You may have a passion for capturing images with your camera, but there are several necessary steps that you need to take before you can turn your photography passion into a career. Starting out as a freelancer can be intimidating, and new photographers may struggle with building up their customer base without the right plan in place.
By harnessing your passion, doing your research, and creating a solid business plan, you can turn your hobby and talent into a lifetime career. Finding direction and narrowing down what avenues you want to pursue are important parts of creating a plan.
The most important part of becoming a freelance photographer is to create a proper business plan. Although working as a freelancer may be considered a casual sort of business style, having a plan to help guide you through the process can give you a sense of direction and seriousness. Start with your goals, set a budget for equipment, and an overall plan of action for getting started. You will need to decide on a niche, network to draw in customers, and build your portfolio.
Deciding to begin freelancing as a photographer should not be a casual decision. Treating any type of career move as casual is the fastest way to an unrealized dream. Once you have created a business plan, it’s time to take action. Discover your inner confidence and go for it. A freelancing career allows you to follow your own dreams, but should still be treated the same way as any other business venture. Following a business plan will help you to stay on track and remain goal oriented until you are able to establish your first few clients.
With the right education from American International College, and following these important tips, you can take a step towards building a career as a freelance photographer. Let’s take a look at how you can move towards your dreams of working behind the camera.
Invest In the Right Equipment
As a freelance photographer, you will want to be working with the best quality tools of the trade. You will need to do some research about what type of camera and photography equipment you will need to get started. Beginning with a good quality camera is the most important first purchase. Once you spend some time developing your skill, you can start branching out to supporting equipment like lighting and editing software.
Although it’s important to start with a quality camera, you don’t necessarily need to buy all top of the line equipment. For new freelancers with tight budgets, mid-line equipment is generally sufficient enough to take a good photo. Keep in mind that your clients are looking for photographers with a talented eye for a picture, not expensive equipment.
You may have a natural talent behind the camera, but never underestimate the impact that more formal education will make on the quality of your photos. Whether you choose to pursue a degree in photography or want to learn more about your craft in a few independent photography classes, you will benefit from the extra knowledge.
Choose Your Niche
There are many kinds of photography, and although they all have their merits and commercial possibilities, it’s important to narrow down what type of work brings you the most satisfaction. It’s important to choose a niche that fills you with passion and can provide a solid customer base. When you are just starting out, you may want to combine one or more niches until you establish a stronghold in just one area.
Social Media Photography
- Millions of people on social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter provide a wide client base for photographers. Promotional photography is only limited to the imagination of you and your client. High-quality photographs are in high demand in all industries.
- If you enjoy finding the beauty in the individual, offering your services as a portrait photographer can be fulfilling. Family and individual portrait photography are one of the most common types of freelancing. Parents are always eager to take an up to date photo of their family as it grows and changes. Newborn and child photography is a specialty that has become increasingly popular in the past decade.
- Record events like weddings, concerts, graduations, and parties on behalf of your clients. Making a connection with one or more reputable party planners could be an avenue towards regular work assignments as they are always looking for good photographers to shoot the events they are working on.
- Wedding and event photography involves a lot of time on the shoot itself and with the editing process. It’s important to understand the value of your time and set your rates accordingly. Event photography is one of the top-paying types of freelancing in photography.
- Tell a story with your photographs covering current events around the world. Working as a photojournalist will keep you in the middle of everything that is going on in the world. Work can be found through traditional or independent news agencies in print and broadcasting.
- If you are looking to pair your love of taking photos with a need to explore the world, a career in travel photography may be for you. Working with travel companies, vacation resorts or internationally recognized travel bloggers could allow you to travel around the world to get the most amazing shots.
- Taking photographs of wildlife around the world is not for the faint of heart. Waiting for the perfect shot of an animal takes dedication and patience, but the results can be rewarding both professionally and financially.
Set Your Rates
Deciding on the value of your work can be an intimidating process for many new freelancers. Remember that you are in control of your own venture, and you shouldn’t be afraid to charge your clients for your services and time. It can be helpful to set session rates or package rates when you are starting. Do your research and find out how much other, more established photographers are charging to help you set your rates.
Keep in mind that setting your prices too low when you are starting out may work against you. You may unintentionally send a message that you don’t have a quality service to provide to customers. Finding a price point that is somewhere in between what you need to pay for your time and effort, and the higher-end prices of established freelancers is a good place to start.
Create a Portfolio
As a freelance photographer, you will work with clients from every corner of life and industry. To build a robust portfolio, it’s important to include photos from all genres on every imaginable topic. Customers may not know exactly what style of photography they are looking for, so your portfolio should display a variety of skills, lighting, and styles.
It’s a good idea to have both a physical and an online copy of your portfolio to display to customers. Before meeting with a client, if you can get a feel for the type of photography they are looking for, you can customize a section of your portfolio to highlight shots that are in that niche.
Take pictures whenever you have the chance and play freely with editing tools to create a well-rounded portfolio. Carry your camera with you everywhere and take pictures of anything that inspires you. You don’t have to limit your photos to those that are in your chosen niche.
Create Your Website
Every modern business should have a website. Before you start handing out your business cards, you will want to have a simple website created for potential customers to browse. Nearly 90% of all business inquiries are now started through a simple internet search. Without a website, customers may find it hard to find you or to establish the trust that you are a professional.
You don’t have to spend a fortune to create a simple website with platforms like Wix or Squarespace. Purchasing your domain name and building a site can be done in just a few hours. For photographers, along with your basic contact information, your initial website should be used as a showcase for your work.
Market Your Business
Self-promotion is the name of the game when it comes to freelancing. New photographers can start by signing up for online job platforms like Upwork or Craigslist to attract new clients. Create a LinkedIn profile to help new customers find you, browse your portfolio, and make contact easily. You can also connect with other professional photographers and event planners through LinkedIn.
Make your presence known on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to help attract more attention. Regular posts of feature photos, along with links to your website can help draw in more clients through your follower base. Create a functional website where you can meet clients and display your photo collection, list your rates, and introduce yourself to potential customers.
More people than ever before are choosing work for themselves instead of as a staff photographer. If taking pictures is your passion, starting as a freelancer will take work and dedication. Follow these steps to help you move towards your dream of working as a professional freelance photographer.