55 Ways To Start A Photography Business & Get Paid To Take Pictures!
55 Brilliant Tips For How To Make Extra Money As A Photographer
Today we’re going to look at 55 ways start a photography business, and to make money with photography. Whether you’re looking for ways to make money as a photographer or just wondering how to make cash from your hobby, photography is an incredible way to do something you love and make money at the same time! Without further ado, here are 75 ways you can earn extra money as a photographer.
How To Make Money As A Photographer – Category One – Photograph People
Everybody wants good photos of themselves, their loved ones and the important events in life. There are literally endless ways to make money as a photographer by photographing people. Lets check out a few quick ways you can make extra money taking photos:
1. weddings. The mainstay of many a photographer, and for good reason. There really isn’t any other occasion in a persons life where they invest as much in photography as with their wedding. Becoming a wedding photographer isn’t quick or easy – It means gaining experience, building a portfolio and getting business savvy so that couples are willing to trust you with their big day. But for those who love love and are wanting to build their own photography business, weddings is a great place to dive in. The usual way to get started is to shoot for another photographer as an assistant, or if you have friends or family getting married on a budget, you might have a great opportunity to make some extra money as a photographer and build your portfolio at the same time!
2. Engagement Photos. Engagement photography is another great way to earn extra money taking photos. Almost EVERY couple wants engagement photos, and offering friends, family or newly engaged acquaintances a quick session on the weekend can be an easy way to make money as a photographer. If you do a good job the couple might even wind up booking you for their wedding! Bonus points for building your wedding related portfolio!
3. Couples photography. The truth is that just because a couple isn’t married or already had their wedding, they still would LOVE to have photos of themselves! If you’re just a hobby photographer this can be an amazing way to get started – Offer to shoot a short session with a couple or two you know as a gift for free. Then once you have a bit of a portfolio to showcase, you can offer other friends or family a discounted rate. After each session ask for them to give you the contact info for one other couple they know who would love a session – You’ll have plenty of leads in no time and be well on your way to making a living as a full time photographer.
4. First comes love, then comes marriage – Then comes maternity photos! Whether or not its up your alley, maternity photos are a big source of photography income streams for many pro photographers out there. The best way to get started in maternity photos is similar to every other area – Work for someone for experience, or offer a great price / for free for the first couple shoots. You’ll be well on your way to making some extra money doing photography.
5. Birth Photos. Yes, its a thing. No, we’ve never tried it. We’re assuming this one is a technique few of us would like to pursue, but for the few of us out there who might be interested… You’ll definitely not be overwhelmed with competition!
6. Baby Photography. The beauty of baby photography is its an opportunity for SO MANY REPEAT BOOKINGS. Why? Because babies change so fast. Newborn photography can be followed by a new session every month, or every 6 months, or every year. Either way, doing newborn photography for money as a photographer is an excellent way to find repeat business and making a living doing photography!
7. Fashion Photography. We all know a few people in our world who are INTO fashion. Maybe its not just other people… haha. But the truth is that there are lots of people out there who would love to have a solo session showing their latest and greatest – Especially bloggers or infflueners out there.
8. Birthdays. While not everyone’s cup of tea, birthday parties and family gatherings of all kinds are one of the many great ways to make money taking photos. Wherever family is gathered or moments of importance take place, people want to remember them! Offering your services as a photographer can work even if you do the photography for free, and then sell prints.
9. Rites of Passage & Life Events. This could easily be another 100 ways to make money with photography all by itself. Baby Showers, Aqiqah, First Day Of School, Bar & Bat Mitzvahs, Quinceanera, Confirmation – The list goes on! Look up and research the local traditions and cultural events in your demographic and then start offering to capture them!
10. Proposals – Yes, we should have grouped this in with weddings – But its also a major life event, and one that only happens ONCE! Therefore its an amazing way to make money as a photographer, and also an awesome chance to get exposure, because photographing a proposal means EVERYONE they know will want to see + share your photos!
11. Holidays. Think of those visit santas workshops that pop up in the mall every Christmas season. Hint – its not just because its a ton of fun to wear a big red suit! Photographing holiday events or creating a photo offering around an event is an incredible way to make extra money taking photos!
12. Family Portraits. Family is one of the most important parts of every culture. Don’t underestimate taking photos of families as one of the ways to make money as a photographer. Play your cards right and you might get invited back every year! Actually thats not so likely… But if YOU are on the ball and approach them with a friendly hello + offer for a fresh shoot the next year, odds are VERY good you’ll get a yes!
13. Childrens Portraits. It goes without saying that for parents, one of the most important things in their lives is their kids. We invest in the things that are important to us, therefore photography of kids is an excellent way to get work as a photographer!
14. Create Calendars of the cutest babies (With parents permission of course!)
How To Make Extra Money As A Photographer – Category Two– Photograph Corporate
Corporate photography can be an especially lucrative way to make money as a photographer. Why? Because unlike families who are investing on a sentimental value level only, businesses are investing in photography in order to MAKE MONEY. What does this mean? If you make them a lot of money, they’ll be willing to pay you a lot too. This all hinges on the value that you bring – The more value someone receives from your service, the more they’ll be willing to pay in exchange. When it comes to setting prices as a photographer, this is the key rule to keep in mind. If you’re looking for ways to go full time as a photographer, getting a few corporate gigs will definitely not be a bad thing.
15. Christmas Parties. This applies to all office parties, not just Christmas. But Christmas does tend to be one of the bigger events of the year for corporate business, so you might find more bookings for this than other lower key celebrations.
16. Charity Auctions / Events – Anywhere a business donates, they generally strongly desire photos to highlight + document. Anywhere a donation is made, an event is held, or a sponsorship is had – That’s an opportunity for you as a photographer to make some money.
17. Headshots. Oh that every business had updated, non cheesy headshots! But alas – What business overlooks is a photographers opportunity to make some extra money!
18. Web / Brand Content. With more and more sales moving online, businesses are FINALLY starting to see the need for a strong web presence. The best part of this? Web branding is something they know nothing about, and are more than likely willing to pay an expert to take care of for them!
19. Product Photography – Any business that sells physical goods needs product photography! The beauty is that they’ll also want it shown in different areas, on different people, or updated every time they make a change.
20. Service Photography – For businesses NOT offering physical products, here is your time to get creative. How can you visually tell the story / benefit of their offering in a photograph?
21. Business Promotions + Ads. Anytime a business holds a promotion or an ad, they’re going to need fresh content that separates them from the competition. Approaching businesses and doing some sample or spec work can be a great way to work towards other bookings and becoming a full time commercial photographer!
22. Training Photography. All businesses have training for their employees. Visually telling that story and putting together a training booklet can save businesses a ton of time – Something they’re likely willing to invest in.
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Ways To Start A Photography Business – Category Three– Photograph Animals
You may or may not be aware of people’s love for pets. In fact in America, pets are treated on a very similar level to children for a lot of people. While this is true for house pets, there are also less well known animal oriented ways to make money as a photographer. Mans best friend can be one of the amazing ways to start a photography business.
23. House pets – We’ll get the obvious one out of the way. People who love their cats, dogs, hamsters and goldfish would likely be more than willing to pay you a quick $20-50 to snap a couple pro photos of their fav friend.
24. Horse Photography – The horse industry pays BIG money for photography showcasing racing or show horses.
25. Photography for breeders – Pets are big business, and taking photos for breeders that are professional and lovely is a service many breeders are interested in!
26. Vet / Pet Hotel Photography Deal – Bonus! What if you partnered with the local vet / pet hotel to offer pet photography with every pet to come in? You could go 50/50 and never run out of leads again!
27. Create Calendars of your fav animals! This one could be as many different ways as there are animals. If you want to make money taking photos of animals, you’ll need to create some sort of product. A calendar is a great one – Especially if you reach out to the featured animals owners and get them to promote the calendars to their own social circles!
How To Make Extra Money With Photography – Category Four – Photograph Groups!
This is a great rule I use for finding ways to make money with my photography: Wherever people gather, there is an opportunity to make money taking photos. Literally ANYWHERE groups of people gather. Thats why the truth is there are WAY more than 55 ways to start a photography business. Lets just go through a handful of possibilities!
28. Sports events. ANY sport, at ANY level. Parents of little tots playing soccer would LOVE to buy a $10 shot of little johnny chasing butterflies on the field. Highschool parents would LOVE to pay for photos of their little star on the field, both for their own keepsakes and for scholarship applications. Pro level stuff – Well that goes without saying.
29. Team Portraits. Any team, any place, anywhere. From sports teams to chess clubs to dungeons and dragons gatherings – People who are passionate about their teams are looking for photography to remember them!
30. School Portraits – Remember all those yearbook photos you sat through? Yep – Now you can get PAID to do it all again 😉
31. Grad Portraits – This is a BIG industry in America, although with the right approach could just as easily be done elsewhere. In America its almost as big of a deal as a wedding. In places like Canada where I grew up, you’d have better luck approaching groups of friends to all pitch in for a “golden days” session where you go somewhere awesome and capture their memories.
32. Clubs. Toastmasters. Star Wars. Fight Club… Well maybe not Fight Club… We don’t talk about that here 😉 But truly – Many clubs need photos of their members and taking annual group photos as well!
33. Church Memberships – Just like clubs, many churches have membership books that need updating! Rather than a one off headshot, this can turn into a 200-300 person booking.
34. Conferences – Both for event promotion, and for the attendees there. Real Estate Conferences are a perfect example – The conference organizers need media to promote their event. The realtors attending all need an updated headshot… Sounds like a win win to me! When we looked at ways to start a photography business / make money from photography, this one isn’t super glamorous, but it has HUGE potential for making a LOT of money.
How To Make More Money With Photography – Category Five – Miscellaneous
There are SO many ways to make a business as a photographer – These are some that don’t fall under one category, but still leave a TON of opportunity to make money taking photos, whether its part time or as a full time photographer making more money and living the dream!
35. Food. Who WOULDN’T love to start a photography business taking pictures of a juicy steak sizzling on a flaming grill? Or a woodfire pizza tossed in the air and then placed tenderly in the oven? Food photography is big business – Restaurants depend on their presentation and media to draw new customers in the doors!
36. Architecture – Firms need photographers to document every stage of the process and beautifully tell the story of the building in order to attract new business. BONUS – You can submit these kind of photos to magazines in the right industry. If you’re into architecture, this could be one of the great ways to start a photography business.
37. Landscape Photography – Both businesses and individuals live in buildings. And what do buildings have? Walls. And those walls are boring by themselves. Go take photos of your local landmarks and best sights in the area, and then print those for businesses and locals alike to hang in their homes and offices!
38. Real Estate. This is a gold mine, as realtors depend on photography above all else in getting inquiries on a listing. The beauty is that homes are ALWAYS selling, so if you get into the real estate photography game, you’ll never have to worry about running out of potential clients! Hands down one of the highest demand ways to start a photography business.
39. Photo Booths. These are more and more on the rise for both weddings and corporate events. If you like to party and don’t mind staying up late, a photo booth can be an excellent way to make money doing photography on the weekends! Ways to make a photography business where you get to eat cake? Yes please.
40. Aerial & Drone Photography. Not just because its cool, but because many realtors, architects, land surveyors and builders rely on aerial photography to gain perspective and insight that they can’t get on the ground. Plus… it is REALLY cool! If you’re looking for fun ways to make money as a photographer… This is for you!
41. Journalistic Photography. News and events all need up to date coverage of what’s going on in your local community (or abroad!) – Help them out by submitting photos of these events and you might get anywhere from $50-$1,000,000 (If you happen to catch a shot of Kim Kardashian playing guitar in the subway or something similar!) The ironic thing is… We’re not kidding. These kind of photos really ARE worth that much.
42. #42 of our 55 ways to start a business is Street Photography. People are captivated by people. The human experience. Emotions, good and bad. They want to FEEL. Street photography is an art form that many people are willing to spend money on for prints and artwork. Plus there is the off chance that approaching someone you took a photo of will wind up in a quick sale or future session!
Are you awesome at photography? Even if you’re not, you only need to know more than someone else to share your skills! This is one of the key ways to start a photography business. Lots of people are willing to pay to have an expert teach them your photography skills. People want to learn from the masters – after all, that’s exactly how college works. Here are a few of the ways you can take your skills as a photographer and turn them into cashflow – Maybe even a fulltime living!
43. Teach Photography. Show someone else the ropes and teach them how to use a camera. You’d be amazed at the number of people who are looking for someone to teach them how to use their camera to get the best possible photos of their vacations, family and special events!
44. Start A Course. This one requires learning some additional skills, but sites like teachable.com make it easy to create your own courses teaching people the skills you already know.
45. Business Coaching. If you’re a weekend warrior or a casual photographer this might not apply, but if you’ve been at photography for a while and have some business / marketing experience, there are lots of people out there who would gladly pay to learn!
46. Business Partnerships. So what if you don’t have any business experience – If you have a friend (or just an acquaintance) who can handle the business side, you can make money with photography just by covering the social media / branding side of the business. BAM
47. Work For Commission. Say you approach a realtor who says they just don’t have the money to pay you for photos. Great! Work on commission. If their average crappy photo listing sells in 30 days, and a listing with your epic photo skills sells in 20 – Maybe they pay you X amount for every saved day. Or maybe they give you a flat amount off every commission in exchange for photography on every listing. The same goes for product photography or marketing campaigns with clients who don’t want to pay a large sum up front. This can be a great way to make MORE money with clients, by only charging them for results and taking that risk on yourself instead of them having to pay big for photography with no guarantees.
48. Second Shoot! There are many photographers out there with too much work on their hands or who would just love an assistant. Google photographers in your area and send them all a message with your portfolio and an invitation to connect if they’re interested. The truth is if you don’t have experience and are looking for ways to start a photography business, shooting for someone else is an excellent way to gain experience, build a photography portfolio, and learn from someone better than you!
49. Run Photo Tours. Love to adventure? Why not make a business out of it and make some money with your photography! Take visitors to an incredible spot and document the whole day while they explore. Either charge a set amount per person or at the end of the session offer prints in return. You don’t even have to RUN the tour! You can just attend something you love to do anyways, take photos and offer them to others for purchase later (Assuming the tour guide has given you the all clear – Otherwise approach this with caution and respect for someone elses living)
50. Edit & Retouch. Photographers with a LOT of bookings often struggle to edit everything fast enough! Offer your services to others and get paid to listen to music and edit photos in your pjs.
51. Sell Prints. If you love to create artwork with your photography, setting up an online store or insta with your artwork can be a great way to make extra money with photography.
52. Sell Photo Books. Have a collection of amazing bird imagery? How about cat photos? Why not combine them into a coffee table book? Photo books is one of the ways to start a photography business you might not have considered.
53. Art Exhibitions – Taking your money to exhibitions and setting up a booth can be an amazing way to sell your photography and make money as a professional or hobby photographer.
54. Stock Photography. There is big money to be made selling stock photos online. While its not a fast way to make money, there are many photographers who make a living off of this.
55. Magazine / Tourism Photography. These can be lucrative way to start a photography business if you become the go to guy or girl for your city tourism board, or that outdoor magazine you love to read etc. The best way to get started is to check out what they ALREADY have for media, and then reach out to them to form relationships, giving as much value as you can before asking for anything in return.
So how do YOU make extra money as a photographer? Did we miss anything? Of course this list is only limited by your creativity. In todays image driven and online world, EVERYONE needs photography for pretty much everything they do. You can take any of these 55 ways to start a photography business and make money from your photography today. Its a good time to be a photographer if you’ve got the business know how and the tenacity to go out there, meet people and take action!
And Our Number One Way To Start A Photography Business & Make Money With Photography Is……
Our number one tip for making money as a photographer is this: Provide value.
Whether you’re trying to start a photography business or just make some extra money with your photography, the likely the reason you aren’t having your door pounded down with photo requests and bookings is pretty simple. In fact there are only two possibilities for why you’re not making money with photography. 1) You don’t bring enough value to people / they don’t value you enough to pay you, or people don’t know about you to begin with. The beauty is when you bring crazy awesome value to people, everything changes. When you bring over the top service, world class work and prioritize relationships over cashflow, people will rave about you and pretty soon LOTS of people will know about you. It is true that you reap what you sow – So why not sow seeds of generosity, trustworthiness, hard work, value, and world class service?
Hopefully this list was helpful. For those of you looking to take your photography business to the next level, or just scratching your head wondering how to get started as a photographer, we have something very special in the works JUST FOR YOU. Soon we’ll be offering a very limited coaching group where we’ll work with you to make more money, build a better brand, and get more bookings as a photographer. Send us a message if you’re interested and we’ll add you to the waiting list!
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