How to make money as a photographer…

When you’re first starting out as an artist of any kind, it can be hard to know how to monetize your work as a beginner.

Fortunately for photographers, there are some avenues you can take that other artists may have a more difficult time utilizing, such as event photography (not many portraits of brides and grooms painted these days!).

All businesses require work, a lot of your own money pumped in to start with, and much time invested; but once you know the route you want to take everything gets much easier to handle.

Read on for some ideas to get that business thriving!

Pick a Specialization

Many photographers center their business on a certain niche, like maternity photos or family portraits, and it’s a great way to get started.

You need less equipment (if any, depending upon the specialization.

If your niche is outdoor candid portraits, all you need to get going is a camera), and you don’t need to be perfect at everything to nail down a solid reputation and produce solid work even if you are shooting night photography.

Try to make whatever you pick something that you really enjoy, because you’ll be at it for eight hours a day!

The best part, though, is that you can always branch out later as you either become more confident in your skills or are able to reinvest your profits enough to get the equipment you need for completing different jobs.

Sell Your Prints

If you enjoy taking photos of serene vistas or capturing the essence of a busy metropolitan area, then selling prints of your best shots may be right up your alley.

Local businesses may be willing to hang your art for free, with a price tag, as it’s pretty much a win-win for them.

They get some free décor, and you get free advertising!

Make sure to keep enough stock to rotate fresh prints out in each location that displays them for you because you don’t want potential customers to get sick of seeing the same shots day in and day out.

Plus, the business will appreciate having a fresh look. If you need to pay to have your work displayed, try to negotiate a low percentage of each sale as a commission for them, but most places will have a small business or a library that will be happy to help you out.

Pro tip: Selling prints like this is also perfect to help with bookings!

Be sure to display your company name, website or social media profiles along with your images so potential clients can get in touch.

Sell Stock Photos

There are tons of sites online that you can sell your stock photos on that allow you to get profit directly, but you can also provide a portfolio to places like Shutterstock and hope they buy the rights to some of them from you!

Stock photos can be a great method of income generation, especially if you have some friends willing to provide a face for free, but keep in mind that you don’t need to have models in order to have good stock photos.

A lot of the stock photos commonly available are things like office supplies, computers, and landscapes, so this can also be a great second income opportunity for those photos you take that may be less than print quality.

Keep in mind the method of sale effects the income as well as its flow, a one-time sale of the rights to a photo may be bulkier than income over time, but if you’re only giving a small commission per sale away you have the opportunity to create a steady income flow.

Journalistic Photography

Many photos used in the news, both print and digital, are from professional photographers. If you have a passion for taking photos of new buildings, or events, you may be able to sell your work to a local news agency.

Better yet, if your work is good and you develop a reputation with a publication, you may be able to get on their payroll and do other work on the side!

Once you’re in with one of these methods, you’ll have reliable work with a reliable buyer, so this is a great option for those who don’t want or need to have a studio or office.

Event Photography

Be it carnivals, concerts, or any other event, people will pay to have a memento of their experience.

Photographers can rake in a lot of cash by selling photos of people with relevant scenes in the background, so if you price well and provide quality prints you can come away with a significant haul from a few hours’ work.

Buy, Repair, and Sell Used Equipment

If you’re handy, buying worn or broken equipment and repairing it can be a great source of income, as well as reducing the costs of new equipment for yourself.

Nothing beats getting a great deal, except for maybe making a profit on it!

Every photographer knows how expensive good camera, lenses, lighting, and all other equipment is when purchased new for full price, so cutting down on expense can in itself be “money making”. As Ben Franklin said: “A penny saved is a penny earned.”

Plus, that same knowledge is also security that you’ll have a customer base – other photographers and photography enthusiasts looking for a discount.

Print on Specialty Items

T-shirts, mugs, and other goods are in high demand when they’re custom.

Customers will be excited to have the option to have photos of their event, or some of your advertised photos, on merchandise that they can wear or use in public.

This does require some specialized hardware, or making a deal with a local manufacturer, but when marketed correctly specialty items can be a huge draw.

If you’re able to do this in addition to stock photos or as a side to your art businesses, it can be a great supplement to your income.

Consider adding these services later on when your business is fully established and you’ve been able to reinvest some of your profits into hardware or printing costs.

Check out our website at www.pmai.org for more tips and tricks for everything you need to know as a photographer!