Guest Blog- 6 Photography Tips from fotoLibra

Gwyn Headley
17th May 2016


by Gwyn Headley, Managing Director, fotoLibra

Henri Cartier-Bresson was probably the greatest photographer the world has ever seen, and he acknowledged "Everyone has it in them to take one great photograph."

It's not simply a matter of luck, although luck will play a part. We make our own luck — as golfer Gary Player said, "The harder I practice, the luckier I get."

So if you're reading this on the Bob Books blog, you're a good enough photographer to have a book made of your photographs. That is fantastic. Nothing can beat the rush of pride when your first book lands on your doorstep.

There's something that comes very close, though — the feeling you get when you get a notification of sale from fotoLibra. Somebody has paid real money to licence one of your images.

It can happen for you. It can happen for anyone. Your photographs are good enough to make it into a book. That means they're good enough to sell.

So here are six hot tips to help you take those first tentative steps towards a second income stream.

1. Know your craft. There are snaps, and there are photographs. There are hundreds of websites that will teach you about composition, framing, exposure and the rest. Devour them all and learn, learn, learn.

2. Practice! Practice!! Practise!!! Know your tools. Know how and when to compensate for snow in sunshine or a black cat at night.  One eminent photographer friend of ours used to put any new camera into a black velvet bag and operate the controls blind. After a couple of days he could set the camera without looking at it. He'd already trained his eye to be an exposure meter.

3. Don't rely on your camera's auto settings. It doesn't see what you see. Learn how to adapt shutter speeds and exposures to give you the results you expect.

4. If you're a specialist photographer — wildlife, railways, sub aqua, flowers and so on — find a picture library that specialises in that field. You'll need to have a substantial portfolio though; they won't take you on if you've only got a couple of pictures.

5. If you're happiest photographing anything and everything, come to fotoLibra. If you have an historical archive — any photographs taken before 2000 — then you must come to fotoLibra, because we love to have images which can never be taken again.

6. When you join fotoLibra you'll get Picture Calls, telling you what professional picture buyers are looking for right now.  Your chances of making a sale are dramatically increased — you are shooting exactly what they want.

There's always a downside, and here it is — so many billion pictures are being taken each year that the price of photographic licences has diminished, or, you could say, plummeted. But the independent picture libraries like fotoLibra carry on.  We have our part to play, we have our loyal customers. It may not be a get-rich-quick scheme, just get-a-little-better-off-over-time, but what other work offers so much fun, variety and surprises?

And how better can photographers be appreciated than by payment? Dave, a fotoLibra contributor, made a wonderful portfolio of his best photographs and had it produced by Bob Books. His proud wife made him bring the book along to a dinner party with Jacqui Norman (Jacqui and Mrs Dave were old school friends) because Jacqui worked for a big picture library — that's fotoLibra, by the way.

Dave bashfully proffered the book to Jacqui. She leafed through it with 'Oohs!' and 'Aahs!' (she knows nothing about actual photography, she just runs fotoLibra's web site). She handed it back to Dave and said "That's really lovely. What sort of camera do you use?"

He muttered something inaudible because as we all know, what camera you use is almost irrelevant. It's the brain and the instinct and the vision and the eye behind the lens that go to make a great photograph.

Dave got his revenge. At the end of the meal he turned to Jacqui and said "That was a delicious meal, Jacqui. What sort of oven do you use?"