Earning money through photography
Earning money through photography is a minefield. There’s so many avenues out there now and especially with the rise of influencers, everyone can be a pretty talented photographer with little effort these days. Standing out is especially hard.
I’ll tell you what I went through and how I got to where I am now. It took about 8 years, and I don’t want other young photographers to wait that long!
So I started out doing fashion and conceptual photography at uni. Everyone told me “You have to go to London.” to ‘make it’. I did not want to go to London, and to be honest I didn’t really want to be a fashion photographer either, preferring my fine art photography. Often people would say “Oh but Tim Walker is doing it!” Yes but Tim Walker is Tim bloody Walker. He’s an absolute artist and there’s already a Tim Walker, there was no space for someone doing similar things and I didn’t want too either!
I went through doing weddings, headshots, family portraits and my main source of income was from stock photography with Getty Images. Never settling on one thing because nothing felt right and nothing other than stock photography was giving me enough of a regular income.
Finally after all that I discovered book cover photography, I won’t relate my entire story but if you’re interested you can see it here. I now have a very regular income, a good income too, doing the photography I absolutely love. Conceptual, dark, light, anything I can think of creatively. It fits my photography style and I love my job. Book covers range from £40-£1000 per cover, so it’s a vast average but you often get re-sales (the publisher buys the image multiple times for different countries etc) and every month I often get over 5 covers minimum so you get the idea. I’ve had one image sell over 11 times for the same cover, it’s great and happens a fair amount.
I’ve personally made an online course outlining exactly every step on becoming a successful book cover photographer, if it’s your kind of thing.
This next section is to talk through what I’ve personally found makes a regular income if you put your mind to it and treat it as a business, not doing what I did and just flit from one to the other. It doesn’t work, rarely works anyway. Especially if you want a consistent income. I won’t be covering all styles of photography of course because I haven’t tried all of them but also I’ve spoken to a range of photographers and some styles of photography just don’t work consistently enough for me to mention.
It’s a myth that you can’t earn money through photography
You can, you just have to find your way of doing so.
You could be a wedding photographer. Weddings will always happen, there is always work, wherever you live. I personally found weddings tiresome and repetitive. Not to mention the health factor for me, I was always exhausted and it just wasn’t really my kind of thing. I didn’t enjoy it as others do.
But if you like it, find your style, get a good easy website (I suggest Squarespace personally), promote in your local facebook groups, run competitions for a discount wedding to get your name out there (sharing etc), keep in your local wedding circle groups. Becoming friends with make-up artists, hair stylists, wedding stylists, venues etc means you’ll be at the forefront of their minds when they recommend photographers.
Headshots are a great way to make money, especially if you live in London. I’ve seen on facebook acting groups photographers offering a discount if people want headshots done that day if they happen to be in London, very lucrative way of getting £80-£150 for an hours work. But of course it won’t happen all the time but you could set up a studio and make a name for yourself within the acting community, they always need headshots and constant updating too so repeat customers, score! It can work, but I’ll tell you now. There is a ton of competition, so you’ve got to be strong!
People will ALWAYS want photos of their babies. If you have a good knack for it, go for it! But there is a downfall. Photos are a luxury at the end of the day so not everyone will be able to afford it and nowadays? Most people know an amateur or aspiring photographer who isn’t half bad so from talking to a few baby photographers their work is slowing down in this instagram day and age. They’ve all stepped up their game and come up with a distinct style that only a professional photographer can achieve (think babies in hanging blankets, dressed up and stuff like that).
Arguably one of the hardest industries to crack into. Especially nowadays. All I can say is, you have to want it. I’d suggest checking out a course by Lara Jade, I’ve known her since the beginning and her tenacity is absolutely astounding and she’s made it. You couldn’t learn from anyone better in my opinion. But if you do make it, it’s SO worth it.
So! You’re a photographer and you know what you want to do? If you’re unsure of the business side of things I’d suggest checking out CreativeLive as they have courses that are pretty invaluable across every section of photography. They also have their courses free sometimes, just check out the airing section. And sign up to their newsletters to get regular discounts etc. I’ve learnt so much from Creative Live. I can’t recommend it enough.