With the help of this post, you should be able to start earning money from your photography, as soon as today if everything goes to plan. I hope to reveal a few lesser known ways that 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 (and I’m sure you are, if you’re following this site), and you take a lot of photos, then there’s a good chance that you’ve taken some really good ones by now, so good in fact that people are going to want to buy them. So why not sell them? This can be very easy to do and inexpensive, or slightly more difficult, depending on which you choose. Obviously the easiest way for anyone to sell prints is to sell them online through a third-party seller, who will do all of the legwork, processing the order, printing and sending 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 and 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, you could approach a cafe or a restaurant, and come to an arrangement where they display and sell your photos, and all you have to do is print them and give them a commission – 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 that 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, and earn you money.
Flickr members can turn on a “Request to License” link on their photo pages. The link will show right next to the licensing information. When a request is made, 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 though, not full albums, because 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’ve had a few friends who have started out like this, as they have contacted their local paper, and worked with them to earn money from their photography. There’s two main ways that you can do it. Firstly, if you have a strong portfolio of images, and an established relationship, then you will begin to find yourself in a position where 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 and move onto bigger and better things.
The second way you can work with them is to go out yourself and capture local events or new stories. You’d be surprised how easy it is to get a press pass for local events, I’ve done it before and people haven’t even asked to see a portfolio, or who I work for. You can then take these photos to local papers and start to earn money (always charge them, they have a budget for this sort of thing), and get published. 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 your photos to be found, you can submit them to a whole variety of stock photography websites, where you add keywords, and people will find them, and if they’re what they’re looking for, they will buy them. When I say buy, I really mean license, because you can continue to sell photos time and time again, and make a good living 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, that’s listed here for a reason, rather than just a generic ‘find work’, and that reason is because it’s easy to get into. Seriously. If you ever go to a nightclub, and I mean a proper one, not some bland chain club where they charge you an arm and a leg to get in, I’m talking about local clubs with well established promoters. These promoters all want photos from their club nights, and you can be the one to provide them. 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 clubnight.
If you go to many clubs, then you’ll probably notice that the majority of the photographers are in their early 20’s, and living locally, students perhaps. So you don’t have to have the greatest experience in the world to get work. If you want to expand your photography before you start looking for work, then go down to a clubnight 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 start going 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
There’s a bit of an ongoing joke with photographers that the best way to make money from photography is to sell your camera. And it’s true, earning money from photography can be hard, but I think I’ve shown you enough posibilites in this post that hopefully you don’t do that. But, I’m sure there is plenty of photography gear you have lying around that you’re not using anymore. 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 using in the past six months (I’ve upgraded). There’s no point in having these lie around, collecting dust, you might as well sell them to make some money, or if you’re feeling really generous, 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, and then 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 high end work, such as fashion, where you won’t get behind the camera, but still gain experience and money. Photographers often need assistants on jobs, and you should expect to be compensated for your time, and the biggest advantage of all is that you don’t have to look for the work, it comes to you.
The hardest part about getting started in photography, is finding people who are willing to pay you the money you want, for the work you’re good at. If you’re assisting for a photographer instead, then 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, and contact them, asking 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 your photos seen. With the exception of about 2 posts, all the photos on this website were taken by me. But 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 of them for the sake of it, only if you like what they’re offering). Granted, I don’t make much money from this site, it’s more of a labour of love than anything, and it’s not paying any bills yet, but I still do make some money. If you’re interested in blogging, and want to know more, then I would suggest that you visit IncomeDiary as that’s another site I write for, and you can learn a lot from there.
If you’re not really interesting in getting into a rather competitive market, which takes a lot of hard work and dedication, then I would suggest teaching. Not everyone can learn from the internet, and if you have the ability to teach, then 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, so some of you might not agree with paparazzi, or want to be a part of that crowd, but I’m going to include it anyway, as it’s a surefire way to make money. If you live in a big city with a lot of celebrities wandering around, such as LA, Vegas, New York, London, Paris, etc. then there’s a good chance that you’re going to spot a few. These photos are worth money, depending on what you do with them. You could try selling them directly to the papers, and if you’ve got a good relationship with them already, then you may earn some money, but the chances are you don’t know their true worth, and you’ll end up earning less money than you would have.
Check out sites like Mr Paparazzi, where their experts will sell the photos, and you walk away with half the money, which almost always ends up being more than you would have gotten if you tried to sell it yourself. You can even sign up for text alerts for when celebrities have been spotten in your area, so that you can get there and take some photos.
This might not be up everyone’s street, but it is a way to make money today, and you’ll get to meet some celebrities no doubt.
10 – Competitions
I think this is one that most people seem to forget about, probably because they think that they’re not good enough, but I assure you, you are. I went round one of my model’s 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, then I suggest this website. At the very least, it will get your work out there, and maybe even critiqued if you’re lucky.
Ok, I lie, this won’t really help you to earn money, but I would certainly appreciate it, as it will help me find more followers, and continue with this labour of love. If you’ve enjoyed this post, and you think that your friends on Facebook or Pinterest would enjoy it too, then please share it.
In fact, I’d like to take a moment and 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 wasn’t for you. The site is only 9 months old now, but I couldn’t imagine doing anything else anymore.
If you’re new to photography, then check out my beginner’s guide. It’s become one of my most popular posts to date