Can You Still Make Money From Photography?

By Geoff Harris

How To Make Money From Photography.

Small pile of british denomination silver coins

Photography has fallen victim to the law of supply and demand.

While there will always be a demand for high quality photography, the supply of photographers with decent cameras is massive.

Who do you know who HASN'T got a camera these days?

With more photographs taken than ever before, much of the mystique has disappeared from the process, and the number of photographers getting big commissions from book, magazine or newspaper publishers is dwindling by the month.

Meanwhile, image rates have gone through the floor – a friend of mine was offered less than £50 by a national newspaper website for some great images he took in India. That would barely cover the cost of one night in a cheap hotel.

While it's definitely got harder to make money from photography, its not impossible, though, so here are some suggestions...

1) Weddings and family portraits

 Wedding photography course

Wedding and family portrait specialists are weathering the storm better than most photographers. I recently read a silly article in The Guardian that said they too would fall victim to smartphones but this isn't happening (yet).

The bride and groom are still prepared to pay for a pro with a 'proper' camera to take high quality images, and while Uncle Bob with his budget SLR might volunteer, deep down he doesn't want the hassle and responsibility.

Wedding photographers are seen in the same light as pro wedding caterers – a necessary expense.

So if you can pay your dues and learn the ropes, wedding photography can still make you money.

Cute images of younger kids and pets will always be popular, too. Smartphone users (or Uncle Bobs) rarely have the understanding of portrait technique and lighting to be able to make a decent stab at this.

2) Photo holidays

Photographers on Scorhill Down, nr Chagford, Dartmoor National Park, Devon, Great Britain.

The backside has well and truly fallen out of landscape and travel photography, unless you have been doing it for ages or are very well connected.

Why would a travel magazine pay a photographer to go out to Burma when there are thousands of keen enthusiasts out there with pro-spec SLRs who will let you publish their work for free in return for a credit?

It's very cheap to buy Burma images from stock libraries too.

One answer to this sad state of affairs is to run photo holidays, which is something that a lot of pros are now doing – even big names like Nigel Hicks

While it's a lot of responsibility, get it right and you can still make money from photo holidays, and it can be rewarding to see students develop their skills.

You may struggle to attract students if you are not that well known, though, but if you are live in an interesting area, what about running photo tours there?

3) Shooting for stock

Scrabble tiles set to mispell the word illiterate

Another way of making money is to shoot for stock libraries.

There will always be a demand for the kind of images that can be used in corporate literature or as general eye candy in newspapers or magazines.

A friend of mine gets a good income from providing images of police to stock libraries. So long as he removes their badge details, there is not usually any problem.

Images of happy smiling business people or families always seem to do well, too.

Stock library tycoon Yuri Acors has become a millionaire from providing this kind of imagery, however cheesy it can seem.

4) Corporate shoots

Related to the above, companies will still pay for a good photographer to take pictures of their top brass. It doesn't need to hang in the boardroom either.

I recently got a job taking profile pictures of a company for their LinkedIn profiles.

So don't be afraid to contact local businesses if you enjoy this kind of work.

It's never going to be great art, but it can provide funds to finance more interesting personal projects.

5) Write about it...

feature writing

Ironically, you can often earn more money by writing about photography than you can by doing it.

There is a still a large number of photography magazines on the shelves, as well as many, many more blogs and websites.

Recommended course

Photography Foundation taught by Michael Freeman

Award-winning photographer, author and teacher Michael Freeman teaches you the foundations of photography from framing to lighting and beyond.

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Geoff Harris

I am a journalist and photographer and currently work as the Deputy Editor of Amateur Photographer (AP) - the oldest weekly photographic magazine in the world. Before that I served as the editor of Digital Camera, Britain's best-selling photography magazine, for five years. During my time as editor it became the UK's top selling photo monthly and won Print Publication of the Year at the 2013 British Media Awards. As well as being lucky enough to get paid to write about photography, I've been fortunate to interview some of the greatest photographers in the world, including Elliott Erwitt, Don McCullin, Martin Parr, Terry O'Neill and Steve McCurry. This has been a wonderful learning experience and very influential on my photography. Beyond writing, I am a professional portrait, travel and documentary photographer, and reached the finals of the 2016 Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition. I am a Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society and hope to take my Associateship whenever I can find the time. In addition I write about well being/personal development and antiques collecting for a range of other titles, including BlueWings, the in-flight magazine of Finn Air.

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