Turn Your Photography Hobby Into Cash

I know your type. While your friends indiscriminately post self-portraits to Facebook and Twitter, you’re behind the camera— tinkering with lighting, angles and depth of field in an effort to capture that perfect photo. For you, the wealth of technological advancements aren’t opportunities to more clearly promote your appearance, they’re high-quality paint brushes that capture life’s incredible moments.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the photography market is stable and will grow about by 13 percent by 2020.

These days, it seems like everyone has access to a camera capable of producing professional quality photos, yet there’s still a demand for photographers at almost every major life event. Why not use your passion to make some cold, hard cash? Start a photography side enterprise with these tips.



In order to charge for your services, you’ll have to be able to professional results — that means having the tools aptly capture the moment. Today, anything shot with less than a DSLR body appears amateur. If you’re thinking about becoming a full-time professional photographer, consider investing in a Canon Mark II or a Nikon D800, industry standards in the photography world. If you’re just looking to make a little money on the side, a Canon 60D or Nikon D7000 will provide great results at a cheaper price. Next, you’ll need lenses that can capture a variety of circumstances. Older photographers were burdened with the cost (and weight) of fixed lenses, but modern zoom lenses offer versatility on a budget. Consider an 18-55mm lens and a 55-200mm lens to start. Even with great equipment, not every photo comes out perfectly. Editing software can enhance photos and cover imperfections.

Photography assignments can lead to hefty payouts, but the starting costs aren’t exactly low. If necessary, apply for a business credit card. Many of these cards offer flexible payment options and rewards geared toward start-ups.


Fancy equipment is nice, but it won’t help you get you off the ground unless someone will hire your services. Marketing doesn’t have to be complicated. Offer complimentary photos for a week and ask your subjects to refer their friends to you when they need pictures. Additionally, set up an online portfolio with examples of your work and business cards with your portfolio address and all contact information.

Try to find a niche in which you produce strong results, such as senior portraits or tee-ball games. If you provide quality photos for one person, he or she is likely to share their experience with friends. Take advantage of positive word of mouth to grow your client list.

The internet has spawned many platforms to sell their work, including Photoshelter.com, Photostockplus.com and Shutterpoint.com. These websites provide an alternative revenue option to go along with traditional photo shoots.


If you’re going to succeed as a semi-professional photographer, you’ll need to promote a certain level of professionalism in your activity. Start by getting liability insurance, particularly if you plan on photographing subjects in a home studio. When you bill customers for your services, provide an invoice with line-by-line pricing. Standard invoice templates are available in most office suites or online at Anyax.com.

Keep copies of all of your assignments on your computer or an external hard drive. Photo Backup, from OnTheGoSoft, automatically backs up digital photos to a CD/DVD for $29.95.