is much easier for them then to shop around at
different places. This chapter tells you all about writing magazine articles. There is
also a section about publishing your own book or calendar. How does it work? This book
tells you all about it.
- Money matters
We all dream of giving up our daytime jobs to become a wildlife photographer. But is this
idea possible? What kind of money will I have to spend to get the slides that will sell.
And how much income do I have to generate from these slides to get my expenses back? And
how much more to make a living? All these questions are answered here. Also questions on
pricing and contracts, some legal stuff and tax matters. To some this chapter may come as
a cold shower after getting so excited about reading the first chapters of this great
book. But this chapter is very realistic and will help you calculate whether it is a
viable option for you. Or whether you should start doing wildlife photography alongside a
Conclusion: If you are interested in becoming a professional
wildlife and nature photographer, whether it is part-time or full-time, then this is the
book for you. It has the answer to all the questions you have and will get. It is
comprehensive. There are numerous sample letters, contracts etc in the book which you can
either just copy or adapt for you own use. Again if you are serious about selling images
then this book is a certain "must have".
You can order this beautiful book directly from Amazon:
All text and
images © 1991 - 2011 Hans Martens