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13 Ways to Make Money as a Photographer

Updated on August 16, 2021
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I meet with business owners both locally and internationally and share what I learn to help readers generate more income.

Professional Photography
Professional Photography | Source

Make Money From Your Photos

Are you a budding photographer who would like to sell your work but unsure where to start? If you are looking for a way to supplement your current income, consider these various avenues of marketing and selling your photos, or your skills. Although more people than ever have a camera, more often than not they are not achieving the results suitable for purchase. If you can produce consistently high quality images, then your services are needed.

Let's take a look at some of the areas you should consider when trying to make money from photography.

Wedding couple
Wedding couple | Source

Wedding Photography

Although the economy may have reduced the amount that people spend, wedding photography is something that people don't get a second chance at. They either pay to get professional wedding photos or they will end up with blurry, poorly lit photos from camera phones.

This is a very profitable source of income for a photographer. It can also be the most stressful! The fact is you won't get a second chance at these photos. Your equipment has to be in perfect working order as well. No wedding party will stop for you. Using multiple memory cards which are changed frequently will ensure you don't miss a crucial shot due to hot spots on a card.

Aim to capture not just the happy couple but also the guests. Candid shots make all the difference. For wedding photography, it is best to work with another photographer to achieve the best chance of getting as many excellent shots as possible.

Speaking beforehand to the couple and the family will make sure you know which guests should be include in prominent photos and who shouldn't. You don't want multiple shots of people who the family barely know.

Teach Courses on Photography

If you feel your skills are at a level where you can sell your photos, consider teaching. You have a wealth of knowledge that others will pay for. Courses such as food photography, lighting techniques, using Photoshop are all topics that novice photographers will pay for.

If you don't have space in your home, consider renting a studio. Normally these will provide all the lights, back drops and equipment (other than cameras and laptops) needed for such a course.

Etekcity 24" (60cm) 5-in-1 Photography Reflector Light Reflectors for Photography Multi-Disc Photo Reflector Collapsible with Bag - Translucent, Silver, Gold, White and Black
Etekcity 24" (60cm) 5-in-1 Photography Reflector Light Reflectors for Photography Multi-Disc Photo Reflector Collapsible with Bag - Translucent, Silver, Gold, White and Black
Whoever thought of this idea was a genius. We have this set of reflectors, and it allows the photograph to get just the shot he wants. These aren't just for studio shots but anywhere you want to add a bit of extra light or as a solid background. When you learn how to twist an repack them, you'll feel a great sense of pride.

Portrait Photography

Portrait photography, has been around as long as the camera. There are many aspects to this be it, school, corporate, or personal photography.

You could be asked to go to the place of business or open a small studio in your home.

You will need a set of photographic lights, reflectors, soft boxes, and a ring flash. To achieve saleable photos you need to produce quality goods and those can only be achieved using some if not all of this kit. This equipment needn't be expensive but it is necessary.

Selling Stock Photos

Selling stock photos to agencies such as Shutterstock, iStockphotos and Dreamstime is another option. You are paid a small royalty when someone downloads your photo. Of course you will need to have a wide variety of photos and the competition is fierce. That said, every photo you see in a magazine, or on a professionally designed website, someone, has paid for the use of those photos.

There is a trend now in companies to use stock photos sites such as the ones listed above, rather than hiring a professional photographer themselves unless their product specifically needs to be highlighted. The cost to the company is much less.

Photographic Competitions

Photographic competitions are another potential source of income for the professional and amateur photographer. Normally, there will be different categories to submit your work. Some of the prizes might include camera equipment or money.

Sometimes you will notice that there is a fee to enter. This is the same on many, you will need to weigh up the fee with the possibility of winning. How confident are you about your photo?

Promote your Photography Online

Promoting your work online is easier than you think. One of the best ways to do this is to write about it. Promote yourself, your skills, and your photos. You can even write tutorials about photography using your own photos as examples. This not only builds your online presence, it gives you another avenue to sell your work.

I write on Hubpages . and have found this to be an excellent source of promotion. The site is free to join and there is a friendly community of writers who are always willing to help you with any questions you might have.

Advertising Agencies

Get in contact with advertising agencies. Often companies will contact them before they will personally contact a photographer. The agency will tell you the company who wants the work done, the day they are available and you will be paid by the advertising agency.

Know how far you are willing to drive and discuss this with the agency. It is a good idea to contact several different agencies to keep the work coming in.

Do you have amazing captures of unusual animals?
Do you have amazing captures of unusual animals? | Source

Wildlife Photography

If your field of expertise is wildlife photography, consider submitting your photos to magazines. There are many magazines such as National Geographic who are looking for exceptional photos. There are of course lesser known magazines that you can approach. For example bird watching magazines. Although their budget may be less, the idea is to get your work, known and paid for.

If you can write a story to go with your photograph, so much the better. This will increase the chance of it being sold.


This has to be the lowest form, in my opinion, of photography. They are the people who stand outside a nightclub to catch an unsuspecting actor, or musician looking less than perfect. These photos are then sold to an agent who sells them to a gossip magazines or daily newspapers. We have all seen topless pictures of famous actresses captured through a long lens.

These candid shots pay well, but it is up to the photographer to choose his subjects well and deal with his own conscience if this is the type of work he/she wishes to do.

Real Estate Photography

Although many real estate agents will take the photos themselves, a good quality photo can get more views and of course the more views, the faster the property will sale. Take samples of interior and exterior shots to real estate agents along with your portfolio. A forward thinking agent will see the sense in professional photos.

Both the buyer and and agent want to sell the house in a timely fashion, and if your photos can assist in finding a buyer, then it will be worth the price you are asking.

Professional car photography
Professional car photography | Source

Car or Boat Photography

Just as it is for property, if someone is trying to sell a car or a boat, professionally taken photos will sell the item much faster. You know from your own experience, when you are looking for something to buy on the internet, you often won't even click on something that has a poor quality photo.

Convey this to the publication that lists cars, motorcycles, boats etc for sale. Make yourself available to take professional photos that sell.

Sports Photography

Sports photography is popular, especially team sports. If you can get on the side lines you will be well placed to get saleable action shots.

Often magazines will be offered photos of individuals that the athlete or a friend have taken . The sportsman or woman will be offering these photos for free to magazines to promote themselves. If a magazine or website does this, it probably won't be worth approaching them except for product promotion. Once a magazine has become accustomed to not paying for photos, they unfortunately, for the professional photographer, expect all their photos for free.

Travel Photography

You don't need to go to some far flung destination to get travel photographs. Where do people visit which is near you? Often travel magazines love a write-up of your experience as well. Combine a genuine first-hand experience submitted with your photos and you have a very good chance of getting your photos and article published. By writing the article and doing the photographs, you are offering a company the full package which is something they like. Also by doing this, you are showing various companies that you can deliver the goods and this could lead them to contacting you in the future with ideas they have.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Mary Wickison


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