So What Do You Know About Photography?

Photography: laughlin

It’s the most obvious way for a photographer to make money: take a picture then sell it. But it’s not the easiest. There are always more photographs being offered for sale than buyers willing to buy them. The competition is fierce, much of it is good and the marketing can be difficult, even for experienced pros.

In an earlier post, we touched on some of the ways that photographers can make money without selling an image. Here are 11 more:

1. Teach Photography
The key to earning without selling is to identify what else you can offer beyond the results. The most obvious is your photography skills. People will pay you to learn about f-stops, lighting, even which camera equipment to buy.

If you’re experienced, you could pitch yourself to a photography school. Otherwise, adult education classes are open to people with knowledge rather than years and you could offer yourself as a tutor to wealthy hobbyists who want to get more out of their equipment. Try advertising on Craigslist.

2. Teach Photoshop
And why stop at photography? Anything you know and others don’t is an asset that you can sell. That includes your knowledge of post-production. There is a real market for people who want to know how to edit their family photos. Create a class that lasts a couple of hours and offer personal tuition for a couple of hundred bucks.

3. Put Your Advice in Print
Teaching doesn’t have to be done in person. Put your knowledge in book form and you can have a recurrent source of income. Competing with books on photography or Photoshop might be tricky but if you focus on a tight niche, you should find that you have a small but keen market. A title like “Top Photography Spots In New York City” or “The Urban Photographer’s Guide To Shooting Street Scenes” could work fine as a downloadable ebook or a print-on-demand volume.

4. Do Post-Production
The alternative to teaching is doing. Some people will want to learn how to use Photoshop; others will prefer to pay someone to do it for them. Focus your marketing on how much you can improve dark shots and family photos, turn poor wedding photos into album-worthy images or take years off a portrait.

If people are prepared to pay thousands for a face-lift, they’ll pay you for a digital makeover.

5. Cut Out the Exes
Or choose one post-production specialty: removing ex-partners from photos. More than one Photoshop expert has generated a respectable turnover offering to save old photos by airbrushing out people the client would rather not see again. This is exactly the sort of work you can do from home: receive the photos by email, get to work with your Photoshop tool, send the new photo back and collect the cash.

6. Review Images for Microstock Sites
Microstock sites need people to decide which photos to accept. The pay though is low — often about 5 cents per image — but you can think of it as a way to earn while you learn. The sites will offer training that covers legal issues, quality and marketability. You’ll make a little but you’ll learn a lot about the sort of images that are accepted and sold on microstock sites.

7. Put Google Ads on a Photography Blog
Lots of people are writing about photography these days and many of them are making some nice advertising income courtesy of Google’s AdSense program. Again, to be successful, you have to find a niche with a market and produce content that people want to read. You also have to optimize your ads by putting them in the right place and tossing in the right keywords.

Get it right though and you could be earning money just for talking about photography.

8. Become a Squidoo Photography Expert
Creating and writing a blog is easy. Marketing it, not so much. Squidoo makes earning from your expertise a little easier. The site is intended to be a place where experts can show people who want to know more where they can learn. You can promote your own products and services on the site but most of the income is likely to come from advertising.

Again, pick a niche and show people where they can find out about car photography, sports photography or shooting children. Squidoo will bring them in.

9. Earn from Affiliate Links
AdSense isn’t the only way to make money with ads on a website, of course. There’s a range of other programs, some of which you can find on this page, but one of the best is affiliate links. These pay a commission for a sale so while the number of sales is low, the payments can be relatively high.

The key is to actively recommend the products you’re promoting. Of course, that means you have to have used them and believe in them too.

10. Digitalize Prints
It might not be the most exciting work in the world but there is a big pool of prints that are fading, discoloring and generally being ignored by people who are used to looking at photos on screens. Turn them into digital images, and you can charge per photo.

11. Rent out your Studio
Whether you operate out of a renovated garage or a complete photographic studio, if you have your own space, you’ve got an asset. Other photographers will pay to use a dedicated spot for their shoots.

You could also think about renting out some of your equipment… if you’re brave or insured enough.

Check out a day in the life of a microstock reviewer and tell us how you make money without selling images.

One comment for this post.

  1. blaneyphoto Said:

    6. is quite a bit off for iStock - I'm not an inspector, but as of about a year ago, the pay per image inspection was $.50 See 6:00 @

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