If you’re artistic and love expressing yourself creatively in your free time, then you might as well consider switching to a freelance photographer career. There are lots of freelance photographers who work full-time and successfully earn a living. And that, too, can become your reality if you want.
Furthermore, there is high demand for professional photographers across various niches: events, products, travel, fashion, weddings, commercials, etc. Thus, the opportunities in this field are vast.
Additionally, you need to niche down. This makes you a master in your niche and more proficient at your work. But what if you don’t know how to get started with your freelance photography career? That’s nothing to worry about, as this article will teach you everything you need to become a freelance photographer.
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What is a Freelance Photographer?
A freelance photographer works for himself, takes on clients’ projects, fulfills their photography requirements, takes photoshoots, and creates or sells fine art photography.
Whether it’s product photos or professional headshots, individuals and businesses will need photos at one point. And this is where your skills are required as a freelance photographer.
Meanwhile, you have to choose works according to your niche and reject the ones that aren’t within your niche; this makes you a professional in your field.
As much as freelance photography has benefits, it is not void of downsides like finding clients, insuring your studio and camera gear, and managing freelance taxes. However, the benefits of becoming a freelance photographer outweigh its downsides.
What Does a Freelance Photographer Do?
A freelance photographer is a self-employed photographer who builds his client base and establishes his business. These photographers also tailor their services to a particular niche, which includes the following:
- actors’ headshots
- family portraits
- product shoots
- production photography, etc.
In addition, these professionals are responsible for every area of photoshoots, including performing administrative duties. Other everyday responsibilities of freelance photographers include the following:
- Checking technical equipment.
- Sealing contracts with clients.
- Booking photography sessions.
- Bookkeeping and invoicing.
- Finding and decorating a venue for the photoshoot.
- Pitching photoshoot concepts to a client based on their needs.
Read this article: 12 Creative Birthday Photoshoot Ideas to Consider
Working as a Freelance Photographer
There are basic things you should know before thinking of launching a career in freelance photography. We’ll discuss them below!
The work environment of freelance photographers differs based on individual niches. So, these freelance professionals can work in any of the following:
- outdoor spaces/environments
- business offices
- studio spaces
- sporting events
- maternity spaces
- graduation ceremonies
- wedding events
This is the most challenging part of being a freelancer. However, you can begin by creating visibility online through various social media channels. Since photography is a visual thing, social media can play a big role in putting you out there for your potential clients to see.
Meanwhile, your business website will work better for showing off your images professionally. So, keep that in mind. Again, don’t fail to link all your social media handles to your website.
Most importantly, consider SEO (Search Engine Optimization) when building your website. This will enable your site to appear in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) when searching for a photographer.
Your pay depends on several factors, especially your experience level. Experienced and established freelancers earn higher than startups. Again, your rates may differ based on the client; distance traveled, length of photography sessions, or nature of technical equipment required.
For instance, the average hourly wage for a freelance photographer in the US is $21. However, the salary range is between $19 and $25. Other factors that affect the earnings of freelance photographers include certifications, education, skills level, and number of years in your career.
How To Become a Successful Freelance Photographer
Do you have existing certifications in photography and considering launching a freelance career in that field? We have explained the steps required to build a successful freelance photographer career.
1. Establish a budget
This step is paramount to becoming a freelance photographer. You must consider expenses like equipment purchases; meanwhile, some jobs will involve traveling. So, you must put all these in place. Overall, if you want your photography business to remain sustainable, ensure you don’t lose money on your jobs.
Map out the minimum costs required for your expenses. Then check how other photographers with your experience level charge for their services. In fixing your charges, there should be a balance between competitive pricing and undervaluing yourself. This will help you to overcome losses.
2. Purchase your equipment
Buying your equipment is typically the biggest cost you will encounter when starting. Some basic equipment you will require include the following:
- top-quality printer
- tripod stand
- digital camera
- lighting equipment
Meanwhile, the equipment you require varies based on the type of photography you want to specialize in. It may also be influenced by the amount of time you can dedicate to your freelancing career. High-quality cameras produce great photos but if you intend to do this as a side business, then investing in such a camera may not be worth it.
3. Build your brand
In building your business, understand your professional identity. First of all, choose the aspect of photography you want to specialize in; narrow your interests to one area. And whichever niche you pick is your professional identity. So, communicate it to potential clients through the following ways:
- get a logo.
- create business cards containing your contact details.
- have a social media presence to showcase your portfolio and advertise your work.
Ultimately, you can get a website for yourself as this is the best way to express your brand identity and professional portfolio. Meanwhile, your website should have information about your rates, ‘about me,’ etc.
4. Build your portfolio
The easiest way to sell yourself as a high-value photographer to potential clients is by showing them your previous work samples. But what if you don’t have a professional portfolio? Well, you can begin by doing unpaid work for your family and friends. You can also add these samples to your website for increased reach.
5. Connect and network with people
After establishing your business, work on growing your connection and network. This involves maintaining relationships with previous clients who can become returning customers and establishing relationships with fellow photographers. That way, you can engage with your community and get more recommendations.
Sometimes, you may have to recommend your colleague to a client depending on your schedule and the nature of the job. And as you advance in the business, you may need to employ other photographers to work with you on bigger projects.
Finally, networking with professionals in related fields will also be advantageous to your career.
6. Create a schedule
Having a schedule is paramount in your freelance photography career. This will help you to efficiently and effectively meet clients’ requirements without missing deadlines. Remember, your work doesn’t end after taking shots. You also have to edit the photos. Hence, you should incorporate it into your schedule before taking on a new project.
7. Upgrade your skills
Irrespective of how profound you are as a freelance photographer, you can always grow and improve your skills. Having a successful freelance photography business takes more than capturing shots and moments. So, you can upgrade your skills by attending seminars and taking courses to improve the essential skills for freelance photography.
Freelance Photographer Skills
You must possess the following skills before launching a freelance photography business:
- interpersonal communication
- attention to detail
- time management
- strong networking skills
- technical skills like understanding how to use the camera, lighting, scheduling, and editing software
- team working skills
Frequently Asked Questions
Freelance photography involves offering photography services on a contract basis for various clients while a photographer works as an employee for a company. Thus, freelance photographers are self-employed.
Make a business plan.
Discover your niche.
Invest in the right photography equipment and software.
Pick a price to charge for your services.
Advertise your business.
Build your portfolio.
Display large images in your galleries.
Show a photo of yourself.
Make your designs simple and clean.
Make it easy for potential clients to contact you.
Show off your “starting” prices.
Portrait photography is the most in-demand type of photography.
Film Set Photographer.
Fine Art Photographer.
White House Photographer.
To have a successful freelance photography career, you must niche down to a specific type of photography. In addition to helping you achieve focus, niching down also makes you a master in your chosen field. As much as freelance photography allows you to be your boss, it has other challenges like finding clients, competitive pay, and work environments. However, with determination, hard work, the proper equipment, and the right attitude, you can have a successful freelance photography career.