How to Start Earning Money as a Photographer

Ideas to help you start earning money as a photographer.

Cover photo by Jakob Owens. See all of Jakob’s products here.

Advancing from a hobbyist to a professional photographer involves a few important steps. The first and main step is figuring out how to start earning money.

Finding paid opportunities can be extremely hard, especially considering the sheer amount of people pursuing photography these days. Determining what businesses want and how you can help them is a great way to begin.

In this article, we’ll share a bunch of ideas for earning money with your photography. Continue reading below to learn how you can turn your hobby into a full-time career.

Shoot for a Client

One of the first ways many photographers get started is by shooting for clients. Work locally and use existing connections in your home town to get off the ground.

Some ideas for your first client shoots could include: Senior Portraits, Family Events, Corporate Events, Corporate Headshots, Model Photography, Editorial Photos, or Product Photography. Before even thinking about who the client is – think about where there is a need for photography.

At Moloney Creative Agency, Mike and Matt started by working with independent recording artists that needed help marketing their music. By doing this, they helped the artist they were working with while also growing their business.

When first starting out, you’ll want to market your photography business a number of ways. A portfolio, social media accounts, and a local listing on Google are some good areas to focus on.

After you’ve shot for a few clients, promote your work through your portfolio and social media accounts to attract more clients.

Photograph Weddings

Once you’re comfortable working with people and shooting at a faster pace, weddings are another great opportunity to consider.

There is a constant stream of new clients getting married and looking for your services whether you work in a major city or a small town. You’ll also have the ability to make more money with weddings.

Wedding photographers can earn anywhere from hundreds to thousands for each wedding. View more data on wedding photography prices here.

Become a Second Shooter

A great option for people who aren’t quite ready to shoot entire weddings yet is to become a second shooter or photography assistant.

Assistants are useful in a wide variety of situations. Fashion photographers need help with props, equipment, and the styling for a specific shoot. Wedding photographers need a second shooter to capture more candid moments and group shots. Studio photographers need help setting up lighting and adjusting reflectors.

second shooter photography

All of these roles can be filled as an assistant and you’ll learn a ton along the way.

I know it can be tempting to skip the steps as an apprentice and move up to working on your own right away, but don’t discount becoming a second shooter. It can often help you find your way and determine the type of photography you ultimately want to pursue long term.

Photo by Tom Pumford of Smart Online Photography Courses.

Sell Stock Photos

If you enjoy shooting at your own pace and working independently, selling stock photos is one stream of income to consider as a photographer.

Websites such as Shutterstock, Twenty20, and Dreamstime pay you a commission each time your image is downloaded. These marketplaces feature millions of interested customers and unique opportunities to sell your photos.

You can submit photos from your travels, outtakes from other shoots, or specific images for niche categories. Over time, you’ll build up a large collection of photos that could lead to a nice passive income stream.

tips for earning money as a photographer

Create a Photography Blog

Building an audience is one of the most important aspects of a photographer’s career. Having fans to support the work you do and help spread the word about your business is crucial. This will help you get your first clients and open the right doors for you to grow as a photographer.

One way to build an audience is through a photography blog. You can publish informative articles about your experiences, updates from your most recent shoots, or anything in between.

Once your audience starts to grow, you can use the blog to start earning money in a number of ways. The main way is by attracting new clients. From businesses to individuals, they’ll all have the ability to find you through your content.

A few other ideas for making money from your blog could be: Advertising, Affiliate Partnerships, Selling Prints/Photo Books, or Reviewing Products.

Start a Youtube Channel

Building an audience is important, but for some, it may be more enjoyable to do so through vlogs or video content. If that’s you then starting a Youtube Channel is a huge opportunity.

Document your travels and adventures as a photographer and share them with the world. Update your fans on how you shoot, what tools you use, and other questions they might have to build interest and engagement.

As your channel grows, you can use it in a number of ways to earn an income and support your work. Similarly to a blog, you can monetize your Youtube with advertising, affiliates, and other brand partnerships.

Check out the FilterGrade Youtube Channel here.

Sell Prints or Photo Books

Many photographers offer prints, photo books, and other physical goods to their fans. This is a great way to offer something personal to your audience and can be a fun project to undertake.

You can share exclusive photos based on a theme, a trip, or an event. You can even compile your work over time to make historical photo books based on years of work.

Sites like Society6 and Blurb make it easy for you to produce high-quality prints and photo books.

(Photo via Blurb)

Sell Your Filters

Another interesting way you can start earning money as a photographer is by offering your digital products on FilterGrade. You can sell Lightroom Presets, Photoshop Actions, Video LUTs, Capture One Styles, and much more.

Just like with stock photography, this can turn into a passive income stream that makes money for you while traveling, shooting for clients, or even while you’re sleeping!

If you’re interested, you can learn more about selling your digital products on FilterGrade here.

As you can see, even in a crowded market, there are plenty of opportunities. Hopefully this article has been helpful in giving you a few ideas to start earning money as a photographer.

If you have any questions or need clarification on anything, leave a comment below. We’re happy to help you out on the path to becoming a professional photographer.

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