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Ways to Use a Camera to Make Money

Updated on June 9, 2013

Abstract Waterfall and Tulips Photo

Abstract Waterfall and Tulips Photo
Abstract Waterfall and Tulips Photo | Source

Make Extra Income with Your Photos

Photography is a fascinating hobby or business for many, and there are different ways to use your camera to either supplement to make extra money, or grow it into a full time business income.

The options of digital cameras available it can be staggering to choose from. Research carefully their individual features against what your personal goals are before buying. That is of course, unless you already have one that you plan to use. Point and shoot cameras, while very convenient and can take good quality photos, will have less viability to give a person the opportunity to make extra money. However, it’s not impossible; just realize there will be limitations.

Camera Equipment Reviews

The camera I purchased was a DSLR camera from Nikon, a D5000. I have been very pleased with the results I’ve had with this camera and the various lenses I use. It offers a large range of features to get creative with. I tend to use a 16G memory card because I shoot in RAW format (no, I don’t shoot in the raw), because it has the least amount of data loss, but they are very large files. The lenses I currently use are as follows:

  • Nikon 18 – 105 3.5 – 5.6 VR – this is my favorite, walk around and shoot lens, that does a great job in a wide variety of settings, my most used lens.
  • Sigma 70 – 300 4 – 5.6 I like this lens, but it has its limitations and I've learned to work within those parameters. It’s a good zoom lens that is reasonable in price. However, I have found that it’s a waste to time to bother hand holding this lens as it really must be shot from a tripod. I use this one many times for macro work. It tends to auto focus slower than what I would like, but for still life work, and macro images, it can take some good pictures.
  • Nikon 18-55 3.5 – 5.6 VR this little lens has really surprised me with its quality. It’s my favorite for landscapes. It is a wide angle lens, and it takes amazingly sharp images. I used to have the lens version without VR, and I can’t believe the difference in quality. If you’re buying, don’t waste your money on the non-VR (vibration reduction) version.
  • Nikon 50mm 1.8 this is an amazing lens that is super sharp. It doesn’t have VR, but if you shoot on a fast enough shutter speed, you can successfully hand hold much of the time. The vast aperture range gives great artistic options for your images.

Whatever equipment you choose to use, ensure it’s of good quality, will perform the tasks and functions you need it to accomplish for your goals and purposes. Enough of equipment talk.

Various Venues for Photography

Portrait work can be done for children, families, senior pictures, weddings and the like. A photographer can do location shoots and not even need a studio if that’s their preference. If studio work is a dream, there are some great books out there about this type of photography. Many photographers will specialize in a certain aspect of portrait work, but it’s really a matter of preference.

Stock and microstock are other avenues of making income with your digital images and illustrations as well. Each has their own pay structure and requirements, so check them out. A person can submit to all if they desire. There are literally hundreds of business models out there, but some popular microstock sites are:

Big Stock Photos






A person can also go independent into stock photography work, selling directly to photo buyers and publishers of magazines and books. 

Conversely, one could do an internet search for hundreds of stock sites, and find ones that are accepting new photographers, for the types of pictures that person specializes in; it’s a matter of finding the right fit of photographer and stock agency.

Other Venues

You can also go the craft and art show route. You can market your images as fine art prints, and sell on the art show circuit, or find stores that would take your images on as commission. You can also offer other photography products with your images to sell in this venue. These can be a great place to make vital business contacts and networking opportunities.

Many local businesses will allow a photographer to display their framed pieces in their business, and when their customers purchase your work, they take a pre-determined percentage of that sale. They get the benefit of beautiful free décor while you get exposure you wouldn’t normally get.

Shutterfly is a wonderful resource that a person can use with their images for various types of photo gifts and products. 

They range from photo books, to greeting cards, puzzles, coffee mugs, mouse pads and much more. They are a professional lab that does a good job at reasonable prices. You can set up an account, and send people there directly to order what they want; you set your prices to determine your profit. Your customers choose which image of yours they want, in what size or product, and they pay Shutterfly. Shutterfly processes the order and ships directly to your customer, then sends you a check for your portion of the profit. Many professional photographers use Shutterfly services, instead of ordering and printing their own prints and proofs.

Product photography for businesses is another venue. Businesses need professional quality images for their websites, brochures and other marketing plans. Restaurants for example need many images of their food as their menus change from time to time.

Taking pet portraits is a very popular venue these days. You could either open a studio of your own, or provide a service where you will go to the pets’ home for the portrait work. You might get better images going on site as they will be less stressed in their own home environment.

Do your research, set your goals, if necessary take some classes, and have patience, it is possible to earn money from photography.


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