A photographer that is for hire for an array of types of photography is practicing freelance photography. At one point, or another, in the lives of most photographers, there is a period when there aren’t one or two specific photography niches that they specialize in.
Freelance photography allows photographers to hire themselves out in different photography niches, as well as sell their photos as stock photography. Customers hire freelance photographers when they have a need for some quality photography but they don’t have the skills, the equipment or the time to do it themselves.
Freelance photographers typically and often work odd hours. It is not unusual for a photographer to have an irregular shooting schedule, or a photo session at off hours of the day or night. Most freelancers enjoy theflexibility that this allows.
Actually, there are basically only two types of photography:
stock photography and
Stock photography is the selling of photos after they have been taken (as a rule). And assignment photography is when photographers are hired to photograph people, places and things as determined by thecustomer hiring. The term ‘hired’ can be misleading. The photographer is not an employee of the customer, but a self-employed consultant.
Part-Time Freelance Photography
Part-time photographers can do very well as freelance photographers.
Many photographers use freelance photography:
to find photography markets that pay the most in an area;
to find out what specific photography types are in the highest demand;
to transition to full-time or more focused niche photography; and
to sell their own photos themselves
My experience continues to be that most photographers freelance. There are just a couple of prerequisitesto freelance:
A digital camera
That’s it! Of course, there is much more needed to be efficient and proficient. But, that is really all you need to get started.
What Is Freelance Photography?
It is a tremendous help if the photographer knows the various photography niches. Many photographers are sometimes confused by the “photography niche” issue. As a rule, photographers want to photograph everything! That’s fine. However, knowing the various photography niches helps photographers in a number of ways.
First of all, knowing the niche will help the photographer understand that standards within the specific niche. For examples, portrait photography is a niche. Within the niche of portrait photography there are niches. Senior portraits and executive portraits are examples of two distinct niches within a niche. The standards of ‘senior’ portraits are somewhat more ’creative,’ ‘edgy,’ and personality-driven. And, of course, the standards for executive portrait photography are dramatically different from those of ‘senior’ portrait photography. It helps the quality of the photo when the photographer knows the niche standards’ differences.
Also, knowingthe specific photography niche is very helpful to the photographer in choosing how to communicate marketing messages to customers. Using the ‘senior portrait’ example and the ‘executiveportrait’ again, the photographer’s marketing message must be different because one audience is a bunch of high school students. The other audience is experienced professionals. The languages that appeals to them are dramatically different. Knowing the niche helps determine the useful language and categories.
Also, knowing specific photography niches will help the photographer compile great looking portfolios. Some of the biggest mistakes that photographers make are with their portfolios. One mistake is that photographers put too much in their photography portfolio. Sometimes, people portraits are mixed with landscape photography, etc. Although the offending photographers’ intent is to show their work, to the experienced eye, they’re showing their lack of knowledge. With portfolios, less is more! Photographers should only show their best. And niches shouldn’t be mixed unless the portfolio is specifically demonstrating the range of the photographer. Unless the ‘range’ portfolio is requested, stick with the ‘less-is-more’ specific niche.
How To Freelance Photography
This is the challenge for most photographers that freelance – knowing what to do, when to do it, where to doit and how! That is a lot to know! But, you can learn over time. It isn’t necessary to “know-it-all” before you start. Knowing the basics, however, is key.
A good thing to know is that the current growth explosion in the photography industry has a positive effect on freelance photography. The current demand worldwide for photos is not being met by current supply. Freelance photographers can profit from that growth.
Freelance photography is perfect for home-based photographers. In fact, many people are choosing photography as a source of extra income. This is the perfect fit for the work-at-home-moms of the world.
Knowing what is selling in the market is done through research. Research what is in demand, what are the prices, what is the most lucrative, what are prices, etc.
Knowing how to shoot quality photos is critical. Again, it’s important to know the standards of the different photography niches. Standards of quality are a given. However, within some specific niches there are varying standards – that benefits the photographer that knows the differences.
Editing photos ‘know-how’ is very helpful to the freelance photographer. Digital photos often need some minor editing. (As a side note, digital photo editing is a photography niche that many knowing photographers freelance in.)
In this digital photography world, knowing how to optimize (make easier to find) web pages, photos,titles, descriptions and keywords will help customers find your photos online.
Knowing ‘where’ to start saves a tremendous amount of time (and money, sometimes – if you don’tknow, you might purchase unnecessary expensive equipment that you don’t need).
Knowing where to find good information is the ultimate solution. There is an “information overload” in freelance photography ‘how-to.’ Unfortunately, much of it isn’t that “informative.” Two very good and very informative freelance photography beginning solutions and why they are very good (in my opinion):
- Both provide good ‘how-to’ information on where and how to start. Both also provide very good brief explanationsof the different photography niches. And you will be successful following the steps in both of them. One of them offersmore information aboutsuccessfully entering the stock photography market. A consistent source of income for the freelance photographer is selling their existing photos as stock. This one provides information on taking photos and selling them to magazines. The magazines’ guidelines, requests, prices paid, etc. are provided,
Freelancing also develops your photography business skills. It’s one of the best kept secrets in photography. But, now you “know the secret!”