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How to Make A Living With Photography

So you want to make a living with Photography? Photography is a career choice that's much like any art form. It's intensely rewarding for you...


So you want to make a living with Photography?

Photography is a career choice that’s much like any art form. It’s intensely rewarding for you as the photographer, but how to make a career out of it?

This Video, “Making A Living With Photography” by Peter McKinnon has a lot of ramble at the beginning, but jump ahead to 7 minutes in for the real meat and potatoes if the video isn’t already queued up for you there.

Talk Points in the video and our commentary

We watched Peter’s video and thought it was a really good overview for anyone that’s considering making a living with photography. We decided to highlight his main points and then add our thoughts in addition to his.

1. Start Of By Working For Free

The first order of business is to get your name out there, and it’s a lot easier to do if you can offer a few head shots or small items for free. The important part is that you need to be able to get “plugged in” and get known by those who might need your services. No one needs to know you did a few gigs for free, and in the video, taking Realtor photos is an example. It can help you get into the market of taking photos of homes on the market for sale for local Realtors.

This is generally good advice, but what Peter doesn’t go into is how to get started.

We think that tapping into your friends network on Facebook or in the real world is a perfect way to find someone that is willing to help you start out. It could be as simple as a few “professional” photos of a friend’s family. Think about it… they’ll post it all over social media, and if you just ask, they’ll most likely love to tag you as the photographer. Just tell them not to mention that you did the shot for free, of course.

Another good way to get started is to submit local event photos to the local newspaper and other local periodicals. Let them know that they can use your photos for free, but the only condition is that they give you photo credit in the article. You’d be surprised at how many people notice those by lines.

2. Stock Photography

This isn’t the best way to get started due to the insanely high competition out there, but it’s a good place to just start posting things without the expectation of making money. The goal isn’t so much to create and income as it is to get recognized by the community as a bonified photographer that’s serious about your work.

We’re not saying that you won’t make money doing this, but until you’re really well established, you probably won’t see much return, if any.

3. Selling Photos and Prints

Peter mentions that you can also sell photos and prints. We do find that this could be a great thing to do, but you have to consider the costs of the print and all logistics versus the end price that your client is willing to buy at. We like to consider this type of income as a “windfall” until you have established a reputation and have a client base that is seeking your services out.

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4. Sponsorships and Product Placements

Great idea, but until you’re a big name, or “influencer” as it’s called, you probably won’t have Nikon or Cannon calling you up asking you to pitch their new camera lines. It’s definitely an option for anyone that already has a good following on social media, and there’s nothing wrong with going to the different manufacturers and asking if they’re give you samples to promote.

5. Weddings

This is where a lot of up and coming photographers will get their start. It’s demanding work, but it teaches you to learn many different types of photography all in one engagement.

Making a living on wedding photography alone is hard, especially when you’re in the dead of winter here in Michigan, but it can be done. Most wedding photographers that we know also have a small portrait studio for family and baby photography.

“The Hardest Part Is Making That First Connection”

We totally agree with Peter on this one.

Until you’ve actually gotten out there, no one knows you’re there. The nice thing is that getting out there is a bit easier than it was 13 years ago.

You probably have Facebook, Twitter and a host of other social media platforms. Use them to your advantage and start making that initial connection. You only need one to get started, and you then can build off that success to begin growing your business that helps you work towards making a living with photography.

“Believe In Yourself”

In the beginning, you might not feel confident that your work is good. You may wonder if anyone will like it. There’s so many critics out there, and you’re totally vulnerable when you display your life passion on a wall. Peter says “believe in yourself”. If you can make the jump to believing in your work, and knowing that people are going to want to see it as much as you like creating it, you’ll have a far better chance of getting that first “Yes”.


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How to Make A Living With Photography

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