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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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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?