The Freelance Photographer do have very good business opportunities. This article will give the self-employed freelancer, that do want to operate his business from home, the opportunity to learn more about the basics of this business. There are many good links to other sources that you will be very valuable.

Definition of a Freelance Photographer

Business Opportunities for the Freelance PhotographerA photographer (the Greek φῶς (phos), meaning “light”, and γραφή (graphê), meaning “drawing, writing”, together meaning “drawing with light”)[1] is a person who takes photographs. A professional photographer uses photography to earn money; amateur photographers take photographs for pleasure and to record an event, emotion, place, or person.

A professional photographer may be an employee, for example of a newspaper, or may contract to cover a particular event such as a wedding or graduation, or to illustrate an advertisement. Others, including paparazzi and fine art photographers, are freelancers, first making a picture and then offering it for sale or display. Some workers, such as policemen, estate agents, journalists and scientists, make photographs as part of other work. Photographers who produce moving rather than still pictures are often called cinematographers, videographers or camera operators, depending on the commercial context.

Photographers are also categorized based on the subjects they photograph. Some photographers explore subjects typical of paintings such as landscape, still life, and portraiture. Other photographers specialize in subjects unique to photography, including street photography, documentary photography, fashion photography, wedding photography, war photography, photojournalism, aviation photography and commercial photography.


Employers usually seek applicants with a “good eye,” imagination, and creativity, as well as a good technical understanding of photography. Photojournalists or industrial or scientific photographers generally need a college degree. Freelance and portrait photographers need technical proficiency, gained through a degree, training program, or experience.

Education and training:

Entry-level positions in photojournalism or in industrial or scientific photography generally require a college degree in photography or in a field related to the industry in which the photographer seeks employment. Entry-level freelance or portrait photographers need technical proficiency. Some complete a college degree or vocational training programs.

Photography courses are offered by many universities, community and junior colleges, vocational-technical institutes, and private trade and technical schools. Basic courses in photography cover equipment, processes, and techniques. Learning good business skills is important and some bachelor’s degree programs offer courses focusing on them. Art schools offer useful training in photographic design and composition.

Photographers may start out as assistants to experienced photographers. Assistants acquire the technical knowledge needed to be a successful photographer and also learn other skills necessary to run a portrait or commercial photography business.

Some photographers enter the field by submitting unsolicited a portfolio of photographs to magazines and to art directors at advertising agencies; for freelance photographers, a good portfolio is essential.

Individuals interested in a career in photography should try to develop contacts in the field by subscribing to photographic newsletters and magazines, joining camera clubs, and seeking summer or part-time employment in camera stores, newspapers, or photo studios.

Other qualifications:

Photographers need good eyesight, artistic ability, and good hand-eye coordination. They should be patient, accurate, and detail-oriented and should be able to work well with others, as they frequently deal with clients, graphic designers, and advertising and publishing specialists. Photographers need to know how to use computer software programs and applications that allow them to prepare and edit images, and those who market directly to clients should know how to use the Internet to display their work.

Portrait photographers need the ability to help people relax in front of the camera. Commercial and fine arts photographers must be imaginative and original. News photographers must not only be good with a camera, but also understand the story behind an event so that their pictures match the story. They must be decisive in recognizing a potentially good photograph and act quickly to capture it.

Photographers who operate their own business, or freelance, need business skills as well as talent. These individuals must know how to prepare a business plan; submit bids; write contracts; keep financial records; market their work; hire models, if needed; get permission to shoot on locations that normally are not open to the public; obtain releases to use photographs of people; license and price photographs; and secure copyright protection for their work. To protect their rights and their work, self-employed photographers require basic knowledge of licensing and copyright laws, as well as knowledge of contracts and negotiation procedures.

Freelance photographers also should develop an individual style of photography to differentiate themselves from the competition.


Knowing how to become a freelance photographer can be easy, it’s learning how to become a freelance photographer who makes money that can be the challenging part. You may decide to freelance for the practice or the fun, but most people jump into this career or hobby path as a means to bring in additional income. This means that knowing how to turn your time and talents into profit is the key.

Steps 1:  Choose a freelance photography focus. Decide if you want to photograph children, weddings, families, babies, architecture or some other topic. You might even branch into being a photojournalist for a publication.

Think about the income potential of each type and weigh the cost of quality equipment against how much you realistically think that you can make.

Step 2:  Research and educate yourself on the style or styles of photography in which you are interested.

Look on the Internet to see if anyone does anything similar to what you have in mind. Follow that up by thinking about how you can differentiate your potential services from those of other photographers in town.

Step 3:  Search online or head to the library to check out books on photographers who do similar work to what you have in mind. Gather inspiration from those who have come before you. While you want to create your own style of photography, to start out with, it is always helpful to find a look to emulate and challenge yourself to try and mimic. This will help your technique, as well as your quality, improve.

Brainstorm how you can translate this style of photography into paid work. Look at how others of the same style supported themselves on their work. An example would be how one of Anne Geddes’ first successful large projects was a calendar.

Step 4:  Start out by volunteering your time for various projects or running a new photographer special.

Build your photography portfolio by volunteering your services for a handful of key projects. This will also help you garner good will from those who need your time and talent but might not be able to adequately pay you.

Run a discounted special to bring in new customers but also to allow you to build a suitable portfolio to show to family, friends and potential new clients once you get your feet wet in the profession.

Step 5:  Invest in quality equipment that matches the style or styles of photography that you have settled on. A certain high-end camera may seem expensive, but if you can pay it off after a handful of shoots, it is well worth the investment to have the better equipment.

Step 6:  Find a mentor to help show you the ropes.  You can do this by approaching other professional photographers or becoming a part of a local photography club. Take this as an opportunity to have your work critiqued, and find out what you can do to make your work better.

Step 7:  Create a marketing plan for how you want to let people know that your services are available. Aside from the free things you can do like Twitter and Facebook, consider setting aside a budget for a website and/or additional advertising.


Photographer Education Requirements:

While some photographers lead successful careers with only experience and skill, many photographers pursue formal career training through undergraduate degree programs. This is especially true for those in specialties such as industrial photography, photojournalism or scientific photography. Even photographers specializing in freelance and portrait photography often gain technical expertise through college degree programs.

Bachelor’s Degree:

Undergraduate degree programs in photography and related fields may be available at art schools, colleges and universities. Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography programs generally focus on hands-on instruction in the technical and creative aspects of the visual art. Courses may include photography techniques, studio lighting, color theory, graphic design, digital photography and artwork critique.

Upper-division courses may include studio classes in which students use advanced techniques including lighting and digital photography. These courses typically allow students to experiment with their photographic skills. Many photography degree programs culminate in a senior project. These projects help students to build their portfolios and transition to a career as a professional photographer.

Master’s Degree:

Photographers interested in further developing their skills and advancing their careers may consider earning master’s degrees. Some colleges and universities offer Master of Fine Arts in Photography programs, which typically take 2-3 years to complete. Studio courses and independent study are the backbone of such degree programs. Students utilize their advanced knowledge of photography to complete various projects while pushing the boundaries of their creative abilities.

Students generally develop their own curricula according to areas of interest and complete visual and written thesis projects based on their graduate studies. Thesis projects may be displayed in university exhibitions. Completion of master’s degree programs in photography may qualify graduates for teaching positions at community colleges and some 4-year colleges. Some programs prepare students for careers in postsecondary education by incorporating teaching courses.


  • Fashion Photographer
  • Landscape Photographer
  • Wildlife Photographer
  • Aerial Photographer
  • Action / sports photographer
  • Event Photographer
  • Real Estate and Architecture Photographer
  • Astrophotographer
  • Photojournalist
  • Concert Photographer
  • School Photographer
  • Family Photographer


Making a living in freelance photography is actually harder than you might think. There are thousands of freelance photographers out there, so you need to find ways to make yourself stick out from the crowd. You need to build your portfolio up with top notch photos and let your work speak for itself. You may have to take some low paying jobs in the beginning, but that is the joy of being a freelance photographer.

Regardless of the job that you take, act professional and take the best photos that you can. It might take some time to build up a client base, but once you do, you’ll find that those same clients keep coming back to you for their photography needs.


Market Your Services Online:

Getting your name out there sounds impossible at first, but your efforts will pay off if you have the talent to back yourself up. Marketing your services online is a lot different from marketing online products and other services.

It can be as easy as posting your photos in your social networking accounts, tagging a few friends, and letting them know that you are open for business. You can also display your work at galleries like This will allow you to network with other aspiring and established freelance photographers and open opportunities up for you.

Sell stock photos in different websites:

You can also sell your stock photos online in different stock photo agencies. There are literally dozens of websites of this kind, all of which are looking for freelance photographers like you who are willing to sell their work to customers.

A few photo agencies where you can sell your photos are iStockPhoto, PhotoStockPlus,, BigStockPhotos, and Crestock.


Via your own website – this will allow you to post galleries of work that can be sold as downloadable files or even as high-quality prints. You could use self-publishing sites to make your own books and calendars too (many savvy photographers travel around their local area and make annual calendars of regional photographs by this approach). A website is also a great way to promote your specialization as well. Whether you are a wedding photographer, photojournalist, travel specialist, or someone who prefers portraiture you should continually update galleries of your work to show potential clients what you have to offer them;

Through stock websites – many freelance photographers eventually establish a very steady and consistent stream of income through these sites which allow all kinds of people to purchase and download copyright-free photographs. Consider that many advertising agencies, publishing firms, graphic designers, and even large corporations use stock imagery on a daily basis. This means it is a fantastic way to get your proverbial foot in the door and to develop an ongoing audience; and

Through networking – don’t think that you are crossing some line when you promote your work through such things as a Twitter or Facebook account, because this is currently one of the most financially viable ways to market any type of business.


1.       Get the Equipment

A basic digital camera is not going to be good enough for a freelance photographer, even if you’ve been able to get amazing photos of your own. You need a professional grade camera, and it probably will not be cheap. You can look for a pre-owned camera or a refurbished one sold by the manufacturer online to save money, but expect to spend several hundred dollars, if not more than 1,000. You will also need to get a computer because most clients today will want their photos burned to a disk for them. You will also need a good printer and quality photo paper or a printing company that you can order from online for when your clients want quality prints.

2.       Take a Class

Even if you’re a natural talent at photography, that still doesn’t mean you have the skills you’ll need as a freelance photographer. You will also need to be able to do quality photo editing on software like Photoshop, and classes also often cover the necessary business skills required. Be sure that you understand how this is done because your clients will demand it.

3.       Consider A Studio

As a freelance photographer, you will very likely be able to get by without needing a studio at all. A lot of clients are keen to have their photos taken outside when doing family and personal portrait photo shoots. However you may experience more steady year-round business if you can offer a studio space. This could be a converted area of your home and a garage is usually perfect.  If you do get a studio, you’ll need additional equipment to achieve the proper lighting, in addition to backdrops and props. You can buy props yourself and they don’t have to be expensive.  They could be as simple as an old chair with peeling paint, some latex balloons or toys for children shoots, some blankets or rugs with beautiful textures and some seasonal props such as a large pumpkin or sled.

4.       Learn your Area

Whether or not you’re going to be offering a studio space right away as a freelance photographer you need to know your area and where you can take great outdoor photos.  These locations can include parks, bridges, telephone booths, interesting natural features or works of art like sculptures. Possible areas that work well include public park areas, college or school campuses and empty fields. However you do need to be sure to get permission to shoot your clients in these areas. You can talk to your towns’ parks and recreations department to get more information, and they might be able to give you some great suggestions about where else you can go.

5.       Create a Website

There are websites available online that are geared towards freelance photographer endeavors.  Create a website that will allow you to have photo galleries that your clients can access with a password. This may be expensive, so it’s okay to forego this in the beginning and focus on social media alone, but once you start doing a lot of large events like weddings, your clients will likely demand online gallery viewing.  In the beginning you can probably get by with a free website.

6.       Get Involved in Social Media

The next important step for a would-be freelance photographer is to establish a social media presence. This includes Facebook, blogging, Instagram, and especially Twitter.  You can also use Craigslist to advertise and promote yourself to get jobs.

7.       Don’t Forget the Legal Stuff

Be sure to look into all of the national and local laws. You may need to get a business license and file gross receipts taxes for your state. If you aren’t sure and you’re already beginning to take jobs then it’s a good idea to put aside about 30% of your earnings, perhaps by putting them into a savings account where you won’t use them. You may need those funds for taxes next year, depending on how much you make as a freelance photographer.

8.       Remember Your Reputation

A freelance photographer should always be focused on maintain a solid reputation. This is because a lot of your business will come from word of mouth or recommendations. Therefore you need to do your best to make each client happy.  Do not overbook yourself so that you’re rushed or forced and be sure to give each client individual attention.  If you want to improve your services, you could ask you clients to do a survey after you’ve finished and allow them to mail the survey anonymously to you if they would like.


As working photographers, you want to see repeat customers. You want them to tell everyone they know that you did a good job, not just with the photo, but with interpersonal skills as well. With great images and a great personality come great recommendations. When you are a working freelance photographer, creating an image is just a part of the process.

Engage Your Client:  You have to be happy about your work. If you’re impatient during the shoot, you won’t have repeat business. You basically have to have fun. Your energy has to be up, and you have to communicate with your client to let them know you care about your work. One of the most important things is to know your client’s full name. Know as much about them as possible without being creepy–instead approach it with genuine curiosity. Warm welcomes prepare clients for great photography sessions every time.

Be on Time:  Don’t make your client wait for you. Ever. If your shoot is at 9 am, be there and ready to shoot by 8:55 am. Your client does not want to see you set up and prep. The fact of the matter is the client expects you to be ready with a smile and a good morning, not a frantic rush to get up and running. Have a good frame of mind, and you’ll get some good frames.

Deliver Your Photos on Time:  You also need to deliver the photos in a timely manner, and this absolutely key. It does take time to process photos, so give your client a reasonable expectation of delivery. If you think it’s going to take days to deliver photos, tell them so. You either look great for delivering the photos early or if something comes up, you have a little extra time to work with.

Choose your Attitude:  The attitude you bring to the photography session is the attitude your client will tell people about. You will find that when your attitude is positive, it’s easier to pull the expressions out of your client’s faces. Photography is not just technical; it can be psychological as well. A photographer has to be accountable for their attitude to make a session successful.

Try to Over Deliver, Slightly:  Don’t just give them what they asked for; give your client one or two shots more. Something for their social media pages or to quickly share amongst friends. Clients are always happy when they get a bit more. A photographer can plan for this. It can be a secret menu deal. If the client has extra time, offer to do a special shot with a special lens of yours. Anything that makes the client feel they are getting an extra bang for their buck.

Confidence is Key:  Having the client believe in your work is key. If you are not confident, your client definitely won’t be. You have to be completely aware about your environment, the use of your gear, and how to pose your subjects. Your client will follow your direction completely if they believe you know what you are doing.

Keep calm and carry on:  Stuff happens. Not every day will go well. It’s a fact. How you deal with it can either earn you a repeat client or lose a potential one. As a freelance photographer, gear drops and wires break. A photographer has to remain calm when things go bad. A client will remember this because at the end of the day, they came to get images created. A freelance photographer has to come through no matter what.