If making money working as a photographer is new to you, you might feel intimidated, even terrified. It's easy to imagine yourself failing miserably and ending up with unappreciated hard work. What's the point in trying if millions of others are doing the same thing? While failed attempts are inevitable, there are many opportunities – both online and offline – that can lead you to great rewards. Even if you're a shy individual living in a small town far, far away, you can earn money by contributing your talent to a community that will cherish it.
Of course, you have every right to feel skeptical. The idea of finding a photography-related job, especially online, might sound too good to be true. However, if you're willing to put a lot of effort and love into your search for a job, you will succeed. Amongst many failed attempts, you'll discover a gem (or many gems) that will inspire, fulfil, and motivate you. It's important to remember that not every application, shoot, or e-mail will lead to more work. Don't beat yourself up if you get rejected. Be patient, curious, and kind to yourself. Most importantly, be aware of what's currently in demand and let others know that you're available.
Setting achievable goals for yourself will help you understand what you feel most comfortable with. Personally, I enjoy beginning every month with a list of new and refined goals. The more I do this, the closer I get to understanding myself as both an artist and an individual. Looking back on previous months gives me a clear idea of what is realistic and what requires harder work. In short, monthly goals are fantastic helpers. This article will focus on five ways you can make money working as a photographer this month. You can change this to a week, several months, or even a year. Just treat this as a guideline which will (hopefully) allow you to try out new things, challenge yourself, and make money doing what you love.
Sell Stock Photos
If you have unwanted photos or outtakes, or if you want to take exclusive images with a specific theme, try selling stock photos. Selling a single stock photo will usually earn you a few cents. Over a long period of time, however, these sales may result in a significant amount of money. Certain agencies offer higher royalty rates, so make sure you read the terms carefully before you join any stock photo community. If you'd like to familiarize yourself with what different websites have to offer, check out Deposit Photos, 123rf, and Shutterstock. If you're interested in selling photos for book covers, check out this article.
Work as a Second Shooter
Assistance is often needed and appreciated. If you're a fan of event photography, find artists in your area and ask them if they need an extra pair of hands. Though the primary photographer will get more money than you, you'll earn a significant amount and acquire new photographs for your portfolio. In addition, you'll be more experienced as an event photographer, something that will come in handy if this is the area you want to thrive in. The more experience you have, the closer you'll get to becoming a primary photographer at events. Even if busy events don't interest you much, give them a chance. While they may not spark your interest, they will teach you something valuable. They might even give you a chance to meet new people and potential clients.
Work for Your Local Newspaper
Some newspapers are always on the lookout for photographs to feature along with their articles. If you have photos from a specific local event, contact a few photo editors in your area. Attach your best work and ask them if they're looking to purchase new images. Photo editors' contact details are usually shared on the newspaper's website. For example, here is a list of The Seattle Times' staff members in the photo/video department. There's also a chance that your local paper is seeking individuals to join as second shooters, assistants, or even primary photographers. Research and contact the appropriate department. You might get a brilliant and unexpected opportunity.
Get Better at Retouching
Familiarize yourself with editing programs such as Photoshop and Lightroom. A basic understanding of Lightroom, for instance, will allow you to edit hundreds of images within a few seconds. While certain artists prefer to work with professional retouchers, it helps to at least understand the basics of popular editing programs. You can sharpen these skills by watching online tutorials or by reading articles – there is an incredible amount of free online resources ideal for enthusiastic learners. If, later on, you find that editing is something you love, you can work as a freelance image editor/color corrector. Job websites such as Elance and Peopleperhour are often filled with clients in need of talented retouchers to perfect their photographs.
Let your personality show through your website. Give visitors a chance to know who you really are, what you love most about photography, and why you got into it in the first place. Once a potential client understands you better, they'll be more open to contacting you. Even if you're not the most outgoing person, you can attract clients by being honest and open. If you cease to be afraid of making mistakes or seeming awkward, you'll make everyone around you feel less tense. Authenticity, after all, is charming.
A Few More Tips
- If writing is something you enjoy doing, consider writing photography-related articles for blogs. If there's an art website whose content fits your style, contact the owners and ask if they're looking for writers. Writing about the things you love might turn into a fun and stable job for you.
- If you have the time, offer several free shoots. This will provide you with more diverse examples to share with future clients and give you a chance to spread the word through the people you're working with.
Being a lifelong learner will give you access to more connections, opportunities, and lessons. In turn, all of these things will lead you to better jobs. Remember to be patient, curious, and persistent. You're bound to succeed. 🙂