How to Make Money with Photography (20 Tips): 2021 Guide

In this guide we’ll be covering all the ways photographers can make money.

After reading this guide, you’ll be able to:

Let’s dive in.

make money with photography

Can You Make Good Money as a Photographer?

You can make good money with any profession.

The same goes for photography.

It’s important to diversify your income from multiple streams. And as a photographer, we have many options to make money from!

If you market yourself and hone your craft, you can make good money.

Marketing

In our Marketing Framework Guide, we lay out everything you need to know about marketing.

The components of marketing include:

  • Branding
    • Consists of corporate image
    • Also consists of product/service positioning
  • Product
  • Price
  • Placement
  • Promotion

All of these components work together in unison like cogs in a wheel.

cogs in a wheel

It’s important to understand these concepts before setting a price for your own photography service/product as well as determining how to define your brand.

For example, if you want to brand yourself as a high-end portrait photographer but your price is below the market, your target audience may perceive your service/product as inferior because price is often an indicator of quality.

See how all the components of marketing affect one another? It’s covered in the Marketing Framework Guide.

We often say, it’s not the best photographer in the world who is known as the “best photographer in the world,” it’s the photographer who markets themselves successfully as the “best photographer in the world” who is the “best photographer in the world.”

Honing Your Craft

While it’s true marketing can get you a very long way as a photographer, eventually you will need those raw skills to reach that 1%.

With that being, continue to hone your skills in your specific niche.

Combine a strong marketing strategy and brand alignment with your skills and you will be making good money as a photographer in no time.

photographer make money
Photo by Jakob Owens

Is it Hard to Make Money as a Photographer?

Is it hard to make money as a photographer?

Well, was it hard when you were first learning how to photograph?

Was it hard when you were first learning how to speak English?

Was it hard when you were first learning Algebra?

Everything is “hard” when you are first learning it. But after a while, what seemed hard actually isn’t.

The things we don’t know are “hard,” and the things that we do are “easy.”

The same can be applied to making money as a photographer.

It may seem hard to make money as a beginning photographer because (1.) you lack the skills and experience, and (2.) because you don’t know the different ways you can make money.

While we won’t be covering #1 in this guide (you can check out our Photography Hub for that), we will be covering the different ways you can make money.

How Much Money do you Make if You’re a Photographer?

The amount of money you make as a photographer depends on a lot of factors such as where you live, your experience, and the photography niche that you are in.

For an in-depth breakdown of all of these, we recommend you check out our Photography Pricing Guide where we dive into average photographer cost per hour, per city, as well as by style.

How to Make Money with Photography (20 Tips)

Let’s dive into the ways you can make money with photography. It’s important to know that in order to make money, you need to offer either a product or service.

If you can break it down into that simple mental picture, then it will be easy, I know it helped me!

This list is in no particular order.

1. Photograph People

The first way you can make money with photography is to offer a photography service that photographs people!

If you’re like me, you love photographing people and capturing those special moments of human emotion.

Headshot Photography

One niche of photography that involves people is headshot photography.

People often need updated headshots for their profession so this is a hot field.

Headshot photography often involves an in-depth knowledge of lighting, communication skills, and retouching skills.

Portrait Photography

Portrait photography is another great way to make money while also photographing people.

Portraits can be similar to headshots, however, portraits can encompass taking pictures of someone’s full body opposed to a headshot when it’s usually above the shoulders.

Similar to headshot photography, portrait photography requires an in-depth knowledge of lighting, communication skills, and retouching skills.

portrait photography

Lifestyle Photography

Lifestyle photography is the art of capturing images of people in real-life events and to tell a story through that image.

Lifestyle photography is similar to a portrait photograph in the sense that they are planned images, however, lifestyle photographs are a bit more candid and should aim to capture and document a real-life event.

Newborn Photography

Newborn photography is the art of capturing (you guessed it!) newborns.

This is a great niche of people photography to get into because your clients are very cute and you’re capturing a special moment that that newborn will look back on in future years!

newborn photography 2 to 1 lighting ratio

2. Sell Prints to Clients

The second way you can make money as a photographer is to sell your prints to clients.

Selling prints is a great upsell opportunity and add-on to your existing photography services.

An upsell is a sales technique that involves you inviting the client to purchase an upgrade or add-on so you can make more money.

For example, if you decide to dive into the newborn photography niche and you photograph a couple’s newborn, you can upsell them on your prints — letting them know you offer prints so they can preserve this memory forever.

The great thing with prints is that they work with any photography niche and you can turn any photograph into a print.

photography prints on a wall

3. Sell Branded Products

Selling branded products is another great way to make money as a photographer.

The product you decide to offer will have to align with your brand strategy.

For example, using the same example of a newborn photographer, you can sell branded newborn onesies with your company logo on it.

This is an example of offering a product that matches with your brand and product positioning strategy. This is why it was mentioned in the beginning that having a grasp on the Marketing Framework is important.

Other branded products you could offer as a photographer include picture frames, photo albums, mugs, t-shirts, etc!

mug

4. Photograph Events

The fourth way you could make money as a photographer is to photograph events.

Photographing events is always fun because you are also a part of the event while also being able to capture all the special, candid moments of the event.

Event Photography

Event photography is the name of the niche that is involved with photography events.

Such events could be conferences, company parties, birthday parties, etc.

Wedding Photography

Wedding photography is also a style of event photography that focuses primarily on weddings.

Wedding photography is very popular with photographers because it often makes the most money from a base price standpoint.

The only caveat with wedding photography is that wedding photographers often feel the most pressure because a wedding is such a big moment and the wedding couple could be nervous for their big day.

Luckily though, wedding photographers are often accompanied by assistants so you will not be a lone ranger!

wedding photography

Club/Concert Photography

Club/Concert photography is another niche of event photography that centers around photographing music events such as clubs or music concerts.

This niche is popular with music enthusiasts.

You get to listen to great music while making money!

5. Sell Stock Images

Selling stock images is another great way to make some passive income and monetize your photos.

Some of the most popular stock photography websites that I use include Pixabay, Pexels, Shutterstock, and Unsplash.

If selling stock images piques your interest, then check out this guide or this stock photos guide that goes more in-depth on selling stock images.

6. Create a Blog

The 6th way you can make money from photography is to create a blog!

You might be thinking, how do you make money from the blog?

The two biggest ways to make money from a blog include monetizing your blog with ads and affiliate links.

Everytime someone clicks on an ad, you will make a bit of money and if someone clicks on an affiliate link and purchases a product, you get a small commission.

But first, before you start a blog, you need to create a website and then you need to sharpen up your SEO skills.

The website will house your blog and learning SEO will allow you to drive traffic to your site.

Learning SEO in itself will take some time so I recommend checking out the SEO Guide we put together and then signing up for our newsletter where we will be sharing SEO tips and videos.

creating a blog
Photo by Anete Lūsiņa

7. Teach (Workshops)

The 7th way you can make money as a photographer is to teach.

The most popular way these days is to teach online.

The channels you can teach through include Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Udemy, LinkedIn, Workshops, etc.

The beautiful thing about the digital-age is that if you have valuable information to share, it has never been easier to share it with others and grow a following.

But just like anything else, people need to be able to find what you are offering so it is important to know how to drive traffic to your offering, whether it’s through a Workshop you have on your website, or an Instagram Live teaching on your Instagram page.

The more well-known you become, and the more value you provide to people, then you will eventually get opportunities to teach at events such as photography conferences.

If you set up a website, you can even sell courses later down the road (which we’ll discuss later).

This leads us to our next tip/way, of becoming a social media guru.

teaching workshops
Photo by Dylan Ferreira

8. Become a Social Media Guru

Becoming a social media guru is another way to make money as a photographer.

The way I like to think about it, is that in this new digital-age, as creators and artists, we have multiple online real estates.

We have our website and our various social media profiles such as our Facebook page, Instagram page, Pinterest account, Twitter page, etc.

If you brush up on some SEO knowledge, then you can drive traffic to your website that way.

But how do you drive traffic and more followers to your social media profiles? Well you become a social media guru.

Granted, it’s a lot easier than it sounds but if you take a focused approach testing out all of the different channels and finding which is best for your brand, then you will continue to see growth.

Here is what I mean, let’s say with photography, you decide to create an Instagram account, a Facebook page, and a Pinterest account and you post a photo you took on all three platforms.

If you look at the intent behind each platform, it’s easy to see that Instagram is for visual content, Facebook can be for both visual and written content, and Pinterest is purely visual content.

Because of this, your photo might perform better on Instagram and Pinterest but not so great on Facebook.

You take note of these results and think to yourself, “okay, well posting photos on Instagram and Pinterest is working, but not so much on Facebook.”

With these results, double down on your efforts on Instagram and Pinterest and then keep testing different formats on Facebook until you find one that works well.

Maybe on Facebook, you can post informative, behind-the-scenes information or more educational content.

It’s all about creating these feedback loops and testing different things until you find something that works. That’s how all the social media gurus do it.

Constantly testing + Consistency = Success.

social media
Photo by Austin Distel

9. Photograph Inanimate Objects

The 9th way you can make money with photography is to photograph inanimate objects.

Still Life Photography

Still life photography is a niche of photography that involves capturing an inanimate subject in a created setting.

Toy Photography

Toy photography is a niche of still life photography that involves taking pictures of toys as the subject.

The toys are often rearranged to tell a particular story or to highlight the toy’s features.

Food Photography

Food photography is similar to still life photography except in food photography, the subject is food.

The goal with food photography is to make the meal look as appetizing and aesthetic as possible. (check out the best cameras for food photography)

food photography

10. Sell Photos to Magazines

The 10th way to make money as a photographer is to sell your photos to magazines.

Having your photo published in a magazine will not only provide some extra income, but it can continue to give you a reason to go to new places and hone your photography skills.

I recommend checking out this guide on selling photos to magazines if this way of making money piques your interest!

sell photo to magazine
Photo by Sarah Dorweiler

11. Enter Photography Contests

Similar to selling photos to magazines, you can make money as a photographer by entering photography contests and winning money prizes.

The benefit with photography contests is that you will get to go up against competition and see if you have the current skills to win a competition.

Competing in these contests will provide the quickest way for you to consistently improve upon your photos to continue to “step your game up.” This competition will make you a better photographer overall.

The other benefit is that if you win, your photographs will be recognized by your peers and you can grow a little name for yourself as a photographer.

This growth in popularity will assist with your brand awareness and can help your other monetization methods that we have discussed such as teaching workshops or creating a blog.

12. Provide Editing Services

The 12th way you can make money as a photographer is to provide editing/retouching services.

You can make money editing photos.

Similar to offering prints to clients as an add-on service, you can offer a retouching/editing upsell where you will offer high-quality retouching to remove blemishes, acne marks, spots, etc.

Or you can sell the editing/retouching as a whole separate service in itself and retouch/edit existing photos that clients give you.

The choice is yours, but either way, if you offer these services on your website, knowing SEO will help drive traffic and get more people to purchase these services.

photo editing
Photo by Joseph Pearson

13. Sell Photos in Galleries

The 13th way you can make money with your photography is to sell your photos in galleries.

This way is similar to selling your photos to magazines except you will be able to visit your photo in-person in a gallery if accepted.

Google “photography gallery submissions” and look through all of the results taking note of which one’s interest you:

photography gallery submission

After that, Google “photography galleries near me” and do the same thing:

photography gallery near me

You should have a pretty good list now.

If you want to find more, then Google “photography gallery in [insert location you live].” For example, “photography gallery in los angeles.”

After you’ve compiled your list, found each website of the gallery and contact info, just reach out to them to see how to get submitted.

They should also have a page dedicated on their website with instructions on how to get submitted.

14. Photograph Nature

Photographing nature is another great way to make money as a photographer.

Landscape Photography

Landscape photography is a niche that involves photographing the outdoors with the goal of bringing the viewer into the scene.

Night Photography

Night photography is the art of capturing images outdoors at night.

Underwater Photography

Underwater photography is the art of capturing images while underwater.

All three of these niches involve nature so if you love the outdoors and you love photography, then getting into one of these niches is a great way to make money.

Once you take the photos, you can sell them as stock photos, sell them to magazines, or sell to a gallery!

underwater photography

15. Sell Lightroom Presets

The 15th way to make money as a photographer is to sell Lightroom Presets.

If you have spent any time on Instagram or YouTube watching another photographer, you may have seen that they are offering Lightroom Presets.

If you grow a little following either by driving traffic to your blog through SEO, through social media, or from word of mouth by getting submitted in magazines, galleries, contests, etc., then you most likely take good photographs.

If this is the case, you may have a particular style that other photographers resonate with and want to capture.

If this is so, then you could create Lightroom Presets that match your particular style of color grading and editing and sell them via a mini shop!

If you want to set up a shop to sell these presets, then you will need to know how to create a website.

Luckily, platforms such as WordPress make it very easy to do with store add-ons such as Shopify or Woocommerce which will allow you to create store pages on your website.

And since you’ll have to create a website, it’s best to add other pages to your website as discussed in our Creating a Website Guide.

16. Sell Gated Assets

The 16th way to make money as a photographer is to sell gated assets.

Gated assets include e-books, workbooks, guides, infosheets, etc.

For example, if you have a photography blog and you are known for wedding photography. If most of the people who read your blog are also wedding photographers, you could sell an in-depth ebook covering secret wedding photography tips.

They are called gated assets because they are “gated” behind something which means you can download it after either paying for it or by entering an email.

It’s important to note that if you do want to offer gated assets and sell them on your site/blog, then you will need to ensure that the gated asset is a lot more in-depth and provides more value than your regular blogs.

This means the e-book should be around longer in length and more in-depth.

If a user downloads an e-book expecting it to be more in-depth because they are paying for it and they find that it is the same surface-level quality of a blog, they could lose trust in your brand.

popup

17. Assist Other Photographers

The 17th way to make money as a photographer is to assist other photographers with their shoots.

This is a great way to make money while also practicing your own photography skills!

If you do want to be the assistant to another photographer, it’s always best if you find a photographer who has more experience than you this way you can learn from them.

18. Sell a Course

The 18th way to make money with photography that is very popular right now is to sell a course.

Now, you only should be thinking about selling a course if you already have a large following.

Creating a course is very resource-intensive and will take a lot of time to create.

Plus, your brand image should already be very well defined so your course can be aligned with it.

If you take the time to create a course and then want to realign your brand, then you will have wasted a lot of resources.

For example, if you specialize in marketing tips for photographers, then creating a photography marketing course that will take the user from the beginning of marketing to the steps they need to take to market their business.

Courses should be very in-depth, covering everything from A-Z.

selling photography course
Photo by Nick Morrison

19. Create a Website

The 19th way you can make money with photography is by creating a website.

We’ve already mentioned this before.

Creating the website itself won’t make money, but what you can add to the website will.

For example, you can add a blog to your website and monetize it through ads and affiliate links.

You can add a store to your website and sell Lightroom Presets, gated assets, and courses.

Once you have the website, that will serve as your foundation and main platform from which all other channels can interact with.

brand photography website

20. Start a YouTube Channel

The 20th way to make money with photography is to start a YouTube channel.

On YouTube, you could create a channel educating others about photography tips, photography business, photography marketing, post-production tips, etc.

There are endless possibilities and angles to take with photography YouTube channels.

I’m sure you can think of a couple go-to photography YouTubers that you love to watch.

If you have value to provide and want to provide that value to others, then YouTube is a great channel to dive into to connect with others.

Pro Tip: If you have a blog on your website, you can also cross-promote each other.

For example, let’s say you have a blog on wedding photography tips on your blog. You could create a video talking about wedding photography tips as well.

Then, you could add the video to your blog which will gain more views to your blog and you can link your blog in the description box of your YouTube video.

This is the digital-age — an age of cross-promotion and leveraging all the channels available to you.

Final Remarks

Hope you enjoyed this guide on tips/ways to make money with photography.

It’s important to take action after reading this guide.

Write down some of the ways that interested you and start trying them out.

Even if it doesn’t work out, just remember, failing is only failing if you don’t try again.

The important thing to remember is that action is always better than inaction.

Now I want to hear from you!

If you found any of these tips to be helpful –

Be sure to let me know by leaving a comment down below!

1 thought on “How to Make Money with Photography (20 Tips): 2021 Guide”

  1. Hey Nate,
    Thank you very much for this article, I’ve been looking for information and help to change and restart my photo business.
    A few years ago I was doing headshots but didn’t went well.
    I end up turning to what makes me awake up early in morning, sunrising, nature, landscape and wildlife.
    I want to be a photographer that can make a normal living and not worry about income.
    Sometimes I feel that it’s just a hobby not a “real job”.
    I’m weird I know 😅
    It’s just I need help to make it real and trust myself!!
    Again, thank you for the article.
    I’ll keep in touch!

    Have a blessed day!! 🙏🙏🙏

    Reply

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