Is your photography suitable for book covers?

Most photographers can be a book cover photographer, see their photography across many different types of book covers in fact. You’re probably looking at the word ‘most’ and thinking well who doesn’t apply right?

So what kinds of photography won’t be suitable and why:

  • Wedding photographers: if you only shoot weddings and don’t do any work outside of that then, well, yeah you’re not likely too. Primarily because lot’s of couples might not give you permission to sell their photos when they’ve paid for them. Plus only occasional bridal photographs sell but not often enough to make you a good side hustle income. But if you do personal work on the side that you could sell then this doesn’t apply. And 99% of wedding photographers do other photography on the side.

  • Nude photographers - check out this blog post on why exactly and how you could actually skew your nude photography ever so slightly to make it work for book covers. Issue solved!

  • Fashion photographers - *GASP* If you’re insistent on only photographing ‘high fashion’ photoshoots, elaborate poses etc that kind of work won’t sell consistently. Actually in part of my online course I explain exactly why fashion photographers above most others struggle to change their mind set on shooting people when it comes to doing book cover photography but it is completely doable, hell I used to be a fashion photographer.

  • Animal/wildlife photographers - Animal shots sell OCCASIONALLY but it’s not much. Not enough to make a good side hustle through book cover photography.

  • Action/sports photographers - Similar to wedding photographers, your subjects won’t likely give you permission but also the subject is too niche.

  • Event photographer - Again no consent and the subject would be too niche.

  • Concert photographer - See above.

  • Medical/forensic photographer - Oh yes everyone seems to forget about you guys. Forensics, is obviously disclosure so it wouldn’t be legal. Medical though, gruesome gory stuff won’t sell very often, but occasionally shots of medical stuff DOES sell. Especially with the new books coming out recently, candid nurse and doctors etc. But mainly plain shots of scrubs, stethoscopes etc so don’t rule it out completely if you have access to these things take advantage for sure.

  • Family/baby/school/headshot photographers - Similar with consent being an issue and the style is very different, but if you make friends with these people you could have a very large and familiar model base which is awesome to take advantage of!


Phew. Overwhelmed?

I was!

Seems like a hefty list right? Most of these do have resolvable issues though and learning to adjust your style just slightly to make a decent income seems definitely worth it! Well I think it is!

Lot’s of photographers at the beginnings of their journey especially do a bit of everything to pay the bills but it’s also a great way to get a feel for what you’re good at, what you enjoy and what makes you the most money of course. Earning money through photography can be a tricky thing to figure out.

So which kind of photographers can make it as a book cover photographer without changing any of the above?

  • Fine art photographers - probably the only kind of photographers who genuinely struggle to make money and yet book covers is absolutely perfect for them.

  • Portrait photographers - if your models consent that is. Most book covers have people on them so once you find a genre you love shooting you just add in other poses, styles etc to mix it up.

  • Landscape photographers - Now, landscapes don’t sell AS often (In my course I explain ways around this) but there is a ton of potential for landscape photographers to make use of their imagery.

  • Macro photographers - Lot’s of butterflies, birds, close up, abstract, ambiguous photographs sell all the time for book covers.

  • Erotica photographers - Erotica, NOT nude. There is a difference, especially with book cover photography, check out this blog post on exactly why and how.

  • Aerial photographers - Now, this is fairly new territory but there is a huge potential especially if you’ve got the gear and have a knack for it. I wish I could try it out but alas it’s a lot of money for me. Aerial photography has been creeping into book covers for the last couple of years and is really pushing forward now, it’s so different and eye catching, publishers are loving it.

  • Architecture photographers - Architecture have a limited amount that sell but if you get the right shots, you’re in the money. They often get used as part of montages which are great especially if you’re good at keeping copy space etc.

  • Food Photographers - So food is a tricky one, I kept putting it in both lists but they do sell, especially if you get creative. Publishers are using food more and more to tell stories and they should, food is huge in our world! If you find some covers that have food on you can see the kind of stuff that sells and it ranges from hugely creative to simple shots.

  • Travel Photographers - Similar to Architect and Landscape photographers really, they sell, especially for back plates/montages, especially if you get good places that are recognisable. But simply adding the back of a person or an object can change the whole story of the photo too.

If you want to learn step by step on how to get your photography on to book covers you can learn from myself with an online video course. Learn from my mistakes and truly hit the ground running… and earning!