How to become a freelance photographer

Find The Best Freelance Photographer Jobs For You

Where do you want to work?

Working as a Freelance Photographer

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a freelance photographer. For example, did you know that they make an average of $22.23 an hour? That’s $46,245 a year!

Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow -6% and produce -8,300 job opportunities across the U.S.

What Does a Freelance Photographer Do

There are certain skills that many freelance photographers have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed artistic ability, business skills and computer skills.

When it comes to the most important skills required to be a freelance photographer, we found that a lot of resumes listed 33.6% of freelance photographers included photoshop, while 9.2% of resumes included photo shoots, and 7.5% of resumes included lightroom. Hard skills like these are helpful to have when it comes to performing essential job responsibilities.

When it comes to searching for a job, many search for a key term or phrase. Instead, it might be more helpful to search by industry, as you might be missing jobs that you never thought about in industries that you didn’t even think offered positions related to the freelance photographer job title. But what industry to start with? Most freelance photographers actually find jobs in the media and hospitality industries.

How To Become a Freelance Photographer

If you’re interested in becoming a freelance photographer, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We’ve determined that 61.1% of freelance photographers have a bachelor’s degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 5.9% of freelance photographers have master’s degrees. Even though most freelance photographers have a college degree, it’s possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become a freelance photographer. When we researched the most common majors for a freelance photographer, we found that they most commonly earn bachelor’s degree degrees or associate degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on freelance photographer resumes include high school diploma degrees or master’s degree degrees.

You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become a freelance photographer. In fact, many freelance photographer jobs require experience in a role such as photographer. Meanwhile, many freelance photographers also have previous career experience in roles such as internship or sales associate.

What is the right job for my career path?

Tell us your goals and we’ll match you with the right jobs to get there.

Table of Contents

In the United States alone, the freelance economy exceeds $1.2 trillion. Learning how to become a freelance photographer will help you get a slice of that pie.

Around 36% of America’s total workforce is freelancing. Being a freelance photographer lets you enjoy the benefits of career flexibility and financial growth.

Photographers capture the beauty of a moment or scene. That’s why people seek out professional photography services to commemorate their special occasions.

Here are five freelance photography tips for success.

1. Invest in High-Quality Equipment

Anyone who’s serious about pursuing freelance photography needs to purchase a high-quality camera and equipment. If you can’t afford it right away, consider looking into refurbished photography equipment.

It’s best to start your freelance career with good lighting, camera lenses, and camera lens filters. It’ll positively impact the quality of your photos.

2. Gain Skills and Experience

Knowing how to become a professional photographer means gaining relevant skills and experience. The type of photography skills and experience you gain determines what kind of clients you’ll be targeting.

Taking photography classes gives you hands-on experience with a teacher’s professional supervision. It’s ideal to get a college degree in photography. However, simply taking classes will enhance and refine your skills.

As you gain experience, you’ll also be defining the photography niche(s) you align your personal brand with. The niches you serve should be well-represented in terms of this next tip:

3. Build a Strong Portfolio

Use your experience to create a portfolio that showcases your talents. Your portfolio’s purpose is to convince clients you’re the best photographer for the job. For this reason, a portfolio should only include the best of your work.

If you’re an aspiring fashion photographer, consider lookbook printing to show off your style. Lookbooks are the most professional way of showing off fashion shots. Learn more about printing high-quality, full-page lookbooks via the aforementioned link.

Many beginner photographers do TFP (trade for prints or time for prints) to build their portfolios. With TFP, the photographer takes pictures of a model, then gives the model these pictures as payment.

4. Optimize Your Professional Website

It’s not enough for your professional website to be attractive. You must design all parts of your website with SEO in mind.

Include relevant keywords in your website’s copy and content. This helps search engine crawlers find and index your website faster. Also, enable lazy loading to make your website run faster.

The more you optimize your website, the higher it’ll rank in search engines. This makes the following easier to do:

5. Network and Promote Yourself

Get involved with the photography community by joining relevant online groups. This way, you’ll gain insight from other professionals in your field.

Be active in promoting yourself on social media. More clients will find you if you maintain branded accounts on multiple platforms.

Knowing How to Become a Freelance Photographer Is the First Step

54% of freelancers claim soft skills like people skills and communication are highly important to their work. Learning how to become a freelance photographer means learning how to politely interact with clients.

Make it a point to maintain a schedule of shoots. It’ll help you keep track of important dates and prepare yourself on time.

Broaden your business smarts—check out our business articles. The knowledge will make it easier to navigate the freelance world.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Do you have a passion for photography that you are considering turning into a career? Do you simply need tips on how to become a freelance photographer?

Freelance photography can be a very fulfilling career path; one where you can travel, follow your passion, and make money at the same time.

We spoke to professional freelance photographer Stefan Grau, who shot our website photos, and has a long list of inspiring people that he’s worked with, including Barack Obama! How many people can say that?!

Below are some tips for you aspiring freelance photographer from Stefan Grau, who is currently based in Munich, Germany.

How to become a freelance photographer

Starting out as a graphic designer, it wasn’t until after a trip to SouthEast Asia that his career goals were put into perspective for Stefan.

“it was clear to me that I needed to work more outside instead of the office. So I applied for an apprenticeship in photography and started right when I came back from the trip. It took me a while to become fully independent but with assistance work, retouching for other photographers and giving classes in Photoshop, I managed to fulfil my dreams. By now, I work more than ten years successfully as freelance photographer and I am still super happy to be able to work with so many nice people together”.

When asked what tips he had for people that want to turn photography into a career, Stefan’s top advice is to play around!

“Photography isn’t a formula you learn and apply. The perception is constantly changing, so should your work. Go outside whenever you can and experiment with new trends, techniques, and equipment. The camera is just like your cooking pan; a simple tool. What you create with it, is the real magic.”

Along with allowing yourself the freedom to explore the art of photography, being confident in knowing what to ask for is a critical aspect of freelance photography:

“Confidence is a major part for becoming a freelance photographer. You need to be able to talk to people. Sometimes it’s a production team, another time, a random person in on the street you want to portrait. Nobody will support someone who is stooped in the corner. You need to convince people of ideas and make them love what you do. So shout it out loud! Most importantly, be a good person! If you treat everyone with respect and you are a nice person it will lead to a good working relationship”.

How to become a freelance photographer

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with knowing where exactly to start from- between the right equipment or simply getting started. Experimentation, according to Stefan, is necessary in knowing what equipment works for personal style of photography:

“You can do amazing images with just an iPhone, but if you need to work for a client you better have a camera that suits the purpose. I work with various cameras from different brands, all depending on the outcome. You don’t need to own all the gear, but it’s good to know what’s on the market”

Every freelance photographer is going to adopt their own personal style of photography, which comes with allowing yourself to explore the different facets. For Stefan, that is represented in portraits:

“I love the never-ending process of learning and adapting. Almost every job is different and you need to be fully awake. That keeps you fit. My biggest passion is Portraits. I photographed all kinds of people, from farmers in the most remote places in Nepal to Hollywood actors. I’m always fascinated by how many stories one can tell with just a little expression of the face.”

Last but not least, Stefan reflected with us upon his career highlight, photographing the one and, Barack Obama:

In Summer 2019, I photographed Barack Obama. He was in Munich during a Conference. I was really honored to be the only one allowed to photograph him during his stay. He is a really cool person and it was a fun shoot. I was very limited with the gear, so I had to think of a simple but effective light setup. It was a memorable day in my career”.

How to become a freelance photographer

If you’re interested in becoming a freelance photographer there are a few steps that you can take to get started and to ensure your success. Here is a basic overview of how you can get started with a career as a freelance photographer.

  1. 1.Get the Equipment

A basic digital camera is not going to be good enough for a freelance photographer, even if you’ve been able to get amazing photos of your own. You need a professional grade camera, and it probably will not be cheap. You can look for a pre-owned camera or a refurbished one sold by the manufacturer online to save money, but expect to spend several hundred dollars, if not more than 1,000. You will also need to get a computer because most clients today will want their photos burned to a disk for them. You will also need a good printer and quality photo paper or a printing company that you can order from online for when your clients want quality prints.

  1. 2.Take a Class

Even if you’re a natural talent at photography, that still doesn’t mean you have the skills you’ll need as a freelance photographer. You will also need to be able to do quality photo editing on software like Photoshop, and classes also often cover the necessary business skills required. Be sure that you understand how this is done because your clients will demand it.

  1. 3.Consider A Studio

As a freelance photographer, you will very likely be able to get by without needing a studio at all. A lot of clients are keen to have their photos taken outside when doing family and personal portrait photo shoots. However you may experience more steady year-round business if you can offer a studio space. This could be a converted area of your home and a garage is usually perfect. If you do get a studio, you’ll need additional equipment to achieve the proper lighting, in addition to backdrops and props. You can buy props yourself and they don’t have to be expensive. They could be as simple as an old chair with peeling paint, some latex balloons or toys for children shoots, some blankets or rugs with beautiful textures and some seasonal props such as a large pumpkin or sled.

  1. 4.Learn your Area

Whether or not you’re going to be offering a studio space right away as a freelance photographer you need to know your area and where you can take great outdoor photos. These locations can include parks, bridges, telephone booths, interesting natural features or works of art like sculptures. Possible areas that work well include public park areas, college or school campuses and empty fields. However you do need to be sure to get permission to shoot your clients in these areas. You can talk to your towns’ parks and recreations department to get more information, and they might be able to give you some great suggestions about where else you can go.

  1. 5.Create a Website

There are websites available online that are geared towards freelance photographer endeavors. Create a website that will allow you to have photo galleries that your clients can access with a password. This may be expensive, so it’s okay to forego this in the beginning and focus on social media alone, but once you start doing a lot of large events like weddings, your clients will likely demand online gallery viewing. In the beginning you can probably get by with a free website.

  1. 6.Get Involved in Social Media

The next important step for a would-be freelance photographer is to establish a social media presence. This includes Facebook, blogging, Instagram, and especially Twitter. You can also use Craigslist to advertise and promote yourself to get jobs.

  1. 7.Don’t Forget the Legal Stuff

Be sure to look into all of the national and local laws. You may need to get a business license and file gross receipts taxes for your state. If you aren’t sure and you’re already beginning to take jobs then it’s a good idea to put aside about 30% of your earnings, perhaps by putting them into a savings account where you won’t use them. You may need those funds for taxes next year, depending on how much you make as a freelance photographer.

  1. 8.Remember Your Reputation

A freelance photographer should always be focused on maintain a solid reputation. This is because a lot of your business will come from word of mouth or recommendations. Therefore you need to do your best to make each client happy. Do not overbook yourself so that you’re rushed or forced and be sure to give each client individual attention. If you want to improve your services, you could ask you clients to do a survey after you’ve finished and allow them to mail the survey anonymously to you if they would like.

Are you ready to pursue your photography career? Get information on programs in your area and online using our photography degree finder at the top of this page.

How to become a freelance photographer

Being a photographer seems to be an easy job but trust me it really isn’t. You need to have a real passion for capturing moments through the camera and a lot of patience. In the past, photography was not so saturated but today the business has completely changed. You need to have some entrepreneurial skills to kick start your photography career and earn money out of it.

It’s all same in the case of sports photography. To become a freelance sports photographer, You need to start with experimenting and get better day by day, until you get to choose your clients. Even though it’s not as simple as it used to be, with social media platforms you can become a freelance sports photographer in many ways.

For example:

  • Start an Instagram page and build an audience
  • Start your own website
  • Teach tutorials on youtube, etc….

Today, there are thousands of options available for photographers. Whichever platform you choose, there are some general steps that everyone has to do.

So, here are 10 steps that will help you to become a freelance sports photographer and also monetize your work.

Steps to become a freelance sports Photographer

1. Start with small sports events

Start with small sports events, as they don’t charge that much. You will get to observe the game and develop your skills. Attend as many sports events as you can and develop your own style. As they say, practice makes us perfect.

2. Experiment

Experiment with different sports. Take pictures of those games that people don’t often attend. It will bring versatility to your work. Experiment with different settings, many people do this mistake of depending on auto mode while taking pictures. Doesn’t matter how good your software is, manual pictures will always be better and you will have to learn it today or tomorrow.

3. Be creative

It is very possible that in the beginning, you will take pictures like the one you saw before. But with practice and consistency, you will develop your own style. Until then, try to be creative every time. don’t forget to learn to edit. Editing is as important as taking pictures. There is much good software available for editing. Choose any one and get your hand over it. Photoshop is always recommended.

4. Choose a platform

To become a freelance sports photographer you need to have a portfolio. But before that, you must choose a platform. Some people are good with social media and others are not. Depending on your preferences, choose a platform for your portfolio. Instagram and WordPress website is the best combination that many freelancing photographers use.

5. Build a portfolio

Now that you have shot many pictures at different events and you have also edited them perfectly. Its time to build a portfolio. Start posting pictures on Instagram and Facebook. Build your own website and make it handy. Include your achievements. Make sure that the best of your work gets enough attention.

While creating a portfolio keep this in mind that, this portfolio is going to be the reflection of your overall work and potential clients are going to hire you depending on your portfolio. So, it is very important to make it attractive and simple at the same time.

6. Network and build contacts

To become a freelance sports photographer, the key factor required is your capability of networking. Reach out to people and listen to their views. Find a community with other freelance sports photographers who share ideas and collaborate. Collaboration can teach you things that nothing else can.

Your contacts are your best chance of marketing and also your best chance for new offers. So, make sure you also learn this art of networking.

7. Take feedbacks

Taking feedbacks and working on them is important for any kind of photographer. Many times we feel that the photograph is really good when it’s not that great. Overestimating your own work may stop you from growing, so its always great to take feedback. Not every feedback is worth working on but some of them are and they are really important.

8. Educate yourself with the market

As mentioned earlier, to become a freelance sports photographer you need to have some entrepreneurial qualities. Understanding the market is one of those qualities. When you know where the market is going, you can understand where you’re standing and you can work efficiently. the understanding market is like seeing the bigger picture and if you really want to be a part of that picture then you need to be able to see it first.

9. Find mentors

Not everything can be solved by dedication. Everyone needs guidance. Finding a mentor really helps you to grow faster and in a proper direction. It will also help you to meet newer people and provide a chance to impress them with your work.

10. Keep getting better

To become a freelance photographer, there is not a single perfect way. Just like any other freelancing career, you need to keep working and get better at it. Let your work speak for you. There will be ups and downs in the beginning but it could manage to implement these 10 steps effectively, then your dream is not so far from reality. The most important thing that you need to become a freelance sports photographer is consistency and growth.


To become a freelance photographer, you need to get a camera and start attending sports events experiment with different sports and get your hand on the camera settings.

Learn the art of editing and give your captures a final touch. Choose a platform and create a portfolio there. Make sure that your portfolio is attractive and simple at the same time. Network with different people. Find your tribe. Collaborate to learn more. Find mentors. Keep growing and getting better at your work. Let your work speak for you.

You want to become a freelance photographer, but you do not know what steps to take. You’ve come to the right place! Photography is an art that you can turn into a hobby or a career.

While freelance photography is a career field that can give you freedom, happiness and flexibility, you need to treat it like a business. It takes know-how behind the camera, confidence, consistency, training and business skills.

What Is a Freelance Photographer?

How to become a freelance photographer

A freelance photographer provides photography services on a contract basis. Unlike employer-hired photographers, freelance photographers are responsible for reporting and paying their taxes, managing their contracts, marketing their business to new clients and booking their own shoots. You must plan for your freelance work just as you would plan before opening a business.

Advantages of Being a Freelance Photographer

How to become a freelance photographer

Freelance photography comes with many benefits. You can pick your niche and do something you love. If you are working for someone, you have less input on what type of work you do and when you do it, therefore you may not enjoy it as much. In addition to being your own boss, being a freelance photographer is also rewarding when it comes time to watch a client’s face light up when they look at the end-product. Photographers allow even the most self-critical client to see their beauty.

As a freelance photographer, you get to pick your hours. You can schedule your clients around your personal life. This is especially helpful if you have a family. You can plan work around your children’s school activities, soccer practice, family vacations and even around your spouse’s work outings. It allows you to lead a healthier life, by giving you the flexibility to exercise regularly during your days since you can block off certain times for that.

Another benefit of freelance work is that you can choose your clients. If you work for someone, you may have to put up with any client (even abusive ones). As an independent contractor, if you run into a client who makes life miserable for you, then you don’t have to accept the responsibility of working with them.

Additionally, you receive the maximum benefit from your work, rather than having others take the lion’s share of what you have brought in through your services. Not only will you enjoy the satisfaction from what you do, but you will also enjoy keeping all the profits. You will then can grow your business the way you see fit. As your client base increases, you can decide whether you want to expand your business, work more hours, hire on assistants or maintain your current client base.


How to become a freelance photographer

Just with any occupation or business, things are all rosy. There are things you have to consider before going into the freelance world. You may not have steady work. You may go through dry spells when you have little work and other times you may have a steady flow. Also, if you do not work, you do not get paid. You must have the discipline to counteract such challenges by budgeting and forecasting so you can be prepared for unreliable “lean” periods.

As a freelance photographer, the lines between personal time and work time is easily blurred. You may find yourself working to accommodate clients or to make the most out of busy seasons. Consider setting business operation hours.

Remember that your friends and family are essential. Schedule regular outings and make time for not only your loved ones but yourself, as well. Consider collaborating with other local photographers so you can accommodate your clients’ needs and still make time for your family. Otherwise, it’s easy to fall into an imbalanced work/life situation.

Being a freelance photographer also means you — and only you — are responsible for everything. You have to keep up with your accounting, marketing, sales and advertising, in addition to actually fulfilling the photography portion of your business. Plan and prepare before launching your business. Having a business plan will help you anticipate your needs. You’ll be proactive rather than reactive.

Perhaps the biggest drawback of all is not having employer benefits. You will not have compensated vacation time, sick time and, worst of all, you won’t have health benefits. Have your spouse add you (or keep you) on his/her health coverage policy.

You will need business insurance. If you don’t have spousal coverage, incorporate your health benefits along with your business coverage into your pricing. Health insurance is expensive; not having it is even more costly.

Gear And Equipment

How to become a freelance photographer

Your equipment will be your biggest expense as a freelance photographer. You will need a great camera, camera lens, background, diffusers, reflector and other tools, depending on your specialty. More equipment means you can handle a wider array of photo requests.

How to become a freelance photographer

Photography is one of the most interesting, engaging, and versatile careers possible. While anyone with a camera can call themselves a “photographer,” to be a true professional photographer you need training, education, and experience.

This is a demanding career that requires both technical knowledge, scientific understanding, and artistic creativity. If you are wondering how to become a photographer, this article will explain the important steps, helping you master the skills and become a happy, well-paid, successful photographer.

How much does a photographer make a year? What are the photography qualifications? Do you need a degree to be a photographer? What are the skills required to be a photographer? All of these questions and more will be answered in this article!

How to Become a Photographer

A photographer does more than just snap photographs. They develop plans for capturing images, work with clients and customers, market their services, and perform many other important tasks. Taking photos is just part of their duties. So if you are asking “what does a photographer do?”, you’ll find that the answer is “quite a lot!” This is why photographer training, which develops more than just picture-taking skills, is so important.

There are three steps to become a photographer:

  1. Decide on the right education path for your career goals
  2. Consider (usually optional) licensing and certifications
  3. Gain career experience & build your business

If you want to know how to become a photographer, you first need to understand the educational requirements. As we’ll see, the base requirements are generally low, but you can complete a master’s degree in this profession.

Do you need a degree to be a photographer? In most cases, no. But a photography degree can be a tremendous help to your career.

One of the most attractive aspects of a photography career is that you need very little to enter this profession. Although some states and cities place licensing requirements on photographers, there really is no specific education requirement. However, if you want to have a successful career, stay busy, and earn a sizable income, there are many educational paths ranging from a certificate to a master’s degree.

Education is not required, but many photographers take classes in order to improve their skills and understanding of the profession. For self-employed photographers, this increases their ability to land jobs; for people working under photography studios, media outlets, and other businesses, education increases their chances of landing a high-paying career. Certifications help you understand what makes a great photograph, a skill that can greatly enhance your career opportunities.

Photojournalists, industrial journalists, and scientific photographers often need at least a bachelor’s degree to work in the profession.

Many universities offer classes in photography, and these courses can be found in a variety of departments. From journalism schools to art colleges, the basics of photography are taught in many settings. There are many skills required to be a photographer, making education highly important.

Many online photography businesses begin off doing part-time freelance work, then slowly become full-time Freelance Photographer. But freelance photography is certainly different from regular photography because it usually poses some unique challenges.

First, freelance photography is typically an art. It requires a unique talent and ability to capture a scene in a way that leaves you feeling completely satisfied.

Many photographers put a lot of time and energy into building up their freelance photography portfolio. The problem with building your portfolio on your own is that you rarely, if ever get paid for it. If you do receive payment for your work, it is usually not very much. This is because most freelance photographers have small, low-paying jobs. Most of them never receive more than $1000 for each month of work they complete.

How to become a freelance photographer

Options for Freelance Photographer

The good news is that there are options for photographers who would love to build up their freelance photography business.

One of these options is to use a photography submission company to help them promote their portfolio. These companies submit the photos to freelance photo buyers. By submitting photos to companies like this, photographers gain exposure and can earn more money through their photography.

Some photographers also choose to stock photograph various companies and individuals. If you do this, you need to make sure that the stock photos are clearly marked as stock photography.

If not, you could find yourself in serious trouble. A lot of photographers find themselves out of work after trying to sell their stock photography licenses to various companies. So before you take stock photos out of your own pocket, it is wise to consult with someone who knows about photography licensing.

How to become a freelance photographer

Have a photography website

Many freelance photographers also have a photography website. If you have one, you should create a page on it for your portfolio. It should contain a link to your website, which would take potential clients there. The advantage of having a website is that clients can also buy your work, which is a great advantage.

Ways for freelance photographers to make more money

  • There are ways for freelance photographers to make more money from their photography business, but it all starts with the basics. First, they need to get their portfolio together. Then they need to learn how to market their portfolio.
  • One way to do this is to create an online presence. Setting up a blog at MySpace or Facebook will get you a lot of traffic, especially if you use colorful graphics.
  • Another important part of being a freelance photographer is networking. If you want to make the most money possible, you have to network with other photographers. Some of your clients might be interested in other freelance photography projects, so set up a chance to meet them.
  • When you meet with them, have some fun and let them know that you are always open to new opportunities.

How to become a freelance photographer

Additional Tips

By following these tips, you can start and maintain a successful freelance photography business. Just remember that you must first make lots of contacts, then you must learn how to market yourself and finally establish your online photography portfolio. Once you have done this, you will be able to start making lots of money from your online photography business.

There are many other ways you can make a lot of money as a freelance photographer. You might think that this would take up too much time, but once you understand how it works, you will never believe that it is actually that easy! The thing you need to do is to network. Networking is how you get jobs and there are tons of great places to go to meet other photographers. Just do a quick search on the internet for freelance photography jobs and you will find many opportunities.

How to become a freelance photographer

In Conclusion

The best tips on how to be a successful freelance photographer aren’t just my own personal opinions. They are the opinions of hundreds of photographers who have done what you are currently doing. With their experience, insight, and advice, they will help you succeed much easier than any book or website ever could.

If you follow all these tips, you will not be disappointed with your photography business. In fact, you will make money so easily that you won’t have to work for anyone ever again! Just use the social media networking sites to build your business. Offer your services on these sites and let people know that you have something amazing to offer them. Soon enough, you will have so many friends and followers on these social media sites that you will never need to hire an employee again.