Photography Jobs: 41 Ways to Make Money as a Freelance Photographer

Photography jobs can help you make money doing something you love, either by providing a career path or just letting you make some extra money on the side.

We put together this list of 41 ways to make money doing photography to help you drum up ideas—and clients.

One thing you’ll notice as you look through this list of photography jobs is that almost anything could be turned into a job. If someone is making money in an industry and uses images to promote their work—or could use images and doesn’t realize it—most likely, that could be a photography job.

Let’s dive in.

To make this list as useful as possible we’ve organized it into categories:

Art Photography

Credit: Adam Rhodes

1. Open an Etsy Shop

Freelance photographers can sell prints by opening an online Etsy shop. Consumers want alternatives to the unoriginal art sold at box stores that anyone can own. And it’s a great way to get your art out there with almost no start-up costs.

Physical prints typically sell from $20 and up and digital prints start around $3 and up. Come up with a general plan for your shop, thinking about your business name and how you want your customers to feel when they land on your shop page. Because you’re already a photographer, it’ll be easy for you to organize your photographs in a cohesive way and stage pictures of your work, when necessary.

2. Take on high fashion photography

There are many online communities where you can find models near you to start shooting, discovering your own style, and building your portfolio. When you’re aiming to appear in a magazine, study the style the magazine tends to publish, but also be true to yourself and let your original style shine through.

The fashion industry is all about networking and maintaining relationships. Network with makeup artists, models, designers, editors, hair stylists, and other photographers on social media—and remember to be nice. Consider working as an apprentice or assistant photographer. Once you feel like you’ve got a strong portfolio, find an agent. The road to success may be a long one so keep shooting and once you land an agent, the hard work will be well worth it.

3. Photograph dancers

Network with your local dance studios or theater companies and politely ask if you can take some pictures of rehearsals. It’s a good way of networking while getting some good shots for your portfolio.

After familiarizing yourself with that network, you may be the first freelance photographer a dancer seeks out to take portraits for their own portfolios or you may be the photographer a stage manager taps to take pictures for their promotional pamphlets.

4. Set the scene for boudoir shots

Boudoir shots are very trendy and they are both a perfect and unique gift for lovers. Tap a few friends and have fun bringing out the sexy in them while you take some classy (or sassy) photos.

After you have a portfolio together, try partnering with a local lingerie shop to get new clients or create a referral program. You can even tap into the burlesque community and offer free sessions featuring stars or influencers in that space.

5. Curate your fine art photographs

Fine art photographers create and sell visual images of artistic merit to achieve a distinct style that galleries or companies would be interested in purchasing.

Once you’re comfortable with your point of view, start thinking about moving your art into a photographic series. Have a cohesive concept and tell a story about something. Enter local art shows and table at farmers’ markets and festivals. Display your art in local shops. You can even curate your own show when you’re ready to show off multiple projects. Options are endless: sell your art to calendar companies, greeting card companies, local shops, etc.

6. Capture unique architectural elements

You can start by getting in with a new real estate agent and take photos of real estate listings. Or work with a contractor for before and after photos. Or a building material supplier for the same reason.

Create a mood with lighting and angles to really set the scene. Don’t be afraid to take things out or put elements in while editing. Is there a fireplace? Light a fire in editing. Is a pesky pole in the middle of your shot? Take it out later. Use levels to make sure vertical lines are always straight.

Eventually, you can build up to working with marketing managers at hotels, architectural firms, and real estate agencies.

7. Photograph the outdoors

Shoot local in iconic locations and as you travel, seek out the iconic locations of that locale. People want pictures of places where they have made memories, not necessarily pictures of the most beautiful random waterfall or sunset.

Write articles for wilderness publications and include your photos. Publish a book of all your Smokey Mountain sunrises. Sell themed calendars and postcards. Create a workshop around your specific skill.

Business Photography

Credit: Lily Banse

8. Amazon and Other Online Platforms

Spruce up commercial advertising. Every business needs great photos to help them stand out in the crowd. Product photos are an important piece that can help snazz up a website and it’s something every business needs. Employee portraits give a company a more human feel. And getting the right shot for a targeted ad can help the company get a better return on the investment.

You can pitch a company on one of the above, or create packages that can be customizable to their needs. Where should you start? Approach start-ups or create partnerships to build your portfolio.

9. Help restaurants sell their food

Restaurants want people to know how delicious their food tastes, but it has to look good too. Team up with a food stylist and a prop stylist to help make sure the food presents well. Take shots from different angles and include some of the table settings too, not just the food. Get some hands in the shot and be sure the food is well-lit.

Your pictures will be used for their menus, advertising on social media, and for the restaurant’s walls, so take your time and enjoy the process.

10. Photograph hotel rooms

When people look for hotels, good pictures are essential. People want to see where they are going to rest their heads while they are on vacation. Step one: get a wide angle lens with a full-frame sensor camera so you have the flexibility to capture a large portion of the room if you want to. Since most interior shots require a longer shutter speed, use a tripod to keep steady. 

The goal is to make someone feel like this will be their home away from home. Fill the bathtub with water. Bring out the robes from the closet. Pour some champagne. Much like architectural photography, you can always add elements in or take elements out during the editing process, and be sure to use levels here too.9. Capture event spaces. Partner with event planners and other vendors that need to promote their creations. This will be a great way to network with the event space owners who can hook you up with other gigs, like shooting the event itself.

11. Photograph events

Events like conventions, talks, conferences, and the like need good pictures to show how successful the event was and to help promote the event if it’s recurring. Use those vendor connections you made photographing event spaces to get your next photography job doing this kind of work.

12. Photograph jewelry and tiny products

Jewelry can be tricky to photograph due to its size. But a well photographed piece can help sellers sell jewelry for more than they bought it for.

For this photography jobs, it’s important to keep in mind backgrounds, props, lighting, color schemes, and effects. Make it sparkle with the use of soft light and hard light. You can reach out to brick and mortar shops and online stores to help them sell their jewelry faster and at a higher price by taking gorgeous photos of their shiny products.

13. Become a product photographer

Whether it’s clothes, household items, etc, businesses need great photos of their products to sell, whether it’s on their own website or on a 3rd party site like Amazon.

Reach out to local artisans to see if they need some product photos. Go to your farmer’s market to do some networking. Remember to bring some examples of your work and your business cards.

14. Photograph politics

Political leaders like to have photos taken of them out in their communities with their constituents. Start local, and consider volunteering to start. Once you have a portfolio, then you can build on that.

You can also photograph organizers taking to the streets, or fundraising events that community organizations and nonprofits put on.

15. Photograph lawn maintenance

Lawn maintenance companies have a desperate need for before and after shots. These pictures can be posted on their Google My Business profiles and social media, helping them bring in new clients year round and generally grow their local online presence.

Lawn maintenance companies hustle in the spring and summer, so try contacting them in the winter before their busy season kicks into gear so they have the time and brain space to see the value you can add to their advertising.

16. Shoot vacation properties

With companies like AirBnB and VRBO, vacation properties are popping up in everyone’s neighborhoods. Some cities require neighborhood approval of rental properties. Go to the neighborhood meetings and try to network. Bring examples of your work with you and business cards too so they know how to contact you if they need professional photos taken.

17. Capture local businesses that want to showcase their location

Local businesses need great pictures of their location so new customers know what to expect when they arrive at their location for the first time. These pictures are important for their Google My Business listings as well and can be used on their social media platforms.

Since this is local, Google some businesses around town and see if they have a listing with location photos. If not, walk in and show them the value you can provide.

18. Food photography for cookbooks

Chefs and cooks are making their recipes known by creating cookbooks. Just like shooting for restaurants, you may want to consider partnering with a food stylist and a prop stylist.

Since this is essentially a how-to book, take pictures every step of the way and be sure to tell a story through your pictures in a cohesive way.

19. Take headshots

CEOs, employees, politicians, models, actors, etc. all need professional headshots to present themselves as professional. Join the better business bureau and go to some events to network. People are always looking for great photographers.

Businesses can use the photos on their website and use them on their LinkedIn profiles.

20. Take shots to replace stock photos

Does a business use stock photos? Offer to take pictures of their actual work environment. Capture employees going about their day. Spruce up their website by taking pictures that actually reflect what they have on the page or their mission.

Drone Photography/Videography

21. Real Estate

Realtors are using all kind of materials collected by drones to help sell their properties. The list includes aerial stills, videos, and even 3D maps created from data captured by drone.

These different types of media help realtors showcase the property, allowing potential buyers to imagine themselves there, which can be especially useful if they can’t visit in person. 

For large estates, drone pilots can even make orthomosaic maps to showcase the grounds.

22. Construction

Photos of construction sites taken by drone are being used to help construction companies show progress to clients, advertise their work, and do safety surveys to see where there might be safety concerns on a site.

23. Agriculture

Farmers of both large and small operations are using photos taken by drone to manage their crops.

This kind of work is called precision agriculture, and refers to using data to improve the processes that go into farming.

24. Drone Photos for Journalism

Journalists use drone photos and videos to support their work in various formats, from print to video.

Some journalists use aerial media as only a piece of their reporting, while others focus solely on drone footage, making it central to the reporting they do.

25. Filmmaking

As drones have become more mainstream their use has grown in supporting cinematography.

Drones are now commonly used to add extra context to films, by providing an aerial view. More recently, FPV drones have been used to shoot action sequences in movies like Ambulance and Red Notice.

26. Inspections

Drone photos and videos can be used for a variety of inspections.

One of the most common types of inspections that drone photos support is roof inspections, which are typically conducted as part of a home inspection.

Drone photos and videos are also being used for industrial inspections, such as those done of industrial assets like boilers, pressure vessels, or even nuclear reactors.

Networking

Credit: Gonzalo Facello 

27. Be an apprentice

This one doesn’t always pay upfront, but it’s a great investment in your photography career. You can get hands-on experience and learn how you want to run your own business—and sometimes how you don’t want to run your business.

Research some photographers that you admire and reach out to see if they would be interested in having you as an apprentice. Or look for ads placed in online databases.

28. Become a second shooter

If you have a photography acquaintance that has a large event they are shooting and needs a little help, step up to the plate and be a second shooter. This is especially needed for wedding photography where every moment counts and every angle can really tell a story about the big day.

Industry

Credit: Jakob Owens 

29. Enroll on a cruise Ship

If you’re open to travel and being at sea for a set period of time, working as a photographer on a cruise ship can be a great way to get a reliable salary while also helping you build your portfolio. Pay for cruise ship photography can start at anywhere from $1,500 to over $3,000 a month and typically includes free room and board.

30. Travel photography

Want to travel the world? Getting a photography job as a travel photographer can be a great way to live an adventurous life and make sure you have the funds to keep your travels going. Travel photography could be a lifestyle business—that is, work that sustains your travels and keeps you afloat—or it could also be work you do on assignment. Some travel photographers make enough to support their travels and lifestyle by combining sales from stock photos, occasional work for local clients they discover on the road like hotels or restaurants, or even growing a social media following connected to documenting their travels. Other more high-end travel photographers travel to specific locations for shoots, and make a good salary while doing it.

31. photojournalism

Photojournalists can work locally, covering the news in their area, or on location, traveling abroad to cover breaking news during wars or other major events. Although a degree in photojournalism would certainly help break into this kind of work, many news outlets favor experience over degrees. If you build a portfolio of your work that showcases how you can get photos in the field during high energy moments—that is, scenarios that are similar to the high energy ones you might face doing photojournalism—that could help you land your first photojournalism job. And once you have your first job, you can bootstrap your way into more regular work, and higher pay, from there.

32. Sports photography

Sports photography is typically a sub-category of photojournalism work, but it’s also its own universe of work. In addition to photography chops, it doesn’t hurt to have some interest or background in sports, so that you can know what to shoot. But that kind of experience isn’t necessarily required to get photography work doing sports photography. The most important thing is to start building a portfolio that showcases your ability to capture the perfect moment during an athletic event. Good pictures can help you get your first gig, and you can build from there.

33. Wildlife photography

If you love to be outside with your thoughts for long periods of time, enjoying nature, wildlife photography may be a good line of work for you. If you’re trying to get pictures of animals, a photography job in wildlife photography will typically require you to be patient and still in a single place until the creatures you’re looking for show up.

34. Scientific photography

Work as a scientific photographer focuses primarily on providing clear, accurate representations of your subjects so that you can help illustrate the work being done. Photos taken through microscopes are one type of scientific photography. But the work doesn’t have to be so strictly defined, and could also include taking pictures of glaciers over time to show how they’re melting due to climate change, pictures of a volcano after an eruption to illustrate aspects of how the eruption took place, and other real world scenarios like that.

35. Military photography

The military has public affairs divisions for each of its branches, and one of the jobs this division takes care of is photography. These photographers may work on a base, taking photos of soldiers and other military personnel. Or they may work on deployment in places where soldiers are stationed, both during combat or during non-combat. To do military photography work, you’ll typically need to be enrolled in one of the branches of the military. If you know you want to enroll anyway, pursuing this type of work could help you build skills and a portfolio to prepare yourself for a career when you exit your service and return to civilian life.

36. Funeral photography

This work may not be for the faint of heart. But it’s essential photography work for the loved ones of the deceased. An important thing to keep in mind for this type of photography job is that it is unlike almost any other you might take on. Since people are grieving, even though they may want to document the funeral and interment (the first is a ceremony, the second is the act of burial), they may not want to pose or have the photographer intrude on the day’s events. Often, in this role you’ll be there as an observer who documents what happens, rather than as someone orchestrating and posing subjects, like you might at a wedding.

37. photography teacher

Want to share your knowledge with others? Working as a photography teacher can be a rewarding way to share what you’ve learned, and to make a living while you do it. Photography teachers can work in a variety of ways—offering workshops directly to students, working at local community colleges or universities, teaching full-time at middle or high schools. You can also work online as a photography teacher by recording videos of lessons or insights, by creating stand alone courses, or even by offering instruction to groups or one-on-one to students via video calls.

38. photography Editor

The secret to any good photography job is editing. And some professional photographers are so busy they take on extra editors to help them process their work. Photography editing can be a fairly broad term. It could refer to the first step in the process, which involves sorting through hundreds of raw photos to find the ones worth editing. Or it could refer to the more involved and high-skilled work of taking a raw photo and using tools like Photoshop or Lightroom to turn it into a finished product that can be deliver to a client.

39. Medical Photography

A medical photographer takes pictures of illnesses, conditions, and injuries that can be used in textbooks or articles, in order to show the topic that is being discussed.

40. Clinical Photography

Similar to medical photography, a clinical photographer takes pictures of a patient’s injuries or other medical conditions. These photos are used for the patient’s records, and, if the patient has been attacked, could even be used as evidence for a criminal investigation or future trial.

41. Influencer Photography

Influencer’s are almost always good at photography. It’s true that some strictly use their iPhones to take pictures, but iPhones are now robust cameras, and you can get some incredible pictures with them. Influencer photography is its own universe, and one of the most important aspects of doing it is also learning how to do internet marketing and growing a social media following. You might have incredible photos optimized perfectly for Instagram, but you’ll also need to get savvy about how to grow you’re following if you want to get a large enough audience to get sponsorships, make money from advertising, or grow other revenue channels from your influencer efforts.

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