You love to chase the light.
That thrill you feel when you capture that perfect moment is unparalleled. You see the world through your lens. You can't go about your day without seeing something and think, “this would make a beautiful image!”
Photography is a beautiful art that allows us to freeze moments and preserve memories forever. You love it and feel most alive when chasing the light to capture the perfect photo.
Wouldn't it be wonderful to turn that passion into something you can do to support yourself?
But, like most artists, you may struggle to find ways to make money enough to do it full time. Read on to learn more ways to make money with photography. You just might find the right tactics to make it possible!
These days many photographers simply deliver digital files to their clients. They may limit the number of photos included in the session fee and try to sell more. But that's about the limit of their upselling tactics.
If you don't take it one step further, you're leaving a lot of money on the table.
Many clients may say they only want digital photos. These days social media is becoming a preferred method of sharing photos, especially with friends and family that live far away.
Many photographers also assume that if a client wants a print, it is easy to take a digital file to a lab and have it printed. This is true, but not always the most convenient for the customer.
People like convenience. If you offer the option to purchase prints directly from you, many people will take you up on it. It's much easier for them than doing it later on their own and you can earn a handy commission.
This is especially important in genres like wedding photography. These are the types of photos that people want to display in their homes. Selling prints and albums are fantastic ways to make money on top of the fee for the day itself.
Start Selling in Person
America is made up of an educated populace in which most people have learned critical thinking skills in school. You would think that people would apply those skills to making purchases.
The fact is, they don't. People make most buying decisions based on emotions rather than rationale.
Think about what that means for you. If you send your clients an online gallery, they'll be looking at your photos in a boring environment.
They're sitting at their computer, scrolling through your gallery. They are probably excited to see them and love every one of them.
But they know they have time to make their purchase decisions. They might even sit down with a calculator and start determining how to get more value while spending less.
But, if you set up a viewing appointment and do your sales in-person, you change the environment. Now their emotions will affect their buying decisions far more.
Bring them into your studio. Make them comfortable. Maybe even have some drinks and snacks on hand.
Go through the photos with them and have them place their order while they're excited. If you have amazing photos to sell, they will buy.
You can also use this opportunity to explain to them the value of physical products. Digital photos are nice because they can put them on social media to show everyone at once.
But digital photos have a big disadvantage. You have to open something to look at them. But, you can hang a physical print on the wall and enjoy it each time you walk past.
Take a moment to remind people of that and you may be surprised how much you sell.
Use Model Calls
Wait, aren't model calls usually for free shoots? You get some specific photos that you want for your portfolio, they get a few free photos.
But you're looking for ways to make money, not work for free. If you do it right, you can turn model calls into a profitable venture.
First, reread our first two points. This is where you put them into action. Do a model call for something specific that you are looking for.
This makes people feel like you need them. Be sure to tell people up front what they'll be getting and what your print prices are. This step is important because people who know they won't buy will probably walk away at this point.
Here's an example of how it would work. The shoot is for you, so they don't pay the session fee. You then offer them a print or two for their time. Explain that they can choose the photo they want for their print and they can buy any extras that they like.
After the shoot, bring them into your studio to show them the photos. This is where you can knock it out of the park. Show them so many amazing photos they can't decide which one they want. Most of the time, they'll end up buying all their favorites.
Market, Market, Market!
Being an amazing photographer is only a small part of attracting new clients. You could be the best photographer in the world. You could have the most stunning photography portfolio ever.
But if no one sees your work, no one will buy it.
It's sad, but it's the truth. There are tons of amazing photographers that can't get enough work because they don't know how to market.
Marketing may not be your passion, but every job has its downsides. If you want to make it pursuing your true passion, you've got to take the good with the bad.
The model call we already mentioned is a good place to start. Drawing people in with free stuff and making a few sales is great.
But the best is when they plaster their photos all over social media and tell all their friends what a great job you did. Those free shoots really turn into ways to make money when that happens.
Learn how to use social media to your advantage. People aren't just using it to share cute cat pictures anymore. Social media affects roughly 4% of buying decisions!
You don't need to become a social media master of all the major networks. You'll never have time to pick up your camera if you do that. But pick a couple, learn to use them well, and start leveraging free (and inexpensive) advertising.
Write a Blog
If you love photography and love to write, why not combine the two? A blog is a fantastic marketing tool that will help people find your work.
Do you know what search engine optimization (SEO) is? It's a method of optimizing your website to show up first in search engine results for your niche.
In some cases, this can be even more effective marketing than social media. People are using Google and other searches engines to search for services more than ever. Google alone logs 3.5 billion searches per day!
A blog can also provide ways to make money in and of itself. There are various ways that you can monetize your blog. You might try recommending photography products or sell fine art photography prints.
Do a little research and get creative! There is a world of opportunity out there.
It can feel like everybody and their brother has a camera these days.
You're an amazing photographer. But maybe it makes you feel like you are jockeying for position amongst a sea of mediocre photographers.
Wait, why not take advantage of that sea? Those mediocre photographers want to learn to become amazing photographers. This can be one of the best ways to make money in a saturated market.
People want to learn, why not teach them?
Setting up a workshop can also be a fun way to connect with other people who have the same passion. You can work on creative projects and techniques. You can even experiment with ideas that you may not be able to use in regular paying client shoots.
Do Some Charity Work
Charity work, or working with a non-profit, is great for several reasons.
- You can use it to market
- You can use it to network
- You can use your passion to give back
This can take several forms. You might help the organization by offering free photography services. It could be something behind the scenes like headshots for their website.
Or you could get out and be seen. Offer to photograph some of their events. You'll meet lots of new people (that you can network with!), market to the organization's audience, and probably have a lot of fun doing it.
More Ways to Make Money From Your Passion
These are only a few of the ways to make money from photography. Try a few and see how it goes!
Get creative and see what works for you. You may even run across other great ideas in the process. The most important thing is to get out there and do what you love.
Let us know how it goes in the comments below! Or if you have any other great ideas about ways to make money from photography, tell us about it. We'd love to share them with our readers!
Just getting started? Be sure to check out our resources on how to find photography jobs today.