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How to Make it as a Photographer

Updated on July 18, 2015
LuisEGonzalez profile image

I enjoy photography and have been doing so professionally and independently for over 30 years. Hope you enjoy my hubs!

Business cards

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Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0 | Source

Boudoir photography

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CC BY 2.0 | Source

How to make it as a photographer

Photography is a hobby, a profession and can be both. But making money in photography can be difficult but not impossible even though the field is very competitive.

Almost anyone with a good camera, a business-savvy attitude, and marketing know-how can take & sell photos. What distinguishes those who sell some photos from those who make photography their living is dedication,perseverance,technical expertise,patience,a good "artistic eye", the ability to network, lots of effort and some luck.

Almost any photography genre can be used as a way to make a living. Is it easy? No. Photography is quite popular and there is a large abundance of professionals trying to sell their art.

Unless you happen to be the one who takes the first and only shot of "the first alien visitors to planet Earth", making it big will require effort.

Making photography into a business takes planing, market research, and lots of marketing. None of today's top professional photographers made it in one year, in fact it took them an average of ten years, lots of submissions and side jobs. But they all had one thing in common; they had a love for photography that never waned.

The basic steps that one should undertake in no specific order are first to research the market; Is there a demand for the genre that you want to pursue; i.e photos of flowers. Who will be your main buyers, how will you market yourself, do you have the technical skills needed to repeatedly make 100% technically sound photos, do you have the gear or can you afford the gear, can you sustain yourself for up to a year with some other income besides photography.

Once you have mulled over these questions, the next thing to do is decide which photography genre will make up your mainstay. The main money makers are : portraits, business/commercial, fashion, nature, photojournalism, and scientific. Other genres are real state photography, astronomical photography, and event photography.

Each of these break further into subdivisions. For example, when I first started I found it easy and profitable to take photographs which were meant to be used in wall calendars, with nudes being the most in demand at the time.

Soon I found myself gravitating towards nature and shortly afterward decided to focus on nature photography.

I had a very good paying (other than photography) job at the time so money was not an issue and nature photography was and is very well represented , I therefore knew that it would take time for me to become recognized and start selling my wares.

The next step is to shoot enough quality shots to be used in submission to various publications or used to display your talent. After a period of four years my photos and work slowly began to be recognized and used and by that time I had accumulate about 2300 quality photos.

Next was to set up business cards, office supplies, contracts, models releases, a business address(my home), a business phone and email, a storage system, work space, and marketing materials which included a sample portfolio, a computer, scanners, light box, and applicable office equipment.

Photography as a business is not only going out and taking the best shots that you can. Like any other business it takes many aspects coming together to make it a success.

The best advice that can be offered is to first accumulate as many quality shots as you can (usually in the range of 500 to 1,000), and then start contacting publications to obtain their submissions guidelines and then start your submission.

Note: never- ever submit unsolicited material, more than likely it will be returned unopened or worst, discarded. If publishing is not on your mind, you should at least have enough quality photos which you can use as your advertisement format in your shop or by portfolio. They will be your "business cards".

Web presence

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Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported (CC BY-ND 3.0 | Source

Some definitions of the various photographic genres are:

Portrait: people, babies, couples,school, weddings,birthdays etc.

Fashion: models, fashion shows, accessories

Nature: fauna, flora,landscapes,natural events(not disasters although this is a gray area)

Scientific: microscopic organisms, crystal formations,bacteria, virus etc

Product/commercial: specific products, store fronts, services, business concepts, people at work(not to be confused with portraits), industry shows, car shows,food.

Photojournalism: news, events at local, national and international level, disasters; natural or man made.

Abstract: Images that capture small parts of a subject but leave the identify of it in the dark. Useful for fine art galleries and advertising campaigns. Mostly art impulsed.

There are many more sub categories but these are the most lucrative ones or rather the easiest to enter and make it as a professional photographer.

I hope that making money in photography-tips and suggestions has proven to be helpful to you in your photo endeavors. Good luck

Portrait photography

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CC BY-SA 3.0 | Source

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© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Jackie Lynnley: You're welcome

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 6 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Alright, forgiven. Sorry, just saw the ones up there seven months and assumed you were acknowledging none. It is a big job keeping up with acknowledgements and return visits I am very aware, but one I take seriously.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Jackie Lynnley: Thank you and sorry if I took long but I approve every comment good or bad, however,sometimes it takes me longer than 20 minutes to get to them. Glad that you enjoyed the article.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 6 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I love the frog and snake picture, wow, to catch a shot like that! I do think I have a couple of UFO shots though. I sure never thought about the competition but I do think I have an eye to take angle shots of nature such as I have never seen but then I haven't been looking, so I guess I had better. It is something I have to do, one way or another. Great hub. Too bad you don't appreciate people enough to acknowledge their comments.

    • montecristo profile image

      Angel Caleb Santos 6 years ago from Hampton Roads, Virginia

      Great! Thanks for sharing.

    • Yackers1 profile image

      Yackers1 6 years ago from East England, UK

      A great article there - I have a passion for photography but don't think I could ever go pro. THe competition is just so fierce.

    • aquarianodyssey profile image

      Mariette Chapman 6 years ago from South Africa

      Great article! I love photography, and would like to become a professional, but it just seems to be a daunting task, because, as you mention, there are just so many good photographers out there.

      At the moment, I will just keep to it as a hobby!



    • sarclair profile image

      sarclair 6 years ago

      Thanks for the hub! The pictures you have are nice too.

    • WhiteOak profile image

      Eva Thomas 6 years ago from Georgia

      Good good suggestions. Thank you for writing this very useful information.