I recently answered a question on Quora, and feel that that answer deserves a spot here, so here goes.
There are actually quite a few ways to do this, however no path is a sure or easy bet. And in all honesty, making money from toy photography is not much different to how you can make money from photography in general.
- Full Time: You can work for a toy company full time that employs photographers for its advertisement work. Hasbro is a good example of this, although they very rarely post these job openings. Positions like this would require you to apply and provide a portfolio of applicable work.
- Freelance: You can work with toy companies on a project by project basis. Mitchel Wu’s work with Mattel is a good example of this. To obtain work with this, you need to have a portfolio of work that would be similar to what a company would want you to make – creative, clean, G rated images that show off toys in a typically colorful, whimsical setting. Then, you can reach out to companies with a professional pitch about what you believe your photography can provide them, or simply hope they find you through your work. In this realm, you can also license your images out to people and brands for a usage fee.
- Fine Art/Selling Prints: Alternatively to product based commercial photography, you can go the fine art route. Create meaningful pieces with toys that you submit to galleries with the hope of selling the printed piece for a profit, or to publications that pay artists for the use of their work. In this realm you can also set up an online store to sell prints of your work and attend art fairs where you would set up a booth to show off and sell your pieces.
- Stock Images: Toys and miniature images are being used more and more by brand to advertise their offerings. See Goodwill and KitKat for recent examples of this. One way to get into this without going through a brand directly is to sell photos through stock photography sites. Research these to learn about how much you’ll make off your images, and what rights you retain of your photos, before committing to one.
- Teaching: If you can garner enough of a niche, and there are people around you wanting to know the craft, you can teach classes online, at conventions, etc. for a fee.
- Social Media: Have a lot of followers? Use affiliate links on you blog posts, link your instagram posts to an online store of your work, partner with brands as an influencer.
The reality is, you’ll probably have to use multiple of these options to make money from your toy photography. And it’s going to be a long way coming before you’ll really be able to make a living, if that day even comes. Find a balance between a few of these that interest you and get really good at them. Work hard at those few things and hopefully money will start to come.