The World of Photography–Chapter Thirty-Seven–Careers in Photography

There are virtually unlimited careers opportunities in photography. The only limit is your creativity. One thing you have to have is perseverance and drive. Of course you do not skill and a little bit of luck. In this chapter I will cover some various strategies you can use as well as some examples of different career paths you can choose.

How To Become a Freelance Photographer

Freelance photography is an exciting career where creative individuals can earn money using their skills behind a camera lens. To decide if this is the right career path for you, it’s helpful to learn more about the requirements of this role and the working conditions. In this article, we discuss what a freelance photographer is, the skills you need, the steps to take toward this artistic career and how to attract potential clients.

What is a freelance photographer?

A freelance photographer is a self-employed artist who conducts professional photoshoots. They manage their own photography businesses, where they build a clientele and promote their work to attract new clients. Some freelance photographers may specialize in specific areas of photography, such as:







What does a freelance photographer do?

Clients hire freelance photographers to provide services such as taking pictures and editing them as necessary. Other job duties include:

-Scheduling photography sessions with clients

-Recommending ideas for photo shoots

-Designing contracts for photography services

-Adjusting camera settings, such as focus, shutter speed and aperture

-Arranging props and camera equipment on set

How to become a freelance photographer

If you’re interested in becoming a freelance photographer, your path may align with these steps:

1. Create your schedule

As a freelance photographer, you can work your own hours, so it’s important that you reserve time in your schedule that is convenient for you and your clients. For example, if you specialize in family photography, it may be most convenient for families to gather for portraits on the weekends, so make sure you’re available to take pictures on Saturdays and Sundays.

If photography is your side job, then you can review the schedule of your primary role and your available free time. It’s also important to think about how much time you may need to edit your photos and deliver the final products to your clients.

2. Establish a budget

A budget can help you organize your financial resources to start and maintain your photography business. Consider the costs of your equipment and the advertisements you may need to publicize your services. You can also think about the amount of money you want to earn as a freelance photographer and how it can affect the rates of your services.

For example, suppose you only have time to conduct photo shoots on the weekend, and you would like to earn at least $1000 per weekend. With your budget, you might determine that you can charge $200 per two-hour session to gain your desired income.

3. Purchase technical equipment

As a freelance photographer, you’ll need technical equipment to take quality photographs of your clients, such as:




-Lighting tools

-Professional printer

4. Connect with people in your network

The first clients of your freelance photography business may be people you know. It’s important that you practice conducting photo shoots to improve your photography skills and your ability to work with clients. Ask people in your network if they would like to participate in a photography session, such as family members and friends, as well as any aspiring models and actors you know.

You can also volunteer to take pictures at events in your area, such as birthday parties or local talent shows, which can help you strengthen your skills and prepare for larger events. In the beginning, it may be helpful to advertise free photos to gather more participants and build your clientele.

5. Design a professional brand

Your professional brand identifies you as a freelance photographer with elements such as:

-Logo: Your logo is a symbol that represents your photography business, and you can attach it to your website and business cards. It can include your name and the slogan of your business.

-Business cards: Business cards display your contact information, such as your email address and the link to your website. And you can distribute them during networking opportunities.

-Social media: You can create a business page for your freelance photography. Share content that applies to your role, such as photos of your work and client testimonials. You can also promote discounted rates and list availability.

6. Create a website

Clients can visit your professional website to learn more about your business and schedule a photography session. Build a website that reflects your professional brand and encourages prospective clients to work with you. Your website might include details like:

-Rates of services: Indicate how much your photos cost in an easy-to-read format. You can specify hourly rates and the prices of photography packages, which may include printed photos or downloaded images without watermarks.

-Things about you: Consider writing an “About Me” page on your website that descwho you are as a freelance photographer. Discuss your passion for art and taking pictures as well as your career goals. Clients who can get to know you may perceive you as more personable.

-Portfolio: Your portfolio displays previous examples of your work. As you work with more clients, you can add pictures to your website to keep it updated. If you want to work with different clients, it may be helpful to diversify your portfolio by including images from several different sessions with various poses, angles and settings.

Freelance photographer skills

Freelance photographers use the following skills in their profession:

Interpersonal communication

Interpersonal communication enables freelance photographers to foster positive relationships with their clients. While maintaining professionalism, they can adjust their interpersonal approach to appeal to each client. For example, freelance photographers may communicate differently during a session with a young child than they would with a college graduate.

Effective communication is also important for explaining their specific photography services. Before the photo shoot, they meet with their clients to discuss creative ideas. During the photo shoot, they direct their clients into different poses and encourage them to take certain actions, such as laughing or jumping.

Time management

Freelance photographers may schedule several photo shoots at a time, so it’s important that they reserve enough time to take and edit quality photos. They also may need extra time to travel to and from the settings of their photo shoots. For example, a newly engaged couple might hire a photographer to take pictures of them at a national park, which requires the photographer to meet them at the destination.


With creativity, freelance photographers can capture compelling images of their clients, which can set them apart from other artists. Photographers use props and camera angles to enhance their photographs. For example, for a graduation session, the photographer may direct the college student to walk with smoke bombs, and the vibrant colors from the smoke bombs could make the shot more interesting and attractive.

Technical skills

Being a freelance photographer requires strong technical skills, such as the ability to work with the following technology and equipment:

-Cameras: Freelance photographers need to know how to operate cameras. Including angling the cameras to capture the right shot and transferring image files to a computer. Photographers can identify what cameras to use to achieve a sharper focus or wider shot, for example and they can adjust the settings to take pictures of moving objects.

-Lighting: External circumstances, such as cloudy weather or dark environments, may not always provide the best lighting, so it’s necessary for freelance photographers to use equipment to reflect lighting where they can. For example, they may use reflectors to bounce sunlight onto the subject of their photographs.

-Editing software: Once you finish the photo shoot, freelance photographers edit their photographs before delivering them to the client. For instance. They may add brightness or saturation and attach their watermarks.

-Scheduling software: Scheduling software allows freel photographers to manage and coordinate photo shoot times for their clients. They enter their availability and include details about locations and special instructions.

Freelance photographer salary

The average salary for a freelance photographer is $21,454 per year. However, your income typically depends on the number of clients you have and the rates of your services. The amount you charge for your sessions may vary based on factors such as:

-Length of the photo shoot: The longer the session lasts, the higher the price you can charge, which allows you to boost your income.

-Use of technical equipment: You may be able to increase your hourly rates to offset the cost of cameras and other technical equipment. You can also charge higher rates for the time it takes to edit photographs.

-Number of miles traveled: Photographers often add extra fees or base their rates on how long they traveled to the location of their shoots. For example, you might charge higher rates if you are traveling across the state than if you are driving to a neighboring city.

-Experience level: The more experienced you become, the more photography services you may offer, which can influence your prices and salary.

Freelance photographer work environment

As an entrepreneurial artist, freelance photographers choose what projects they want to complete, and their work environment depends on the destination of their sessions. Here are some examples of settings where photographers may take pictures of their clients:

-Parks: Freelance artists who specialize in outdoor photography may take photos of clients in parks. Such as botanical gardens or city parks. Their sessions may require them to obtain a special permit from the park’s officials.

-Weddings: Couples may hire freelance photographers to take pictures of their wedding ceremonies. Photographers may direct the wedding party to pose for photos and capture images at the reception.

-School campuses: Freelance photographers take pictures of students for their yearbooks or at special events, such as prom and award banquets.

-Professional events: Coordinators of trade shows and conferences may hire freelance photographers to take pictures of activities at Professional events. Such as guests mingling and panel discussions.

-Studios: Studios are settings for freelance photographers who specialize in indoor photography. They may take pictures of clients to promote fashion products or pose on the cover of magazines, for example.

If you’re interested in becoming a photographer, you have many career options to consider. Understanding the various photography niches can help you decide on a career path that’s right for you. In this article, we explain what photography is and list 32 types of photography careers for your consideration.

32 careers in photography

As a photographer, you get to take photos of various subjects or objects in different environments. However, you can also narrow your scope and focus on a particular photography niche. If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a photographer, consider the following types of photography jobs:

Portrait photographer

Portrait photographers aim to capture a person’s personality through the use of proper lighting and backdrops. They may take portraits of a child on their first day of school or take headshots of a company’s employees for use on the company website. Apart from taking photos, they also make appointments, bill their clients and process images. Portrait photographers can either work on location or in their studio. In addition, they’re either self-employed or work for a business.

Commercial photographer

Commercial photography aims to market a client’s products or services. Commercial photographers can take pictures of buildings, merchandise or a company’s employees.

Scientific photographer

Scientific photographers document subjects for scientific experiments, to illustrate technical information, for record-keeping purposes or to show something in an image that you can’t see with the naked eye. Scientific photographers often work in a research facility or for a government agency.


Also known as news photographers, photojournalists take photos of people and events for use in news publications like newspapers or magazines. They may cover sports events, political rallies, court proceedings or local and national events. Photojournalists tell a story and help share breaking news with the public through their images. As skilled storytellers, they often work for newspapers, either on staff or on a freelance basis.

Freelance photographer

Freelance photographers work for themselves rather than for a studio, company or publication. You can become a freelance photographer in a variety of industries, depending on availability. Though freelance photographers don’t have a steady income compared to other photographers, this type of career allows you to work in many fields, ensuring you don’t get bored.

Photo editor

Photo editors lead a team of photographers, coordinate their assignments and approve their images. They also select and edit photos for color correction or other purposes. In addition, photo editors negotiate photo fees and rights and make sure they have permission to shoot in a particular location.

Wedding photographer

Wedding photographers take photos at a wedding ceremony and reception. Not only do wedding photographers take portraits, but they also use their event photography skills to document various settings and groups of people. As opposed to other photography careers, you often don’t get the chance to recreate a shot as a wedding photographer. Therefore, you have to move and think quickly while wandering around the reception and wedding ceremony. In addition, you have to adapt to changing weather conditions and lighting changes.

Event photographer

Event photographers work in a fast-paced environment, taking photos in a variety of settings such as a live concert or corporate event. They typically use both their photojournalistic and portraiture skills when shooting at various events. While some companies use their event photos for publicity and marketing, others use them as keepsakes.

Product photographer

Product photographers take photos of a company’s products or items manufactured for sale. Though you often take photos of a particular product, you may also take photos of models with a product. The photos you take often get published online or in print catalogs. You may also find product photos on a company’s labels or brand packaging. Product photographers often work in a studio where they have greater control over the lighting, shadows and background. Some types of product photography include food photography and jewelry photography.

Fine art photographer

Fine art photographers essentially create art without any set rules. They attempt to capture an emotional response and communicate a message to an audience. You can often find a fine art photographer’s art in art shows and inside art galleries. Typically, these shows and galleries sell framed fine art photography to their customers. While this type of photography doesn’t have a particular subject in mind, many fine art photographers take photos of landscapes or shoot portraits.

Fashion photographer

Fashion photographers take photos of models wearing the latest styles and trends. With this job, you can take cover shots for fashion magazines or photograph models on the runway. Fashion photographers work in a variety of settings such as in a studio or on location. Apart from taking fashion photos, they also help models get the right pose. In addition, they direct the models and their assistants to ensure they get the right shot for the publication.

Architectural photographer

Architectural photographers take photos of buildings. Whether they work for an architectural agency or as a freelancer, they aim to capture the building’s essence and form, from building to completion. Architectural photographers capture both the interior and exterior of a building while pointing out subtle details that accentuate the building’s unique design. They use various techniques to help avoid distortion and ensure their images capture the right perspective and angles.

Travel photographer

As a travel photographer, you get paid to go to unique locations and photograph what you see. This type of photography allows you to blend a variety of photography styles. For example, you can photograph the people and their lifestyles, the landmarks you visit, the food you eat or the wildlife you encounter. Whether you photograph a tropical beach or the icebergs in Antarctica, you have the opportunity to take your audience around the globe without the need for luggage or a passport.

Advertising photographer

Advertising photographers take photos for use on billboards, magazine advertisements and other related signage or platforms. As an advertising photographer, you work with different subjects and get to shoot everything from fashion to products. While some advertising photographers work on a freelance basis, others work for advertising agencies. Depending on your particular assignment, you may take photos for a print advertising campaign one day and shoot photos for an internet advertisement the next.

Pet photographer

Pet photographers take photos of an individual’s animals. While pet photographers take photos of a variety of animals, they may have to offer them a treat to ensure they stay in place for the right shot. Pet photographers work in a variety of conditions, whether it’s inside a studio or in an outdoor or outdoor location.

Sports photographer

Sports photographers take photos of athletes during practice sessions or sporting events. Working from the sidelines, they use long lenses to zoom in on the action and capture big plays or winning shots. Sports teams often use this type of photography for their publicity materials or other marketing or advertising purposes. In addition, news outlets and publications use sports photography for their online or print sports news sections.

Aerial photographer

Aerial photography involves taking images of landscapes from high above in the sky. While planes and cameras were long used for this type of photography, drones have since helped aerial photographers capture the perfect shot without having to leave the ground. To use these unmanned aerial vehicles, you often need a proper license.

Documentary photographer

Documentary photographers take photos to chronicle events or environments that hold historical or everyday significance. Similar to photojournalists, they capture real-life moments and help convey a message about the world at large.

Stock photographer

Stock photographers sell the rights to their images to websites and catalogs. While they can work on a freelance basis, many have agencies handle their photography sales. Though they don’t make much from each sale, they aim to create a large catalog of photos that they can frequently sell. Once they sell their images and they’re uploaded to a website, they create ongoing passive income.

Commercial/industrial photographer

Commercial and industrial photographers shoot images for books, catalogs and other forms of media. As a commercial and industrial photographer, you have the opportunity to photograph a variety of subjects and objects. Industrial photographers, for example, get to take photos of machinery and blue-collar employees on site.

Abstract photographer

Abstract photographers depict visual images or concepts that don’t immediately associate with the object world. To create abstract images, you use a variety of photographic equipment, materials or techniques. Typically, you focus on a specific fragment of a natural scene, taking you away from the greater context. When you do this, it showcases the scene’s lines, shapes, geometry or other elements.

Adventure photographer

Adventure photographers take pictures of their various excursions and travels, often in the great outdoors. Adventure photography often includes images with beautiful landscapes and lively people. As an adventure photographer, you often have to prepare for continuously changing shooting conditions.

Food photographer

Food photographers use their still-life photography skills to create attractive images of food. As a form of commercial photography, you can find food photography in magazines, advertisements, cookbooks and websites.

Glamour photographer

Unlike fashion photographers, glamour photographers don’t focus on a model’s clothes or the shoot’s location. Instead, they take photos that focus on the beauty of a person—typically a female. They often shoot images that focus on the model’s body.

Landscape photographer

Landscape photographers capture images that show the great outdoors. While some of their images show vast landscapes, others show microscopic elements found in nature. Landscape photographers aim to capture nature’s presence, though they may also take photos of man-made features or a landscape’s disturbances.

Real estate photographer

Real estate photographers capture images of real estate property. They often shoot homes and office locations for use in advertisements or publications. Real estate photographers shoot both the interior and exterior of a building or home, showing the audience different rooms, features and angles.

Newborn photographer

Newborn photographers take photos of a family’s new infant. Oftentimes, these newborns are less than two weeks old. They aim to capture beautiful images of newborns before they grow up.

Still-life photographer

Still-life photographers capture images of inanimate objects. They essentially apply photography to the still-life artistic style. Still-life photographers often use common items for their photographs such as vases, fruits and flowers.

Cityscape photographer

Cityscape photographers take images of a city’s physical aspects in its urban or metropolitan areas. Photographing during the day and night, they use a variety of techniques to capture different perspectives and angles.

Wildlife photographer

Wildlife photographers photograph a variety of animals in their natural habitat. If they’re photographing dangerous animals, they use their stalking skills and knowledge of the species to better conceal themselves and stay away from danger while taking photos. Apart from capturing wildlife, wildlife photographers also show life in the wild in general.

Family photographer

Family photographers capture images of a family in a portrait-type situation. Whether staged or posed, these images show the relationships and dynamics within a family. Typically, families ask for these photos for their own enjoyment or to include on a greeting or Christmas card.

Concert photographer

Under the umbrella of event photographers, concert photographers take images at a live music event. While they may shoot at a small club, you can also find them at larger arena events. Concert photographers often have to deal with large crowds, dark lighting and constantly moving subjects.

How To Start a Photography Business: 9 Things You Need To Know

Starting a photography business can provide a source of fun, flexible and rewarding work. However, it requires more than just creative talent. It also involves having the right equipment and taking steps to prepare yourself for the photography business. In this article, we explain what a photography business is, provide steps for how to start a photography business, list some advantages and challenges of taking on this business venture and give tips for making it successful.

What is a photography business?

If you’re considering starting your own photography business, you’re likely already familiar with the art form. That means you’re aware of the necessary skills and software required to create quality photos and you’re ready to establish your career by becoming a professional photographer. A photography business is an official, branded entity that charges clients for photography services.

Some photography businesses operate solely out of a studio, requiring clients to come to them for portraits. Other business owners decide to skip the cost of having a location by establishing a mobile photography business. In these cases, the photographer either comes to the client or chooses to shoot at an off-site location.

Though some photographers choose to operate strictly from a studio or mobile location, most photographers provide a combination of services. Studios provide an environment in which the photographer can control and manipulate the setting more easily, but they also impose overhead costs that can put a financial strain on a new business that is still being established. Many decide to start a mobile photography business to build their brand and portfolio before eventually taking the leap of purchasing or renting their own studio.

Here are some steps you can take to start your own photography business:

  1. Determine which services you’ll offer
  2. Create a business plan
  3. Develop a business structure
  4. Name your company
  5. Obtain official documentation
  6. Gather necessary equipment and supplies
  7. Create a pricing plan
  8. Establish your brand
  9. Market yourself

1. Determine which services you’ll offer

First and foremost, you’ll need to decide your niche. Most photographers specialize in a style or type of photography and build their brand around their ability to effectively execute that photo style.

Do you want to focus on helping businesses by taking product photos? Would you prefer to capture images of houses for realtors? Do you want to take editorial photos for magazines? Are you passionate about capturing people’s wedding day?

Photographers have been known to specialize in several areas, including portraits, pet portraits, newborn shoots, maternity shoots, concert photography and sports photography. Whatever you decide, fully embrace the specialty and make sure that your brand and portfolio reflect your unique abilities in that area. Your specialty can also help you stand out among your competitors.

2. Create a business plan

After you’ve decided the services you would like to offer, you’ll need to consider some of the more administrative details of your business. Sit down and write out your plans for the business, how it will be profitable and your financial projections. Things you should consider are:

  • Cash flow
  • Competition
  • Ownership details
  • Expenses
  • Income necessary for the business to be sustainable

Your business plan will guide you through establishing and growing your company. Though you can start a photography business without developing one, a business plan helps ensure that you have thought through what you need to make your business successful.

3. Develop a business structure

You’ll need to decide on the type of business structure that will best suit you and your business’s needs. Registering your company as a sole proprietorship is more cost-effective, but a limited liability company, also known as an LLC, provides protection for your personal assets if any legal issues arise.

4. Name your company

An appropriate business name will vary depending on the niche or specialty you choose. For instance, a wedding photographer will likely choose an elegant name, while a business photographer will want to pick something that sounds more professional. Whatever name you decide, be sure that it is still available by checking with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office.

5. Obtain official documentation

After you have established a business structure and have chosen a name for your company, you will need to apply for any business licenses or permits that your city or county requires. Depending on your state, you will also need to be aware of any sales taxes that should be charged for your photos. You can check with your local tax office for information about necessary forms and taxing protocols.

After you obtain your business license, you’ll want to open a bank account for your company. This will give you a way to keep business finances separate from your personal finances and allow you to effectively grow your business in the future.

6. Gather necessary equipment and supplies

To start a photography business, you will need the necessary equipment. If you already practice photography as a hobby, you likely already own many of these tools. You may have to determine if the equipment you already own can offer a quality that you will feel confident using for paid services. You’ll need to gather or obtain equipment such as:

  • A professional-grade camera
  • Flashes
  • Batteries
  • Lenses
  • Photo editing software
  • A computer
  • Backdrops

You’ll also need to decide if you will need access to a studio or office space. In many cases, photographers start their business by creating a space to take studio-style photos in their homes.

7. Create a pricing plan

Creating a pricing plan can be one of the more difficult aspects of creating a service-based business. First, you’ll need to decide what you feel that your time is worth. From there, you will need to factor in that for every hour you shoot, you will likely be editing for three hours. For example, if you decide that your time is worth $50 an hour, you would charge $200 for an hour-long photo session.

In addition to pricing offered to the public, you can also come up with a friends and family pricing plan. Typically, friends and family are a photographer’s first customers. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to build your portfolio and improve your skill set, so you may want to offer them a discount.

8. Establish your brand

Your next step will be to build your brand. To do this, you’ll want to:

  • Purchase a domain
  • Develop a logo
  • Build a website
  • Establish your company on social media
  • Buy business cards

When working with a client, ask for their permission to share some of their images from the shoot. Then, create an online portfolio by regularly uploading your projects to your website and sharing images on your social media networks. Make sure that all your profiles can link back to your site and that your contact information can be clearly and easily found.

9. Market yourself

You have a business; now you need clients. These days, most of your marketing can take place on social media, but you may still need to utilize more traditional methods. Depending on your niche, you can attend photography trade shows specifically geared toward your specialty. These opportunities will allow you to network and meet other people in your market.

When using social media, be sure to post frequently. You can use social media apps and sites to post finished work as well as behind the scenes images from exciting, new projects.

Advantages of owning a photography business

As with any entrepreneurial effort, there are advantages and challenges to owning your own photography business. Some of the advantages include:

  • Turning something you enjoy doing into a profitable career
  • Having plenty of opportunities to attend interesting events and meet new people
  • Having a flexible schedule that allows you to choose whether you’d like to work full- or part-time
  • Helping people capture some of their best memories and moments
  • Booking shoots in places you’d like to travel to, allowing you to make money while on vacation

Challenges of owning a photography business

Though there are plenty of positives to owning your own photography business, it can present some challenges. Here are some examples of the challenges you might face:

  • Events you are hired to shoot are sometimes held on weekends
  • Turning a hobby into a career can make it less enjoyable
  • The money can be inconsistent, especially in the beginning when you’re still building up your clientele
  • The photography equipment and software required is expensive
  • Some events you’re hired to shoot can be demanding, especially when you’re working at events where clients may be stressed, such as weddings

Tips for starting a photography business

Here are a few additional tips for starting a photography business of your own:

  • Consider selling any additional, unpaid photos to stock photo sites. This can be a good way to build your portfolio and generate supplemental income.
  • Remember that your business will take time to become sustainably profitable. You may need to work an additional job to pay your bills and allow you to do what you love.
  • You’ll need people skills just as much as you’ll need to be a skilled photographer. Creating a positive experience for your clients will build trust, improve the shots and increase the likelihood that they will refer you to others. Take time to sit with your clients beforehand to get to know them, their needs and their expectations from you.

Resources, “How To Become a Freelance Photographer in 7 Steps.” By Indeed Editorial Team;, “32 Careers in Photography.” By Indeed Editorial Team;, “How To Start a Photography Business: 9 Things You Need To Know.” By Indeed Editorial Team;