Although for some it’s no longer the dream job it was years ago, there is still a huge worldwide desire to make money with photography. People are either thinking of getting back some of their investment on camera gear or they’re simply tired of their day job and want a more bohemian way of making money. Apart from the now classic joke that says if you want to make money with a camera, the quickest way is to sell it, making a living as a photographer is no easy business.
I’ve put together a list with the best and worst ways to make money with a camera and I suggest you take it into account if you plan a leap.
1. Stock photography
Stock photography used to be like the gold rush of photography. Ten-fifteen years ago when professional digital photography and the Internet first shook hands, a lot of photographers made big money shooting stock. This quickly snowballed and as a result more and more photographers turned to stock to pay their bills. Nowadays it’s definitely one of the worst career choices you can make. Stock agencies are overflowing with every kind of photo you can think of and this has made it very hard for photographers to make money by selling their photos as stock.
2. Giving your photos away FREE
It almost seems like a no brainer, yet so many photographers make the mistake of believing this is actually a good way to have their name featured somewhere and work sent their way. By no means will you ever succeed in making a decent living with your photos if you start by giving them away for free. Start small and have lower prices, but do not, under any circumstances work for free.
3. Photojournalism/Press photography
As a former pro photojournalist, it saddens me to say this, yet it is the inescapable truth. Your love for photojournalism and documentary photography needs to be kept on the side, as a very creative hobby Otherwise you’re going to become bankrupt in no time.
Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and every other social network along with iPhones have killed this job. Sure, you can still earn a buck by covering conflicts, but that’s a bit extreme for most of us. Just find a different way to earn money and shoot the stories you love for yourself.
By far the best way I recommend to make money with a camera is KeepSnap. It’s one of those things that should have been invented a long time ago. KeepSnap is a platform designed to connect photographers with clients. All you have to do is take your camera to a popular location or event near you. It can be a nightclub, a sporting event, an exhibition, a festival or a tourist attraction. Introduce yourself to the people there and take photos of them having fun. After that, give them your business card with a link to your gallery on KeepSnap. Needless to say, your photos need to be top quality. Customers will then have access to the photos you took of them and they will buy them directly from the gallery. It’s very simple and extremely effective.
The wedding photography market is by far the largest in the industry. Everywhere in the world, people are going to need a photographer to document their wedding. While it is indeed a profitable line of work, it’s only fair to warn you that you will have to go through some really tough times before you actually build a customer base and start getting recommendations. You’ll also have to work as a second shooter or for very low prices when you first start out. But if you have the guts and the patience, it might be the right option for you.
Being a portrait photographer is one of the most desired jobs that require you to have a camera in your hands. It’s profitable but it really depends on where you live. Small towns are not the best place to start a portrait photography business unless you know that competition is very small or inexistent. If you live in a big city, competition is all over the place, so your work needs to be top notch and your business skills have to be crazy. At the end of the day though, it’s one of the coolest ways to make money as a photographer.