How to Start a Career as a Freelance Photographer

A freelance photographer has many duties. As a photographer, you can either establish a studio and market your work. Many photographers specialize in photography, like wildlife photography, fashion photography, photojournalism, travel photography or wedding photography. If you are a person with a creative and artistic vision with the ability to view things from more than one perspective, then this is the apt profession for you.

Develop the Skills

There is more than one route to begin your career as a freelance photographer. Whether your purpose is to pursue this career on a full-time or part-time basis, there are certain skills that you need to develop:

  • Communication – The ability to convey your ideas and thoughts to the clients and other co-workers.
  • Artistic Vision – The ability to look beyond what is in front of you.
  • Business Skills- The ability to sell your ideas in the form of pictures or photographs.
  • Technical Skills – Thorough knowledge of core aspects of photography. For example, knowing which camera would be suitable for a specific kind of photography.

Improving your Skills

Apart from working on developing the above mentioned skills, you can improve your chances by taking the following steps:

  • As a beginner, start practicing with a good digital camera that makes photography easy for you.
  • Enroll for a course that teaches basics of photography. There are many courses from certificate to bachelor’s degree in photography and related fields.
  • Carry your camera wherever you go and take pictures of sights you consider beautiful or picture worthy.
  • Prepare a portfolio that showcases your work.
  • Begin by offering your services to your friends and family. Develop contacts and keep looking for opportunities to display your talent.
  • Sources for finding opportunities are many, the include- newspaper, magazine and advertisements on the internet.

Job Details

There are no set of specific tasks for a freelance photographer because the work differs according to each assignment. However, here are few tasks that every freelance photographer has to do irrespective of the nature of assignment:

  • Prepare for the photo shoots.
  • Making the proper lighting arrangements for the shoot.
  • Capturing images from different angles.
  • Choosing the right images according to the client’s requirements and processing them.
  • Producing the images in digital or print format to archive them.
  • Taking care of tasks like billing, marketing, networking and other aspects of the business.


As a freelance photographer, you get to turn your hobby into income. Some photographers setup their own studios and break into the profession as full time salaried photographers. Others enjoy a successful career as freelancers developing their business. Beginners earn a average salary of $15,000 to $45,000 per year. Experienced photographers make somewhere around $65,000 per year. In order to get started, be sure you review contracts, benefits and pay of any assignment.