If you've ever wondered about how to get paid to take photos then you're in luck.
It can be done (and it's not as hard as you think).
However, before you run out to buy a camera, there are a number of things to consider. As with anything, having a passion for what you're doing is always an element for how successful you will be.
If photography is your hobby, then you're probably already out and about taking pictures and learning how to improve the craft. And you will know there is a lot to know in order to produce professional-grade images that can generate income.
How to Make Money with Photography
In this article, we will cover some of the best ways to make money taking pictures.
Self-employed can mean anything from running your own brick-and-mortar business to picking up getting paid to take photos as a side hustle. No matter where you fall on that spectrum, it’s wise to keep your business finances separate from your personal affairs using one of the best banks for freelancers.
Moving on, this isn’t an all-inclusive list, but it does cover the most popular and lucrative methods, as well as ways that will useful to anyone using photography for side income.
1. Apps That Pay You to Take Photos
Are you wondering what app pays you to take pictures? If you are wondering how to get paid for taking pictures then take a look at these apps that pay your real money for doing just that.
At EyeEm you can get rewarded for your creativity and get the option of selling your photos. One cool thing about EyeEm is that you'll always keep control of your copyright and be able to choose which photos you submit for selling. It's as simple as that. Save time by batch uploading via your desktop, allowing the web uploader to automatically keyword your images and put them up for sale. The only downside is that you'll earn 50% of your earnings, EyeEm takes the other half.
Foap works similar to EyeEm where you can upload your photos for sale. Here, you can upload any photos to your profile, caption and tag them and wait for someone to spot them and buy them from you on our Foap market. One photo costs up to $10 and you split the money with Foap 50/50 e.g for one photo sold for $10 you get $5, while the other $5 goes to Foap. It's a legitimate app that'll pay you money for taking photos.
Want another app that'll pay you real money for taking pictures? You can get paid for your beautiful, authentic photos with Snapwire too. Snapwire is a platform that connects a new generation of photographers with brands and businesses around the world. Photographers get access to real-time, paid photo requests and challenges. Photographers can also sell photos directly from their own portfolios and in our growing stock photo marketplace. Snapwire can easily become your home for selling all your creative photography. You can will earn 70% of your earnings by selling your photos here.
One last app that I wanted to share is miPic. miPic really can bring your pics to life and you can earn money for free! The platform empowers you with print on demand product manufacturing using the world's best printing technology. They can help you launch your customized print store and they will handle everything else. So you can focus on what you do best of taking photos for money. miPic takes a 20% commission for their work.
2. Sell Stock Photos
Perhaps the easiest way to try your hand at earning income with photography is with online stock images via a microstock agency. The advantage of selling stock photography is that there is virtually no cost to start and all you really need for camera equipment is a cell phone camera.
Best Websites to Sell Photos
If you are determined to make money taking photos, then you should consider selling photos on stock photography sites. This is a list of sites where you can sell photos online for free.
At Shutterstock, you can share your photos and start earning and creating. You'll definitely need to produce high-quality images and videos for Shutterstock's customers to download. Once you got that down, just submit and upload your content with the website's easy-to-use platform, and get paid. You will make money every time your photo is downloaded by one of its worldwide customers. It's pretty straightforward and is a must if you are really trying to make money with photography.
Shutterstock pays you 25 to 38 cents every time one of your images is downloaded, based on your earnings tier.
Adobe Stock is another strong contender to sell your artistic photos, images, videos and more to the world's largest creative community. It is pretty easy to contribute and get rewarded for your work.
Every time someone purchases your content, you get a 33% commission for photos and vector art and a 35% commission for videos based on the price of the image. You can request a payout via Paypal or Skrill when you have reached at least $25 in royalties.
Snapped4U offers an easy way to sell event photos. As an account owner, you create a gallery, set the photo price, and upload the photos. Snapped4U sells the photos as jpeg files and emails purchases immediately upon receipt of payment. The maximum photo price that can be set is $20.
Snapped4U retains a commission on each photo that sells: On US accounts the sales commission is $0.50 on photos priced $5 or less and 10% on all others. On non-US accounts, the sales commission is $0.60 on photos priced $5 or less and 12% on all others. Payments to non-US account holders are subject to a 1% fee.
Getty Images | iStock
Getty Images is another option for you to sell your photos but they have a screening process. You can get started by downloading the Contributor by Getty Images from the App Store or Google Play. Upload 3 to 6 sample images, illustrations, or videos (via YouTube links). The team will review your samples and let you know if you're accepted to either Getty Images or iStock by Getty Images.
For content licensed via iStock.com, royalty rates start at 15% for photos and 20% for videos and illustrations, but exclusive contributors can earn from 25% to 45%.
For content licensed via GettyImages.com, rates start at 20% for RF still images and 25% for RF video.
What Kinds of Photos Make Good Stock Photos?
This may be the easiest way to start but there are many hard realities to face when selling images through the internet with online stock agencies. You are competing against tens of thousands of other photographers and there are literally tens of millions of images available for buyers. Most beginners start out by taking snapshots around the area where they live and there is very little demand for snapshots.
Online stock primarily caters to buyers who have a need for concepts that have commercial potential. Business images, families, babies, travel, finance, retirement, and a great many other categories are in demand. If you can't deliver with well-executed concepts for specific topics, then you will have little chance of making sales.
Time and time again people who are new to online stock will upload pictures of their pets, flowers, park benches, and so on. There just isn't much demand for these types of pictures and why should buyers purchase them when they can take the same picture with their own cell phone camera?
Another problem you face is there are so many photographers out there who are desperate to be a “published artist” and be discovered. They are uploading images into the public domain where their images can be used for free. If you want to be a paid professional in photography or any other profession, then you should resist the temptation to give your work away for free with the belief you will be getting “exposure.” There are many high-quality images being put into the public domain so you're now competing against images that have no licensing or copyright restrictions and are free to use.
However, if you have the talent to produce unique images that are well executed and can cater to numerous genres and niche markets, you will be able to make money with online stock photography. The extra income will also allow you to upgrade to professional-grade camera equipment.
3. Sell Your Photos as Art
If you are really creative with your photography then you can consider selling your photos as art.
To do this, you'll generally want to establish an online presence. This allows you to get customers when you aren't otherwise selling your work. Consider looking locally for customers and using social media like Facebook or Instagram to showcase your work. Besides local restaurants and cafes, local art galleries and framing shops are also a good bet. Don't forget about local art and craft shows and A-list art fairs are the “big time” events that you must attend.
If you want to sell your images as art online, here is a list of places where you can get started.
Selling photos on Etsy and is a great way to get started selling your photos as art.
Etsy is an American e-commerce website focused on handmade or vintage items and craft supplies. These items fall under a wide range of categories, including artwork, jewelry, bags, clothing, home décor and furniture, toys, art, as well as craft supplies and tools.
Once your artwork sells, there is a 5% transaction fee on the sale price (including the shipping price you set). If you accept payments through Etsy Payments, they also collect a 3% + $0.25 payment processing fee when an item is sold.
Pixpa is a website builder tool specifically created for photographers, designers, artists and creatives. It has everything you need to sell your products and to showcase your work. They also offer 50% discount on all plans to students and teachers.
Some of its key features include beautiful responsive templates, client galleries for photographers and a built in ecommerce store to run your business online. All plans come with SSLs,unlimited bandwidth and 24/7 support.
Another place to try and sell your artwork online is Fotomoto. If you want to set up your own website then they can help you print, pack, and ship your photos as prints to your customers. You just relax and focus on taking photos.
Fotomoto takes 22% of your sales from each photo but if you opt for a Pro Plus Plan ($25/month) then they'll take 10% in transaction fees.
Here you won't exactly sell your photos as artwork but they'll place your photos on things like coffee mugs, t-shirts, and hats. A major downside with Society6 is that they only pay you 10% of the sales price.
Another option is to create an online portfolio. There are many websites such as CafePress, Art of Where, and iCanvas, where you can submit your art and the web site, will provide print-on-demand services and shipping for buyers who purchase your art.
You need to be really good to generate enough sales to make it worthwhile, especially when the online store takes a large percentage of the sale, but it's a much simpler business model to work with. Art fairs mean an investment in time and money to prepare where an online store means you can upload images on your own schedule.
How to Sell and Market Your Own Photography Art Prints
It is not secret that photographers use photography to produce art. Virtually everyone has been to an art fair where various artists will have prints for sale, including photography. It's easy to get into an art fair but it's not so simple being ready for an art show. If the event is outdoors, then you will want a pop-up tent. Indoors or outdoors, you will need tables. You will need to create prints and prints usually are matted. You need to search online for plastic bags to hold and protect the prints.
In order to be cost-effective and maximize profit, you will want to purchase a printer and make your own prints. Matting prints means buying and cutting the mat board. You will need a mat board cutter and supplies for mounting the prints. If you're going to frame your prints, then you will want to find an art supplier that will sell the framing hardware and glass.
Running photographs through a printer is not always an easy task. Images may come out flat or have a shift in colors. Calibrating the printer may be required. Again, you may want to have good software such as Photoshop.
Becoming a fine art photographer has a huge learning curve but if you're a serious photographer, it's something you will probably learn regardless. Creating an image that is worthy of hanging on a wall is reward enough for a photographer with the passion to create art. Turning that passion into a side job to make extra money is the icing on the cake.
5. Get Paid to Take Pictures of Houses
Another way to generate income with your camera is to get paid to take pictures of houses. With the internet being the primary way homes and other property is now sold, the expectation is to have a virtual tour for buyers who are looking online. There are real estate agents who rely on photographers to photograph their properties, so this is an opportunity available to you.
It's merely a matter of asking around and being persistent to work your way into paying gigs. It helps to have a wide-angle lens for small rooms and at the very least, an external flash unit that mounts onto your camera. Using the built-in flash usually will not produce a professional-looking image.
It's easy to practice, all you have to do is take pictures of the rooms wherever you live. You will want to practice with different light conditions. A harsh sun coming in through the windows can be difficult to work with. Low lighting conditions can also be a challenge.
Another thing you can do is to browse through online listings and study the quality of the images being used. You will find images that are done very well and done very poorly. Simple things like the angle you're shooting can make a huge difference. Buyers will take only a few seconds to decide if they want to pursue a particular home or business and it's the visuals that can cause a house not to sell without the potential buyer ever visiting the property.
If you move two feet to the side will the garbage cans and power lines still be in the image? You don't want to misrepresent the property but it's important to have a presentation that will entice people to go in person to give more scrutiny to the venue. Good photographs will make people get in the car to visit; bad images will have the buyers clicking over to the next listing.
Get in good with some real estate agents and you will have a steady income on the side. Higher-end properties now will have video from drones so that is something you may want to consider and explore if you work your way into real estate.
6. Sell Your Photos to Newspapers
It's virtually impossible to sell photography to newspapers unless you're in the right place at the right time where you can capture that front-page situation. Newspapers are becoming syndicated. Large corporations are buying up many newspapers so instead of having a staff based in a home city, many newspaper operations are now done on a corporate level with various tasks being outsourced overseas.
However, there are still many small, hometown newspapers and they are always looking for images to use. Anything newsworthy that is local has a good chance of being used. The problem here is many small-town newspapers will pay very little or will pay nothing.
The advantage for you is virtually no work is required on your part. You could be at a local event, snap a few pictures, and send them off. No big deal. It's not like you're prowling the streets and investing time looking for news. In the previous section, I just said you shouldn't work for free but here I'm going to tell you that the small newspapers can help you in the long run by gaining a reputation as a photographer. Some newspapers are big enough to pay you for part-time work.
At the very least, you can gain experience and build a portfolio of published work. Submitting an image here and there from events where you were going to take pictures, to begin with, it's not an issue for your time. Nor is it an issue where you put your work into the public domain and lose all rights to your images.
Small town newspapers can be a great way to work into future opportunities that will generate income without doing any real work.
7. Make Money as a Wedding Photographer
Wedding photography is another endeavor that is not too difficult to work your way into. There are many couples who are unable to afford a high-end photographer and are willing to work with photographers who are not that experienced. People seeking professional wedding photographers many times do not like working with them because many of them will only provide a limited number of pictures and will charge extra for prints and other services.
While each wedding can be different, you can offer a much lower price by offering to shoot the wedding and providing the images on a CD. The couple can then print images on their own which will help them save money when on a tight budget. This greatly simplifies the work you need to put into the event, making your life easier too.
However, the actual photographing of the wedding is hard work. When the groom kisses the bride, the family shots, the cutting of the cake, many of these situations happen in a few minutes or in just a few seconds, and you need to be there to capture the moment. You also need to be in the proper position to get the shot. You have to be aware of what's going on and when things are going to happen.
You can't just shoot pictures and throw them on a CD. Usually, photographs need to be cleaned up in Photoshop so there is a time commitment for processing the event. And that means you need the software and will need to know how to use it.
There are many online resources and books that tell you everything you need to know about shooting a wedding. There are numerous details to be aware of, such as creating a contractual agreement.
The best way to learn wedding photography is to photograph the wedding of a friend or relative. They may have hired a professional photographer so you won't get paid for spending the day doing photography, but you will learn what it takes to shoot a wedding that way. Many couples are appreciative of additional photographs from those in attendance. Shooting a wedding this way allows you to get practical experience so you can provide examples of your work when negotiating with a client in which you will be paid.
If you improve as you gain experience, then you will be able to charge more as you learn the business and the various options and services you can provide as a photographer. it doesn't take much to get started with doing wedding photography but the one thing you will need is camera equipment that will do the job. Weddings can be held in venues with poor lighting and sometimes flash photography will not be allowed.
Make sure you check out the books and online resources on how to be a wedding photographer, there is a lot of knowledge available to help you get started.
8. Senior Pictures
There are a lot of people out there who make $200 fast on the side doing senior pictures. You will also find that senior pictures can be one of the most stressful photography jobs to do. Parents want wonderful pictures of their children. Teenagers can be very self-conscious about how they look.
Again, there many resources out there that can help you with the business of doing senior pictures and how to do portrait photography. The one thing that nobody ever tells you is you need to take a picture of the senior where the photograph is to be used in the yearbook.
With senior pictures, you always think of photographing the teen sitting on the railroad tracks with their guitar or football or whatever. You can do all kinds of fancy concepts that speak well of the person you're working with but usually, there are certain specifications for the picture that goes into the yearbook.
So, make sure you get the money shot, the image that will go into the yearbook. The fun shots on the railroad tracks or whatever the current concepts are, those can be fun to do, but they are not the types of images that will go into the yearbook and you will not want to forget doing that
Fundamentally, senior pictures are portrait photography. Lighting can be important, especially if you're shooting outdoors. I've seen professional photographers shoot seniors in the park under the shade of a tree. Shade can be a good thing on a sunny day in order to avoid harsh highlights but if you're not in full shade, then you're going to get a pattern of sun and shade from the leaves on your subject. Uneven light like this goes unnoticed to the eye but the leave patterns show up in the photograph and looks terrible.
The best way to learn portrait photography is to find a willing friend or relative who is willing to let you photograph them and practice. Learn what works and what doesn't. The books and online resources will tell you basic things like the eyes needing to be in focus and for best effects, to have catch-lights in the eyes. Lighting techniques, posing, backgrounds, these are things you should study up on too and practice.
Again, you should be able to do post-processing with photo editing software such as Photoshop. At the very least you will want to be able to remove lint from clothing and do basic touch up on skin blemishes. Details are important. If you did a shoot in the city park and there is litter and discarded plastic bottles in the background, those are easy to remove if you have and know how to use your software for post-processing.
Getting Paid to Take Photos is Possible
As you can see, there are a number of options where you can earn income on the side with your photography.
You can start out with just a cell phone camera which means a minimal investment but just like anything else, you're apt to be more successful if you take the time to learn the business, take the time to learn how to use a camera, and take the time to learn photo editing software.
A cell phone camera will limit what you can do. Having a professional-grade camera and related equipment gives you more options in the kind of photography you can do. The more you put into your photography the better chance you will have for succeeding.