You’ve discovered the art of photography and honed your skills. But now you are wondering, How can I earn money through photography?
Here are a few ways a photographer can earn a living. It doesn’t matter if you’re setting up a portfolio or struggling to find the work you’re ready for. This post will help you figure out how to make money with photography.
How to Make Money With Photography
Here are 14 ways to make money with your photography.
1. Sell Prints Online
If you practice enough, there’s a good chance you’ve taken some amazing shots. And some photos are so good that people will want to buy them.
So why not start selling prints? There are different ways to make money by selling prints. Both options can be very easy to do and inexpensive.
The easiest way is to sell prints online through a third-party seller. They do all the legwork. They process the order, print them, and send out the prints.
In return, they provide 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. Start making money from the prints you sell today!
A great platform to sell your prints is Etsy. This website offers a way to sell all kinds of handmade products. Each listing is only $0.20. So it is a cost-effective way to sell.
All you need to do is print your image, list it on the website, and then send the print to the buyer. But if there are any complaints or refunds, you will have to manage them.
They can buy digital versions of the images. Or they can buy prints.
You don’t have to worry about printing with Smugmug or ShootProof. They have affiliated printers all over the world who take care of it.
They also organize shipping. And the platforms give you help with accounts and invoices.
There’s another way of selling prints that is a little bit harder. You can print them yourself and sell them through shops and restaurants.
Say, for example, you’ve taken plenty of nice photos from your area. You could approach a cafe or a restaurant and come to an arrangement where they display and sell your photos.
All you have to do is print and frame them. And you arrange a commission. They get artwork. You both get money. At the very least, your photos will be displayed in front of thousands.
2. Sell Your Travel Photography Stories
Do you love photography and travel? You could make money doing both!
There is an increase in demand for original travel content. Clients like magazines and newspapers are constantly looking for new talent.
This means you can try to make money by creating and selling travel content. This could be photos or videos highlighting destinations.
If you are also a talented writer, you can provide a complete package of an article with photos. But the article and photos should create a compelling story to sell them.
So it is important to take photos that not only look good. They need to tell a story.
Newspapers and magazines aren’t the only organizations that need travel photos. You can also sell them to tour operators, travel companies, or airlines.
Often you’ll find that the more you work with a client, the more other opportunities will present themselves.
3. Pursue Wedding Photography
Many photographers prefer to go down the wedding photography business route. This niche can potentially make you a lot of money as a photographer.
And you earn a lot for a good reason. The stress, planning, and work you must do is immense.
Not only are the financial benefits high, but it is also a very rewarding job. You get to be a part of one of the happiest days of some people’s lives.
But the pressure is quite high. You are responsible for capturing one of the most important moments of a happy couple.
If you aren’t sure you are ready to shoot weddings, you can try the following first:
- Work as a second shooter
- Photograph wedding engagement sessions
- Photograph the rehearsal
- Create a stylized shoot (a fake wedding)
4. Make Your Own Photo Book
One of the less common ways to make money through photography is to make your own photo book. Many galleries are available online. But photo books are superior to virtual galleries in many ways.
Photo books are cost-effective. Many photo book services offer books that cost as little as $10.
There are many ways to create a photo book. You don’t necessarily have to spend hours editing and compiling one on your laptop.
Some websites, like Shutterfly, have designers who will create your photo book within three business days. Blurb is also a great platform to create a photo book. All you have to do is upload your photos.
It is important to choose a specific theme for your photo book. This makes it more appealing and interesting. You can create one theme or pick different themes for every ten pages.
Once you have a theme, it’s time to choose your favorite photos. Try to avoid having too many photos of the same kind.
5. License Images Through iStock and Getty
So when people see them, they can pay to use them, and this earns you money.
But you must first apply through the Contributor by Getty Images app. You upload three to six photos of your work. (I recommend uploading your best photos.) And they review your images.
If iStock accepts you, you begin with a non-exclusive contract. And then, you can later apply for more exclusive opportunities and rates.
6. Sell Your Photos in Galleries
Selling photos in local galleries is a great way to make some money. But it is important to figure out what sells. Photos that remind people of the local areas, like nice views or local landmarks, will sell.
International landmarks, famous people’s portraits, and landscapes may sell well to a large audience. But they’re going to be less popular in the local market.
As a general rule, if you have people in your photos, they won’t sell. Photos of cliché subjects work well.
For example, a photo of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, or a boat in a sea town. Although these are overdone for locals, they appeal to tourists.
Ask in person for wall space. The best way to get your photos featured in a gallery is to go and visit the gallery. Only take around 10 of your best photos. And show them your work in person.
If the local gallery decides they want to feature your photos, you will have to discuss pricing. Pricing differs in each situation.
Some will let you rent wall space. Some will ask for a small monthly fee and a percentage of your profits. Others might handle all the printing and pricing but take a larger commission.
7. Sell on Stock Photography Sites
Well, you can sell photos online by submitting them to various stock photography sites. Then you can add keywords, making it easier for people to find them.
Companies and businesses are always looking for stock photos. If your images fit what they are looking for, they will buy them.
When I say “buy,” I mean “license.” You can continue selling photos repeatedly and make a good living with a large portfolio.
Read our full list of recommended stock sites.
8. Pursue Night Club Photography
It’s worth it for a promoter to pay a photographer to take photos. These photos end up on Facebook or other social media. And they are used to promote the club.
You’ll probably notice that most club photographers are in their early twenties. So you don’t have to have the greatest experience in the world to get work.
Even if you just want to expand your photography skills, go to a nightclub with your camera. I have never been stopped from going into a club with mine.
And, as a little bonus, if you enjoy this sort of thing, you might get to go to many gigs for free. Go out tonight and take some photos at a local club, gig, or event.
9. Try Real Estate Photography
Another great way to make money is to offer your services to an interior designer or real estate agent.
You then need to create a service package. It should include a rate sheet, a contract, and other details to ensure a smooth sales pitch. Then, you have to network and identify potential clients!
Regardless of how you are networking, do not overlook the power of word of mouth! Let your family, friends, and colleagues know you want to connect with new clients.
In addition, create a social media page targeted just for real estate photography.
10. Assist Other Photographers
Do you want to make money with photography but aren’t ready to start your own projects? Try assisting other photographers.
Assisting a photographer is one of the best ways to gain experience and start making money fast. You will need a strong portfolio if you’re expecting to work at weddings and such, though.
There is also high-end work, like fashion. You won’t get behind the camera. But you still gain experience and make money.
Photographers often need assistants on jobs. And you should expect to be compensated for your time. The biggest advantage is that you don’t have to look for work. It comes to you.
The hardest part is finding people willing to pay you the money you want for the work you’re good at. Take some time and find local working photographers in your area.
Contact them and ask if they need an assistant. Offer to do the first time for free if you like. If you’re any good, they will want you back!
11. Build a Photography Blog
To create your own website, you must first buy your domain name and arrange a web host. Then, install WordPress, a theme, and some plugins. And finally, write your first post.
Ta-da! Your website is ready!
12. Start Teaching
Not everyone can learn from the internet. If you can teach, reach out to those people, and show them how it’s done, one on one.
A good teacher can make a good living. It could be from group classes or one on one sessions.
13. Enter Photography Competitions
Photo contests are one way to make money that most people forget about.
I went around one of my model’s houses. And up on the wall was a pretty terrible picture of her when she was younger. It looked like a friend had taken it in a playground.
It turns out that a photographer won $2,500 for it in Canada. My jaw dropped. I couldn’t take my eyes off the photo. It was just so… average.
It doesn’t take long to enter photo contests. And even if you do not win, it will get your work out there. If you’re lucky, your work might even get critiqued!
14. Share All of It on Social Media
You can supply photos to businesses and blogs that constantly need images. Many photographers sell the images that they post on their pages.
All they do is add a link that allows you to buy their photos from a third-party site.
FAQs About How to Make Money as a Photographer
Here are answers to frequently asked questions about making money as a photographer.
How Much Money Can You Make as a Photographer?
Here are some general figures about how much photographers should earn based on their expertise.
- Hobbyist: Free (or under $100). These are mainly those who love photography and like to practice their passion for fun. They offer free shoots for relatives and friends or way below market price.
- Amateur: $30 to $90 per hour. This is someone who is just beginning in the photography world.
- Student: $50 to $100 per hour or $25 to $100 per image. Student rates depend on their skill and the amount of experience they have. But, if they are advanced, they can charge as much as professionals.
- Semi-Pro: $70 to $170 per hour or $50 to $125 per image. These are photography school graduates with formal training and some professional experience. Although they might not yet own a studio, they are not beginners. Therefore, they charge a slightly higher rate.
- Professional: $100 to $300 per hour or $80 to $270 per image. This photographer has a lot of experience and has earned respect for their work.
- Top Professional: $250 to $500+ per hour or $250 to $1,500 per image. These are the cream of the crop, the elite, highly in-demand photographers.
How Do Freelance Photographers Make Money?
Freelance photographers are self-employed photographers. They take projects from various organizations and people as and when they like.
Freelancers have the flexibility to choose what project they take. For example, it could be for a media company, a newspaper, an event, or a commercial shoot.
They get paid by project, hourly, or daily. To make money, freelance photographers have to market their work. So having a strong portfolio and network to find new projects is important.
What Type of Photos Sell Best?
No one kind of photograph sells the most universally. It depends on where you are selling your images, your target niche, and who your customer is.
More specifically, if you are selling on stock photography sites, a few categories sell better than others.
For example, pictures of everyday activities, nature, animals, and transport are especially popular. And images of business people, electronics, and money are hugely in demand.
Conclusion: How to Make Money with Photography
It depends on your personality and what you are interested in. But you can monetize your skills in photography.