Besides the usual well paid gigs, which can be months apart, every photographer usually needs some extra income. Nothing major, but enough to keep the juices flowing. Now, the question is: What can you, as a photographer, do which won’t take up much of your time and you’ll still be able to make some money off of it? The short answer is: the things that you do best – photograph and edit photos.
1. Microstock Photography
If this isn’t your main area of income, microstock photography can earn you some supplemental income which will help you out in the long term. Defined from the time you invest in it, stock photography can make some serious cash. Let’s say you have 2 regular gigs a month, photographing a band that has regular tours and that earns you enough money to pay the bills. In between, when you don’t have a smarter thing to do, you can photograph some stock photos, whether it is from regular household items, food or even using models for some extra income. You invest once, and the photos (if good enough, of course) sell for years, so technically, the more material you put out on the stock sites, the more you’ll earn, and that will happen over longer periods of time. Besides, you’ll gain more experience and meet more people who need photographers.
Photo by Tax Credits
2. Freelance Photo Editing
There are many photographers who are too busy to edit their own photos, or they don’t have the skill developed good enough to do that, thus they are hiring freelancers to do the editing for them. If you are good enough at what you do, you can land quite a few gigs quickly and maybe keep some for long term (say a solo wedding photographer who needs somebody to outsource the editing to). The prices on this vary quite a lot, but the rule of thumb is that the less you are paid, the less effort you’ll put in the editing. I would suggest quality over quantity here.
Photo by securecat
3. Product Shoots
Now I’m not talking about the big game product shoots where you get to photograph the latest Rolex and be set financially for a year. I’m talking about small businesses that need more products photographed quickly and good enough so they would fit on their e-store or catalogue. These are usually handmade products and the client is a “one-man-show” who needs a hand in photography. You can do these shoots on the spot, with 2-3 cheap flashes and a collapsible light box. Not a huge score, but well paid for an hour or two and it can become regular if the business starts to develop properly. As long as there is demand for the product, there will be demand for pictures. This is due to the fact that handmade stuff are often unique and every restock needs new photos.
Photo by mirwav
4. Shooting Small Events Digitally
At least in my country there isn’t a big demand for print. Photo studios offer packages which almost always include prints and the prices are significantly higher. What you can do is freelance events like these for people who do not need print, thus offering them a smaller fee because you would cut down on the costs to print and prepare images for print. This way you just shoot the event, go home, throw down some basic editing (I’m guessing here that you got most of the things right in camera) and email the photos to your client and you are done.
I was hired to photograph this party by one of the artists that preformed there. Photo by petrovskyz
5. Sell Landscape/Cityscape Photos to Your Local Municipality
Most of the developing countries/cities, especially those undergoing overhauls or some major reconstructions or restorations will be in need of quality photos from those places. What you can do is go photograph them, and then try and sell those photos to your country/city/municipality. If that doesn’t work, you can always try to sell them as stock photos, so it is not a complete failure if the government doesn’t want them. Make sure you photograph as if the photos would be used for postcards, advertisements, catalogues, websites. Create something that will attract enough attention and will be an eye candy. That is the golden area since it works for stock as well. Travel bloggers adore photos like that and buy them regularly. Actually, all travelers have a few such photos in their home.
Photo by amira_a
6. Photo Contests
Surely it is the most unreliable method of earning some cash, but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t apply. Photo contests are worth more than cash, they are good for credibility, and if you win, there are prizes, as well. Having your portfolio supplemented by contest awards is something every photographer strives for. It definitely pays off in the long run.
What are your additional means of income that involve photography?
I saw this on twitter from Joseph Cristina. I love taking photographs, And your ideas are helpful
since I need some where to start. thank you very much for this information i appreciate it very much.
I know that the start is the hardest from first hand experience. But have in mind that it doesn’t get much easier afterwards. Photography is a tight business nowadays, and people don’t appreciate it as much as they should. So be prepared for that, and always, always think outside the box.
sometimes construction companies on smaller projects will purchase photos of their sites.
Yes, didn’t thought of that, but that is an option as well. Real estate agencies do need professional photos too.
I started my photo hobby by making Japanese paper photo cards. These sold for five each, but i only earned a dollar on them. Still, it paid for film and developing at the time. I tried selling stock photos, but my Fuji does not have the definition they require. It only has 11.5 mp and they want about 18.5, as from a Nikon or a Canon.
Are you sure about the resolution? I was just checking ShutterStock and iStock and they both have 4 megapixel minimum. You could try there.
Great information, love your site! Thank you.
I have such little confidence that I am affraid of putting my photos out there….I’m such a beginner and know so little, but someday I will take that step and try to sell something! I see pics out there and I am always thinking to myself, “mine are just as good as those…”
Make a Instagram page , you can get feedback from people you don’t know..You won’t take it as personally as you would if a close friend gave you tips… I did this and did not let friends or family follow my page…I wanted unbiased feedback that I could count on..
Like to know more about stock image sites,e.g., how much does it cost to submit images, etc. Is ShutterStock and iStock the places to look? And spasibo!
Thank you for sharing your experiences, it helps us newbies push through are fears and try new things!
I would like a few more specifics here. For example, I have taken some nice photos while traveling through our National Parks and cities. How – exactly – do I attempt to sell a picture to them? Do I send a low resolution file to some agency and ask if they are interested in purchasing it? Do I send them a link to my on-line photo site? I am not sure I know how to get started. I have a good body of work, but not sure how to start selling it. Thank you.
To get where you are, you probably have taken classes or even earned your degree. Share what you know by offering classes for a fee. Once you start, your students will likely ask for more. Offer workshops on camera basics, lighting, smoke art, software, or printing and matting. They’ll start asking you to print or frame for them. Lead a photo tour to picturesque areas near you. Then expand to the next town, if you have the time.
Thanks for sharing your insights. You’ve given me some great ideas. Cheers!
Real estate photos make enough cash to fund my photog ‘habit’. I only spend on new stuff what I earn on these jobs.
Thank you for the great ideas! Any suggestions on the best way to make contact with photographers that need photo editors?
Which site would you recommend for microstock photography other than iStock or the other big ones? Thanks for sharing!