How to Earn Money from Photography
Are you a passionate shutterbug who is wondering how to earn money from photography?
In this day and age, many photographers have turned their photography into an income source, whether as a full-time job or an additional side job. The Internet has opened a lot of opportunities for us to sell our work, and many of these can be done from home.
The conventional way is getting paid for the service you provide, but there are a lot of other ways to make money from photography that get less attention. From printing your photos as merchandise to sell, to local business and online opportunities you can try, we’re going to explore more of the creative ways to earn money from photography.
Sell your work
Sell your photos as prints or artwork
This is probably the easiest solution, as you can start with the photos you already have. From landscape, animals, to distinctive colours and patterns, you can turn any subject into beautiful prints.
Tip: You can sell individual prints, but you can also sell them as a set, like these beach poster prints.
Sell your images as merchandise, keepsakes, or memorabilia
There are so many things you can use as a medium for retailing your photos, for example:
- Greeting cards and postcards
- Calendars - Have you ever noticed that calendars usually use thematic photos? If you have a series of photos with a theme, then this is the perfect option for you
- Notebooks and journals
- Phone or laptop cases
Sell stock photos
Is selling stock photos still worth it when there are a lot of websites that offer free images?
The answer is yes.
Think of it this way: rather than having your huge collection hidden in your hard drive, it’s better to sell them as stock photos and generate an additional income for it. There are many websites you can use to sell your work as photos, among them are Dreamstime, Shutterstock, iStockphoto, 500px, Alamy, PhotoShelter, EyeEm, and Fotolia.
To succeed, there are a few important tips you need to know:
- Remove all visible product logos or brands in your photos - photos with brands in it are considered the intellectual property of the manufacturer, and therefore can’t be used for commercial purposes. Make sure you remove all logos in the post-processing.
- Select the keywords carefully - Choose specific, relevant keywords that describe your photos. For example, instead of putting ‘dog’, you can put ‘golden retriever dog’, ‘running dog’, or ‘running golden retriever’, which are more specific and descriptive.
- Provide lots of negative space - designers will need it to add text, logo, or something else. Having blank space on the photo to work with will be useful for designers, and this will increase the chance of them buying your photos
- Sell a series of related images or images with a specific colour scheme - designers often need more than one image to work with, so use this as an opportunity to earn more
- This goes without saying, but make sure the photos are of high quality. The higher the quality is, the more you can earn
Sell your photos to magazines
Selling your photos to magazines is hard, but it’s not impossible.
There are countless magazines out there, with a wide array of fields you can explore. Travel, fashion, culinary, business, you can choose the magazines that fit your line of work.
So what are the most important tips to get your images sold to magazines?
- Have a strong portfolio - this goes without saying, and yes, you need it for any pitch you are going to do, whether you want to sell your work to magazines or somewhere else. But we can’t stress this enough, as magazine editors have exacting standards when choosing photos
- Start small - the competition is fierce, so you’ll have a better chance with local and regional magazines.
The success might not be instant and it might take a while, but it’s definitely worth a shot. The high rewards, recognition, and exposure you’ll get by having your photos featured in magazines will be a huge boost for your career.
Take photos at local events and sell them
Keep up to date with local events in the area where you live. Whether it’s a festival, community project, or local fair, wander around with your camera to document the events if possible. Focus on the stories that your lens can capture. Human interactions, facial expressions, and body language often deliver ineffable stories. Photos with captivating stories tend to perform well in sales.
Work with local businesses
These days, having mediocre photos for business is really out of the question. Every business needs great photos, whether it’s for promotional purposes, showing off a portfolio, or something else. Here are a few ideas where your skills can come in handy:
- For restaurants or catering services: Take dish photos of their menu cards and website
- For event/wedding venues: Take photos of the venues, the surroundings, and detailed features for their websites or brochures
- For Airbnb, hotels, and guest houses: This is a bit like real-estate photography; take photos of the rooms, buildings, and surroundings that can attract potential customers
- For creative artists: Offer to take beautiful, professional product photos for them. This includes the product in a white/plain background, the product in use, or something else that your client requests.
Bonus tip: If possible, ask the business owners if you can leave your business cards in the premises. If they’re happy with your service, hopefully, they’d be happy to help.
Work with bloggers
With the rise of blogging industry, every blogger now strives hard to provide high-quality imagery to attract their readers and social media followers. Gone are the days when bloggers could get by with photos taken haphazardly.
Who should you approach? For a start, you can try reaching out to fashion bloggers. These are the bloggers who most likely need help with photography, as it’s far easier to have someone shoot them and all their outfit details rather than using a tripod and a self-timer.
You can also try lifestyle bloggers, travel bloggers, or content creators that regularly share full-body photos of themselves.
The advantage of this strategy:
- You get exposure for your work, especially if the blogger has a large audience
- You can utilise the bloggers social network, which can give you opportunities to work with other bloggers in the industry.
Offer your skills and service
It’s a bit obvious, isn’t it? This is what photographers do, after all. But let us offer a few creative ideas.
Shoot kids events and sell the photos
It’s no secret that parents love anything about their kids, including photos. It’s not easy to get candid or action shots of kids, so if you can use your expertise to do that, then you should definitely consider this.
There are many kids events that can be your opportunities to earn more mo. A few ideas:
- Children’s birthday parties
- School events like plays, end-of-year performances, award ceremonies, etc.
- Sports days
Some of these events might require permission and consent from involved parties, so make sure you take care of that beforehand.
Create a photo booth at events
Photo booths are a popular thing right now, and no party feels complete without one. From corporate events, family gatherings, to kids birthday parties, this is a great way to get an additional income.
All you need is a backdrop, creative props, artificial lighting (if needed), a camera and a tripod, and you’re ready to go. This is considerably easier than event documentation, as you don’t have to change the camera settings and angle the whole time. Once you have the settings ready and the camera mounted on a tripod, all you have to do is click away.
How to sell the photos from these events?
The easiest thing is to upload it to a website that provides printing service, like Photojaanic. This way, you can share the photos with the customers, and they can choose themselves which photos they want to print, and on which products. They’ll get the photos and products they choose, and you will profit from each sale.
The development of this service is well underway, so watch this space!
Be a second shooter or photographer’s assistant
Sometimes, it’s a slow season for you but a busy season for other photographers. These photographers might need a second shooter, and why not take this opportunity to make money?
This is also a good chance for networking, as these photographers might pass a job to you in the future if they’re fully booked.
Offer photo editing and retouching service
If you’re experienced in editing photos and favour the idea of working from home, this is a great side job for you. With just a computer and editing tools (Photoshop and Lightroom, depending on the requirements), you can earn money working from home.
Tip: Create a portfolio of ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos, which will help attract potential clients. Make sure it covers everything you can do, whether it’s basic editing, retouching, photo manipulation or something else entirely.
Sell photography materials
Sell Lightroom presets
These days, everyone has realized the importance of having consistent tone for their photos. Bloggers, social media influencers, business owners, and even folks who post photos for fun strive to have consistency, especially on social media like Instagram. They don’t mind investing in beautiful presets as it can help with their businesses and makes photo editing process a lot quicker and easier.
For those reasons, Lightroom presets have become incredibly sought after now, and if you enjoy creating presets, you can consider this option to make an additional income. Create a unique bundle of presets with various tones and settings, and build a portfolio that showcases photos edited using your own presets. Just like the previous point, show the ‘before’ and ‘after’ images so people have an idea of what your presets can do.
Tip: Give a few presets for free for your potential customers to try and play with. If they like the presets, they will be more likely to purchase for more options.
Run workshops or online courses
You can also make money by sharing your expertise in photography, with workshops or online courses.
If you know people around your area who will be interested, you can try organising a workshop. For local workshops, there’s one secret that you can use to make the workshops appealing: offer specific, practical tips that will be beneficial for photographers in your area. Tailor the material to include these tips. For example, you can share some lesser-known spots for photo sessions, recommendations for collaborations with local businesses, or local opportunities for photography jobs.
You can also consider creating online courses, which might be even better than workshops. You can reach a wider audience with this, and there’s no limitation to the time-frame (meaning, your online courses can generate money even long after you upload it).
Tip: Be ultra-specific. Rather than trying to cover a big scope of a topic, choose 1 area that you can dig deeper into. It’s just like the saying, ‘Be a big fish in a small pond, rather than a small fish in a big pond.’
Enter photography competitions
Photography competitions often give generous prizes for the winners, making a great additional income for photographers.
But the monetary prizes are not the only advantages of entering photography competitions. This is also your chance to gain exposure for your work and network with fellow professionals in the field.
Do you have any other ideas on how to earn money from photography? Share them in the comments below!