How to Become a Freelance Photographer

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.


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