Wondering how to make money with photography? We’ve rounded up the most common and lucrative types of photography to get you started. While professional photography is a competitive field, there are many different opportunities out there.
Let’s dig in.
What Types Of Photography Can Make You Money?
Portrait photography is one of the most common types of photography, and it’s probably what you’re thinking about when considering starting a career in photography. It is remarkable how so many types of photography can be integrated into portraiture.
For instance, retail customers often seek out portrait photographers for every stage of their lives: newborns and maternity, senior photos, school photos, and general family photos.
Corporate portraits are also commonly needed by employees when updating their headshots for websites and publicity materials.
Professional and aspiring models alike are also in constant need of updated portfolios with a catalog of current shots to market themselves for jobs and agencies.
Portraiture is a great place to start as a budding photographer. If you can build a great portfolio of quality shots, you can easily create more business. You will find yourself working with more families and subjects as word-of-mouth marketing does its magic.
It can also set you up for more fashion-related hobbies and product photography gigs.
Event photography is a fast-paced and dynamic form of photography that lets you make money with your camera. Whether you want to focus on wild and crazy rock concerts or corporate events, event photography will have you work in a variety of settings.
This field of photography often involves a mixture of portraiture and photojournalistic documentary work. Some organizations use event photography for publicity, while others use event photos as keepsakes or souvenirs.
About a decade ago, food photography as a niche would be a lot more difficult to break into. However, in today’s world, social media has influenced us to keep taking photos of our food, whether for marketing purposes or fun.
Under the current smartphone camera specs, it might not even be necessary to use a stand-alone professional camera. A decent smartphone, along with the proper lighting for food photography, will be enough to capture truly mouth-watering food shots.
A few things to note about food photography — ensure the white balance is set properly to get accurate colors. Consider also boosting the saturation of your images, especially the yellows and the reds, in post-processing to have the food look more appealing.
This is another way of referring to environmental or scenic photography. Landscape photography typically involves taking pictures of a natural scene, often large and grand (sometimes more intimate and smaller), such that it brings the viewer into the scene.
It’s one of the most popular forms of photography today, with several sub-genres such as seascapes, storm photography, and so on.
With a broader definition, it also includes urban landscape and man-made scenes. While landscape photography is a rather accessible type of photography, it doesn’t mean it’s easy to master.
If all these photography types sound good to you, you might want to consider stock photography. Stock photographers usually sell the rights to their images through catalogs. While they can work as freelancers, they often allow agencies to handle their sales.
Stock sales generally don’t pay much by use, but the goal of a successful stock photographer is to have an extensive catalog of images that they can sell often. Once the photos are uploaded and put on the market, they can provide a source of passive income.
Wildlife photography is all about the wonderful subjects of animals in the wild. It’s a type of photography that involves great concentration and patience. When done well, photos can be magical.
Only a few people get to travel to exotic locations and see some of the greatest beasts in the wild for a living. Wildlife photography allows us to see magnificent creatures from the most remote of locations.
Nature photography is mainly focused on capturing the natural elements of our world— animals, plants, and landscapes. Photos can effectively capture wide views of far-reaching landscapes along with small details of plants and animals.
There are as many ways to capture nature on a camera as there are species of animals and plants. With nature photography, you will never run out of ideas.
Drones have opened up a whole world of possibilities in photography. You can now capture outstanding aerial shots without having your feet leave the ground.
And as the prices of drones drop and they become more accessible, it’s only natural that drone photography will increase in popularity creating an opportunity for income too.
This is one of the most popular forms of photography. Many photographers like to document when they see it in the streets. Street photography is all about capturing real life on the street. The result is often candid photos showcasing life in cities and towns.
Unlike documentary photography and photojournalism, there’s no story here. Street photography is not about the narrative; rather, the photographer is just an observer of the present.
We have a separate guide on making money from street photography you can read here.
Do you enjoy traveling? Would you like to get paid for it? Who wouldn’t? Travel photography lets you do just that — have fun with your camera in different settings. It blends different types of photography into one.
You might want to focus on the people and the lifestyles present in a destination on one trip, well capturing the natural world and the landscapes in which it’s located. What life photography and macro details might be included too.
Whether it’s on the beaches of Bali or the icefields of Antarctica, your job as a travel photographer is transporting your audience to the destination without having them leave their homes.
How To Make Money From Photography Online
If you’re looking to learn how you can make money from your love of photography, we have some tips to get you started. In a world where people are pursuing side hustles through the gig economy, earning money through photography has never been more achievable.
We’ve rounded up some of the best online opportunities that budding photographers should seize to start earning money through photography.
Contribute to stock photography
One key benefit of contributing to stock photography platforms is that it’s an easy way to learn what people like and are looking for in your work. All you have to do is build a collection of images that tell a story you want to tell with your photography.
You then upload them online and add metadata and appropriate titles. This way, clients will easily find your photos, and you can make a decent passive income from your stock photography.
It’s worth noting that you don’t have to upload everything you shoot. Instead, curate and shoot work based on the current trends.
Sell prints online
If you’ve practiced enough, there’s a good chance that you have a portfolio of amazing shots by now. So good might be some of them that there will be people willing to buy them. Why not sell them?
One of the easiest ways to sell photos online is through a third-party seller. They will essentially do everything for you – process orders, print, and send out the prints. In return, they will give you a good commission.
Alternatively, you can sell your prints on Etsy, which might be a bit cost-effective. All you need is to print the image, put it up on the website, and send the print to the buyer.
In case there are any refunds or complaints, you’ll have to handle them yourself. You can also bypass Etsy and sell the prints yourself through your website or blog.
Build a photography blog
Building a photography blog or website is an effective way of getting your work seen. With a blog that complements your portfolio, you will have one of the most powerful tools you can leverage.
To build a website, you only need to buy a domain name and hosting for the website. You can then use web development systems like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace, get a theme, and install some plugins. Publish your first post, and you’re good to go!
You can earn more money on your photography blog by sharing and marketing your work on social media platforms. If you’re personable and enjoy putting yourself out there, creating fresh content and blogging can be a profitable way of earning money with your photography.
Create educational materials and online tutorials
Creating educational guides doesn’t have to be complicated.
You can choose to work with a graphic designer to help you develop a creative template for your guide, or you can just use an online platform to create a template. Google Slides and Shutterstock Editor are great places to start.
Once you have the material you want to sell, you can embed the PDF on your site to sell your guide online. You can even release a tiered version of your guide, with a Pro version and a free version to ensure you earn money while promoting your guide to a larger audience.
You can also host virtual workshops and create online tutorials to teach people about photography. If you have a knack for teaching, reach out to people and show them how it’s done through a course or one-on-one.
You can make a good living from this, whether in the form of selling courses or with one-on-one sessions.
RELATED READING: How to Make Money From Photography Online (Ultimate Guide)
How To Make Money From iPhone Photography
Taking a photo has never been easier, as many of us are walking around with a camera right in our pocket. Thanks to the Internet and the rise of online businesses, making money with your iPhone camera has never been easier than in 2022.
Sell your spare iPhone pics
Dozens of websites let you sell your iPhone pictures for money. They accept photo submissions and then add them to a large archive of searchable images.
Whenever a person visits the site and purchases your image, you get a share of the revenue. To increase the chances that customers buy your images, consider using photo editing apps to make your photography shine.
Become a freelance photographer
Professionals of all kinds and industries are now using the iPhone camera to create high-quality photography work. You can get not only super high-quality images from an iPhone but also shoot high-quality videos.
If you have a good eye for color, composition, and depth, you can get hired as a freelance photographer. And while you may not want to show up to a family photoshoot with only an iPhone, freelance photographers don’t just do family groups and weddings.
You can make money with food photography, editorial photography, commercial photography, and more.
To make a significant amount as an iPhone photographer, consider picking a niche, marketing yourself, and sticking to it. As you become well known in your niche, you will be able to make more money with your iPhone camera.
Complete visual tasks
You can also complete visual tasks for Google and other research companies to make money from your iPhone.
Some corporations need help to ensure that their in-store signage is set up accurately, their employees are following the corporate guidelines, and their promotions are running as intended.
This is where Field Agent comes in – it’s an app that gives you a list of tasks that you can complete with your iPhone camera locally or places you are already visiting.
Start a YouTube or social media brand
While this won’t make you instantly rich, if you do it right, it can pay off in the long run.
In the past few years, influencer marketing has become even more attractive to companies, and if you can build a strong following on social media platforms, some companies will be willing to pay well to sponsor your content.
How To Make Money From Instagram Photography
Guilty of spending a bit too much time scrolling through Instagram and spending all day crafting and styling the perfect post? Well, you can turn this into a successful side hustle. Here’s how you can make money with Instagram photography.
Become an influencer
An influence is simply a person that has amassed a huge following and an online reputation by consistently generating excellent content and distributing it on different social media platforms, including Instagram, thereby having a great reach and influence.
Brands are finding it difficult to match this reach and influence and will often turn to influences to help them spread the word about their products. However, you don’t need to have a large number of followers to get brand sponsorship.
All you need to do is establish a solid reputation as a photographer on IG, and the larger companies will most likely seek you out. You can also contact them directly by signing up for their influencer marketing programs.
This is quite similar to being an influencer; however, you will be more concerned about generating sales for a business in exchange for a fee instead of brand awareness. You can accomplish this by including a targeted link in your profile’s bio area or the captions of each post.
Offer a paid service
If you’re a professional photographer and specialize in event photography, you can grow your audience through Instagram. It’s often difficult for photographers to find new clients, but you can always use Instagram to advertise your business and get the word out there.
Publish your finest photos and ensure you include the proper geotags and hashtags so that customers in your area will see you and consider booking you.
Enter photography competitions
There are many creative photography competitions on Instagram you can enter to win prizes. You will not only get the chance to win fabulous prizes or thousands of dollars in cash but also get the opportunity to test the limits of your creativity and improve your technical skills.
How To Make Money As A Beginner Photographer
When starting your photography career, you might be wondering what it takes to become a paid photographer. Well, some of the most fundamental tips and tricks are usually enough to get you started as you figure out the rest of the stuff as you go.
Here are a few tips on how you can make a buck as a beginner photographer.
Use stock photography websites
Platforms such as Shutterstock and Depositphotos are popular paid photography websites. Many pro photographers earn a living on such websites alone, often making sure that every shot they take is published on these platforms.
Paid photography sites are a great place to start as a beginner as they let you showcase your skills, give you insight into what’s working and what’s not, and garner you an international following as stock photos are often in high demand.
Become an assistant photographer
One of the fastest ways to kickstart your photography career is by assisting a professional photographer in their daily operations. Many pro photographers are often in need of assistance, whether with work delegation or logistics.
Being a beginner can work to your advantage if you are willing to work for a seasoned photographer that is willing to assist you in kick-starting your career.
You may also use this opportunity to collect references and potential clients for the future, all while learning the ropes of what a career in photography entails.
You can easily market yourself inexpensively on the web. While building a personal online portfolio is important, you should make it visible to potential clients.
Sharing your content on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram will put you on the radar of potential clients that might just like your work.
How much money can you make from photography?
Theoretically, you are in control of how much money you make as a photographer. Once you are set up and running, a photographer can make anywhere between $25,000 and $45,000 a year, based on the niche and time investment.
Which types of photography are the most profitable?
Event photography is perhaps the most profitable niche in photography.
To get a good picture of why this is the case, assume if you can remember the last time you were at a wedding, you could probably see that the bride always had one or two photographers running around and shooting pictures of her.
Similarly, in your favorite artist’s concerts, you might have even noted a bigger number of photographers torturing their cameras during the entirety of the show to capture the perfect photos. All these can be categorized under event photography.
Now picture this; people often look great at these events, and capturing professional photos is a big priority. And since there are tons of events every day, it means you will rarely ever run out of a new chance for a gig.
Is it difficult to make money as a photographer?
Growing a photography business is no different than any other business – the same tried and tested methods apply. You want to come up with a clearly defined service that has a ready market.
Price your services favorably and deliver them exceptionally well. No professional photographer will ever claim that making money consistently with photography is easy; it isn’t. so be ready to apply yourself.
Is it expensive to get started in photography?
While photography can be an expensive hobby, you can get started on virtually any budget – as low as a few hundred dollars to get a starter camera and some lens kit. You could even get started with a decent smartphone camera.
Photography starts getting expensive when you start growing in your abilities as it means outgrowing the gear you’re using. One of the most expensive things you will need to do is purchase professional photography equipment.
Keep in mind that you may have to keep upgrading this equipment over time to better and more modern gear.
Nonetheless, photography is much like any other hobby out there. The price tiers tend to go hand-in-hand with the skill level, equipment quality, and technical requirements, just like with most other hobbies.
For more information, read our ultimate guide to making money from your hobbies here.