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Quick Tip: How to Make Money From Photography

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This post is part of a series called The Photography Business.
10 Steps for Building a Photography Portfolio to Be Proud Of

As a photographer, I'm asked one question over and over again. How do I make money from photography? I would say almost everyone I know owns a camera in one form or another, but only very few of them have found a way to turn a profit from their photos. Today we're going to suggest a few quick ideas you might not have tried before!

Shoot and Sell Stock Photography

Taking stock photos has never been easier. The principal being simply go out and shoot high-quality photos, upload them to a stock website and then wait for people to buy them (for use in magazines, websites, design - you name it).

People are after all different types of stock images - from textures to fashion models. My advice would be to shoot one particular style of stock and become good at what you do. Trying to sell a random mix is often difficult, as my fellow friends have found. When people view your images, they often look for a collection of the same kind.

If you are thinking about selling stock as a complete beginner, you might be frustrated at first. Many stock photo websites have a high standard, and you may need to brush up on various aspects of your photography before you start seeing success!

Good sites to sell stock photography include:

  • iStockPhoto – One of the best known stock websites, although you have to reach certain criteria to be accepted
  • Getty Images – Sells a high range of different styles of stocks - very pro!
  • Jupiter images - One of the leading stock sites at the current time.
  • Fotolia - Very popular, but with thousands of images, yours can easily be hidden.

We covered a few more of these in our article entitled 15 Stock Photography Sites to Sell Your Photos – For Beginners and Pros.

make money from photography

Market Your Images as Prints

Putting your prints up for sale can be really easy.  The hard part is getting people to purchase them!

To begin with you could try and upload your images to a printing website, and then just hope someone will stop by and purchase one. If this happens, the website you upload them to will often take a chunk of the profit. In return, they deal with all the printing and posting of the end product. It's easy to do, but the returns can be minimal.

A few sites to explore for this are:

  • Red Bubble - An attractive website with growing popularity
  • Imagekind.com - One of the biggest print websites online
  • Picasso Mio - Showcase to 200,000 monthly visitors with free unlimited uploading

Secondly, you could print your own images and then attempt to sell them straight to the customer (or get a local gallery to sell your images on your behalf). This takes more time, but is likely to have a higher success rate. Remember to sell prints which people would want in their houses - a photo of your cat or dog probably isn't the way to go!

make money from photography

Get Hired!

Being hired as a photographer, in my opinion, is the hardest thing on this list. It can be a slow ride getting to the top. I remember my first time was an exciting experience, being the official photographer for a music video to raise money for a local charity. I didn't earn a penny by the time I added transport costs, but I got my name out to a lot of companies at the shoot.

The easiest way in my opinion to start out is to advertise yourself as a photographer to local businesses. You might be lucky and find yourself getting yourself your first job. Building your portfolio this way is important, and you'll receive more work through word-of-mouth if you're good.

My word of caution would be not to take on more than you can cope with. For example, attempting a shoot a wedding without preparation or the correct gear could be disastrous. Don’t accept a job you know you cannot do!

make money from photography

Buy and Sell Equipment

It sounds silly, but instead of taking photos why not try and sell photographic equipment? If you're already a photography expert, you're in a perfect situation to advertise and sell to the correct kind of people.

I have friends who have sold simple accessories (such as filters) to help pay for their university tuition fees. To start, simply be brave. Order a bulk batch of a certain item, and then use the internet to sell them. eBay already offers plenty of interest and traffic - all you have to do is set a reasonable price and deal with people professionally.

make money from photography

Share Your Knowledge (For a Price!)

If you feel you've reached a good enough level to be able to teach people, then go ahead! You could always set up a camera club and charge people to come and learn new techniques. Others take people away on photography courses to a new and different location - a beautiful landscape, for instance.

make money from photography


A You a Profitable Photographer?

Is photography just a wonderful hobby for you, or do you manage to make a living from it as well? Let us know in the comments!

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