Imagine the satisfaction of seeing a photograph you took while passing the postcard rack at a local store. For many photographers who sell their work to postcard companies, it is just that satisfaction that motivates them. While there is much in the way of professional accomplishment to be gained from licensing work for a postcard, there is, unfortunately, little monetary benefit. However, if you are persistent and realistic about your goals as a photographer, you may have the satisfaction of seeing your work in print.
Target a specific publisher or postcard company. Look at their website or postcards to get an idea of the pictures they currently publish. Many postcard companies will license photos similar to the ones they already print, so compare your images to find something that you think will appeal to them. Try to one-up their current selections while staying within their visual repertoire.
Find contact information for the company's photo editor or assistant photo editor. Whether you contact them by phone, email, or regular mail, try to get an idea of their submission guidelines. How many photos do they accept? What format should you send them in?
If the postcard company has a website and you are unable to contact the appropriate editor, send a query by email to find out if they are accepting new images. Alternatively, send samples on disk by mail and include a letter describing your experience and interest in postcard photography.
Photographer Dan Heller advises photographers to hope for the best and expect the worst. He advises that often, postcard companies accept one or two images, if they accept them at all, and that pay is typically low. Therefore it is good practice to target multiple postcard companies to increase your chances of acceptance.
If your submissions are successful, consider licensing versus copyrighting your image. Turning over your copyright to the postcard company essentially gives them permission to use your image for any purpose deemed fit and retracts your rights to the image. Licensing allows the company to use your photograph in adherence with agreed-upon terms, while the copyright remains with you, allowing your continued use of the image.
Choose photographs that are vibrant or dramatic. The content should be eye-catching.
Try photographing postcard subjects from unusual angles, or include dramatic flair. If you are shooting a city skyline, try to catch an especially brilliant sunrise or sunset.