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What Is Freelance Photography?

What is freelance photography
Photo by Andrew Hutchings on Unsplash

Freelance photography is an industry that has gone from strength to strength since the introduction of the digital camera at the start of the 21st century. It can be a daunting industry to break into given the level of competition. But with a good understanding of what you need and the ways you can succeed, it’s possible to build up a sustainable, creative, and diverse photography business of your own. In this article, we’ll look at the qualities you need to succeed as a freelance photographer, the different kinds of photography you can do, and how to set up a thriving freelance photography business. But first, what is freelance photography?


What Is Freelance Photography?

A freelance photographer works for themselves, taking photos for clients, arranging photoshoots, and selling their photography in several different ways. It’s an exhilarating job that requires a strong entrepreneurial streak, as well as the ability to think on your feet and run your own business.

What Does It Mean to Be a Freelance Photographer?

A freelance photographer is self-employed and works in any capacity within the larger photography industry. This means that there are about as many ways to be a freelance photographer as there are stars in the sky! The varied work on offer is one of the major attractions for newcomers to the industry.

Your choice of niche should reflect your own interests, as well as the earnings for the type of photography. For example, if you’re interested in surrealist photography, the difficulty is there’s a limited market for this type of work. So, you might decide to pursue a career in fashion photography instead. Many freelancers do their ‘day job’ to pay the bills and then pursue their own personal, more creative photographic interests in their free time. Let’s look at some of the more lucrative photography niches.


17 Types of Freelance Photography

The average annual income for a freelance photography is about £31,000 in the UK. Some of the most profitable freelance photography niches are:

  • Events photography, such as weddings, concerts, conferences, parties, and trade shows
  • Portrait photography, such as family, formal, fashion, and pet portraiture
  • Landscape photography
  • Fashion photoshoots, such as magazine, editorial, and online
  • Travel photography
  • Stock image photography
  • Corporate photography
  • Advertising and marketing photography
  • Wildlife photography
  • Food photography
  • Social media photography
  • School and college photography
  • Product photography
  • Catalogue photography, for example for clothes, sporting equipment, and gardening supplies
  • Real estate photography
  • Sports photography
  • Drone and aerial photography


What Qualities Does a Freelance Photographer Need to Succeed?

To succeed as a freelance photographer, you’ll have to be willing to work hard while showcasing your unique talents, perspectives, and skills that make you stand out from the considerable competition.

Other qualities that you’ll need include:

  • A good work ethic
  • A friendly, sociable manner with excellent communication skills
  • The ability to organise your schedule, keep appointments and manage a fluid workload
  • Basic entrepreneurial skills
  • Creativity and an artistic eye for detail, form, and style
  • A forward-thinking mindset that can see emerging market trends and capitalise on them before your competitors do
  • Superb customer service
  • The ability to work with a wide range of clients, models, fellow photographers, and studio managers


Two Freelance Photography Case Studies for Beginners

To fully understand what freelance photography is, it helps to see the types of projects real-life freelancers do on a day-to-day basis. Let’s take a look at some examples.

Freelance Product Photography

One of the best ways to get into freelance photography is to start out by taking product photos. Clients use these to advertise the products they’re selling. They could be anything from electronics to souvenirs, and from shoes to jewellery. As a product photographer, you can work for magazines, local stores, or online e-commerce blogs and websites. Today, most product photography work is in the online retail space.

An advantage of working in the online space is that you can work from home, setting up a simple studio to shoot the products in. The equipment you’ll need is a medium-grade DSLR camera, a tripod, a standard 24-70mm zoom lens, and a light box. You can get a lot of these second-hand or even improvise professional studio lighting by using a basic table lamp!

After taking your photos and tidying them up in postproduction, you simply send them to your client! If they like your work, you’ve secured a new client for your freelance photography business.

Freelance Portrait Photography

There is high demand for portraiture photography from families, pet owners, and models building up their portfolios. To start, you’ll need to have access to a studio. You can either rent a studio or set up your own at home if you have the space. Once you have a studio and equipment, you can start advertising your services and landing some clients.

If you’re wanting to dip your toe into portraiture, you can advertise to do on-location photoshoots, a popular new niche of portrait photography. When you do an on-location photoshoot, you photograph the client in their home or at a location of their choice. This saves you from having to hire a studio and you can produce more authentic photos. This is because the subject is shot in the comfort of their own home, garden, or a favourite local spot.


Your Gateway to a Dream Career!

Freelance photography combines creativity with business acumen and allows you to work with a range of different clients and companies. Working as a professional photographer is a dream career for many. With the right knowledge, a solid work ethic, and a good dose of creativity, you can turn that dream into reality anytime you’re ready to!

If you’re interested in learning more about the world of freelancing, check out our other articles here.

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