Starting to make money with photography means you can continue with your passion. It will not be easy, as many of these areas require patience, talent and skill. With our help, you can start putting your photography to great use.
Selling your work is one of the best feelings there are, so try as many of our tips as you can. Get out of your comfort zone, believe in yourself and start to make money with photography today.
1. Photobooks & Others
Photobooks are a great way to sell your photography. I’m not talking about 300-page hardbacks, but small, 20 page pamphlets.
This can be a useful tool in getting your name out there, and to see if it can be a money-making venture for you.
You can be as creative as you want, even making the books yourself. There are also many small publishers who will create them for you, giving you the lion’s share of the proceeds.
This is best suited to creative projects, rather than very technical landscapes, but there are markets for all niches.
Postcards are also cheap to produce, yet can offer people small affordable prints to share and send. Even jigsaw puzzles, mugs and notebooks can be decorated using your images.
10. Edit & Retouch for Other Photographers
If you find yourself proficient in photographic editing, you can use this to your advantage. Lightroom and Photoshop are two great pieces of software that some photographs don’t know how to use, or they have no time to work with.
Portrait and fashion photographers are very busy, requiring outside help when it comes to retouching. You are able to work on these images for a fee, from the comfort of your own home.
This is one of the most difficult ways to make money, only because Photoshop requires practice, skill and talent. This takes a while to learn, as your range of skills needs to be excessive.
Every photographer will need a combination of different techniques for the images they need.
9. Small Businesses
A great way to stay local and utilise your photography skills is to look towards local businesses. They will need images to promote themselves, without spending thousands on huge campaigns.
By going around, knocking on doors and introducing yourself, you can start to build up contacts. Take a printed portfolio with you, which will only grow with each new business.
For better chances, come up with an idea or concept for each business. This will set you apart, offering something different for each new cafe, bistro, restaurant, etc.
By building up a rapport, allowing for other business opportunities, such as selling prints and postcards.
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 $2,500 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.
7. Stock Photography
We’ve all heard of stock photography, for better or for worse. The idea is that you upload your photographs to a website and pray someone downloads it, netting you some cash.
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. Most stock websites do not require exclusivity.
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. The more images you have, the better your chances are on making money.
On some websites, you get a higher commission with the more you sell.
Commissions vary depending on the site you use but here are a few to consider: iStock, BigStock, and ShutterStock.
6. Assist a Photographer
Assisting as a photographer is one of the best ways to find work and start making money. You also get to learn a whole lot.
You will need a strong portfolio if you’re expecting to go and work at weddings and such.
There are other high-end work possibilities, such as fashion or portraiture, where you won’t get behind the camera but can still gain experience and make money with photography.
Professional photographers often need assistance for jobs, which you should expect some compensation for. 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. This is the dream and naturally the hardest part about getting started with photography.
If you’re assisting as a photographer, they have all of this setup 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.
On another note, the photographer may allow you to use their studio for free, or even help you find clients.
I assisted fashion photographers here in Budapest, and there were many jobs they didn’t want to do as the budget was too small.
5. Photograph Events
Event photography is one of the greatest opportunities to make money. You will find, from a small amount of research, that your local area will have many photographable events.
Weddings are just one, but what about state fairs, fairgrounds and markets?
On top of these, you can look towards the club and bar photography niche. Every bar and club needs images to promote themselves, and specific nights they hold.
Focusing on people having a good time can net you a nominal amount of money for relatively easy photography.
This is also a great opportunity to meet DJs, musicians and other artists who also need photographs themselves. A face to face meeting is much more powerful than an email.
Offer to give the patrons the images for free, and they can visit your website or give you reviews in exchange.
In turn, this will bring you more work in the long run.
4. Local Paper
From travelling around, I found myself in Equador with a lot of spare time. I wanted to see what it was like working for a newspaper. So I located the offices of the largest newspaper I could find (El Diario) and showed them my portfolio.
They took me on immediately as an intern. This got me free food and free transport through taxi vouchers. It went pretty well, and they wanted me to stay and work for them after the internship (I was 23).
Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay any longer as my situation changed, but they wanted to keep me.
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.
The day of staff photographers is almost over, and the freelancer gets much more work than they used to. 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.
3. Photo Tours / Workshops
Something that I use to make money with my photography gives photo tours. The beautiful city of Budapest is a great place, not only as it is a truly magnificent place in terms of architecture, but it is a UNESCO protected the place.
Tourists and photographers alike come here to experience the culture and cuisine, but many want ot leave with great images. This is where I come in. I offer a 3-hour tour, maximum of five people, and I show them one of the most interesting districts.
We focus on street photography, camera settings, how to spot a good location and rule of composition.
They book with me based on the reviews I gained previously, and the fact that I have lived here for many years. I know the city better than they do.
This is a perfect opportunity to offer continual help through your blog or website, and they can follow you on social media platforms.
If they really enjoyed it, they might even tip you. Americans always tip, as it is part of your culture.
If you are confident enough with your photography and feel you could show people how to capture great images, give it a try.
Spend a few days going around your location at different times of the day and see what is possible. It might just be your forte.
2. Teach / Educate / Blog
Ok, so teaching is always a possibility. There will always be more people who know less about photography than you do. They need a start, to find their way and many will turn to a teacher rather than looking on their own.
You could teach through multiple methods. I teach photography on a 1-to-1 basis, so we really focus on what the aspiring photographer wants to try and get more help with.
This also includes areas such as Creative Live, where you can create courses that people will pay for. Niches will bring you more people as fewer photographers teach them.
Starting a blog is another great way to get people to see your photos. The more people see it, the more they can buy from you things such as merchandise, Lightroom Presets and Amazon Affiliate links.
You won’t make a killing from the get-go, but you do have to start somewhere.
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.
1. Sell Photo Prints
By now, you may be at the point where you really like what you are producing. You are getting a grip on composition and the settings to capture beautiful images.
Selling your prints are a great way to make some extra bucks. And, boost your confidence too.
There are many platforms where selling your prints is made easy. It can also be inexpensive to do, depending on how you go about it.
One of the easiest ways for anyone to sell prints is to upload them online through a third-party seller, as they do all of the legwork. They process the order, print and send out the photos, retaining commission for their service.
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.
ETSY is one of the biggest platforms, but here you need to process the order and print/send your work to people all around the world. Here, you get to keep 100% of the money, as you pay a small fee for each image you upload.
Another way, which is a little bit harder, is to print them yourself and sell them through shops and restaurants, bistros etc.
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.
There you have it. 11 ways on how you can make money with your photography. If you can think of other ways that we didn’t look at, feel free to let us know in the comments section.
A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:
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