Are you ready to move from passionate hobby photographer to professional? The prospect of avoiding the typical 9-5 and being creative every day sounds tempting, right?
Making a living from your photography won’t often happen in one step. You can begin part-time, do a few shoots here and there, or start a side hustle. As you improve and deliver what your clients want, you can dedicate more time.
Here, we give you a list of twelve ideas for making money from photography.
1. Create lifestyle and brand photography
There is a definite trend towards natural and realistic images for branding and promotion. The focus is on telling stories with believable imagery. Creative shots of everyday people using products and styled to suit the brand personality.
Lifestyle photography involves working directly with small business owners, bloggers or solopreneurs to depict them, their work and their products. You could also use your skills to do lifestyle shoots for families.
2. Become a food photographer
Some of the best known food photographers started out as chefs or food bloggers. The desire to share their love of food kicked off a dedication to photography. If you have a passion for cooking, this might be a good focus for your photography.
An eye for food styling is key. Be ready to get acquainted with a host of clever food and food look-alike trickery, to create the most appealing images possible.
Clients for food photography include book and magazine publishers, local restaurants and takeaway food outlets, and food brands. A solid portfolio and experience will be required to win business.
3. Sell your images as stock photography
Stock offers the scope to license an incredibly diverse range of images. The more you get a feel for the kinds of images people buy, the better you will do. You have complete flexibility and creative control, and it is a great way to extend your skills.
Shutterstock, iStock, and Dreamstime are key players. Temper your expectations when you start. Payment per image download is small, and it takes time to build a large portfolio that brings in a decent income. Maximize your licensing opportunities by offering your images on multiple sites.
4. Shoot events
Weddings top the list of events to photograph, and they can certainly be very lucrative. There’s scope to get quite creative as well. Couples now tend to seek candid photography and storytelling, over contrived group shots.
If you don’t think weddings are your thing, consider the many other gatherings which need photographers. Exhibition openings, celebrations, conferences, charity events and workshops are just a few examples.
If you can, begin by working as an assistant or second shooter with an experienced photographer. This will be invaluable.
Then, start by approaching local venues and small businesses. Be sure to set up a decent website, as people will search online for local event photographers.
5. Work as a school and graduation photographer
With millions of students and their parents wanting to record educational milestones, academic photography is always in demand. You can often find full-time jobs listed, and they are a good chance to get experience under your belt.
6. Do press or editorial photography
Hard hitting news and celebrity shots often come to mind for press photography. However, there are other opportunities too. Publications regularly require images for interviews, local interest pieces, or feature stories.
Try approaching local newspapers who commission photographers, or specialist magazines in a niche you know well. Do a good job and you can become one of their regular go-to shooters.
7. Sell Lightroom presets, photo mock-ups and resources
Editing images is a huge part of a photographer’s workload. Anything that makes it quicker and easier to do the job is going to be in demand.
Popular options include creating ranges of Lightroom presets, Adobe Photoshop actions, templates and mock-up images. Photographers buy these to quickly get different looks, and content creators love all the help they can get making their social media content sing.
Check out Creative Market, Etsy or Graphic River as marketplaces to sell through.
8. Teach photography online
Do you have a passion for photography that you are bursting to share? Teaching online can be incredibly enjoyable. Two popular web platforms are Skillshare and Udemy, but there are many more. And, they are open for anyone to create a course and begin teaching.
You are free to put together courses on virtually any aspect of photography you wish. Attract students by thinking beyond introductory photography courses, and find interesting new angles, specialist skills or mini projects you can focus on.
9. Sell your images as wall art or on products
Once again the internet has made this easier than ever. Imagine your work as canvas prints, framed images, or on products like phone cases and even home décor items. You can use one of the online marketplaces or, create your own storefront. Selling to businesses like hotels, or through interior designers is another avenue.
Competition is fierce. A distinctive style and very high quality images are key to success. A solid marketing strategy also pays off.
10. Organize photo tours or excursions
Do you know the best spots to take great images around your city or local area? Put this local knowledge and your photography expertise to use by taking small groups on photo tours.
Think about combining tours with specific interests. Organize an architecture photography tour. Focus on historical sites, street art or even your local botanical gardens.
Don’t just think of tourists as potential clients. Locals who want to explore new places, or have the chance to test drive a new camera by taking images out in the field also look for these outings.
11. Photograph real estate and holiday homes
Selling and renting homes and commercial properties is big business.
Real estate companies always need to display property images online and in their offices. Plus, people listing on holiday property sites like Airbnb also regularly require photographers to take images of places.
You can easily combine these two as in both the focus is on telling stories, and they require the same equipment.
12. Edit, retouch, or offer restoration services
Is post-production and editing photography as enjoyable for you as shooting?
Photo editing opportunities exist within agencies, magazines or photography studios. Many photo retouchers are freelancers and work with individual photographers or small businesses.
High quality retouching is prized, and it is best to hone your skills to concentrate on one or two areas. Portraits and beauty photography are seen as the most glamorous, but retouchers are needed for all areas— product shots, architecture, food, and photo restoration to name a few.
Working in photography very often involves forging your own path. These ideas are just a few of the many ways to earn money from photography.
Be inventive, and think about what you love about photography. There are opportunities related to almost any niche interest you can imagine.