Photography doesn’t just have to be a hobby, in fact, it can be a brilliant way to gain some extra money – and quite a lot at that! I’ve put together a list of my favourite ways of making money through photography, and with the ideas ranging from a couple of hours a week to a part-time project, you may find something that catches your eye.
1. Shoot Microstock
Stock image – © Olly Stabler
There are many different microstock sites out there, including Shutterstock and iStock Photo, and by uploading your images you may well be able to earn some extra money. If you excel at taking commercial images, this will be a great idea for you as these are the types of photographs that sell the most. If you are considering this option, make sure you don’t let your passion for photography die out, through a focus on sales statistics and selling stock shots.
2. Network to be a Second Shooter
Through networking using social media, events, and photography clubs, you can build relationships with other photographers. Opportunities will often arise through the relationships you have built, such as requests to work as a second shooter on a project. It may be that a fellow photographer is working an event, and needs you to join them to take photos to build a complete portfolio of photographs from the day. Weddings are probably the most common occasions that require second shooters, so keep an eye out for these jobs.
Me as a second shooter – © Scott Choucino
Alternatively, those you have networked with may have to turn down work that is too low-budget for them, and will ask you to work on them instead. Never underestimate the job opportunities that will become available to you through networking. This article tells you everything you need to know about the importance of being a second shooter.
3. Sell Prints
The first of my photos to make it to print – © Olly Stabler
There are many different ways you can sell prints; choose framed copies for larger amounts of money, print on canvases to create a professional look, or prints on their own for those who want to spend less. This will also open up the opportunity to place your work in stores and exhibitions. Having hard copies of your photographs will prove helpful whether you have already received sales, or are searching for prospects.
If you shoot in a studio, I would advise hanging your prints on display, and the larger the prints, the better. Your clients will always take note of them hanging in your studio and these prints will showcase the work you can create, encouraging sales. Upselling to your clients can create big money, with bigger prints bringing in big profit margins. To ensure that your photos print perfectly, check out Image Size and Resolution Explained for Print and Onscreen.
4. Become a Photo Booth Service
Photo booths are a similar price to a full frame DSLR body plus lens, and are extremely easy to operate. There are an unlimited amount of events and options available if you choose this route including parties, weddings, corporate affairs and events. Offering a photo booth service might not be the best option for a budding photographer as artistic photo opportunities are extremely limited, but nevertheless, it is a surefire way to earn money through photography.
By Chris Guillebeau – Yes that is your very own Managing Editor Darlene Hildebrandt in a Photo Booth at an event in Portland in 2012
Same group, same event – 2015!
5. Sell an eBook
If you want to share your passion with others by talking about your experiences and discussing hints and tips, creating an eBook may be the way forward for you. This idea will involve little costly investment, but will require a lot of time. There are many benefits of writing an eBook including the fact that it will help you to make a name for yourself within the industry. The best way to encourage the success of your publication would be to outreach to bloggers and ask for reviews; the power of word of mouth is invaluable.
6. Hold a Portrait Party
A headshot taken in my studio – © Olly Stabler
The idea is simple. Invite friends, bloggers, colleagues, and clients to your studio and tell them to bring a couple of friends. This concept will also work in your lounge, your friend’s front room, or pretty much any location you fancy. Shoot portraits of them all throughout the night, you can even put on a show with entertainment and food.
You can then give them the option to buy their photographs, or book a session. Giving out a few free prints will also work in your favour, as you are thanking them for their time; this will also give them examples of your work to show people they know, and could end up resulting in a lot of business.
7. Photograph in Nightclubs
A photograph taken from my nightclub days – © Olly Stabler
Photographing in clubs will help you to learn a lot of skills that you will need for higher paid and more complex jobs. If you are reasonably new to photography, and want to earn extra money as well as build your skill set, this is the one for you. Although the pay isn’t brilliant, you can end up earning a decent amount if you photograph a few student nights a week in university towns and cities. This will also help you to build confidence as a photographer as you will be forced to interact with a lot of people at the same time – an essential quality for a photographer.
Becoming a nightclub photographer is extremely easy to get into, you just need to make sure you have a flash – you can find my recommended products on Amazon.com. The cheaper versions of these flashes do not work with ETTL, which means you will learn how to control flash manually, giving you a full understanding of how flash lighting works – something that is essential if you want to move into higher paying work.
8. Enter Competitions
There are plenty of photography competitions floating around, all with various prizes dependent on those running the feature. Try looking for those that offer a cash prize and enter as many as you can. If you are regularly photographing, you should have a portfolio of images you can enter into competitions. You only need to spend an hour each day searching and applying for these, which may make this option a favourite if you only have a small amount of time to spare. A good place to start is by utilizing databases such as this photo competition website. Remember though, this idea does not guarantee a payout and can be an unpredictable way of making money.
Editor’s note:be sure and read How To Evaluate Photo Contests Before Submitting Your Images And Cash before you enter any contests.
So those are just a few ways you could use your photography to make a little extra money, or start to make the move towards full-time professional. Do you have any other ideas or things you’ve tried? Please share in the comments below.