How can we turn spectacular landscape timelapse Photography into a business?

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by ingrid_popper, Aug 17, 2013.

  1. My partner is a photographer using a Nikon D200 and D800 for landscape, aerial and landscape architecture. He shoots timelapse, 360 HDR and occasional video. Its awesome stuff and we have terrabytes of material. Now the hard part...we actually want to make a living from it.
    does anyone have any advice on how to set yourself up as a successful landscape photographer?
  2. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    You have to find someone that wants to buy it or you have to find some hook that will give it commercial value. In general, landscape photography isn't a big money maker.
  3. As Matthew suggests, if you can't meet the standard of the sample he links to, you are unlikely to find anyone who will buy your material. Beyond that, the reality of all business intrudes: you have to be a business person first and creative second, or have someone who is a good business person out hustling for you.
  4. My first question would be: are there any customers out there?
    Now, look at the video Matthew linked to - great work. Accessible for free. Go to large photosites, and look at the landscape photos available - there is an awful lot of really great work. And I can see it for free. Do I really want a print of it, and pay for that video on DVD? Hmmmmmm....... In a market as crowded as photography, you'll need something really special to stand out; only marketing isn't going to be enough. Believing yourself your work is spectacular won't be enough, other people have to think so. And be impressed enough to put down money for it, while so much is available for free. That's not easy.
    So, as a first step, have you tried asking strangers (not family and friends) whether they like the images, whether they'd buy a print? Share a video and do a poll if people would be willing to spend money on a DVD with that movie (and how much)? Ask local professionals and printers about the local market? Or maybe a simple thing: ask for critiques here, see what people think of these photos? In short: investigate the market to see if customers exist for what you try to sell, and then see if it's worth trying. To be blunt, I think you'll find the market is too full already and making a living out of it is really only for a selected few.
  5. People tend to like time lapse video as art but the attention span for it is very short and there doesn't seem to be much of a market for it. I've never seen any offered for sale or being sold. I do see them used in television programming from time to time. It may be possible to sell something for such productions if it fits with what will be needed. Having landscapes only doesn't provide much useful and many other things are so unique, long term and requiring access that much of it is probably assignment based as it is. Its probably too far and between to make a living at it. Rather, it is likely more useful as a part of a photo/video production business.
  6. By coincidence, I stumbled on to this site. Maybe the business owners will be willing to give you some insight if you ask...
  7. it


    There are tons of people doing awesome time lapse photography, often with motion control. I don't think many of them are making a living at it. It's a crowded extremely underpaid market out there, you are going to have to find a way in, but I doubt this is the place to find out how.
  8. As Matthew suggests, if you can't meet the standard of the sample he links to, you are unlikely to find anyone who will buy your material.​
    "anyone" is a little harsh. After my first few shows, I went home empty handed and in tears. Then a buyer would stop by every show and make a purchase. I later found out that she was sent by my Mom.
    So you see, there is hope.
  9. There are tons of people doing awesome time lapse photography ...​
    There are tons of people doing awesome fill-in-the-blank photography ...
  10. Can you compete with this
    Here's one with humour and a story
    I edit and produce AV material in collaboration with a few colleagues in a media company we run, and we commission photographers for various work, as well as producing it ourselves, and increasingly include TL material in our outputs. There is a need for it, but it tends to be specific, carefully considered and shot to a tight brief, and that brief is not one that the photographer would necessarily have thought of themselves.

    If you have a stock of suitable material there are outlets for it, but to find them you'll need to do the legwork as its highly dependent on your location, subject matter you have available, formats you work in, and of course quality (which is less to do with the cameras - you can do superb stuff with an iPhone) and more to do with technique and imagination etc.

    One of ours here

    Bottom line is there is a market, just get out and have a poke around media companies and production houses and see what they have in production and what they might be looking for now, and in future. Thinking ahead is also smart - seasonal TL showing major seasonal shifts are useful - most people only think of TL as covering a few hours, rather than investing in shoots that cover months or a year.
  11. First, forget the market and create your own. You can contact hundreds of businesses and create a time lapse vehicle for their website. No doubt someone will go for it, since it enhances their business and marketing.
    There are many ways to approach this, but you can start with couple of cameras. I'll give you for instance...and you can veer off at any direction you wish. Talk to folks that do siding or roofing (etc, etc) and set up the cameras at the beginning of the job (all agreed upon in advance). One camera will do the major portion, while the other will do the "pick ups" and give your prospective client different view and helps in edit. The finished piece will also serve as part of your you can show to others. Have to start somewhere.....and landscape scenes, although fantastic looking, they may not do your client much good. Anyway, once you get the rythm/timing'll be more confident in regard to results. Eventually you could add more camera/s to the future jobs.
    I'm assuming you got all the ducks in the row, such as photo mechanics, frame aesthetics, bla bla....since there is no room to experimnent on a paying client. Good luck.
  12. it


    "There are tons of people doing awesome fill-in-the-blank photography ..."
    Yes, that's fairly obvious. My point was that the vast majority doing this type of thing aren't getting paid, while the vast majority of people doing awesome wedding, editorial, architecture, food photography etc, are. I see a lot of killer time lapse stuff online, but mostly as promo for their own work rather than for clients.
  13. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    forget the market and create your own​

    Sounds good, but markets require buyers and sellers, and, in this case, there's a lot of sellers and virtually no buyers.
  14. Become a cinematographer in Hollywood.
  15. it


    Breaking Bad has some great ones.
  16. I think this timelapse done at night in Namibia is awesome I probably wouldn't buy it though.
    The key to any business is to identify likely customers, so who could make use of timelapse shots?
    • Government tourist information offices for the area you shot.
    • Travel companies/airlines who take people there.
    • Get hired by a developer of a new shopping complex or other major construction project (inc high profile residential developments) to shoot a timelapse of the construction for use in marketing.
  17. "Get hired by a developer of a new shopping complex or other major construction project (inc high profile residential developments) to shoot a timelapse of the construction for use in marketing."

    There are two problems you'll be facing with this suggestion. The first is that big construction companies tend to have contacts with established architectural photographers who come out to do "phases of construction" photos periodically. It could very easily take a year or more of sending them marketing materials and calling over and over in order to get your foot in the door. The other problem is that to create a time-lapse series of construction from the ground up you'd need to make dozens (hundreds?) of visits to the site over the course of many months in order to set up and shoot. The amount you'd need to charge to justify that time commitment will probably far exceed the project's photography budget.

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