How to make money as a photographer: 25 business ideas

Many people dream of making money on a photo, but for some reason not everyone realizes their dream. Perhaps you just got stuck on 1-2 ideas that you didn’t like, while others were not considered or thrown aside?

Today the world is rife with visual content, and in order to draw attention to anything, in almost every field there is a need for high-quality photos. Below we will consider the areas in some of which you can start earning even without the presence of serious professional equipment.

1. Shooting in SMM

Today, everyone has pages and accounts on social networks in which you constantly need to generate some kind of content. Moreover, this content should be somewhat more unique than others, otherwise it will simply not be noticed. Photos in social networks are needed for a lot of tasks. For example, page design requires beautiful and unusual covers, avatars, splash screens, all kinds of widgets and Highlights. For the content itself – photos for posts, articles, polls and stories. For advertising posts – promo photos, carousel photos, photos for text and graphic blocks, and so on.

There are many forms of work in social networks. Most customers, of course, do not have a budget for their own photographer, but call for help from an outside specialist. Also very often we need SMM managers who are ready for complex work – that is, for generating entire content, including writing texts, design, selection of pictures and shooting. Therefore, if you know how to take good pictures and create content, this will be a huge plus, and you can charge even more for your work than most specialists. As for investments, it all depends on the needs of the customer and the type of shooting. It is most convenient and easiest if you need to remove any small objects. Then, next to the workplace, you will have to equip a place for shooting with the right lighting or purchase a light box and stock up on photophones.

2. Shooting real estate

The quality of photographs directly affects the success of sales and rentals, which is why developers, designers and real estate agents are interested in good photographers. When it comes to shooting a new LCD, you may need the services of a photographer with a quadrocopter . Such photographers are attracted both for shooting an already finished object, and for shooting the progress of construction, shooting a land plot. Moreover, both photos and videos may be required.

A special direction is interior photography. It is not enough for an interior photographer to come, take ordinary pictures of all the rooms and send them to the customer – even an amateur with more or less good equipment could easily cope with such work. You need to be able to convey the geometry of space and emphasize the dignity of the room. Therefore, pictures should be clear throughout the frame and not contain dark and blurry details. Increasingly, customers need to take virtual tours of the premises, in connection with which panoramic shooting is additionally filmed.

3. Organization of photo tours

Photo tours are called tours aimed at beginner photographers. Usually they are led by experienced photographers, and the program includes a stay in the most beautiful places for shooting. In all other respects, the content of the trips varies. The emphasis can be on trying to capture a natural phenomenon (such as the northern lights), on some type of photography (night photography, astrophotography), on finding subjects with more creative freedom, or working out shots for specific tasks.

In fact, many photo tours are the same author’s tours , but with an emphasis on photography. And this means that in addition to professional skills in shooting, an entrepreneur will also need organizational skills. Not everyone has the latter, because here you need to be able to establish communications, be able to speak, and be able to sell. Therefore, if you are more comfortable working alone, it is hardly worth rushing into this direction at random.

4. Selling photobooks

A photobook is a selection of photographs printed using the same technology as illustrations in ordinary books. Photos are applied to thick coated paper as separate full-color images using modern printing equipment. As a result, the client receives a stylish and high-quality printed product for memory, designed either in the form of individual photographs or in the form of collages.

Entrepreneurs who are creating photobooks today often offer to make books compiled from customer social media posts (so-called “instabooks”). After all, sometimes everything that you want to remember and show to other people today is placed there, and there is no need to come up with captions for photographs. When working with the purchase of manual equipment for creating photobooks, you will need about 150 thousand rubles to start, when buying professional equipment – about 400 thousand rubles. Read more about this direction here.

5. Shooting the first minutes of life

But the direction of Birth photography can cause surprise, bewilderment, dissatisfaction and even a slight shock in many people. Someone considers such a genre to be immoral in principle, and the process of birth is too intimate to film it on camera. However, birth photos are becoming more and more popular with parents today. Of course, the result is sometimes not for the faint of heart, but the emotions that are not captured in such pictures are much stronger and more penetrating than in any other direction of shooting. The torment and fatigue on the face of the mother is combined with the joy of the first touch of the long-awaited baby.

In general, the first minutes of a person’s life are always a whole mixture of the most sincere and pure human feelings. Love, happiness, fear, surprise are best conveyed in such photographs – those feelings that cannot simply be evoked in portrait photography. But this genre is, of course, no matter how cynical it may sound, rather a reportage. After all, it is impossible to ask the participants to replay the previous scene and make the participants once again the same expression here. In the first minutes of a newborn’s life, they also weigh, measure, wash, and so on – all this is also captured on camera. The work of a photographer who is able to convey this whole process not repulsively, but touchingly and as delicately as possible will always be highly appreciated.

6. Shooting sports and active events

Not every photographer is able to shoot sports events. The frames should not only be of a reportage nature and cover all the key moments of the action, but also be bright, dynamic, spectacular and not too hackneyed. For sports photography, of course, you need to shoot with very expensive and heavy equipment, the cost of which can easily exceed a million rubles, take pictures at a fast shutter speed of about 1/1000 second, often using high ISO. And, of course, in such a shooting, the photographer does not have the opportunity to immediately double-check the quality of the picture taken on the spot – at this moment, you can miss other important points. Moment is generally a capacious word for sports photography, which lives and causes feedback, by the way, only one or two days.

If you want to build a career as a sports photographer, remember that this caste is quite narrow. It requires professionals whose work is paid dearly. Getting into the ranks of photojournalists is quite difficult. It is almost impossible to get a permanent place in the staff of any news or sports publication. A shooting day can cost 15-20 thousand rubles, but freelancing largely blurs the situation. Since a lot of people with DSLRs have appeared on the market, there is dumping, and many are ready to work for a penny. At the same time, major media outlets have stopped sending metropolitan photographers on business trips – it has become cheaper for them to find a local photographer in the region and pay him.

7. Earnings on photo stocks

Speaking about making money on photo stocks, you can regularly see the pluses repeated on different resources like a mantra: passive income, no need to look for customers, an audience around the world, no connection to a place of work, and even – there is no maximum level of your earnings. But with all the advantages, the main drawback of any stocks is the inability to somehow plan your income and its level. You need to throw your work on stocks regularly, but this does not guarantee you success at all, since there are too many factors under which your work will or will not become in demand.

A lot of people come to the drains with enthusiasm, but soon they are disappointed in them, as the effort expended is disproportionate to the exhaust obtained. And the activity does not look passive at all – it turns out that something needs to be done here too – assigning descriptions and keywords to the works, tracking trends, keeping track of what sells better, and most of the photos available in the storerooms are not suitable for stocks. Stocks are best dealt with as an addition to the main activity. That is, when you periodically upload photos you already have to stocks, but on the condition that they meet the requirements of sites and current trends in photography. Moreover, it is desirable to automate the process to the maximum. You can read more about making money on photo stocks here .

8. Food photography

In the genre of food photography, large lenses and long focal lengths are not required, a portrait lens and a macro lens may be enough here. The work of a food photographer is a work in the format of a portable micro-studio – with a tripod, lighting, arranging the composition, photo backgrounds. It would seem that everything is much simpler than working with people, than portrait or reportage photography, but in practice food photography is quite tedious, it takes a lot of time and effort. After all, you need to remove food so that you want to buy and eat it.

A food photographer will have to work mainly with cafes, bars and restaurants – they are the ones who most often order photos of dishes. An hour of work of a food photographer can cost from 1.5 to 5 thousand rubles. Most orders can be expected in connection with the seasonal renewal of the menu in winter and summer. To master food photography, you don’t need to spend money on education. If you wish, you can master the knowledge yourself by learning from video tutorials and following the advice of bloggers. Paid courses with homework and feedback will cost from about 15 thousand rubles.

9. Earning on quadcopters

A relatively new niche in photography is making money shooting with quadrocopters. There are already several sub-directions within this direction, for example, shooting at wedding celebrations, shooting stories for the media, shooting objects under construction for construction and real estate organizations, and finally, renting a quadrocopter. In order to attract the attention of new advertisers, the owner of a quadrocopter needs to frequently flicker with his work on social networks, it is advisable to keep his own blog.

To start in video shooting (provided you have a powerful laptop and a good camera), about 300 thousand rubles may be enough for you. If you have a lot of experience with quadrocopters in terms of the intricacies of control, shooting and repair, you can try to earn money not only on photos. For example, you can try yourself in related services – for example, create a drone workshop or open a pilot school. Another option is to start in retail sales. You can read about all these areas with calculations for investments and income in this article.

10. Services of a second photographer

Some advanced photographers sometimes need help from colleagues. It can be some kind of particularly important event, or just some kind of magnificent wedding, where clients wished for as many bright and memorable photos as possible. Of course, you are unlikely to be paid much for such services, often novice photographers are generally offered to work simply for experience. Nevertheless, this is also an opportunity – and try yourself in business, and find new clients, and at least get something for your work.

To become a second photographer or assistant, the first step is to find the first one. Moreover, it does not have to be a professional. Perhaps you will find the same newcomer, working together with whom it will be easier and calmer for the first time. Thanks to the collaboration, you will be able to get more guarantees in a decent result on your first important shoots, which means that the client will be satisfied and will definitely recommend you to their friends and acquaintances.

11. Subject photography

To shoot various items at an expensive and high quality level, you don’t need to open or rent a studio at all. If we are talking about shooting some small items, for example, dishes, toys, jewelry and other things, you can equip your mini-studio at home, and do it for minimal money. There are many examples on the net of how to make soft light with a few sheets of foam board and a roll of tracing paper. Having bought a set of photophones and a couple of the most ordinary long lamps, you can meet 10 thousand rubles for everything.

Another plus of subject photography is that you need to work not with lively and capricious models, but with objects whose photos are needed, for example, for showcases of websites or printed catalogs. Subject photographers are engaged in shooting cosmetics, shoes, dishes, fabrics and much more, depending on the wishes of the customer. You can present your work and offer services on free classifieds sites like Avito and Yula by posting your resume on Yandex.Services and creating profiles on social networks.

12. Wedding photography

A wedding is a holiday that people want to remember for a lifetime. Often, in connection with these, they joke that the main person at the wedding is the photographer, who often commands where to stand and who to kiss. One can argue about approaches for a very long time, but in addition to Love Story photo sessions and some staged plots, high-quality reportage photos are extremely important already at the very festive event, because it is on them that emotions come out the most sincere. To have time to capture everything that happens, the help of an assistant is often required.

With the popularity of wedding photography services, there is no shortage of wedding photography courses. Information over the edge and in blogs, and in articles, and on videos, there are many paid courses. Payment is taken in an hourly format or for the work as a whole by agreement. But whatever the theme of the wedding or wedding photo shoot, some moments can be repeated many times at most events or you can offer some ready-made scenarios yourself. There are many interesting ideas in this collection .

13. Shooting concerts and major events

For ordinary viewers, performances by famous singers and artists are usually joy, a lot of positive emotions, drive and euphoria. But for a photographer who works at such an event, this can be a lot of stress, albeit well paid. Responsibility on such shootings, as a rule, is very high, but the work itself is difficult. You need to catch moments, and select unconventional angles, and constantly fight with a whole range of changing light, play with brightness, temperature. In a word, aerobatics.

Not every technique and not every photographer is suitable for such shooting. Here you need a fast lens, the ability to quickly work in manual shooting mode, excellent reportage shooting skills with the ability to switch from stage to audience, and unexpected combinations of shadow and light. Preparatory work is also important for large shootings. The manners of the performers and their possible movements are best studied in advance by recording previous performances. To know what to expect from them and to be able to make the best shots at the right time.

14. Photo studio as a business

Modern photo studios are no longer the studios that used to be, where a person posed against a white background with plain props. These are studios, first of all, interior ones. Moreover, each interior is clearly calibrated and full of interesting locations and details that are used in the shooting. When choosing a studio, customers first of all choose interiors today, so this is the main component of success.

Business at photo studios is built in three ways. Either you rent the studio to other photographers, or you work in it yourself, or you combine both directions. In general, all interiors for photo studios can be divided into romantic ones, which are rented for family photo shoots and love stories, stylish locations for young people, and creative chameleon locations, the interiors of which change depending on the season and theme. But one way or another, to attract customers, you will need to offer something that other studios in your city have not yet offered. To open your studio, you will need to spend about 700 thousand rubles. You can find out about the risks and subtleties in this direction here .

15. Custom photo printing

Photographs are called photographs processed in graphic editors, then printed on canvas. High print quality and material structure make them look like real paintings. In addition to color correction, filters are used here, all kinds of aging effects and imitation of strokes, as in painting. Such work is carried out at least from 1.5-2 thousand rubles. You can read more about this type of income here .

Photographs are modular, that is, consisting of several segments, they can be collages or posters. The more the creative component is present, the higher the final cost will be. It’s good if you manage to find a direction that will allow you to sell photographic paintings at a high price, and competitors will not be able to repeat the same. One of the trends was the transformation of a photo hero into a popular movie or cartoon character. Also services in creation of photo pictures can be combined with shooting to order. In this case, you will also be the author of the photo, that is, you can guarantee its quality, and not work with what was given. And in general, you will get a “full production cycle”.

16. Family photography

Every year, family photo shoots are becoming more and more popular. High-quality photos in unusual interiors are wanted not only by couples, but also by families with children. Increasingly, they began to call for shooting and grandparents. Today, the competition in this area is quite high, so you need to offer the best interiors, unusual props and the best photos.

The cost of shooting depends on many factors – prices differ from each other in terms of the volume of services, the duration of the shooting, genres, and the number of participants. For the convenience of clients, photographers provide several packages of photo shoots. They may include rental of a photo studio, services of a makeup artist, stylist, rental of clothes and some unusual props, including live ones (for example, dogs and cats for photo shoots). As methods of attracting customers, seasonal and discount promotions are used, gift certificates are sold, and so on.

17. Photo accompaniment on tours

Organizers of all kinds of tours also need high-quality pictures, and there have been a lot of them in recent years (more about copyright tours here ). Moreover, in practice, the conditions for cooperation with photographers may be different. For example, if it’s just “a person with a DSLR” and “an acquaintance of the presenter,” then they can take him on a tour not on terms of payment, but in exchange for free food and accommodation. In other cases, work is paid on a piece-rate basis for each specific trip, hour or day of work.

In any case, such a photographer needs to get connections with the organizers. Often, former tour clients are brought in to help, who have already impressed the group with their photo reports. In the future, such a person may be called for help, for example, when expanding the geography of trips, when new high-quality photo content is required for social networks and travel agency sites.

18. Create Graduation Albums

Work on graduation albums for kindergartens, schools and universities is carried out in several stages. Initially, the client will have to get acquainted with the company and choose the type of album he needs. To do this, he goes to a site where he gets acquainted with online versions of albums or receives live samples from the hands of a photographer or sales agent. By the way, despite the growth of online services in this niche, the live tour of students and schoolchildren still works fine. Which should graduate from their educational institution within six months, but have not even thought about the fact that sooner or later they will have to make a photo album.

Typically, a graduation photo album is either a photo book with hard pages or a printed photo album. Photo albums can be with different covers, with a different number of photos and collages – the main thing is to offer options for execution. And then the photographer starts to work, either leaving for the shooting himself, or working in the studio. This is followed by processing, layout and printing. Photo albums can cost from 1000 rubles. Usually in the off-season, albums are offered at big discounts, but since March, as orders grow, prices begin to skyrocket. In order not to work at a loss and on trifles, photographers set minimum orders, for example, at least 10-15 copies of albums.

19. Baby photography

Shooting children has its pros and cons, as well as its fans and detractors. As advantages, for example, before wedding photography, we can name an abundance of regular customers. Here, clients come not once, but several times, as satisfied parents are ready to use the services of a familiar photographer for other reasons. But there are also disadvantages, the main of which, in fact, is working with children – sometimes not the most assiduous, calm and patient models.

The traditional niche in children’s photography is the above-mentioned photo albums for kindergartens and schools, where the ability to conduct a dialogue and negotiate with parent committees, directors and managers is important. A more modern trend that has become popular not so long ago is a children’s photo shoot in the studio. Often, such a photo shoot develops into a family or shooting a child with his mother, when the photographer tries to best convey their relationship and love in the frame. Of course, in ads and resumes, you need to submit as many photos with children as possible. It will be great if you offer something original, such as photographs of children with dogs of beautiful breeds (for example, with Samoyeds or Huskies), offer seasonal outdoor photography, or original props.

20. Making money from photo booths / photo booths

To make money on photography, sometimes you don’t need to photograph something or someone yourself. Thanks to social networks, the fashion for printed pictures has revived, which can be printed directly from this social network using special photo machines (instamats). Usually they are installed in shopping malls and cinema halls. Photo booths can also be placed there and in other crowded places. Moreover, unlike instamats, they can be used not only for entertainment, but also with benefit. After all, a significant share of income is brought by photos for documents. So a plus when choosing a location will be the proximity to driving schools, multifunctional centers, passport offices, universities, and so on.

Investments in a photo booth business depend on the cost of equipment and the number of booths. Their prices vary from 90 to 300 thousand rubles. A photo booth with high-quality equipment will cost about 200 thousand rubles. You will also need to purchase consumables – photo paper, printer ink, receipt tape. One device can earn about 30-45 thousand rubles per month. Read more about this niche here .

21. Cooperation with guides

Tour guides also need high-quality visual content today. In order to attract new clients to their excursions, they often need good reportage photos with themselves in the frame. Of course, first of all, they will look for a photographer among their friends and acquaintances, in whom good guides usually have no shortage. But if there are none, they will look for themselves.

When shooting an event such as an excursion, as well as when shooting events and sports events, you need to try to take as many pictures as possible and choose from them not only high-quality ones, but also those that somehow emphasize the originality of the specialist and his product. If the experience of cooperation with such a specialist is successful and partnerships are formed, immediately agree that any subsequent shooting is not only a friendly act, but also work that should always be adequately paid.

22. Photography school as a business

A fairly traditional line of business for a photographer is a photo school . Usually a photography school is built around the name of a photographer who has something to brag about and something to teach. Training is divided into courses. Usually there is always a basic course in digital photography and there is an advanced one, but the division into topics and genres of photography can be completely different. This can be portrait and wedding photography, studio photography and landscape photography with field trips, Photoshop courses and other programs and graphic editors.

Of course, most knowledge today can be found on the Internet for free. But, as a rule, this knowledge is sometimes fragmentary and poorly structured. Yes, and with paid education and the live presence of the student, as a rule, the topic is absorbed by the latter somehow better. In schools that are responsible for the quality of education, the size of groups does not exceed 4-8 people. After all, in this case, the teacher has the opportunity to pay attention to everyone. The markup largely depends on the degree of fame of the course leader. As in any other business, there is also such an approach when the cost of classes is “available to everyone”, and earnings come from a large flow of customers.

23. Shooting reports

Although a reportage photograph does not have great artistic value, it can evoke any strong emotions, such as pain and shock, admiration and joy, sadness and despair, happiness and euphoria. Such a photograph is valuable because it is inseparable from reality and tells what really happened. At least within frame boundaries.

As in any genre, there is always room for talent in reportage photography. For example, the talent to feel the moment, to be at the right moment in the right place and to be ready for the most important shot or “machine gun fire”. Reporters are in-demand specialists both in the media and in commercial filming, for example, when shooting parties in nightclubs, festivals, conferences, exhibitions. Since there are many nuances in reportage shooting, there are master classes, video tutorials and reportage shooting courses that can be found both completely free of charge and for several tens of thousands of rubles.

24. Shooting models and erotic photo shoots

Shooting erotic photos is a rather specific direction. But not everyone who wants to get into it ends up in it. Some photographers are simply excited by the idea of ​​photographing girls who are ready to undress in front of you for money. However, most of the photographs are so-called TFPs. The TFP (Time for Print) scheme implies that the model and the photographer work on mutually beneficial terms without charging a fee. For example, a photographer gets pictures to add to their portfolio, and a model gets pictures of herself.

However, there are also cases when someone pays for the shooting – either the model or even the photographer himself. In the second case, a nude model, for example, can be invited to a shooting master class for other photographers. To make money in this direction, you yourself need to be a master of your craft, otherwise not a single client will definitely come to you.

25. Advertising photo session

In an advertising photo session, it is difficult to single out any clear standard for the necessary knowledge or skills, or an exact list of everything that you may need in your work. In any case, this direction is not suitable for beginners with a budget camera and who are not ready to perform all kinds of non-standard shooting.

They usually don’t come to advertising photo shoots from nowhere, no matter how serious companies invite anyone to shoot. Here you need a rich resume, and positive reviews from past clients with a name, and a set of professional equipment, as a rule, with several cameras at once. Since orders are always different in nature, you will need knowledge of both studio shooting and street shooting. The skills of a videographer and reporter at sporting events, concerts and so on will not be superfluous.

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