How to Start Freelancing As a Photographer

Photography is a fascinating art that has emerged as a promising profession over the years. What can be more rewarding than making one’s passion a profession and earning an income from that passion? Freelancing has also been gaining ground over the years among professionals. Many people enjoy working offsite in their own space and at their own comfortable pace.

How to Start Freelancing As a Photographer

Freelance photography has also been emerging as a popular job option for photo artists. Freelance photography is being adopted by two types of professionals: those who are full-time photographers and those who are passionate about photography and handle it as a part-time job. Anyone who is passionate about photography can pursue freelance photography with some technical study and practice. Are you someone who is often praised for capturing amazing photographs? Do you think you can make it? If the answer is yes, it’s time to start freelancing as a photographer.

Freelance photographers are offered individual assignments, along with a time period within which the particular project needs to be completed. Freelance photography, however, is not as flowery and free as it sounds. It comes with its own complexities. Freelancing means controlling one’s own work and time and completing a project before a deadline. From camera to lenses and from space to time, everything needs to be maintained by themselves, unlike regular photography jobs that are maintained by a team of people. Furthermore, freelancing can be depressing and annoying at times, as there is no one with whom to share ideas or to talk with during work hours. Besides gaining projects and assignments as a freelance photographer is a difficult task. One needs to build up a list of referrals and acquire a host of marketing skills in order to ensure good projects. This article is based on freelancing as a photographer. Here are the starting steps that a freelance photographer needs to follow to ensure a successful career in photography.

Before outlining the steps to starting a successful career in freelance photography, let’s understand the complexities that arise with a freelance photography career. Below are the most common problems faced by freelance photographers.

Managing a high-definition lens camera

Managing a high-definition lens camera is an important task that serves a major role in freelance photography. While in offices there are teams to handle urgent complexities that arise with lenses or cameras, freelancers need to handle such situations on their own. In that case, having knowledge of camera lenses is a necessity. Additionally, all expenses that are required to correct lenses or batteries, or anything, in fact, related to a camera, have to be absorbed by you. Thus, if not managed properly, freelance photography might involve heavy expenses that lead to a loss rather than a healthy income.

Managing work space

Managing work space is a problem for freelancers across all fields. A photography studio has a specific space for developing reels, storing photographs, and arranging documents and other related tools of photography. On the other hand, freelancers work in their own space and most often it starts with one’s own home, be it hallway, bedroom, or study. At the initial stage of freelance photography not everyone can afford separate rooms or corners for work. In that case, concentration on work might be compromised, this could impact on the quality of work produced. Also, working at home, in the presence of family and friends may be difficult. These issues can be major problems faced by freelance photographers.

Managing work and life

Managing work and life is another big problem faced by professionals pursuing a freelance career. Office staff generally has to log in and out, ensuring that the job is accomplished effectively during office hours. On the other hand, freelancers work at their own pace, which at times is an advantage and at times can serve as a disadvantage. A freelancer’s inability to maintain definite working hours to complete a project might result in the loss their deadlines, and a last-minute rush might negatively affect the quality of their work. Such difficult issues could exist for a freelance photographer.

Managing deadlines

The word “deadline” sounds dreadful to freelancers and regular office workers. For freelancers, however, it is a bit more difficult. Every photography project or assignment comes with a certain deadline and it solely depends on the freelancer to handle it efficiently by submitting the project before the deadline. Freelancers manage their own working hours, and as there can be many distractions for freelancers, managing deadlines at times becomes very difficult. One needs to follow strict working hours without being monitored in order to attain deadlines. Thus, managing deadlines can be another major problem hindering a freelance photographer’s path to a successful career.

Attaining projects

While office staff’s projects are kept in a queue for someone to pick up after the current one is accomplished, the same is not the case with freelancers. Freelancers get projects for a certain period of time, and this process of attaining projects can be continuing at times and might create a lapse at other times. There might be long-term gaps where freelancers might be left with no work. Such times can be depressing and might lose a freelancer’s confidence in their own way of working. Thus, attaining photography projects can become a huge problem for freelancers. In such cases, improving contacts and marketing their own skills is very important for freelancers.

So, you have seen the main problems faced by freelance photographers. After learning about the factors that might create problems for freelance photographers, let’s observe ways to ensure a successful start as a freelance photographer. The section below discusses the ways in which one can start freelancing as a photographer. This list of facts should be followed to help secure the chances of a successful career.

Website for regular blogging

Marketing is a very important part of a freelancer’s life. Freelancing, unlike a regular job doesn’t come with long-term security. A freelance photographer, therefore, needs to undertake certain marketing strategies to emerge as a popular photographer and thus earn good assignments and projects. The first step toward marketing one’s own photography skills can be taken by creating a good web site for regular blogging. Nice shots displaying one’s skills should be highlighted in the web site. Techniques experimented with in photography can be displayed in the web site.

A separate section showcasing the best images of a photographer completes the web site as a gallery of creative art and photography. Regular blogging and addition of good photos will enhance the popularity of the web site and the photographer as well. This is the first step toward branding one’s name as a skilled photographer. Just creating a web site, however, and adding photos is not the entire task. One needs to be very careful in the process of choosing the right photos for the web site. As the web site will serve as the entry gate for earning good projects and assignments, the photos should be impressive and faultless. Try not to just add good photos, but to add those most likely to attract the attention of prominent clients.

As it is a valuable source of marketing for a freelance photographer, investing in creating a good web site is very advantageous. It becomes the showcase of one’s experience and talent in full view of potential clients. It serves as an effective feature in attracting good photography projects. While maintaining a web site, certain factors should always be kept in mind. Below is a list of a few of these important factors.

  • Include the best photos that display creativity along with experience.
  • The web site should navigate well in html and there should not be usage of flash.
  • Create enough content by experimenting with vibrant photographic ideas or utilizing various spots for display on the site.
  • Update the web site with good photographs almost every day. Making this a rule enhances the popularity of the photographer in the market.

All of these factors should be followed on the web site in order to ensure it as a brand and improve marketing so that leads to a successful start for freelancing photographers.

Updating in professional Job sites

Freelancing photographers should update their profiles in job sites to come in notice of the employers. They should create a profile that speaks aloud of them as a skilled photographer. All the important projects and innovative photography campaign should be highlighted with details of one’s skills in creating the master piece. While updating in professional job sites, one should also provide links through which the potential employers can get a feel of the photographer’s skill as one. If one is maintaining a website, the link of the website beholding best shots of a photographer should be included in the profile. There are many job sites available online where one can update their profile as a freelance photographer to earn good and challenging photography projects. Also there are specific job sites for freelancers such as freelancer.com, elance.com, odesk.com and so on. All these sites include huge scope for freelancers to meet prominent employers along with whom they can work further. These sites serve as the mutual ground for freelancer photographers and employers. Thus, updating one’s profile as a photographer is another step toward a successful freelance photography career.

Setting the correct budget

New freelancers always face problems in setting a budget. As they are inexperienced in the field, they are not very confident about their work and, therefore, making a high bid might cause them to lose projects. On the other hand, bidding low at times might create an inexperienced impression to clients. Also, they don’t know how to negotiate. While bidding high might lose good projects, underbidding decreases a professional’s value as a photographer. The best way to tackle this problem is to gain enough knowledge about freelancing budgets. Try to acquire information on the standard budget for different projects that is consistent with your relevant experience. a Freelancers can also go through various web sites that display salary data across various jobs and positions. A few of the most popular salary sites are: salary.com, simplyhired.com, and payscale.com. These sites are popular sites for jobs. One can explore salaries against positions for different countries using these sites. They give the freelancer an idea of a budget approach that should be taken.

Responding to e-mails and phones

Freelancers should always be active in e-mails and phones. This is because e-mails and phones are the major mode of communication between freelancers and their clients. They should not miss out on phone calls or e-mails on a regular basis as this will create a bad impression to potential clients. Freelancers should be active in e-mails and should pursue the habit of responding quickly to them. Answering phone calls all the time might not be a good idea as it will disturb a freelancer’s balance of time between work and home but effective follow-ups are still important. Therefore, while interacting with clients, a fixed time for calls should always be emphasized so that unexpected calls, particularly during work time, can be avoided. One can also customize a voice mail for clients to use whenever one is busy. Thus, these aspects regarding e-mail and phone calls improve communication between clients and freelancers and, therefore, encourage quality work and rewarding returns.

Updating with the in-vogue trend

Freelance photographers should always be updated with the in-vogue trends of photography. While office professionals work within a determined time, interactive ideas and new updates always keep occurring within the photographer’s day. In the case of freelancers, there is a need to update with in-vogue trends and ideas themselves. The style of photography keeps on changing and various innovative ideas of photography keep developing. As photography is an art, following established trends completely will lack in creativity. But going through new trends and in-vogue techniques of photography definitely gives freelancers ideas with which to experiment on their own shots. These updates can be driven from various sources such as online photographic sites, photography magazines and so on. One can surf through the Internet and witness different styles of photography. One can also engage in online training to improve photography skills. Thus, updating with in-vogue trends enhances a photographer’s skill and knowledge of photography.

Balancing work and life

Balancing work and life is a very important fact of a freelancer’s life. As mentioned above in the section on problems of freelance photography, inability to balance work and life can be a major reason for a freelancer failing. Although freelancing offers the flexibility of working hours success as a freelancer cannot be ensured without maintaining definite working hours. Freelance photography includes various tasks such as defining locations for a shoot, taking photos, working on photos, arranging the end product, and so on. All of these tasks should be well determined as to time or freelancers might face last-minute rushes or deadline failures. To distribute time well, one should create a task list along with time duration from the very beginning to the final outcome. Also, one should make sure that they follow the task list strictly and not deviate from the schedule, except in emergencies. Balancing work and life helps freelancers to achieve completion of a project before deadline and also attain peace in their personal lives. Inability to maintain a balance between work and life will create frustration in one’s personal life and disturbance in one’s professional life. Both lives should be kept separated, and balanced timing should be maintained for both work and life in order to assure peace and success for all.

Maintain a consistent schedule for freelance work

Freelance photographers should always follow a consistent schedule for work. Though photography might be a passion, when it comes to completing a job, even photography might be tiring at times. Therefore, one should always follow a consistent time schedule for freelance photography. One might think that because freelancing features flexible timing, any hour of the day can be utilized for work, but this is as unrealistic as it sounds. Unless one maintains a definite schedule for freelance work, any kind of project, big or small, cannot be accomplished. Also, an indefinite working schedule will hamper one’s health as well as work. Maintaining a consistent schedule, therefore, is an effective way of ensuring success for freelancers.

Improve contacts

One of the most important tasks for a freelancer is to improve contacts. No one can become a freelancer and attain a host of assignments immediately. A freelancer should attain enough contacts to guarantee freelancing projects. These contacts can be made in various ways. There are ways other than through job portals to make contacts, such as referrals. Referral is one of the most common ways of increasing contacts adopted by freelancers. One can ask for a referral from friends and relatives to start with. Moreover, attending public events that deal in photography offers ample scope for freelancers to meet with potential clients. There are such social events organized both online and offline. Freelancers should make a habit of attending such events in order to meet new people and thus improve their contacts amid the field of photography. Improving contacts not only allows one to meet potential clients and get good projects, but also offers the possibility to explore more about photography and the art.

Commit wisely

In addition to all the above factors, there is another major factor that has huge importance for a freelancer. It is commitment. A freelancer is offered a project or an assignment for a certain amount for certain duration of time. Before committing to the deadline, a freelancer should always consider whether the deadline is realistic or not. One should not commit just for the sake of commitment. This is because, failing to maintain a deadline creates the wrong impression for the client and decreases one’s value as a freelancer. One should, therefore, always commit wisely for any project or assignment. If the deadline seems unrealistic, one should be frank enough to speak at the initial stage of an assignment. For a freelance photographer, the task of taking photographs is the most important one. Shooting natural photography on a rainy day for a sunny shoot or a sunny day for a cloudy shoot might postpone the entire task. Thus, strict timing might not be enough to accomplish a complete project in such situations. Freelance photographers, therefore, should always be careful and vigilant when committing to any project.

High quality

In addition to all of the above-mentioned factors, quality is the most important element of a freelance photography profession. Photography is an artistic profession and unless a freelancer’s work ensures quality art, success cannot be attained. Also, being a creative art, experimentation will be a definite part of a freelance photographer’s life. Innovative ideas and creative quality shoots are the key to success for freelance photographers. Quality should never, therefore, be compromised by a freelance photographer, whether for deadline or for money, because at the end of the day the most important thing that matters is a quality result.

 

These are the factors with which one can start a promising career as a freelance photographer. By following the above factors one can pave a smoother way to success as a freelance photographer. While all of these devices are stepping stones to start freelancing as a photographer, one should also realize that freelancing does not start in a day and fame and money do not come within minutes. Anyone starting freelance photography should, therefore, be patient and accept these two facts in order to achieve success.

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5 Comments

  1. Make sure to self advertise on facebook and maybe even do some free work here and there for friends to build your reputation.

  2. I agree on maintaining a blog for showcasing your images, it’s great for meeting professional photographers and enthusiasts that way. My little sister is also a professional photographer now and she used to create loads of portfolio site/blog sites to get word out about her work. She got her job online too :)

  3. WOw.. amazing article. Lot of topics and information covered. Great write up, thanks for sharing :) Having an idea to take up freelance projects in photography, this helped me better to analyze various thoughts in my mind.

  4. Been doing artwork for about 30 yrs now, started when I was 7, and kept on going, and decided to try using a camera, to test the waters, with lots of pratice, and trial & error. Using the same tricks I did with painting, drawing etc. to see what worked, didn’t, most of all to think outside the box, not always to go by text book knowledge.

  5. Great views for starting freelancing as a photographer. You have explained this information very well. Thanks it’s helpful for those who are trying to start this kind of business.

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