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3 Ways To Make Money From Photography For Amateurs

Earning From Photography – Easy Ways To Get Started

After a certain amount of experience shooting for fun, many of us feel that we should to find a way to make some money through photography.

Making money through photography can be as simple or complex as we want it to be, but for the purpose of this article, I’m making a couple of assumptions about you:

  • You have some experience, perhaps even an expertise in shooting certain genres in photography
  • You already have the necessary equipment
  • You’ve never photographed for money before
  • You just want to make some extra income on weekends

The good news is, you can make money with photography provided you are equipped and adequately skilled for certain genres or niches that potential clients seek. I’ll give you some ideas to get started with making money with photography.

A Word of Caution – Know Your Limits and Be Realistic

Remember that once you decide to charge a customer, you are obligated to provide value, trust, and quality in all your service and products. Same goes with charging for photography lessons, don’t teach if you don’t have a solid grasp on fundamentals and basics of teaching.

While may not be starting a business right now, you should realize that these small activities can form your fundamental skills in running a full-blown business or higher-paid weekend gigs in the future.

Start off with an honest, solid platform, and correct mindset to help you succeed faster and serve your customers better.

If you’re unsure of your skills, don’t charge anyone as you’re basically asking someone to pay you to experiment. You’ll be wasting your client’s time and money, but most of all, their trust.

Start with projects and customers that you can handle confidently, even if it takes you a little longer, and charge fairly as well.

There is no such thing as ‘market rate’ these days, as the rate depends so much on the skill and experience of the photography, the size of the project, the budget, and other business factors that’s beyond the scope of this article.

Be honest to your client, and to yourself as well.

Three Opportunities To Earn From Photography

Here are three relatively easy ways to get started with earning with your camera. These opportunities are rather plentiful, low cost to start-up, and offers good value to the right clients as well. While this list isn’t comprehensive, you may find it sufficient to get you off and running!

Small Product Catalog


Whether your client owns a small boutique or sells online, having good, consistent photographs for their products is a must. You can find clients ready in many smaller, non-mall stores, for examples ranging from clothing, shoes, gadgets, computer accessories, toys, etc.

There are tons of small businesses who are not aware that static items are easy to photograph and makes a big difference in visual presentation. This is particularly true for online sellers on your local Craigslist, eBay, or online classified portals.

The beauty of small, still-life catalog shoots are they’re relatively easy to setup and you can go through a lot of products at a given time since the lighting and setup is the same.

You can group products that have similar tones or texture and use one light setup for all of them, making your workflow very efficient.

Basic Requirements

  • A tripod
  • A moderately-sized light tent
  • Two to three continuous lighting fixtures from like table lamps or work-lamps
  • Background paper – for color variation
  • Black/White illustration boards for flagging and reflecting light

Social Media Profile Photos


There are a lot of professionals out there who use social media as an integral platform to help their careers, particularly with sales, marketing, and other customer-facing jobs. Having a good photograph can favorably and subliminally sway their potential customers to work with them rather than the next guy.

We may think that social media simply means the normal, online avenues like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn profile pictures, but let’s not ignore the traditional business card, promotional fliers and banners, and other physical mediums as well.

Increasingly, companies allow employees to submit their own photographs for daily ID cards as well, think of how many people dread the photos they have on their corporate IDs!

Lastly, simple passport and institutional photos are easy to shoot and are always in demand for certain industries. Tap into those and you can get a decent volume assignment rather quickly.

Basic Requirements

  • Basic Studio Kit – A single flash with an umbrella will often suffice, read my article about getting started with off-camera flash.
  • Tripod – A basic tripod will do as your subjects will most probably be staying on the same spot anyway
  • ID template cutters or layout software – Saves you time from measuring photo size requirements.
  • Background paper – for color variation
  • Black/White illustration boards for flagging and reflecting light

Children’s Birthday Parties


The advice of never to deal with kids (and animals) in photography is pretty much true unless you have the patience and the uncanny ability to connect with them quickly. However, shooting birthday parties are rather different and it is a high-value service for many parents.

Let’s make some generic assumptions first:

Kiddie birthday bashes are held only in special occasions such as the 1st birthday.

Most parents already have their hands full trying to manage the party, their 1-yo baby, and the guests as well, let alone take pictures.

Most clients are after the documentation of the event and not the style or technicalities that are required for grander events such as weddings, debuts, bar mitzvah, etc. As long as you exposed well and had the celebrant featured well, they’ll be happy about the service.

Children’s birthdays are relatively short and confined to a small(er) space. On average, a birthday party lasts 2-3 hours long in a relatively small area such as a fast-food chain.

Basic Requirements

  • Flash guns (at least 2 with ample batteries) – You’ll be shooting hyper-active kids a lot and unpredictable toddlers as well, so make sure you have enough juice in your flashes to keep photos sharp and well-lit.
  • On-site printer – A Canon SELPHY CP800 or comparable printer is highly recommended as the prints are durable and the printer is small. You can make quite a few on-site snapshots of the guests’ children as well.
  • Endurance – Sorry, it’s not an equipment, but children’s birthdays can be a back-wrenching ordeal with all the crouching and shooting from kids’ eye-level shooting.

Final Advice

Don’t get greedy with high-priced markets when you’re just starting out. Especially if you have doubts on whether your work is at par with your competition.

Start with the lower-end of the market and price accordingly. If, or when you decide to move up the market segment, then adjust your service and price to suit your targeted market.

Don’t just sell the photographs, sell the value of what your photographs can bring to their business. As with any sales and marketing endeavor, showing your client how much value they’ll be getting for their photography investment is easier than trying to do any hard-selling.

So there are your three quick ways to make money from photography without the need for elaborate equipment, high-level of technical skills, or advanced business skills.

Hone your craft, serve your clients well, and over-deliver! The value and satisfaction you’ll give your clients will far exceed the monetary rewards you’ll gain as well.

Good luck and do post your comments below about your first paid gig!

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