How to Make Money as a Photographer

By Alyciah Beavers


Side Hustles

Alyciah Beavers

Alyciah Beavers

Writer & Career Coach

Most people who start photography for the first time are not in it for the money, at least not at the beginning. It is usually an artistic pursuit, and like other art forms, the attraction lies not in profiting from it but in creating memories and capturing worthwhile moments that will last for a lifetime. However, the most interesting thing about such an artistic discipline, like photography, is that you can certainly have fun, turn it into a lucrative business, and make good money from it, as indicated in this article.

How to Make More Money with Photography

According to Glassdoor, photographers in the US have an average salary of $44,558 per year, which is significantly lower than the average salary for all occupations. Luckily, there are many different avenues for making money as a photographer.

Diversifying your income streams will not only provide you with financial stability but also open up opportunities to showcase your skills in various niches and reach a broader audience.

12 Ways to Make Money with Photography

1. Stock Photography

You can upload high-quality photos to stock photography websites such as Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, or Getty Images. When your images get downloaded, you earn a royalty fee. This can be a passive income stream as your photos generate revenue over time. The ideal way to make sure this business works for you is by looking at the current market trends and producing images similar to such trends.

Requirements for Stock Photography:

  • Quality and Resolution: The images should be of high quality and resolution, in the range of 3000×2000 pixels or higher. It ensures that the images are suitable for various uses, including printing.
  • Composition and Focus: Images should be well-composed, with proper framing and focus. Avoid blurry or out-of-focus shots.
  • Technical Excellence: Photos should be properly exposed, with accurate color balance and minimal noise or artifacts.
  • Subject: Stock agencies often seek various subjects, including nature, landscapes, business, technology, lifestyle, travel, and more. Diversifying your portfolio to cater to different niches is a good idea.
  • Originality: Your photos should be original and not infringe on copyright or intellectual property rights. Avoid using logos, trademarks, or copyrighted artwork unless you have the necessary permissions.
  • Keywords and Metadata: Accurate and relevant keywords and metadata are essential for potential buyers to find your images. Use descriptive keywords that accurately reflect the content of the photo.
  • File Format: Images are usually submitted in JPEG, TIFF, or PNG formats. Different platforms might have specific preferences, so check their guidelines.


There are two different types of stock photography agencies or markets that cater to different audiences and pricing structures:

  • Microstock: Microstock agencies target a wide range of customers, including individuals, small businesses, bloggers, and designers looking for affordable and accessible stock photos. They offer images at relatively low prices (usually from around 20¢ to $10). You will earn royalties for each image sold, with the percentage varying based on factors such as your contributor level, exclusivity with the agency, and the agency’s commission structure. You would get paid at the end of the month based on the images people have downloaded. Earnings per image are often lower compared to macrostock agencies, but the high volume of sales can compensate for this. Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, iStock, and Dreamstime are popular microstock agencies.
  • Macrostock: Macrostock agencies cater to a more specialized and high-end market, often serving advertising agencies, publishing houses, and larger businesses. These clients seek unique and premium-quality images.They typically charge higher prices ($30 – $3000 per year) for image licenses compared to microstock agencies. The cost depends on factors like image exclusivity, intended usage, and image quality. You may earn higher royalties per image sold on macrostock platforms due to the higher pricing. However, sales volume may be lower compared to microstock agencies. Getty Images and Alamy are well-known macrostock agencies.


Although you want to make money with photography, being a stock photographer comes with its challenges:

  • You will not get a return immediately after starting stock photography as you compete with thousands of contributors yearly.
  • Creating unique content in a market full of creative people takes a lot of extra effort.

2. Print Sales

If you’re more inclined towards artistic and fine art photography, you can sell prints of your work online or in art galleries. You can also participate in art exhibitions and showcase your work to potential buyers. Building a distinct style and narrative can help attract art enthusiasts and collectors.

Requirements for Print Sales:

  • Ensure your images are of the highest quality with appropriate resolution and color accuracy.
  • Consider different printing options, such as fine art prints, canvas prints, metal prints, or traditional paper prints, depending on your target audience.
  • Choose where you want to sell your prints. Options include a dedicated website,  online marketplaces like Etsy and Fine Art America, platforms like Redbubble and Zazzle, or local galleries.
  • Sales skills are crucial for any sales role. This includes effective communication, negotiation, objection handling, and closing deals.
  • Understand your customers’ needs and tailor your offerings to meet those needs.


Print sales are a lucrative revenue stream for photographers, especially those who specialize in producing high-quality and unique images. However, the amount you can earn by selling your photography prints can vary widely and depends on several factors, including market demand, sales channels, as well as your pricing and marketing strategy.

Some photographers may make a few hundred dollars a year from print sales, while others can earn a significant income if their work becomes highly sought after. Researching your niche, understanding your target audience, and continually improving your skills and marketing efforts can help you maximize your earnings from selling photography prints.


Here are some of the challenges you might experience along the way:

  • The rise of digital media has led to increased competition for consumers’ attention and spending.
  • Many consumers now prefer digital formats for their convenience and environmental concerns.
  • Printing and distributing physical materials involve substantial costs, including production, shipping, and storage.

3. Photo Editing

You can earn money through photo editing by getting on freelancing platforms such as Freelancer, Guru, and Fiverr. Here are ways to make money as a photographer through editing:

  • Portrait and Wedding Editing: Collaborate with photographers specializing in portrait or wedding photography. They may need assistance editing their images to achieve a consistent and polished look. Establish partnerships or offer your editing services as a package deal.
  • Real Estate Photo Editing: Real estate agents often require professionally edited photos of properties. Enhance property images to make them more appealing to potential buyers, and offer your services to real estate professionals in your area.
  • E-commerce Product Editing: Online sellers need high-quality product images for their listings. Offer your editing skills to enhance product photos by retouching, color correction, background removal, and more.
  • Social Media Influencers and Brands: Social media influencers and brands require visually appealing profile content. Collaborate with them to edit and enhance their photos to maintain a consistent and attractive feed.
  • Photo Restoration: This is another way to earn extra income for a photographer. Making money as a photographer through photo restoration can be rewarding if you have the necessary skills and business acumen. Photo restoration involves repairing and enhancing old or damaged photographs, returning them to their original or improved condition. Create different service packages to cater to a variety of clients. For instance, you could offer basic restoration, advanced restoration, colorization, and print options.

4. Selling Presets and Filters

You can make money by creating high-quality presets and filters that produce desirable and consistent results. These presets cater to different photography styles, such as portrait, landscape, vintage, black and white, etc.

Marketing and promoting your presets and filters to your target audience through social media, email marketing, blogging, and collaborations with other photographers allows you to make some money. Selling presets and filters can be a lucrative endeavor, especially if you create high-quality and unique products that cater to your specific target audience.

5. Photography Workshops and Classes

Share your photography skills and knowledge by offering workshops and classes. This could be in-person or online, catering to beginners who want to learn the basics or more advanced photographers looking to enhance their skills. Teaching can be a rewarding way to earn money while contributing to the photography community.

6. Niche Photography

Niche photography refers to a specialized and focused area within the broader field of photography, where photographers concentrate on capturing images of specific subjects, themes, or styles that cater to a particular audience or interest group. Niche photography gets into a particular subject matter, technique, or style, often creating a distinct body of work showcasing the photographer’s expertise and passion.

If you want to learn how to make money with photography here are some options you should try:

  • Wildlife Photography: Focusing on capturing images of animals and their natural behaviors in their habitats.
  • Macro Photography: Concentrating on extreme close-up images of small subjects like insects, flowers, or textures.
  • Food Photography: Creating visually appealing images of various dishes, often for culinary purposes.
  • Street Photography: Capturing candid moments of everyday life in public spaces.
  • Fashion Photography: Highlighting clothing, accessories, and fashion trends creatively and artistically.
  • Underwater Photography: Taking photographs underwater, showcasing marine life and underwater landscapes.
  • Architectural Photography: It deals with documenting buildings, structures, and architectural details, emphasizing design and aesthetics.
  • Landscape Photography: Capturing expansive outdoor scenes and natural landscapes, often emphasizing the beauty of nature.
  • Portrait Photography: Concentrating on capturing images of people, often emphasizing their expressions, personalities, or unique characteristics.
  • Event Photography: Documenting special occasions such as weddings, corporate gatherings, or any memorable occasion.

7. Drone Photography

The initial cost of getting started with drone photography can vary widely depending on several factors, including the quality of equipment you choose and whether you’re starting from scratch or already have some of the necessary gear. The entry-level drones price range is $290 to $490 with mid-level consumer drones going for a range between $600 and $1000 whereas high-end professional drones might cost you more than $3,000.

You can make money by taking real estate photos and videos, filming for hotel and resort advertisements, selling stock photos, and through aerial mapping. According to recent data, the average hourly rate for a drone photographer is $20.

8. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing strategy where businesses or individuals, known as affiliates, promote products or services offered by another company, known as the merchant. In this arrangement, affiliates earn a commission or a percentage of the sales generated through their marketing efforts, such as through website content, social media, email marketing, or other promotional channels.

Using affiliate marketing as a photographer can be a great way to generate additional income alongside your photography business. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make money as a photographer through affiliate marketing:

  • Build an online presence. Through a website, blog, or social media platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook, showcase your photography work and share your content. These platforms can drive traffic to your blog or website, where you’ll promote affiliate products.
  • Research the right affiliate programs and join.
  • Add affiliate links to the relevant products such as photography equipment like cameras, tripods, or drones.

9. Ebooks and Guides

Making money as a photographer through eBooks and guides can be a great way to share your expertise and monetize your knowledge. You can use this opportunity to write about some unique ways of taking different types of photos and how to make money with photography.

10. Photography YouTube Channel or Blog

Creating a photography YouTube channel or blog to share tutorials, gear reviews, and vlogs about your photography adventures can be a great way to make money. However, it’s important to note that building a successful online platform takes time, dedication, and consistent effort. Use the relevant keywords in the photo titles, descriptions, and blog posts to improve search engine visibility. It pushes your content organically to a wider audience.

11. Sell Photography Gear

Selling photography gear can be a lucrative venture, especially if you’re passionate about photography and knowledgeable about the equipment. Create an online store and set up a platform to showcase and sell your photography gear. It could be a website or an online marketplace like eBay, Amazon, or Etsy.

12. Photojournalism and Editorial Photography

Consider working as a photojournalist if you’re interested in current events and storytelling. Your photographs can accompany news articles, magazine features, and online publications. Developing relationships with media outlets and staying up-to-date with relevant stories is crucial in this field.

Importance of Marketing and Networking for a Successful Photography Side Hustle

Marketing and networking are vital elements in the success of your photography side hustle for several reasons:

  • Visibility and Reach: Effective marketing helps you get your side hustle in front of potential customers. Without proper marketing, your products or services might go unnoticed, regardless of how great they are.
  • Building a Brand: Marketing allows you to establish an ideal brand identity. A well-defined brand helps create a distinct image and value proposition in the minds of your audience, making you stand out in a competitive market.
  • Customer Engagement: Through marketing, you can engage with your customers, addressing their needs and concerns. This interaction builds trust and loyalty, encouraging repeat business and positive word-of-mouth referrals.
  • Revenue Generation: Effective marketing drives sales and revenue. The more people who know about your photography side hustle, the more potential customers you can attract, leading to increased sales and profitability.

How to Promote Yourself as a Photographer on Social Media

As a photographer looking to promote your side hustle on social media, you can utilize various platforms and tactics to maximize your visibility and engagement. Here are some tips for specific platforms:

1. Instagram

  • Hashtags: Consider using some relevant and popular hashtags to increase the discoverability of your posts. Research and include a mix of industry-specific and trending hashtags.
  • Collaborations: Partner with models, makeup artists, or other photographers for photo shoots as they expose your work to a wider audience.
  • Posting Schedule: Consistency matters. Develop a posting timeline suitable for your target audience’s active hours and stick to it.

2. Facebook

  • Groups and Pages: Join photography-related Facebook groups to share your work tips and engage with potential clients. Create a Facebook Page for your photography side hustle to showcase your portfolio and post updates.

3. LinkedIn

  • Professional Networking: LinkedIn is great for connecting with other professionals. Share your photography journey, achievements, and insights. Connect with potential clients, collaborators, and even mentors.

4. Twitter

  • Quick Updates: Use Twitter for bite-sized updates, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and quick photography tips. Engage with trending topics and relevant hashtags to increase your reach.

Building a Portfolio Website

Building a professional portfolio website is paramount for photographers, as it serves as a dynamic and accessible platform to showcase their work, establish their brand, and attract potential clients and collaborators. Here are several reasons highlighting the significance of having a well-crafted portfolio website:

  • Showcase Your Work: A portfolio website provides an organized and visually appealing way to present your best work. High-quality images and well-curated galleries demonstrate your photography skills, style, and versatility. Such visual representation is much more impactful than merely describing your work in words.
  • Brand Identity: A portfolio website allows you to establish and control your brand identity. You can tailor the design, layout, color scheme, and overall aesthetic to match your style as a photographer. This consistency helps in creating a recognizable and memorable brand image.
  • Credibility and Trust: A well-maintained portfolio website adds credibility to your work. It demonstrates that you take your photography seriously and are invested in showcasing your talent. It is a crucial factor in building trust with potential clients and collaborators.
  • Accessibility: Unlike physical portfolios, a website is accessible 24/7 from anywhere. This means that potential clients, art directors, or anyone interested in your work can view it at their convenience, enhancing your reach and exposure.
  • Versatility: With a portfolio website, you can create various galleries and categories, showcasing different types of photography you specialize in. Focus on your niche in your presentation to your audience, whether it’s portrait, landscape, fashion, or any other genre.

Networking and Building Relationships with Clients

Building relationships with clients is crucial for photographers for several compelling reasons:

  • Repeat Business and Referrals: Satisfied clients will hire you again for future photography needs. They might also recommend your services to their friends, family, and colleagues, leading to a steady stream of new clients through referrals. Word-of-mouth recommendations are incredibly valuable in the photography industry.
  • Trust and Comfort: Photography often involves capturing personal moments and emotions. Clients feel comfortable in front of the camera when they trust the photographer. Establishing a strong relationship helps create a positive and comfortable atmosphere during the shoot, resulting in more natural and authentic photographs.
  • Understanding Client Preferences: Developing a close relationship with clients allows you better to understand their preferences, style, and vision. This understanding helps tailor your approach to their needs, ensuring the final photographs meet their expectations.

Understanding Copyright and Licensing

As a photographer, understanding copyright and licensing is of utmost importance. It can significantly impact your creative work, income, reputation, and legal standing.

In short, copyright is the legal framework that grants creators, including photographers, exclusive rights to their original works. Understanding copyright enables you to protect your images from unauthorized use or reproduction.

Furthermore, copyright also plays a pivotal role in the world of photography when it comes to licensing and monetizing your work. By comprehending the nuances of copyright law, you can confidently negotiate licensing agreements, determine how your images can be used by others, and set the terms for compensation.

Whether you’re selling prints, licensing images for commercial use, or collaborating with clients, a solid grasp of copyright empowers you to navigate the complex landscape of intellectual property rights and ensures that your creative endeavors are valued and protected.


In a world driven by visual content, photography has emerged as an art form and a lucrative avenue for those with a keen eye and a passion for capturing moments. Therefore, it is vital to blend the skill with business and adaptability and turn your passion into a profitable venture. Social media, e-commerce, advertising, and the ever-growing demand for high-quality visuals have paved the way for photographers to monetize their skills in diverse and innovative ways. With the growing technology, you should continue learning and adapting to the market demands if you choose to make money as a photographer.

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Alyciah Beavers

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