With help from this post, you could start earning money from your photography today if everything goes to plan.
I hope to reveal a few lesser known methods by which a photographer can make money and find work. Whether you’re finally getting around to setting up a portfolio, or struggling to find the work you’re ready for, this post should help you out.
1 – Sell Prints
If you’re any good at photography (I’m sure you are, if you’re following this site) and you take a lot of photos, there’s a good chance that you’ve taken some really good ones by now, so good that people will buy them.
Why not sell them?
This can be very easy and inexpensive to do, or slightly more difficult, depending on how you go about it.
Obviously, the easiest way for anyone to sell prints is to sell them online through a third-party seller who does all of the legwork. They process the order, print and send out the photos, and providing you with a commission.
There’s no reason why you can’t go through all your best photos right now and upload them to a site such as ImageKind – start earning money from the prints you sell.
Another way, which is a little bit harder, is to print them yourself and sell them through shops and restaurants.
Say, for example, you’ve taken plenty of nice photos from your area. Approach a cafe or a restaurant and come to an arrangement where all you have to do is print your photos and give them a commission to display and sell them. They get artwork, you get money.
At the very least, you will have your photos displayed to thousands of people.
Have you ever been to a restaurant and seen artwork hanging up with a price on it? That’s what this is all about.
2 – License through Flickr & Getty Images
A little while back, something very interesting happened on Flickr which has helped thousands of people to start earning money from their photos.
If you have a Flickr account, you can now license your photos through Getty images so that, when people see them, they can pay to use them, earning you money.
Flickr members can turn on a “Request to License” link on their photo pages. The link will show up right next to the licensing information.
When they get a request, Getty Images reviews the photographer’s work. If it’s suitable for the program, they’ll contact the Flickr member and help handle details like permissions, releases and pricing.
I would recommend only showing your best photos on Flickr rather than full albums. You want to try and impress the nice people at Getty Images.
This is something that everyone here should be doing and you can learn more about how it’s done here.
NOTE – This is currently closed for the quarter due to high demand but keep it bookmarked.
3 – Local Paper
I have a few friends who started out like this: they contacted their local paper and worked with them to earn money from their photography.
There are two main ways that you can do it.
Firstly, if you have a strong portfolio of images and an established relationship, you will begin to find that they will be contacting you when they need a photographer (and they will need one). From here, so long as you have the aspiration, you can expand your portfolio, moving onto bigger and better things.
The second way to work with them is to go out yourself and capture local events or news stories.
You’d be surprised at how easy it is to get a press pass for local events. I’ve done it before and no one even asked to see a portfolio, or who I work for. Take these photos to local papers and start to earn money (always charge them; they have a budget for this sort of thing).
Pick up the phone and call your local paper today. In my experience, a phone call is a lot harder to ignore than an email.
4 – Stock Photography
We’ve all heard of stock photography before and it’s similar to what Getty is doing with Flickr, only you go about it in a slightly different way.
Instead of waiting for someone to find your photos, you can submit them to a whole variety of stock photography websites. Add keywords and people will find them – if your photos are what they’re looking for, they will buy them.
When I say buy, I really mean license. You can continue to sell photos time and time again and make a good living out of it if you have a large portfolio.
Commissions vary depending on the site you use but here are a few to consider: iStock, BigStock, and ShutterStock.
5 – Club Photography
This is a very specific type of photography, and I’ve listed it here for a reason: it’s easy to get into.
If you ever go to a nightclub, and I mean a proper, local club, not some bland chain where they charge you an arm and a leg to get in, you’ll see that they have well established promoters.
These promoters all want photos from their club nights; you can be the one to provide this.
It’s worth the promoter paying for a photographer to come along and take photos because these photos end up on Facebook and are used to promote the club night.
If you go to many clubs, you’ll probably notice that the majority of the photographers are in their early 20s, living locally, students perhaps. You don’t need the greatest experience in the world to get work.
If you want to expand your photography before you start looking for work, go down to a club night with your camera anyway. I have NEVER been stopped from going into a club with my camera because the bouncers just don’t care and neither do the promoters.
As a little added bonus if you enjoy this sort of thing, you can get in to a lot of gigs for free.
Go out tonight with your camera and take some photos at a local club/gig/event.
6 – Sell Your Photography Gear
This is a bit of an ongoing joke with photographers: the best way to make money from photography is to sell your camera.
And it’s true. Earning money from photography can be tough. But I think I’ve shown you enough possibilities in this post that hopefully you don’t do that.
However, I’m sure you have plenty of photography gear lying around that you don’t use any more. I’ve got old film cameras that I don’t use because I have so many and at least three lenses that haven’t been touched in the past six months (I’ve upgraded).
There’s no point in having these lying around, collecting dust. You may as well sell them to make some money. If you’re feeling really generous, however, you could give them to a friend who’s starting out.
Another great way to make money is to go to flea markets and look for old cameras. Take them to shops or eBay and earn a profit. It does help to know what you’re talking about though.
7 – Assist
Assisting as a photographer is one of the best ways to find work and start making money fast.
You will need a strong portfolio if you’re expecting to go and work at weddings and such with a camera but there is other high end work, such as fashion, where you won’t get behind the camera but can still gain experience and earn money.
Photographers often need assistants on jobs and you should expect compensation for your time. The biggest advantage of all is that you don’t have to look for the work, it comes to you.
Finding people willing to pay you the money you want for the work you’re good at, is the hardest part about getting started with photography.
If you’re assisting for a photographer, they have all of this set up and you will start to learn how it’s done. Take some time now and find local working photographers in your area. Contact them, ask if they would like an assistant.
Offer to do the first time for free if you like because, if you’re any good, then they will want you back.
8 – Teach / Blog
Starting a blog is a great way to get people to see your photos.
With the exception of about two posts, I took all the photos on this website. Not only that but I make money from this website.
See those adverts on this page? I get money every time someone clicks on them (please don’t click on them for the sake of it, only if you like what they’re offering).
Granted, I don’t make much from this site – it’s more of a labour of love than anything and isn’t paying any bills yet – but I do still make some money.
If you’re interested in blogging and want to know more, I would suggest visiting IncomeDiary, another site I write for with a lot of solid material to learn from.
If getting into such a competitive market which takes a lot of hard work and dedication is not for you, I would suggest teaching.
Not everyone can learn from the internet. If you have the ability to teach, you can reach out to those people and show them how it’s done, one on one. A good teacher can make a good living, whether it’s from group classes or one on one sessions.
9 – Paparazzi
Ok, some of you might not agree with paparazzi or want to be associated with that crowd but I’m going to include it anyway. It’s a surefire way to make money.
If you live in a big city with a lot of celebrities wandering around: LA, Vegas, New York, London, Paris, etc. you have a good chance of spotting a few.
These photos are worth money but the amount depends on how you handle them.
You could try selling them directly to the papers. If you have got a good relationship with them already, you may earn some money. Unfortunately, you probably don’t know their true worth and will end up earning less money than you could this way.
Check out sites like Mr Paparazzi. Experts will sell your photos and you walk away with half the money. Almost always, this is more than you’d get for them if you tried selling them yourself.
You can even sign up for text alerts when someone spots celebrities in your area – get there and take some photos.
I appreciate that this isn’t up everyone’s street but it is a way to make money today. You’ll also no doubt get to meet some celebrities along the way.
10 – Competitions
This is one that most people seem to forget about, probably because they think that they’re not good enough. I assure you, you are.
I went round one of my models’ house and up on the wall was a pretty terrible photo of her when she was younger. It looked like a friend had taken it in a playground. It turns out that some photographer won $2500 for it in Canada.
My jaw dropped. I couldn’t take my eyes off the thing, it was just so… average.
It doesn’t take long to enter a competition at all and, if you’re stuck for which ones to enter, I suggest this website.
At the very least, it will get your work out there and maybe even critiqued too, if you’re lucky.
11 – Share This on Facebook
Ok, I lie, this won’t really help you to earn money but I would certainly appreciate it. It will help me find more followers and continue with this labour of love. If you enjoyed this post and you think that your friends on Facebook or Pinterest would enjoy it too, please share.
In fact, I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who has viewed my website in the past, followed me on Facebook or Twitter, or shared any of my content. I really enjoy writing this blog and I’m sure I would have given up ages ago if it weren’t for you.
The site is only nine months old but I can’t imagine doing anything else any more.
If you’re new to photography, check out my beginner’s guide. It’s one of my most popular posts to date.
And if you’d like to find out even more ways to make money from photography, check out our article on Making Money From Selling Your Stock Photography, and our article on How to Make Money With Real Estate or Interior Photography.
A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:
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