How to Make Money with Photography (A Complete List)
Millions of people enjoy photography as a hobby, but only a small percentage take the leap to monetize their passion as either a side hustle or a full time career. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re looking to increase your income, we’ve compiled a complete list on how to make money with photography. This list continually evolves and includes traditional forms of photography, like direct business-to-consumer portrait photography services and newcomers like selling Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs). We even made sure we included side hustles like Youtube channels and Social Media Sponsorships. Here’s a complete list of what we’ll be covering:
- Provide Photography as a Service for Consumers (B2C)
- Provide Photography as a Service for Businesses (B2B)
- Teach Photography as an Online Course or In-Person Workshop
- Start a Youtube Channel or Monetize Social Media
- Write for a Photography Blog
- Edit Photos (Freelance or For a Company)
- Design Albums (Freelance or For a Company)
- Sell Stock Photography
- Sell Prints and Fine Art and Photo Books
- Sell Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs)
- Enter and Win Photography Contests and Competitions
- Get Sponsorships From Brands
- Manage Social Media for Small Businesses
Photography As a Service for Consumers (B2C)
Photography services provided directly to the customer is what most people think of when they think of making money as a photographer. Since this is fairly obvious, we won’t spend too much time on these. Pick a niche to specialize in, master the technical, creative and business sides of that niche and provide excellent services to your core audience. Types of photography in this category include the following:
- Wedding Photography
- Family Photography
- Graduation Photography
- Newborn and Maternity Photography
- Birth Photography
- High School Senior Portrait Photography
Within any of the genres listed above, you can be a lead photographer or assistant. Some, like wedding and event photography, will also have second photographer opportunities.
Photography As a Service for Businesses (B2B)
Providing photography services to another business (B2B) is another way to make money with photography. Note that some of these may also be considered B2C photography services depending on who is hiring you. It’s important to understand your target audience and speak directly to them in your branding and messaging. Types of photography in this category include the following:
- Real Estate Photography
- Architectural Photography
- Commercial Photography
- Brand Photography
- Drone Photography
- Freelance Photojournalism
- Fashion Photography
- Sports Photography
- Product, Still Life, or Food Photography
Within most of the genres listed above, you can be a lead photographer or assistant.
Teach Photography (Online Course or In-Person Workshop)
Teach Online Workshops
Online education is increasingly popular and easy to access with low barriers to entry. Platforms like Udemy give creators a marketplace to list their courses. And platforms like Kajabi, Teachable and Thinkific provide you with all of the tools you need to launch a dedicated brand, website, and course curriculum.
If you’ve built up a following and you have a unique approach to anything within the photography industry, whether it be posing, lighting, email marketing, Facebook ads, or anything people are willing to pay to learn, consider launching your own online course. For us, one of the best decisions we made was to launch SLR Lounge Premium to share our photography knowledge.
Teach In Person Workshop
In person workshops are also a way to make money as a photographer. Within the category of in-person workshops, there are a range of formats and price ranges. Here are a few common structures:
- Multi-Day, All Inclusive Workshops – These workshops are often 2+ days and include hotel, food, training, and other perks. Often times, these are held in beautiful, sometimes exotic places that increase the overall appeal of the workshop. Prices (and expectations) are usually high for these types of workshops.
- Single-Day, Local Workshops – These workshops are often a a few hours to a full day and cater to a local audience. Food is often provided but not accommodations. Prices range depending on the instructor.
- Teaching at Conventions – These workshops are taught during conventions like PPA, WPPI and others. The conventions often have a small budget to pay their instructors, who only teach for around an hour.
Start a Youtube Channel or Monetize Social Media
Youtube – Another way to make money with photography is to start a Youtube channel. On your Youtube channel you can review camera gear, teach something, or provide some other kind of value such as entertainment. Earning enough Youtube revenue to make it your only source of income is difficult in a niche like photography. However, this obviously depends on your success and your income needs. More often, photography Youtubers use this platform to supplement their income, build up their brand, and monetize in other ways by selling related products, services, or education.
Social Media – Tik Tok and Instagram have recently introduced monetization for their creators. So build up enough views and engagement for your content and you could receive money directly from these platforms. Similar to Youtube revenue, social media revenue probably isn’t enough for most people, but it can serve as a good supplement and marketing platform for other services and products you might sell.
Write for a Photography Blog or Medium
If you have a particular skill for writing, consider monetizing a blog or writing for a photography related publication. Finding a good photographer who can write well is a rarity, so if you’re out there, you could be in high demand. Writing for a local publication could also boost your exposure and establish you as a photography expert in your area, hopefully bringing in more clients. Put that writing talent to good use if you’ve got it. Here are a few publication to consider if you’re exploring this opportunity:
- SLR Lounge
- Blogs of brands in the photo industry
Make Money by Editing Photos (Freelance or For a Company)
If you have particularly great Lightroom and Photoshop skills, you may consider editing photos to make money with photography. Here are some opportunties within this category to consider:
- High End Retouching – Offer retouching to photographers within your network. Also consider advertising your services on gig websites like Upwork or even Fiverr.
- Bulk Editing for Editing Company – Companies like ShootDotEdit, Image Salon and many others offer full service editing for wedding, portrait, and real estate photographers, and they need editing staff. However, one thing to consider is that AI Photo Editing may affect the future of this industry.
Make Money with Design (Web or Print)
If you have graphic design skills, put those to work for your clients. I caution you here, though. Just because you know how to use photoshop doesn’t make you a designer. I would only go this route if you have a legitimate design education and the skills necessary to offer a good product.
If, for example, you’re a wedding photographer with design skills, you could offer wedding announcement design, custom guest book design and certainly amazing album design, perhaps with your own signature flare that is different from all the template designs out there. If you’re a commercial photographer and your clients need advertisement design, offer it to them. But only if you’re really good at it!
Make Money by Selling Stock Photography
While you definitely won’t get rich quick (or ever) selling stock photos, it can supplement your income. There are several factors to consider before selling your images as stock. Check out a few tips to get you started with selling stock photography. There are dozens of viable stock photography websites to choose from, including the following:
- Creative Market
Sell Prints and Fine Art and Photo Books
Selling prints and other photo related products is another way to make money with photography. Whether you’re selling prints from your portrait sessions with in-person sales, wedding albums after the wedding, or fine art prints, finding a way to sell more is always a good idea. For portraits, offering a super-special on gift prints just before the holidays (and making it a big deal, once per year thing your clients look forward to) could bring in some extra sales.
Selling landscape prints featuring local scenes to doctor’s offices, hotels or restaurants by partnering with an interior design company could also be a possibility. However, this could take a lot of time and be difficult to sell, so be sure to align your efforts with your expectations.
Make Money With NFTs
As the world of digital art becomes increasingly popular, one option that experienced a meteoric rise (and subsequent fall) in the last few years is non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. NFTs are unique digital assets that can be bought, sold, or traded like traditional commodities. While the concept of NFTs is still relatively new, there are a number of platforms that allow photographers to sell their work as NFTs, and some photographers are making small fortunes doing so. Here are a few NFT Marketplaces to check out:
- Magic Eden
It’s important to realize that only a small percentage of photographers make good money with their NFTs, and those that do usually had a large following to begin with. However, as the world of NFTs continues to evolve, it is likely that more and more photographers will begin to explore this new way of monetizing their work and experience success.
Get Sponsorships From Brands
Influencer marketing is as big as its ever been, and brands within the photo space need professionals with credibility to push their products and services. With the right appeal and a good following, you could make money from sponsorships from brands within the photography industry.
Think through the products and services that you use and research their marketing efforts. Find ways to get on their radar, and think through your network to find ways to connect with the decision makers.
Enter and Win Photography Contests and Competitions
Winning photography contests is another way to make a little bit of money with photography. While the prize money for each contest varies, it can start to add up, especially if you are able to win multiple competitions. In addition to the monetary prize, winning a contest can also lead to other opportunities, such as exhibiting your work or being featured in a publication.
To increase your chances of success, it is important to research each contest carefully and make sure that your work meets the eligibility requirements. It is also helpful to submit a strong portfolio of images and to follow the submission guidelines closely. With the right images and determination, you can turn your passion for photography into a profitable venture. See our list of the best photography contests and competitions for more information.
Manage Social Media for Small Businesses
Social Media is time consuming and ever-changing, making it difficult to manage for many small businesses. Enter YOU, the social media expert with proven results. If you have the triple threat of photography, design and writing talent combo, this is something you could do for your clients. I’ll offer a warning, though, this can turn into a full time job so don’t commit unless you’re certain you’ll have the time.
While the most reliable, tried-and-true way of making money with photography is likely always going to be the first two mentioned in this article, B2B and B2C photography services, changing technologies and needs will always present new opportunities to supplement a photographer’s income. We hope this article has opened your eyes to a few of those opportunties. Good luck!