Photography Jobs – making a living as a photographer

Photography Jobs - making a living as a photographer.

For many of us, photography is a hobby. It's art; it's a passion, it's self-expression. But photography can also become your job, and really pay those bills. If you're thinking of earning a living from your photography skills, read on to find out what are the best-paid photography jobs. In this article, we'll be discussing the perks of the photography jobs, how to get them, and some negatives to be aware of. 

Photography jobs

The general requirement for success in any photography job

If you would like to make a living from photography, you have to change the mindset first. Many of us - photographers - are mostly acting as the artist. The main change that should be done in your head is you have to become a businessman. The split should be 30% Photography skills, Experiences, Gear skills, and 70% Selling, marketing, social media posting, and advertising. I know you might say it is not anymore the art and you are right. But here is the substantial rule. If you want to take beautiful pictures that everybody likes and telling you how talented you are and that kind of stuff, you should take it as a hobby. If you really want to make a living from a photography job, you have to change yourself more to the businessman and salesman role. 

Okay, let’s say you decided to go to the photography business. Here are some musts you have to fulfill particularly.


In spite of we mentioned you have to become a sales and business guy first. Without excellent experience in some of the photography types of work, you will be eaten by the competition. You have to simply be a photography expert, prepared for any challenge coming from your customers every day. You won’t have time to learn a new feature of your camera or lighting when you get an order or a job from the customer. You have to be prepared to act immediately, make the shooting, post-process, deliver the final product, and quickly be prepared for another order. That’s simply the daily routine you have to adjust your mindset to.


Specialization in any photography job helps you to beat the competition. The reason is you are the top expert, and you deal only with a particular type of photography you are overtaking the general competitor. Let’s assume you are a commercial real estate photographer. You know every single detail about it because you deal with it daily, knowing what gear to use, how to cope with the clients, what typical client wants to have, and so on. Comparing to a generalist that has only general knowledge about photography without specific nuances of this industry.

On the other hand, you may say yes, but I will miss a lot of opportunities out there also in other areas of photography jobs. Okay, but after a while, you’ll find out, the specialization is better because you are increasing your expertise even more in your niche. And you'll become well known for your specialization, which will bring new clients to you at the end of the day.

Business approach.

A classic approach of selling your photography services is to have a web site, put your galleries on it, list all of your photography services even with prices and waiting a client will call you and ask you for a photography job for him. Well, these times are gone, unfortunately. The market is so overcrowded with a massive amount of competition, so this kind of approach won’t work anymore.

The in-person sales process is the key to achieving serious success here. When you are selling personally, you have a significant advantage of interaction with the client. Conversation helps to understand each other. You can react immediately to the client’s requests or clarify any doubts, questions, and next steps. I would put on my web site just a piece of the necessary information, maybe some catchy galleries. All details regarding the specific project, including prices and detailed examples of the portfolio, should be sent or communicated to the client after the initial in-person meeting. Your client will get the feeling you are tailoring the proposal just for his specific needs.

Business aspect

Of course, in-person sales is not for everybody. If you don’t feel comfortable in personal selling, you can hire a sales guy.


Here you have to realize nothing is market your work better than your work itself. Create new work regularly, improve your images over and over. You can then use it on any type of marketing, for example, on social media. 

If you are just starting your business take a specific photography job a make it for free. It doesn't have to be a massive project that will cost you a lot of money or time. It will help you to get to an important client, show your expertise a get new contacts to work with them in the future.

Use mailing for marketing. I mean both standard mailers and emailing too. For quite a small investment, get printed a postcard size leaflet with a beautiful example of your work and send it by mail. If it will have a response rate only 20% and if you send 100 mailers you get 20 leads you can work with, and maybe 8-10 becomes your clients. The same is with emails.

Now let’s have a look at most profitable photography jobs.

Commercial Photographer.

Commercial photography is a wide range of photography jobs where the photographer produces high-quality photos for commercial usage. Or simply photographing for money.

Fashion photography job.

A fashion photographer takes pictures for magazines, fashion brands, and runaways. This is a fascinating role with a load of money to be made. However, it can be quite hard to get into. To build a portfolio, you may have to volunteer your services with fashion students first or do amateur photoshoots for small fashion businesses. In time though, you can expect to be hired by magazines and brands permanently and earn a good income. While it may be the perfect job for you if you love fashion, remember that it is a very stressful job where you will be working long hours. There is no routine; you need to stay on top of your technical and artistic skills to make a name for yourself in this field. 

Portrait photographer.

A portrait photographer takes pictures at weddings, schools and for any commercial companies too. They carry specific portrait photography equipment around or work from a photography studio.

Family photographer.

A family photographer takes family pictures, often in a studio. While this can be a creative job, you'll also be at the mercy of what your clients ask of you. It's a good idea to build up a portfolio in which you show skills in a lot of domains: color, black and white, in-nature photographs and more staged ones. Your clients are going to want to see that you can deliver the perfect family photo for them. The best way to get started is to apply to photography studios or to create your own. This can be a fun job, especially if you love children, but be prepared to spend a lot of time editing pictures, so they are exactly as the parents expect.

News photography job.

As a news photographer, you'll be taking the pictures that are making the front pages, literally. You'll work with newspapers and magazines to give them images to illustrate their news articles with. Apply with newspaper agencies, or simply start pitching your pictures to them. If you were at an important event, send your photos over, and let them judge for themselves.

This can be a fascinating job, which gives you a real adrenaline rush day-to-day. If you see yourself as a story-teller, this is also a great way to show off your creative side with your photography. Just be aware, a serious news photographer will be on-site night and day when something important is happening. They may also be involved in riots or even wars, depending on the location. This is not necessarily a steady, comfortable job.

Architecture photographer.

As an architecture photographer, you'll be paid by architects or real-estate agents to take pictures of the buildings. Your goal is to present them in the best light to potential clients. To get this job, you'll need to apply to real-estate agencies or architecture studios and show them a good portfolio of architecture photography. If you have a passion for art, this can be a very rewarding job to get into. You may also get employee status with an agency, which is a source of security many photographers dream of. On the downside, architecture photography is already a very saturated field that is hard to get into, and can also get repetitive once you're in it. 

Food photographer

Food photographer.

A food photographer is hired by magazines, brands, or restaurants to take pictures of the food. This is a highly specialized job that requires quite a bit of experience. To get into this field, you'll need a food-specific portfolio that showcases your skills. Starting your own food blog with your own photographs can be a great way to get noticed. For those who love food, this can be a very creative and rewarding job. However, until you get hired by a magazine, work can be very unreliable and difficult to get by. Be prepared to take other jobs on the side before you become an established food photographer.

Wedding Photographer.

A wedding photographer is hired by wedding-planners or individuals to take pictures all throughout a wedding ceremony, and sometimes before. This is one of the best-known photography jobs but remains one of the best ways to make money as a photographer. Expect to work for free or little pay for a while before you can build up a truly impressive portfolio that will convince people to hire you. Competition is tough! As a wedding photographer, you will generally work in a merry atmosphere, and be surrounded by happy people. However, while the pay can be excellent in the summer, there is definitely such a thing as low-season, during which you may want to find other jobs to supplement your income. 

Fine Art Photographer.

Fine art photography job is a bit different from other photography jobs in the sense of marketing and sales process. Many fine art photographers follow the scenario of establishing a beautiful web site with online galleries with their best work. Web sites are usually equipped with a selling system offering various sizes, frames, mattes, and so on. This is on one side, ok, but there is a very low chance to succeed. The reason is simple. You are presenting yourself as an artist. Nobody will buy from you just because of your beautiful images. You have to realize you are not selling to anonymous internet buyer, but to a collector, that is interested primarily in your story, your personality, inspiration, and so on.

I would recommend investing in a beautiful portfolio of prints and contact the local gallery and organize a show or take part in a photography show with other photographers. This is a great platform to get in touch with potential collectors and buyers, be available personally to speak to them. And here you can price your work pretty high as a unique artist.   


There is also a way how to try it purely online o course. The main idea here is to separate your selling process or website from making yourself visible as an artist. A right way is to start a blog about your work, inspiration, what places or objects do you photograph most, and why. What is your story before you became a photographer? What techniques do you use? From this blog, you can redirect your potential buyer to your selling site afterward.

Freelance Photographer. 

A freelance photographer is simply a photographer working for him or herself. With that job, you won't be employed by anyone. You'll either take your own pictures and try to pitch them to publications or work short gigs with companies and businesses. 

To get started as a freelance photographer, all you need is your own equipment, motivation, and a good deal of business acumen. Start creating profiles on freelancing websites, offer your services to those around you, advertise your new business on social media as much as possible. Decide that you want to become a freelance photographer, and then make sure everyone knows how good you are.

As a beginner photographer with no professional experience, becoming a freelancer is a much easier way to get a job. The market can easily be saturated for budding photographers, so starting on your own terms is the best way to make a name for yourself fast. 

On the other hand, being a freelance photographer is being a business person. It means taking care of marketing, accounting, advertising. You are not just yourself; you represent yourself as a business.

Final Thoughts.

As you can see, there are real opportunities to make a living from more types of photography jobs. Your income can easily reach 100 000 USD per year. If you are successful mainly in the business part of our work you can reach even more. Successful commercial photographers are earning nearly million a year. In the case of fine art photography, single fine art prints are being sold for 20 - 30 thousand dollars. There is not an easy way leading to such a success. You have to work very hard and focus on all aspects of successful photography job described above.

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