Side hustles are becoming more and more common as people realize that they have more options for making extra cash than getting a regular second-job. And since we love side hustles and the idea of taking control of our own destinies, we do quite a bit of research to find the best options available. But can you really make money with a photography business?
This may be the most stereotypical side-hustle there is. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone say that they wanted to start a photography business, I certainly wouldn’t need to be researching other side hustles!
Photography is unique because it is actually a pretty common business-art mashup. A lot of people love pictures, so they will pay for them. But at the same time, it is not the same business that it used to be. A camera used to be a valuable commodity that few people could afford to buy… and those who did were often skilled and proficient enough with them to get good pictures. This used to be a lot more difficult as well, before modern photography made it almost effortless to take an awesome selfie… which leads to part of the problem with photography and the business model that used to make it a profitable business.
Nowadays, everyone has a high resolution camera right in their pocket! Our phones are equipped with powerful cameras that are capable of taking pretty great photos without doing anything special… meaning that the equipment is no longer difficult to get.
It is also a lot easier for people to get their own photos nowadays. They can take pictures with their camera, get them printed on-demand, and only pay for the ones they want in the sizes that they want.
So is there really money to be made taking photographs these days?
Can You Really Turn A Profit With A Photography Business?
Despite the challenges associated with this business, there is certainly still some money to be made. Granted, it is not easy to find clients… but there is still a pretty big demand for professional, high-quality photography. Here are just a few of the different needs that photographers continue to fill with their services.
- Wedding photos
- Band photos
- School pictures
- Senior pictures
- Anniversary pictures
- Professional photos for marketing and business
- Stock photography
There are also others, but these are just a few examples of the types of photography that people still pay for. Now, it is possible for people to either take these pictures themselves, or to get one of their friends or family-members to do it using a camera… but there are still some issues with that.
As it turns out, a high-tech phone camera and filters will only do so much to make the picture look good. This is why having a professional is still important.
So if you have professional-level skills with a camera, hope is not all lost for you. You also have the option to try to develop your skills and level-up into a profitable side-hustle. But there are still some details that you should know.
How Much Does It Cost To Start A Photography Business?
This varies with what you are trying to do. If you just want to take some pictures with a nice camera and try to get some clients with it, you will have to think your strategy through a bit more. Finding clients for a photography business is one of the hardest parts of the side-hustle. Some things you may need to get started include…
- A camera
- Some business cards
- A computer and software to edit photos with
- A website
- Reliable transportation
These things could all be obtained rather cheaply, and most people have transportation already. You can buy a decent digital camera for less than $200 to start with, but keep in mind that better equipment also yields better results.
And you also have to take marketing into account. How are you going to find your clients? Are you going to advertise? If so, you will have to pay for that as well.
There are actually a few apps that you can use to help you earn money in your photography business as well. Some of these apps include options like Foap, Snapwire, Clashot, and Shutterstock… just to name a few.
How Much Can You Make Every Month?
This is a rather difficult question to answer, because every situation is a little bit different. People who are plugged into large, thriving social groups (church, school, a large company with a lot of contacts, etc.) may be better equipped for networking in the short term than, say, someone who does not socialize as much… because in this business, knowing the right people could mean the difference between getting paid and not getting any jobs.
But at the same time, you can also market—so someone good at marketing might be able to do even better than someone in thriving social circles.
To give you literal examples, I have friends who make an extra $200-$400 a month as photographers taking senior pictures and family pictures. But they were also students with a thriving social network, so their position as a student in a large school gave them access to a lot of different tools.
I also know photographers who do it for the art of it. They make an extra $100-$200 per month taking band pictures, selling large prints of landscapes and/or model portraits, and stuff like that.
I also know people who make a lot less than that making stock photography. There are obviously some ways to increase the odds of you making money at this as well. Having better equipment, more experience, and some education about it can all help to give you a leg up to earn more. There is also something to be said for someone with a quality portfolio.
But either way… there is no denying that photography is a brutal business to be in right now. Personally, I feel like it is absolutely possible to make some extra money doing it—but you are going to have to hustle to make it work. It is highly unlikely that you are going to make ‘quick and easy money’ as a photographer in a world where everyone has a high definition camera in their pocket and access to free photo editing software online!
Non-Monetary Costs Associated With Photography
There are also some non-monetary costs associated with this side-hustle. For example… It might not seem like it, but driving out to photo-shoots can actually take up quite a bit of time. There is also marketing to consider, as it can also take up a lot of time.
Photo editing can also be a tedious process.
If you love photography, then this might not seem like work to you. But if you tend to get burned out by doing a lot for a little bit of money, then this may soon wear on your nerves.
My Personal Feelings About Starting A Photography Business
Personally, I LOVE photography. I love taking pictures, I love looking at pictures, and I love wall art. But at the same time, I also feel like I have to have a realistic picture of what is going on in the world right now where photographic art is concerned. I feel like photography is a hard business because so many people have access to tools that are, for all intents and purposes, ‘state of the art’ by traditional standards.
Does this mean that a photography business is completely out of the question? Of course not. I think it is just important that we understand that this side hustle would require quite a bit of self-sacrifice to get going. It would also require that you have quite a bit of passion for what you are doing.
If you are going to be dedicating your time to anything, you are going to have to love it in order for it to be worth it to you. And when it comes to photography, you are probably going to have to dedicate quite a bit of ‘free time’ to it, especially at first, if you want to build up your portfolio and market yourself to potential customers.
If you already do photography for someone else, and just want to start out on your own—well, that may be a bit easier. You already likely have professional gear and a portfolio to work with—so that would certainly give you a leg up on the competition.
Photography is a competitive game. A lot of people love it, and a lot of people are trying to do it for profit right now. That makes it competitive, so it may not be the best idea for a side hustle unless it is really your passion.
If you are passionate about it, then go for it! Just don’t expect to make a lot of money right away. It will take time to grow this one and turn it into something profitable.