A photograph is being taken almost every minute all over the world. An average of about 200 million photos are uploaded on Facebook and other social media platforms on a daily basis. The ease of taking photos with your smartphone has increased the number of images people take on a daily basis. Smartphones today, are equipped with unbelievable resolution and image quality. Some of us, have stopped carrying cameras when we travel, or are at an event. We rely on our smartphones for pictures.
The photography industry today is one of the most saturated industries in the world. With a fall in the number of job opportunities available and no guarantee of a steady paycheck, photography is rated as one of the hardest professions to break into and survive. Yet, you have to wonder why some photographers are among the highest income earners around the globe today. This article will give us a better understanding of some of the lucrative careers available for budding photographers today.
One important thing to keep in mind is the fact that there is no highest paying photography job in the world today. Although, there are high paid photographers. Statistics and records show that in the year 2000, people took over 86 billion photos and in 2015 the number has grown to over 300 billion. The improvement in digital technology today has put almost all the dedicated film processing labs in the world out of business and has seen an introduction of technically advanced DSLR’s. Photography is not only for professionals anymore, a lot of hobbyists have taken up photography as a side hustle. This brings a lot of competition and drives down the average cost of services.
According to US statistics, the average annual income of a photographer is around $30,000 and about 120,000 job openings. When compared to other professions like accounting with over 1.4 million jobs and an average salary of about $60,000 annually. You can also read our blog on How much do Photographers make? – breaks down the average pay of photographers by the genre/category of photography services they deliver.
With recent lay off of photo staff by prominent news channels and magazines, one will see that the probability of having a budding career in photography is slim. The number of individuals aspiring to be professional photographers is relatively higher than the available jobs by number. This forces individuals who have a passion for photography, to start their own photography business. Most of the best images we have on the internet today are shot by freelance photographers.
Success as a freelance photographer is not dependent on the quality of your camera but instead on sales experience and strong business judgment that have been built over time. A good freelance photographer with good business acumen and remarkable sales experience can make up to $100,000 per year from photography. Also a good read – Marketing and Retargeting Methods for a Photography Business
One of the best ways to make money and have a remarkable career in photography is by being a wedding photographer. There is a certain level of charm and prestige that comes with it that can’t be found in another photography career except for fashion photography in some ways. Wedding photography isn’t for everybody because of the skills, expertise and the long hours of work it entails.
If you have tried to hire a photographer for your wedding, you will understand how expensive it might be. Wedding photographers that shoot your wedding and the reception can charge between $4,000 to $10,000 and more .. . depending on how good they are and how long they’ve been in the business.
As a wedding photographer, you get to participate and enjoy the splendor of the wedding you are shooting. Another perk with this type of photography is the fact that people are always getting married. With the increasing number of divorces, the average number of times an individual gets married in a lifetime also increase. Which in some cases, may mean repeat business from the same customer.
The level of stress and competition associated with being a wedding photographer is actually on the high side, but if you can get your footings right, wedding photography is one the most lucrative careers for a budding photographer.
There is a big difference between fashion photography and glamour photography. Glamour photography deals with modeling whereas fashion photography is all about clothes. If you look through different magazines, catalog, you will see an enormous variety in the settings. And from observation, no two fashion shoots are the same.
Fashion photography also shows artistic and emotional involvement. It gives you the chance to produce evocative images that tend to evoke emotional responses from the viewers. It also has a high commercial value. The ultimate goal of every fashion photography is to sell and the singular fact that it involves a lot of artistry, makes it more lucrative when compared to other types of photography careers.
Fashion photography is ever evolving and changing, as new photographers find their own new and original style. There is an element of art and portraiture involved, along with lights, sets and sometimes extravagant locations.
Some photographers can even start their career in fashion photography by setting up their studios at home. There is a decent amount of equipment needed for this kind of a setup.
Commercial photography deals with a wide range of photography careers that focuses on helping clients market their products and services. These type of photographers need a wide range of skill sets to take pictures of real estate, merchandise, food ..and the list goes on. They also take pictures used by media houses for catalogs, blogs, advertisement, and their magazines. They are also the ones that specialize in documenting projects and equipment for records and reports. It is one of the most lucrative careers in photography.
As a commercial photographer, you can also have a side income from stock photos that you can simply upload to a number of websites to get a steady source of income.
Commercial photography can also be a business that you can start at home. You could have a small setup for product photography at home, and use authority websites in your niche, to list your business services.
SCIENTIFIC / LEGAL PHOTOGRAPHY
This is a field of photography that documents different subjects in order to use them for evidence, experiments, illustrate technical information, and make certain images visible to the naked eyes.
Scientific photographers make use of certain imaging techniques and equipment that are special such as micrography, underwater photography, infrared photography, and many more. This group of photographers is found in government agencies, laboratories, universities and some research facilities. It is one of the most lucrative photography careers available to photographers.
Legal photographers are mostly hired by local police, for photographing and documenting a crime scene. If you are fine taking pictures of footprints, fingerprints, scrapes, blood, blood stains etc. you can earn a good living being a legal photographer.
Sports photography is an amazing category – you get to be at your favorite games and get paid to take pics. Although, you may not be able to enjoy the game as you normally would. But it’s a great way to get your name out there in the community.
If you are a parent, grab your camera the next time your kid goes to play a game. If you are not a parent, go contact the local teams and see if they would like to be photographed the next time they play. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how many great pics you can get from this.
Like the photos you got? you could upload them on stock websites. If you do want to upload those photos I would advise you to get the players in your photos to sign waivers.
This is a great way for beginners who want to get some pictures to start building their portfolio.
PORTRAIT / FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHY
This quite possibly could be the oldest genre of photography, and yet, it’ll probably last forever. As humans, we have this undying need and want to look at ourselves in the best light – portrait photography brings this need to life .. .literally!
Families grow and change every year, and so people love to take pictures of them at different stages. Also, people love to share great pictures of themselves on social media.
If you want to break into this niche, offer discounted pricing for printed copies. This niche relies heavily on word of mouth.
Tip: Give a few of digital copies (with your business watermark) for free. People love things for free. Also, when they share their pictures on social media, your business will get free advertising.
REAL ESTATE PHOTOGRAPHY
This one is easy to get into. There are always houses going up for sale, that need decent photography to showcase the best of that property. It is very important for real estate agents to get really good pics for the property they are selling.
This may not even need a lot of equipment. Real estate agents are always looking for skilled photographers for cheap. So if you are starting out, offer a lower price, or even offer to do 3-5 homes for free. Again, everyone loves the word “FREE”.
Tip: If you are starting out, try to approach real estate agents who are just starting their career in the real estate business as well. They will most likely love the fact that you are willing to do the first few houses for free, and you will get to build a report with them to get on-going business.
AERIAL / DRONE PHOTOGRAPHY
This is the fastest growing category of photography today. Everyone is so jazzed about taking photos and videos with a drone. I’ll admit it definitely gives you a different perspective and adds some amount of drama to the shot.
Drone photography is mostly used in, but not limited to real estate, hotels, weddings, sports. I’m sure there is a lot more the drone photography which will come to light over time. It’s a great add-on service for all those real estate and wedding photographers.
In the U.S. you do need a FAA license to fly a drone. Refer to this page for more info if you are interested.
Tom, Dick, Harry and his aunt Olga, want to travel the world and get paid to do it. I mean, it’s a tough niche to break into, but not impossible. It will definitely take more work than some of the other niches mentioned here on this blog.
If you want to be a travel photographer, my advice to you would be create a brand for your name. Next time you go places, take you camera along and take a bunch of pictures. When you come back home, start a blog. Blog about your visit, the people, the weather, the food, everything under the sun. post your pics into these blogs. Post your blogs and images on social media. get as much social following as you possibly can.
You will get offers from hotels, travel companies, magazines. It may just take some time. But be consistent.
BABY / NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHY
This is a sub-niche of family photography but, is a great way to start for a new photographer. People are never going to stop having babies and every parent out there wants to have memories of their baby. Those few initial months of a baby pass by too fast and having photographs of their baby are the best way for parents to relieve them.
You can start by spreading the word among friends and family. Offer to do it for “Free” for the first few clients, so you can build up your portfolio. You can set up a room or a part of a room in your home for this. It needs minimum photography equipment, although, you would need some props. Study, work from other baby photographers for ideas.
To have a successful career as a budding photographer, it is always better to move along the path that inspires passion in you.