Considering that there are such a huge number of photographers out there, it is not easy to make a place for yourself in the photography industry. However, no one ever said it was impossible. You may have to start small by engaging in the pursuit along with your full-time job.

You will gain some more knowledge and experience and perhaps do things you may not particularly like before you are able to make a living from this hobby.

Photography: How to Make a Living from Your Hobby?

© | sergey causelove

In this article, we’ll take you through 1) ideas and tips to make money from photography, 2) enhance your knowledge and experience, 3) marketing is essential, and 4) how to keep costs low.


Sign up with sites that pay for photographs

You can sell the photographs you take, to websites and get a percentage of the income from your photos that get sold. The usual procedure is to sign up with these sites and maybe fulfill certain eligibility criteria such as quality standards. Those of your photos that are accepted by the site will be posted on it for people who like them to purchase them. Whichever be the site you are submitting to, ensure you familiarize yourself with its copyright and ownership information. Some of the sites you can consider are iStockPhoto, Dreamstime, Fotolia, Shutterstock and even which is a great avenue for sale of handmade or vintage supplies and items and distinct factory-produced items.

Participate in photo contests

Photo contests are a great way to see where you stand in comparison to other photographers at the beginner, amateur or professional levels. What’s more, if you’re lucky, you are rewarded.

Take and share photographs of your locality

Capture photos of your local area. After that, devote one day to visiting local cafes, restaurants, law firms, fitness centers or other places that might have a bare hallway or wall that could do with some ornamentation. Offer to display prints of your photographs there for no cost. At the same time, you can have your contact and price information (tags) clearly visible. There is a possibility that your local photos would be well appreciated by local eyes.

Be open to itsy bitsy, one-off and low-paying jobs

Until you can establish yourself, it is advisable to be open to itsy bitsy, one-off and low-paying jobs. Well-placed photographers can afford to reject jobs that they feel either don’t pay well or are beneath them, but you can’t. Whether someone asks you to photograph vegetables or DIY-related photos or anything else that may seem silly at first, be open to it. Also, don’t bother about the pay initially. Take solace in the fact that some money is better than no money. These small and/or low-paying jobs would give you valuable experience and a portfolio that would lead you to better jobs and later to great jobs with a great pay.

Offer your services to friends, family, acquaintances

This is a great way to start off. You can offer to take photos for family gatherings, other get-togethers, small work events and so on. Opportunities such as these will help you get some experience as well as gradually improve on the quality of your photos.

Sell to magazines

With respect to selling photos to magazines, you once again need to be able to stand out. In addition, you need to find the right magazines to suit your photographic style, get in touch with the right persons, follow-up with different magazines at least till you get regular assignments, and possibly even pen an article(s) to go with your photo(s).

Offer to help local websites with photos

In addition to negotiating with local businesses or firms about exhibiting your prints, check out their website. As you look through the website, think whether the website would attract number of prospective customers if the product photography was better or if there were better photographs of their events or staff. If your answer is yes, share what you feel with that particular business or firm. You can even consider offering photography-related solutions for their flyers and other advertising material.

Follow trends

As hinted at the outset of the article, to get into the photography business, you must be prepared to photograph aspects that you may not love all that much. The secret to success is creating a balance between capturing what you love and capturing whatever’s trending at the moment. To have an idea of what’s popular at the moment, closely watch what’s appearing in magazines, in addition to websites and competitors.

Identify what makes you stand out

The very competitive industry that it is, it is really not easy to stand out. One suggestion is to find out if a certain area of photography is not being covered by any of the other photographers in your locality or area. For example, if none of them do real estate photography, perhaps you can try your hand at that. If you find that this is an area you can definitely handle, you can proceed with it.

Conduct a portrait party

This is a fun-filled way to bring in money. All you have to do is host the photographic counterpart of a Tupperware party for a group of friends who you can invite to your home. Make sure you’re ready with the pre-sets in Lightroom so that post-production is fast. At the close of the party, you can pitch the photos to your friends.

T-shirt designing and greeting cards

The good thing about T-shirts and greeting cards is that you can sell the same photograph plenty of times. Multiple opportunities are available for selling photographs for greeting cards owing to the considerable number of annual events that can be covered, all over the globe. With respect to T-shirts, people would be willing to spend for a T-shirt that carries an image(s) of something/someone they love such as a celebrity or sport star. Be careful about such photographs – they should not violate image copyright laws. You can be very creative with T-shirts, providing funny or serious photos or even incorporating graphics in addition to the photographs to make a T-shirt design really stand out.

Take classes

If you are confident of your skills and have got a lot of good feedback or positive critique for your photos, you can consider taking photography or videography classes for people wishing to pursue this hobby or interest. This is especially the case when no one else in your area is offering classes of this nature.

Engage in photo editing

Photo editing may not be photography in the strict sense however only someone with a photographer’s eye can do it well. Photo editing is a skill increasing in demand and for which there are possibilities of a great pay. In addition to having a good understanding of what a good photo is about, people engaging in photo editing should be familiar with the use of various photo editing software.

Be willing to invest some money for the sake of quality

Be prepared to spend a lot of money (and time too) even if you’re just a hobbyist. An entry level camera and kit lens will do to capture some awesome photographs but accessories (such as tripods, software and filters) are important so don’t avoid them. It will also be good to devote some time to gaining experience by taking photos, sharing them, asking for critiques and improving accordingly.


You can consider doing one or more professional courses in photography so that there is a greater chance of people buying your photographs or requesting your services. Going for a course and practicing different shots will possibly also help you realize where your interests lie or what kind of photography you like doing. Given below are some of the photography specializations you can consider if you want to get seriously into the business.

Wedding photography

This kind of photography has a comparatively low cost to entry. If you know plenty of people in their early to mid 20’s, you could just make them your clients. To be closer to pleasing the groom and bride with your shots, you must be able to communicate well with them to know things like what their vision and expectations are and the people they would like featured in the album.

Stock photography

Stock photography involves providing photographs which are frequently licensed for specific purposes. When taking photos for stock photography, one point you need to keep in mind is that the kind of photographs people are in search of are those that would be helpful for the sale of a product or service to their customers.

Portrait photography

Portrait photography, frequently also known by the term “portraiture,” is photography of one or more subjects, capturing their personality, facial expressions and features prominently by way of effective backdrops, lighting and/or poses.

Landscape photography

This type of photography is ideal for those who tend to like to just stop and take in the beauty of the natural scenery around and capture it on camera.

Real estate photography

This involves taking photos of the interior and exterior of a house for real estate agents to utilize for the purpose of selling the house.  The great thing about this kind of photography is that it doesn’t call for much in terms of gear. Just a DSLR, a tripod and a wide-angle lens would be greatly helpful.

Wildlife photography

As the name suggests, it involves capturing wildlife or non-domesticated animals (and also their natural habitat) through the lens. It is a challenging kind of photography. To do it well, photographers should have a good camera, a strong flashlight, several lens, be able to expose accurately and possess sound technical skills. In addition, they should be patient and have good field craft skills. These are the fundamental military skills necessary to survive in the field and include camouflage, stealth and observation. The majority of wildlife pictures are taken for display at exhibitions or to be printed in journals.

Fine Art Photography

Also known by the terms “artistic photography” and “photographic art,” fine art photography refers to an inexact class of photographs developed in line with the cameraman’s creative vision. The intention of the photography is aesthetic.

The fine art photography industry is saturated, and there is only limited wall space. So if you want to survive in it, you may need to develop a fan base.

Apart from going for a professional course or specializing, you can consider shadowing a pro or working as a trainee in another photographer’s studio. The income may not be much, but you’ll get some useful know-how and experience.


You can’t expect people to come to you for business if you don’t get the word out.

For starters, you should have a website. Your website can be an avenue through which you share things like your portfolio, contact information and previous customer references. For help with this, check out sites like SmugMug, PhotoMerchant and PhotoShelter.

Secondly, get a memorable business card created for yourself and distribute it to as many people as you can. A suggestion to make the card memorable is to not just print on the front side, but on the back too. So if you’re printing your contact information on the front, maybe you can consider including something like a few tips to look better in photos at the back of the card. After finishing a project for one client, you can consider giving him a couple of your business cards, possibly hinting that you would appreciate if he would refer your business to others who may need it.

There are also a number of free and paid web-based advertising options that you can consider. The list includes, Google Places, Bing Maps and YouTube.

A final suggestion is to leverage social media. Once you’ve built platforms on the social media platforms (Facebook, Google+, Twitter and so on), try to devote at least 5 minutes every day to interact with your followers and post original updates.


Share studio space

This is a great option for a photography business that is not yet established or for photographers who don’t yet have a studio space of their own and are in need of one. You can share both the costs and the responsibility of maintaining the space.

Use the services of an accountant

As the demand for your photos increases, it would be good to hire an accountant. Some of the ways his services would help are: ensuring that you are filing your taxes in accordance with law, optimizing use of your personal and business funds and maximizing yearly returns.

Consider renting equipment instead of buying (wherever possible)

Renting photography equipment or buying used equipment will help you experiment with different cameras and another equipment while also controlling costs. Thus, you can enhance your photography skills by trying out various kinds of lighting fixtures, lenses and so. This sort of experimentation will also help you find the tools that are most suitable for your requirements. At the same time, there’s nothing wrong with purchasing equipment if you intend to use them frequently.

Build your tripod

As you make progress with your photography, you may feel the need for a still surface in the form of a tripod, to take pictures. You can save on the cost of the tripod by making one on your own. All you need are items typically found in a home such as a tennis ball or plastic bottle, a bolt and nut.

Develop and/or print pictures at home

Doing so will not only enable you to have considerable control over your shots and their editing but also save you plenty of money and time. Editing and printing by yourself will only cost you a fraction of what it would cost when done by someone else. For the purpose of developing manual pictures, you just have to create a darkroom environment within your house. With respect to printing, your photos would get a professional appearance when printed on quality photo paper.

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