When it comes to turning your passion for photography into a career, there are many different steps that need to be taken. It might seem overwhelming for newly independent contractors at first, yet through research, passion, and a clear business plan, freelance photography jobs are attainable.
How to Get Started As a Freelance Photographer
One of the first things you need to do when you first start out as a freelance photographer is to make a plan. There needs to be a direction to follow as you go through the processes of beginning and growing a personal business. Create manageable tasks of things to do when starting off. Here is a list of some of the important aspects to think about when creating a plan.
- Create a business plan
- Find your niche photography market
- Invest in the proper photography equipment and software
- Set a price point to charge
- Market your business
- Develop your portfolio
Even throughout all of these important steps, remember that the biggest part of being a professional freelance photographer is believing in yourself and having confidence in your abilities. Beginning a new business venture can be very intimidating, yet for any type of business, there is no perfect guide to follow. However, if you invest in yourself, have drive, confidence, and a sustainable business plan, your business will flourish.
Six Steps to Follow to Become a Freelance Photographer
Creating a Business Plan
All of these steps are part of the process of creating a business plan. A business plan doesn’t need to be an exact outline of your business, but it needs to act as a framework you can reference when you lose direction or focus.
To begin, write down a description of your photography business, figure out what photography niche you want to explore, what market you want to target, what makes you unique, and state your goals and objectives. Within this plan, include both the logistics and overarching goals that you have for your business. It is essential to be very organized throughout the process of planning and executing a business strategy. The more detailed and goal oriented your mindset is, the easier it will be to turn your hobby into a career.
As part of your business plan, you will also need to think about how you want to legally structure your business, the name you’d like to register and other business license requirements.
Find your Niche Freelance Photography Business
New freelancers might be surprised to discover all of the different photography niches that have a demand for photographers. Each business is unique and there are a variety of ways that freelance photographers can specialize in these areas.
Social Media Photography
Social media photography is for photographers who want to specialize in Instagram or Facebook. There is a big demand for images these days because businesses need a lot of high-quality, relevant content to grow their fan base on social media, especially if they plan on advertising on these platforms. When businesses invest in higher-quality images, customers take them more seriously. And, in the case of a physical location like a café or restaurant, social media can draw more people to the location.
As a freelance photographer who specializes in social media, you should create a photography proposal that outlines the types of photos you will take and how they can be used to promote the company. You might even offer some sort of retainer contract to take new photographs every month. Many companies have annual advertising budgets that they can spend on professional photography, so do your best to work with and retain these clients.
Family and Portrait Photography
Family photos are one of the most common and popular types of freelance photography. There is a huge demand for this style of freelance photography because families are always growing and changing and parents want to capture precious moments. Use social media to your advantage as a family and portrait photographer, and consider offering discounted or free sitting sessions as an incentive for first-time clients. When it comes to family freelance photography, the client’s overall experience is very important because their referrals will be what bring in the newest clients.
Event photography encompasses weddings, parties, and concerts. Party planners are constantly looking for freelance photographers to capture these momentous occasions. Being a strong networker is essential for this kind of freelance photography, and knowing and meeting event organizers will be the primary way to get hired. Once you are finished editing your work, it is important to watermark your photos so people on social media will know who you are.
As an event photographer, you will notice that these events are a lot of work. For example, weddings are typically higher-stakes than your run-of-the-mill family photos, and there is more editing work involved. Price your work appropriately and know what you are getting into. These higher-stakes events require you to move quickly to capture once-in-a-lifetime shots. To break into the field, offer your services at a discounted rate for a friends’ event to build up a portfolio and then continue to market your freelance photography business on social media.
Photojournalism, also known as press photography, is a unique way of combining art, journalism, and photography. Generally, this style of freelance photography is centered around news and focuses on documentation, international politics, or street photography. To find jobs as a freelance photojournalist, contact newspapers, magazines, and journals, as they are often looking for pictures of news and local events.
Other Styles of Photography
The sky really is the limit when it comes to freelancing as a photographer. If you can capture an image, chances are there is someone out there who can use it. Many photographers choose to specialize in one particular niche, including food, travel, wildlife, real estate and fashion. Find a photography niche you’re passionate about and specialize in it. Chances are, someone will be looking for your services.
Discovering and Investing in Photography Equipment
When it comes to deciding what equipment to use as a professional photographer, it is important to research what products are out there and what you prefer to use. There are many camera brands, accessories, and editing software programs that are available. These products range in quality and price, yet one of the most important things to know as a freelance photographer is “it’s the artist, not the tool.” In the context of photography, this phrase means that it doesn’t necessarily matter if you buy the most expensive equipment, you need to learn how to use the camera and accessories to get the results you want. Investing in education and learning about camera functions, lighting, posing, and software is just as important as purchasing quality equipment.
When it comes to purchasing a camera, it isn’t necessary to buy the most expensive DSLR on the market. Clients are paying for your artistic eye, not necessarily your fancy equipment. Crop sensor cameras, such as a Canon Rebel T5, paired with a 50mm 1.8 lens will give you the quality that you need to create professional photos. Investing in a high-quality editing software, such as Lightroom and Lightroom presets, can also improve the quality of the final image.
Considering the fact that most DSLR cameras are only a few hundred dollars, the overall start-up costs to become a freelance photographer are fairly low. Once you become more established as a photographer, then you can use the profits from your shoots to buy higher-quality photography equipment.
There is a fine line between under and overcharging for photography services. One way to price your photography services is to create a package that includes the shoot and a certain number of edits. In the case of family photography, when doing a photo shoot, allow the clients to pick a package that ranges in price based off how many edited images they would like. To price the different packages, be realistic about the time it will take you to complete a photo shoot, go through the images, and edit the best pictures.
Another important tip: don’t be afraid to charge clients for your service. Especially when beginning as a professional photographer. If you do not have confidence in your abilities, you are more likely to do complimentary photo shoots. However, you are a business and people are paying for your artistic expertise and services. When getting started, it is normal to offer a few free or heavily discounted photo shoots to build your portfolio, but it’s important that you become confident in your abilities as a professional if you want to make money.
Starting off as a freelancer, try offering lower prices that still compensate you for your time and work. However, as you grow and there is a larger demand for your services, you will be able to raise your prices and change your business style to work smarter instead of harder.
Marketing Your Freelance Photography Business
When starting out as a freelancer, after you have developed a small portfolio, you will be able to use that content to update your social media accounts and website with pictures showcasing your photography abilities. In the infancy of a business, it is important to find as many clients as possible. Don’t be afraid to send emails, call, and network to find people who are interested in your services.
Through photo shoots, social media, and word of mouth, your business will only continue to grow. Update your Instagram feed and Facebook page with examples of your work on a regular basis. It’s also important to create a user-friendly website that easily allows potential clients to contact you to schedule a photo shoot.
Marketing is a helpful tool that will brand your business and get new clients to purchase your photography services. When it comes to marketing, create a plan and give yourself time to grow your brand and online presence.
Developing A Portfolio
Expanding your portfolio is the easiest part of the business plan and is an important part of maintaining your brand as a freelance photographer. It’s also essential for marketing your photography business and getting new clients. As you gain more experience and take more photos, it’s important to highlight your strengths and differentiate yourself from other photographers. A portfolio is a great way to do this. That way, clients can quickly see how talented you are and know what to expect if they decide to hire you.
There are countless reasons to start a freelance photography business, yet many people are held back from reaching their full potential. Starting a business can be a daunting task, but by breaking it down into steps, being your own boss can become a reality. Anyone who has an interest in photography and would like to earn money from their creativity could start a business by taking photographs. The unique thing about freelance work is having the ability to succeed based on your own drive and motivation. Not only can you create your own schedule, but you are also able to reap the profits from your hard work. Creating and growing a business isn’t easy, but it can be rewarding to make money doing something you’re passionate about.