How to Make Money from Photography

Creative fields such as journalism and art are highly competitive, and the same is true for photography.

There are so many different styles of photography and there are hundreds of thousands of photographers who have truly perfected their skill – standing out and actually making money from your photos is becoming more and more difficult.

But there are several ways you can get your work out there and actually get paid for your photos. Not only will these steps help you to build a solid portfolio, they will also give your more exposure and will help to attract future clients!

Stock Photos

Companies and private entities are often on the look-out for great images to make their website or marketing materials pop. Website templates and marketing brochures are very imaged based these days, seeing as a photo of a professional office setting or a girl happily smiling and dancing at an event is a lot more attractive than a huge mountain of text.

Fortunately for us snappers, most companies don’t have their own in-house photographers and must therefore rely on stock photos to spruce up their websites and marketing campaigns.

This is where you come in!

Taking professional stock photos takes a little practice but once you have learned the basics you are well on your way.

Familiarise yourself with the type of images different companies are looking for; what kind of lighting are they attracted to?

What kind of scenes are in the images?

Once you have a clear idea of which genres you’d like to shoot, grab your camera and a couple of friends and get out there! Have them re-enact typical office settings: a meeting or reunion, a secretary typing up a report with a concentrated but friendly look on her face. If the corporate world doesn’t really do your creativity just, don’t worry – there are plenty of topics to choose from for stock photos.

Everything from nature images to photos of fancy cars, beautifully presented coffees and cute animals goes! You’ll be sure to find something that sparks your imagination!

Once you’ve captured a few images you can upload them to sites like iStock, PhotoTrade, Crestock, etc. It is wise to do your research before you get started: check the most popular members and photos and visit different forums to read through the many discussions. Most experienced photographers using iStock will tell you that your income will depend on several key factors such as a number of images you upload, the variety and the style. Images presenting people tend to sell better than landscape and nature photography – but then again, this can all be put down to your style.

Some photographers use iStock to brush up their income; others actually manage to make a living off of their iStock portfolios. It all depends on you!

Event Photography

Do you regularly attend concerts, art shows or other fun events?

Then why not work whilst having some fun too?

Local media outlets are always looking for images to use for their news stories and not all of them have a staff photographer. So next time you hear about the town’s latest musical sensation performing in the town square, call your local newspaper and ask them whether they would like you to provide images for the show. Should they already have it covered, take to the band’s or the town’s social media and upload your images there. Make sure you copyright your photos and link it back to your professional photographer’s page.

Not only will this bring you exposure amongst fans and locals, it might help you secure other gigs in the future!

Newspapers and other media outlets will pay a fee for photos, though it may take a while to get a paid gig using social media as advertising. But as with all creative fields – you’ve got to work yourself up!

Social Media Photography

Companies are always looking for original images to post on their social media platforms.

As we have already discussed, websites such as iStock offer a vast variety of marketing images, all of which are professional and attractive. But they’re not exclusive – there may be hundreds of other companies using the very same image. Therefore, many companies are now looking for people to take original images that ultimately link back to their products and services. Most of the time, they won’t even ask you to use a professional camera but your iPhone for quick uploading purposes.

Instagram is one of the biggest players when it comes to social media photographers – people have built entire careers around their Instagram accounts, including photographers and models. But be warned: it may seem simple – take a few pictures, upload them to your account et voila, instant fame! – but that is rarely the case. It takes a lot of time, hard work and dedication to get a large following on Instagram; these things don’t happen overnight. If you’re interested in getting started with social media photography, look into Tinker Street – one of the leading social media photography agencies.

Documentary Photography

When we think of documentary photography, images of war zones and historical events immediately spring to mind.

But the truth is everything could be a subject of documentary photography – whether it is a day spent at a family reunion or a week spent strolling dangerous ghetto streets. Documentary photography is what you make it – if you feel there is a story in a situation, an environment or a specific even, chances are there is one because it has inspired you to pick up your camera.

The world is full of stories worth documenting and you don’t have to travel far to find them.

Are you travelling through France via the Euro Tunnel anytime soon?

What about documenting the plight within the refugee camps?

Approach families and children, speak to them, interact with them and capture a side of them vastly ignored by the mainstream media. Has a recent visit to your Nan’s nursing home opened your eyes to the loneliness often felt within these institutions? Make the world aware of it! Do you want to experience the innocence of childhood and creative story-telling for a day? Follow a group of kids around for a day and capture their care-free spirit and their very real concerns about the world around them!

People are drawn to authentic, candid images that evoke an entire background story. Journalists and writers are always searching for the perfect image to truly manifest the feeling of their written words. It’s up to you to offer them what they need.

Richard Hammond

I am the founder of 9Mousai and am deeply interested in creativity and what inspires it. My main passions are writing, film and music but I have huge respect for all the arts. I'm also an animal lover and have a little cat called Winston and enjoy the occasional whiskey or two...

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