Sometimes it looks the Net was made just for photographers. On a social level it lets us share pictures with friends and families, we are able to get together and talk camera gear and photographic method, and it helps a lot of us overcome the isolation that often goes hand in hand with a photography career. On a pro level, it provides the resources to showcase our work to Clients, access new markets and conduct the complete stock photography sales process without leaving our office. It also offers the wherewithal to monitor trends, monitor what our peers are doing and see the photography our clients are using. And for all that, the unfortunate reality is, for many photographers, the pure volume of information and options becomes more of a hindrance than a helping hand. They only have so many hours in a day, and choosing what's worth their attention and what isn't becomes a chore, and as a consequence they generally tend to brush over the vital stuff and get way-laid with the insignificant. Well if you ever find yourself in that case, here is a bare-bones list of the 5 essential website types every independent photographer should have bookmarked and will be using constantly. 1. Stock Photo Library Few serious photographers wouldn't have a stock photo agency catalogue of some type, but lots of photographers still leave it as something to do later when they're better established, or have more photos. Nowadays that is not obligatory and the best way tosell images online is to begin early and add to your stock catalogue regularly over a period of time. Stock photography is a long-term business though, so do take your time and find a library that suits your work and your style. Make sure it leaves you in control of your work and doesn't want you to surrender your rights, or sell your work for peanuts, simply to be involved. 2. Photography Price Calculator To this end, ensure you bookmark a good online stock photo price calculator. We all used to manage this with hard-copy books, but things move fast these days and new types of photo-uses emerge every week, so a live stock photo price calculator is essential.. Be warned though, most people are blown away when they first use these... Simply because most photographers seriously under-value their work. If you have never looked at a Stock Photo Price Calculator before, I'd suggest that you write down a list of 5-10 of your most important markets, and then list a couple of 'average ' usages for each. Then open the calculator and work out a price for each usage. Keep it convenient and you have a ready-reference guide if a Customer ever puts you on the spot, but equally importantly, you will get a whole new insight to the value of your photography. 3. Photography Business News & Info If you are keen -- and you don't mind sitting at a computer all day -- you can subscribe to many different newsletters and blogs to try and start up to date with goings on in the industry. Or you'll find a single Photography/Business site that does it all for you. There are a few really good websites out there if you go looking. My suggestion is to look them over and follow a couple until you find one that does the job right for you, your field of work, your interests, your location and so on. The best sites will give you all the crucial information in summary then include links for more information if you want it, so you can stay current and get all the info you require without the info overload. 4. Shopping & Auction Sites It's no secret, photographers are gadget-junkies! We're always searching for that next piece of must-have camera equipment that we simply can't function properly without. The incontrovertible fact we have already worked quite alright for years without it doesn't matter... Once we know it's out there we have to have it. Sound familiar? The flip side is, quite frequently we have got equally as much gear we should actually get rid of... And once again, if the Net was made for us then I am sure the creators of eBay are either photographers themselves, or they've a few in the family. So bookmark it and use it. If you've a cupboard of old camera gear that's not been utilized in years get it out and sell it, while it still has some value! 5. Online Photographer Community Professional photography is usually a solo career so the option to interact with your peers online should not be taken lightly. We all see hundreds of photographs on any particular day, but to be in a position to look at new pictures and discuss them with other photographers is priceless. Pre-Internet, it was something that only happened at Camera Clubs or waiting around at the Pro-Lab, but the web forums and portal sites now give working photographers to capability to interact with their peers, share ideas and info and truly grow as artists. And if you are not making good use of them, you're probably stagnating! Well that is my top 5 must-bookmark site types. The Net offers us the chance to 'round-out ' our photography businesses in ways in which we never could before, so make sure you are getting maximum value from the time you spend online... And remember all work and no play, leads to a boring photographer!
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