How To Become A Freelance Photographer

Photography is an art. It takes passion and skill to capture the beauty of a scene successfully. If you have been wondering how to be a freelance photographer, you are in the right place. This guide will cover several tips and tricks to help you become a freelance photographer. 

Running your own photography business can bring fulfillment and freedom. That is why the industry is attracting new photographers and has experienced a 1.1% growth between 2015 and 2020. Here is a guide to get your business off the ground and help you stand out as a freelance photographer.

Hone Your Photography Skills

Professional photography is an excellent career choice if you find the right balance between your creative passion and entrepreneurial instincts. However, taking one good picture isn’t enough to get your career going. You’ll need to hone your skill not only to improve your craft but also to build your confidence. Here is what you can do to hone your skills.

Get the Right Photography Education

You probably have thousands of questions about photography. Some of the answers you seek can come from structured education, and others come with hands-on experience. With professional photography, structured training is not a prerequisite. You can self-learn, practice, and improve your skills without getting a formal education. However, structured education can add value to your skills, career, and experience as a professional photographer.

There are photography courses offered by some institutions that you can complete in a few months. You learn the principles of digital photography, image manipulation, and how to use photography software. There are thousands of online resources, including YouTube videos, that can help those who don’t want to go through formal training.

Remember to keep your skills sharp even after becoming a successful freelance photographer. You can do this by regularly attending webinars and reading photography material.

Intern with a Professional Photographer

As a young and budding photographer, networking with other professional photographers should be a top priority. Working as an assistant or an intern for a successful photographer will give you hands-on experience no school can teach. You’ll get a chance to apply what you’ve learned, and you’ll get a mentor who can give you honest feedback on your work. An internship position can also help you to build a client database.

Join an Online Photography Community

A photography community is a great way to create exposure for your work. It can also help you get feedback and constructive criticism to improve areas you’re lagging in. The community will also help you stay updated with the latest photography trends, news, and gadgets. Active communities give you a sense of comradeship with your fellow photographs. Online communities also offer a platform to land clients.

Invest In Good Photography Equipment

Photography is an expensive hobby. Consumer-level equipment isn’t a wrong way to start, but eventually, you’ll learn the limits of the equipment and want to upgrade. When buying equipment, you’ll need to research the products in the market and what you prefer using.

There are numerous camera brands, photo editing software programs, and accessories available. These products vary in quality and price. As a freelance photographer, you should understand that it’s the artist and not the tool that matters. In the context of photography, it doesn’t matter if you buy the most expensive equipment, you must first learn to use it to get the desired results. Investing in education and learning about camera functions, lighting and software are just as important as purchasing quality equipment.

So, what is the necessary equipment you’ll need for photography?

  • Camera – A good camera is the extension of the photographer’s arm. It should be effortless to use, making it easy to capture the photo they have in mind. Price is a significant factor when choosing a camera. Don’t splurge on a camera and forget you have to buy a lens and other accessories that may be quite expensive to complete the setup. It’s better to buy a basic camera and splurge later when you have the money, and you know what you want.
  • Lens – The lens is the second crucial piece of equipment you buy after the camera. It’s the part that focuses the light onto the camera sensor. As such, it’s one of the essential pieces adjoined to a camera. You can opt to purchase kit lenses that come bundled up with the camera or purchase the lens separately. As a photographer, you will have different lens needs and requirements. However, it’s not a one size fits all. Find what suits you best.
  • Camera Bag – Unlike the camera and the lens, bags are easy to choose. They should be comfortable and most of all they should fit all your equipment. Different bags work for different types of photography. A backpack camera bag best suits a landscape photographer, while a shoulder bag is best for street photographers as it offers quick access to the camera to capture fast-disappearing moments. 
  • Filters – They go in front or behind your lens, altering the light your camera captures. They are essential in photography, but you don’t need as many: one can be enough.
  • Flash – For most types of photography, a flash is necessary. They help brighten dark shadows even during day time. For those interested in advanced flash photography, a flash that isn’t attached to the camera is a worthy investment.
  • Post-Processing Software – Although there’s free software for editing pictures, they may not have enough features. You may need to pay for quality and feature-packed editing software.

Find Your Niche

Now that you have had lots of experience and are more confident in your skill, you might want to move your passion for photography from a hobby to a full-blown career. A photography niche is the area of photography you become known for because you’re comfortable with it, and you have developed a high level of skill around it. Finding your niche helps you focus on one discipline, which is vital for freelance photography.

Instead of being a jack of all trades and a master of none, discover your niche and own it. Here is how you can accomplish that.

Understand Different Niches

For you to excel at one niche, you need to differentiate them. Common freelance photography niches include;

  • Event
  • Wildlife
  • Wedding
  • Food
  • Sports
  • Fine art
  • Fashion

Try Different Niches

Don’t let fear stand in the way of you trying as many niches as possible. Getting out of your comfort zone is a definite prerequisite to finding your niche. By trying different things, you find one that you excel at and also enjoy to do. It’s essential to try different niches in low stakes situations where you’re not getting paid to avoid detrimental consequences.

Find Your Style Before Settling on a Niche

At the beginning of your freelance photography career, you can copy the visual styles of different photographers you look up to. But with some experience under your belt, you should branch out and find your visual style. Once you’re confident in your visual style, you can choose your niche.

Determine What Inspires You

You must be inspired by something to develop a passion and love for your chosen niche. You can’t find your niche without finding what inspires you. This passion is what keeps you going.

Create a Website

What’s the point of all the effort you have put into becoming a freelance photographer if you have no platform to show off your creativity while attracting clients? Your website should become your greatest ally. It plays a massive role in giving you exposure and reaching out to new clients. Think of your photography website as your window to the world. It can open up opportunities beyond your network and help you win new clients.

A photography website makes you look professional to potential clients: it gives you instant credibility. It also helps you build your portfolio. Remember, you are as good as your worst photo; therefore, post your best pictures on it. Owning a website gives you a platform that you can control and where there is no competition.

Here is what you must have on your freelance photography website:

  • Photos for your portfolio
  • Contact information that should include a live chat feature
  • Location
  • Booking functionality
  • FAQ and helpful content
  • Social proof including customer reviews and testimonials

Find Photography Clients

Now that you have a good handle on things, it’s time to secure well-paying photography jobs. As you start your freelance photography career, you’ll most likely get clients through referrals, which might not be enough. Here are some things you can do to get more clients.

Hand Out Business Cards

Your business card acts as the identity for your freelance photography business. It gives potential clients an impression of your photography skills. Ensure that the color and style of the card make it enticing to convert recipients to potential customers. Incorporating unique design elements on the business card helps you build your identity as a brand.

Get In Touch With Influencers

Every industry has its experts often referred to as influencers that help create an opinion on an issue among people. Photography, as an industry, also has experts whose opinion matters to people. Their good word for your business can help attract clients to your business.

Take Your Business to Social Channels

In today’s world, social media is a powerful medium as people use these channels to express their opinion. Posting relevant text, visuals, and videos on different social platforms could help draw clients to your business.

There are numerous reasons you should venture into freelance photography. One of them is that it lets you enjoy your creative freedom. However, most people are held back from reaching their full potential because they don’t know how to be freelance photographers. Follow the above guide and start actualizing your dream today.