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Photo Contest Insider Blog

How to Make Money with Photography: Get Paid to Take Pictures

January 15, 2022

Many people have the dream of becoming a professional photographer but don’t know how to get started. Fortunately, there are many ways to make money with photography, in addition, to winning a photo contest. With a little dedication, you’re sure to find an approach that works for you. Here are some top money-making tips that every emerging photographer should know:

How to Make Money with Photography: Get Paid to Take Pictures

  1. Make Money with Photography by Submitting Images to Stock Photography Websites
  2. Sell Your Photos on Etsy or Other Online Photography Marketplaces
  3. Sell Prints of Your Photography in Local Venues By Taking the Money Shot
  4. Work as an Assistant for a Professional Photographer
  5. Make Money with Photography by Focusing on Local Businesses


With steady effort, you can learn how to make money on the side with your photography. In time, you may be able to turn your passion for photography into a full-time career. Start small and keep your goal in sight. Your hard work is certain to pay off as you learn how to make money with photography.

Before you dive into learning about how to make money with photography, you should decide on your areas of interests. For example, think about whether you prefer portraits, landscape shots, or art photos. There are ways to make money in each niche—and many others can be just as lucrative. But pursuing too many paths at once can be overwhelming. Focusing on a certain style can help you make the most of your time and investments.



1. Make Money with Photography by Submitting Images to Stock Photography Websites


One of the easiest ways to earn money with photography is by submitting images to stock photography websites—also known as microstock agencies. All you need to do is set up accounts with several of the best stock photo sites. Every time someone downloads one of your pictures, you make a commission. This is a great idea for anyone who wants to learn how to make extra money with photography.

Your best bet is to establish a presence across many stock photography platforms. A few top websites to consider include:

  • Adobe Stock Photo
  • Unsplash
  • Alamy Stock Photo
  • Bigstock Stock Photo
  • iStock Stock Photo
  • Shutterstock Stock Photo

Be sure to read over each website’s contributor guidelines carefully before submitting your work. For example, the process of becoming a Shutterstock contributor is different from the steps for signing up on Alamy. You’ll want to know the specifications of each site to achieve the best results with your stock photos.

The stock photography approach works best if you have a relatively large portfolio. In fact, the more images you share with stock photo websites the more opportunities you have to sell your work. It can take a while to start earning—but stock photography websites can ultimately become a great source of passive income for you.

Want to know another benefit of joining a stock photo site? You can share any type of photography. If you want to explore how to make money with travel photography or fine art photography, these stock photography sites may be the perfect answer. The sky’s the limit — you can also focus on street photography, landscape photography or wherever your passion lies.


Photography Business

2. Sell Your Photos on Etsy and Other Online Photography Marketplaces


Every professional photographer should have a website or at least sell your photography on Etsy. This is especially true for any photographer hoping to learn how to make money with their images.

You can use your website to showcase your photography portfolio and process online orders. Whatever style of photography you pursue—wedding photography, travel photography, pet photography or any other genre—you can sell high-quality images online with relative ease.

Photography sites can help you attract clients who are interested in your specific photography niche. Don’t forget to share photos and posts on social media to draw in a wider audience. This can help you build your photography business and earn even more money.



One of the easiest ways to get started is setting up your own photography blog using a platform like WordPress. You can share some of your best work and offer tips to would-be photographers.

Offer expertise on various photography topics on your blog. Ideas such as selecting the best camera, planning for photo shoots, or getting started with fine art photography can attract a lot of attention. Make it easy for people to say thank you for the knowledge you share on your blog by offering a small tip.

You can also offer links to purchase your photos—either directly through your website or through any stock photography sites you’ve joined. You can also upload them to online marketplaces that handle all the legwork—from promoting to printing and shipping the images. Another approach is to set up a successful Etsy store and sell your photos to a global audience. This is an especially great idea if you’re interested in how to make money with art photography. However, if you use Etsy, you’ll need to handle the printing and shipping yourself.

It takes very little time to pursue any of these approaches to selling your images through online shops. Try out a few to explore several easy ways to make money online. Add in a blog and strong social media presence and watch your audience grow over time.


3. Sell Prints of Your Photography in Local Venues by Taking the Money Shot

Selling prints locally is another excellent way to make money. To get started, select a few of your best images. You can print high-quality images yourself and market them through local venues.

Although the latter approach requires more work on your part, it’s a great way to build personal connections with people in your area. For example, if you specialize in landscape photography, take some exceptional shots of local sites. Or, if building a career in travel photography is your focus, select pictures from your various trips. You can try this tactic whether you’re interested in lifestyle photography, street photography—or any other artistic style.

Print your best images as photo cards or postcards and sell them to local shops. Iconic locations stir deep feelings within locals.  Take the money shot of your local landmark and everyone will want to hang one of your prints in their home and business.  You can even print unique items—like jigsaw puzzles or key chains—to make your photography really stand out.

Try stores that curate goods from local artisans, popular coffee shops, or gift retailers. Many of these types of venues love to showcase the work of nearby creative professionals. You can build a reputation as a top local photographer and attract the attention of potential clients. This is a great way to kickstart your budding photography business.


How to make money with photography

4. Assist a Professional Photographer


If you have your sights set on becoming a professional photographer, why not start by working with one? Many photographers need an extra pair of hands during photo shoots. You can gain valuable skills and start making money at the same time. Sounds like a win-win for every budding photographer—and a great step for anyone interested in freelance photography.

Start by networking with photographers in your field of interest. You can also assist photographers who have their own studio space and learn more about setting up your own photography studio. After you’ve gotten acquainted with photographers, let them know you’re interested in assisting for a small fee. Many will be happy to take you up on your offer!

At first, you may be given very simple tasks like holding camera equipment or chatting with clients. Once you’ve established trust with a photographer, you can take on more complex tasks like setting up lighting equipment or posing subjects.

Spend as much time with the photographer as you can. Notice how they set up their shots and what parts of photography composition they utilize the best.  Watch their activities carefully throughout the entire process—from setting up for a photo shoot through post-processing and editing. What tools do they use to edit photos?  Do they do it all by hand by shooting in Raw format or do they utilize editing tools like A Color Story?  Ask for feedback on your own pictures, if possible. The knowledge you gain about techniques and how to make money with photography can be extremely valuable.  A professional photographer may even help you answer one of the first important questions you’ll ask yourself, what camera should I buy?


“If the photographer is interested in the people in front of his lens, and if he is compassionate, it’s already a lot. The instrument is not the camera but the photographer.”

– Eve Arnold


5. Focus on Local Businesses

Offering your services to local businesses is a great way to make money off photography—especially for budding photographers. Small businesses want to present themselves professionally but need to keep costs in check. Many will be willing to give a chance to an emerging photographer if you offer a discounted rate. You can gain clients and build your portfolio in an easy, low-risk way. Over time, when you’re making money regularly, you can raise your rates.

Another path to building your photography business is by partnering with local businesses that offer complementary services. For example, you can team up with DJs, florists, or bakers if you want to break into wedding photography. If family portrait photography is your goal, why not promote your services to recreation facilities or birthday party venues?

With a little creative thinking, unique photography props and a little photography inspiration, you can figure out how to make money in your local area. Start networking with local business owners and let your imagination take the lead.


Food Photographer


Learn How to Make Money with Photography and Pursue Your Passion


Making money from your photography doesn’t have to be a wishful dream. You can achieve this goal in many different ways. Whether you want to supplement your income or become a full-time professional photographer, you can make your goal a reality.

One way to make money with entry-level photography is by signing up with stock photography websites. These online selling sites accept images from photographers around the globe—even beginning photographers. Whether you’re a budding street photographer or want to explore how to make money with nature photography—selling stock photos may the answer for you.

Setting up a website or blog to sell photos online is another alternative. You can establish your own online store, or sell images through a global marketplace, such as Etsy. Selling online is one of the best choices for anyone interested in making money with photography.

Creating prints of your work—such as postcards, notecards, or fun items like puzzles—is another promising idea. You can share your prints with local businesses, such as coffee shops or arts retailers. Through this approach, you can start making money while getting your name in front of people in your local area.

If you’re interested in making money while growing your skills, consider assisting a professional photographer. Often, professional photographers are very busy during photo shoots. This is true whether they’re working as a wedding photographer or shooting pictures of models for catalogs. You can learn while you earn with this smart approach.

It’s always a good idea to promote yourself to local businesses. You can offer discounted rates to small businesses to build your portfolio at first—and raise your rates when you become more established. Smart partnerships with complimentary service providers can earn you referrals and help your business grow quickly.

Without a doubt, there are many ways to learn how to make money in photography. Take some time to map out your goals and pursue the approach that works best for you. You’ll soon experience the thrill that comes with selling your work as a professional photographer!

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