Getting started as a freelancer can be a daunting experience. In many fields, it can be hard to know just where to begin and which jobs to pursue. You might find yourself struggling to choose between jobs that will improve your name recognition and other options that will best keep the bills paid. This can be particularly true in a field such as photography, which is largely considered to be one of the most competitive freelance markets out there. If you’re feeling confused with no idea where to start, here are six photography businesses that are freelance-friendly.
While it’s certainly important to visit freelance job boards regularly and often, it can be just as important to build lasting relationships with clients and partners that you may already know. This can be especially true in the field of photojournalism, where you’ll largely be supporting writers and reporters on newsworthy events. Photos are now and always will be necessary in terms of hard-hitting journalism. If you build meaningful and lasting relationships with freelance writers and reporters, you’ll likely never find yourself without work.
Portrait photography can be one of the most trying endeavors in which to build up a consistent and reliable client base, and you might find yourself working pro-bono for longer than you would like. The flip side of this is that once you have established yourself, it is probably the most reliable method by which you can sustain yourself as a freelancer indefinitely, eventually going through all of the steps to turn the work into your own business.
When it comes to taking portraits, relationships are absolutely key. It is important to consider the location in which you will primarily be operating. Since portraits are often taken to commemorate life events, it is important to advertise yourselves to clients with children or other family members in formative years, as a huge percent of portraits are taken for events in education. It is also important to make sure you are operating with proper photo and lighting equipment. In a day and age where some of the world’s most powerful digital photography software is built into everyone’s smartphone, you must be able to give the client something that they cannot get themselves. Proper lighting is important for this.
3. Tech + Camera Maintenance
Much as the aspiring musician may find themselves in an instrument shop, the freelance photographer could definitely earn some money on the side by working in a camera repair or maintenance shop. While this no doubt will sound like a drag compared to other freelance work that could expand your portfolio, it certainly is not a dead-end line of work. Operating in environments such as these can be crucial to your understanding of the bare bones of how all equipment, both modern and antique, function. Though you won’t find a great deal of filler for your resume, you will be granted an extended vocabulary and knowledge that can only be obtained by hands-on experience.
4. Event Photography
This is the big one. Usually, when people set their mind to freelance photography, they set it to event photography. And when they set their mind to event photography, they get very preoccupied with weddings. While weddings are certainly one of the biggest draws for event photographers, there are scores of opportunities for the event photographer willing to think outside of the box. One of the ways you can do this is by coordinating with an event to set up a photo booth. Photo booths have risen to prominence as a way to get event-goers to participate in recording memories and will put you in the spotlight as a skilled photographer even more so than the classic, fly-on-the-wall style of event photography. Plus, while they’re extremely popular for weddings, they’re popping up at all kinds of marketing events, award shows, birthday parties and more.
5. Location Photography
There’s no shortage of models, bands, or even business groups who want a special sort of “photoshoot” to really showcase who they are. This will likely be some of the most demanding work in which you participate, going from location to location just to line up the perfect shot. Similar to being a graphic editor for brands, clients in this field will be very demanding of your time and your patience, but this will be an area where you can make some of the strongest pieces to add to your portfolio, showcasing your value as a photographer.
If the rise of social media has taught us anything, it’s that there is absolutely no shortage of young people that aspire to a certain degree of skill in the field of photography. While some of this work will no doubt be on the more meager side of your earning pool, there is still a great deal of job satisfaction that comes with passing on the skill of photography to a new generation. You will always be able to find work tutoring and mentoring new photographers, and may even make new connections for work along the way.
Katie Tejada is a writer, editor, and pop culture enthusiast. She enjoys writing about all things comics, films, and television, as well as travel and events. She has a love for adventure, passion for photography, interest in interiors, and a knack for covering developments in a range of industries, from HR to real estate, finance and more.