Photography doesn’t just have to be a hobby – it can also be a career you love or even just a side hustle that earns you a little extra cash! You don't have to have the best camera or flashest gear to start make money. From stock photography to freelance work, it's possible to have a career as a professional photographer.
In this article, we'll talk about some of the different ways that you can earn money and what they entail – we’ll also include a section at the end on how to get started and build a portfolio so you can start earning some dosh.
1. Event Photography
A great way to make money as a photographer is by photographing events and selling the photos to the client. Shooting events can cover anything from weddings, corporate events, music gigs, birthday parties, the list goes on (and on and on). You can choose to cover as many or as few types of events as you want – a lot of people specialise in just one or two such as weddings. You can get started in event photography by shooting events for your friends and family, or by reaching out to local businesses.
2. Family/lifestyle photography
Another type of photography that is quite lucrative is family/portrait photography. You can be hired to take pictures of families, newborns, pets, and even birth photography. This is a great option if you’re social and love chatting to people! A great app to invest in if you want to get into this kind of photography is Unscripted, which has a heap of posing prompts to help you create emotion-filled shots for your clients (they also have a free version).
3. Portrait Photography
Portrait photography often takes place in a studio, but can also be outdoors or on location depending on the mood you are trying to capture! You can make money from portrait photography by taking headshots for models and actors for their portfolio, or by creating headshots for corporate firms.
4. Product/Commercial Photography
Think of all your favourite brands – what do they all have in common? I’m guessing it’s great photography! In order to sell their products, businesses need professional photos of them to showcase on their website, packaging, ads, and social media – that’s where we come in! Product/commercial photography is a great way to make money. You can photograph products either in a studio, or take lifestyle pictures with models. The great news is, you can even build a budget friendly studio at home – a great low-cost way to get started. Who knows, your work might even end up on a billboard someday!
5. Stock Photography
You can sell your photos in a stock photo library. A stock photo library is basically a website where photographers can upload their photos and then sell them to people who are looking for royalty-free images. When you sell your photos through these sites, you typically get paid between $0.25 cents to $0.45 per image, per month – so not a lot!
Some stock photo libraries pay higher rates than others, but some also have more prestigious reputations or better licensing terms for the artists who use their service, so it's worth doing some research on which ones would be most likely to meet your needs before signing up for one or two of them (or more). Stock photography can be a bit hit and miss, but if you’re consistently uploading your photos it can be a good side income.
6. Sports Photography
Sports photography is an excellent way to make money with your camera - it can be challenging and fun, and if you’re already into sport, it’s a great way to combine both hobbies. You can start out by photographing local sports teams and competitions, or if you are already part of a club, offer to do photos for them. From there, you can build up your portfolio and career to bigger events and teams.
7. Travel Photography
If you love travel (who doesn’t?!) why not turn it into an income with your photography! There are a few ways to make money as a travel photographer – if you’re good at writing, you can create a blog and use your own images, or you can get paid by hotels and tourism boards to travel to destinations to take photographs for them. If you love social media, you can even become a ‘travel influencer’ and get paid to travel and post the pics on your socials. Winning!
8. Real Estate Photography
Real estate photography is a great entry into making money from photography. Not only do real estate agents require professional photos of homes to sell or lease them, but other sites such as Airbnb require photography as well. Building a relationship with a local real estate agent is a great way to get consistent work.
9. Sell Prints of your Work
Selling prints of your work is a great fit if you love landscape or wildlife photography. You can do this either online (through your own website or a third party platform) or at a local market. If you choose to sell online, there are even some print-on-demand websites (such as Society6) that will directly print and post the artwork for you for a cut – saving you a lot of work! Make sure to do some research first to find the website that will suit you best. Local markets can be a good option to sell your work if you’re a landscape photographer and live in a touristy area. People love to take home a momento of their holiday!
10. Make an ebook
This one is for those who have a bit more experience with photography and have some skills that they can share with others. You can create an ebook to share your knowledge – whether you’re a product photographer and want to show small businesses how to take photos at home, a travel photographer with tips on how to take better photos, or a wedding photographer sharing your favourite prompts and poses – the possibilities are endless!
11. Teach photography
Again, this one is for more experienced photographers! Teaching photography can be a rewarding way to make money with your skills. You can choose to teach online through an e-course or run lessons in person, and decide whether you want to teach kids or other adults. Teaching the skills that made you successful is a great way to share your love of photography with others.
Another way to make money through photography is to host photowalks and sell tickets. Hosting a photowalk is a great way to meet other photographers and make some extra money. A photo walk is basically a group of people who get together at a specific location, usually walking around the city together and taking pictures. These can be held in any city, but make sure you're familiar with the area you're hosting your walk in before deciding on a location! If you live in a touristy area, you can even host these for photographers visiting the area.
12. Create & Sell Presets
One of the most popular ways to make money with photography is by selling presets. Presets are a set of instructions for how to process an image - they're like digital recipes that help photographers achieve a certain look. If you have a distinct style of editing that others love, you can make this into a preset that you can either sell through your own site, or another site such as Etsy or Creative Market.
13. Become a Photo Editor
If you love the editing side of photography, why not sell your services as a photo editor? Many professional photographers (such as wedding photographers) often don’t have the time to edit their own images and choose to outsource this work. You can get started by posting your skills on Fiverr or Upwork, or even by joining photography groups and offering your services there. Best of all, you can do this work remotely from anywhere!
14. Learn Videography
One of the best ways to make money with your camera is by offering videography. With the rise of videos on social media and apps such as tiktok, videos are in high demand and learning how to shoot video will open up additional, lucrative possibilities for you. For example, if you're already doing family portraits or weddings, adding videos could be an excellent way to expand your business and increase revenue. Which leads us on to our next point;
15. Would you like fries with that?
If you’re already making money through one or some of the avenues above, think about how you can create upsells to get more value out of your time - basically, you want to adopt the ‘do you want fries with that?’ mentality. Create packages for your clients where they can add on videography, allow clients to order prints directly through you if you work with weddings/families, or even create retainer contracts for corporate clients to lock them in for multiple shoots. Work smarter not harder!
If you want to get started as a professional photographer, take some great pictures and put together a portfolio or website so that prospective clients can see what you've done previously. You can create a portfolio by offering to shoot pictures for friends, family, or local businesses (depending on what niche you want to get into!).
A great way to start is to offer a free shoot in exchange for a testimonial. Just remember, keep these free shoots limited and make sure to outline exactly what they will be getting so there is no confusion (e.g. 5 photos in exchange for a testimonial). It’s a good idea to have a contract in place (even for free shoots!) so that you get into the habit when you are shooting professionally. There are heaps of good free resources out there on how to create a photography contract. Also remember to only do free shoots if it will serve your portfolio!
The first step to starting a career as a professional photographer is to get your work out there. Once have an impressive portfolio of photographs and images, you should create a website or online portfolio that showcases your best shots and highlights your skills. Make sure visitors can easily find your work by putting it in categories that make sense for clients (i.e., weddings, families, sports). The site should also be easy to navigate so people can quickly browse through the photos and see what you offer before contacting you directly with questions or requests for services.
If you have an adobe subscription, you can actually create a free website through Adobe Portfolio, which is quite basic but a really good starting point. You can even add your own domain to make it more professional!
There you go, a list of 15 ways you can get started making money with photography! We hope this gave you some great ideas, whether you want to make photography your full-time gig or just a little side hustle. Make sure to join our facebook group here, which is full of supportive photographers - a great place to post if you have any q's!