It has never been easier to make money as a photographer. Then again, when seen from another angle, it has never been more difficult. It really depends on what you want to do and what your expectations are.
There are numerous paths you could take, ranging from the obvious (e.g. weddings and portraits) to lesser-known alternatives (e.g. sports and food). The hard part is deciding which one of these paths you’re going to invest in.
Here’s what you need to keep in mind when making that decision.
How Profitable Is Photography?
Let’s be clear about one thing right off the bat: to make money with photography, you have to approach it as a business. Yes, photography is all about creativity and style, but even the most imaginative mind can still fail to generate an income.
On the flipside, plenty of photographers make a living with mediocre skills.
As such, it’s entirely possible for you to pursue one (or all) of the following photography career paths only to end up earning an income that’s far below minimum wage. Or you could hit it big and rake in six figures every year.
In order to make money with photography, you must come to terms with the fact that you’re essentially becoming a self-employed business. There are no hourly rates. Income is never guaranteed. It’s a high-risk-high-reward scenario, and not everyone can stomach such pressures.
You might command a rate of $5,000 per wedding event, but if you only manage to book one wedding every year, then you’re earning a pittance. Then again, if you have a small studio for $50 headshots but you’re booked around the clock, you’ll be swimming in cash.
How profitable is photography? It depends. Your location, your potential clientele, your charisma and marketing skills — they all play an integral role. But most importantly, it depends on how badly you want it. The more you put in, the more you’ll get out of it.
Therefore, choose the path that lines up best with your passion and vision. Don’t go for the high-dollar events just because you can make “thousands in one night”. Go for the path that makes you excited to wake up and shoot.
When it comes to making cash with a camera, wedding photography is often seen as the ideal path. There’s a level of glamour and prestige associated with it that doesn’t really carry over into other photography disciplines, except for perhaps fashion photography.
Sounds lucrative, right? It is! But wedding photography has the most “gotchas!” of all photography careers. It certainly isn’t for everybody.
Why You’ll Love It
The big paycheck. If you’ve tried to hire a photographer for your own wedding, you know how expensive it can be. In my area, the bare minimum is somewhere around $1,500 to shoot the ceremony and reception. The average is closer to $4,000 while in-demand photographers can charge in excess of $10,000.
Event luxuries. Most weddings are classy and extravagant. As a photographer, you get to enjoy the grandeur of the weddings you shoot — maybe not as comfortably as an actual guest, but it’s still a wonderful experience. And, depending on your client, you get to eat the food too.