Where to find freelance photography jobs.February 8th, 2022
There has never been more interest in becoming a photographer than there is right now. In a recently released report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for photographers is set to grow by 17% this decade. That’s more than double the rate of all job types in the U.S.
Many photographers get their start with paid work doing freelance photography jobs; some continue on to make it their full time job. Freelance photography is attractive to many for its flexibility, exposure to a wide variety of work, and autonomy.
Self-employed, self-reliant, and self-sufficient
What is a freelance photographer?
A freelance photographer is a self-employed photographer who takes on work (usually on a per-job basis), plans and performs shoots, and delivers the final product to their client. Freelancers fulfill all the roles of running a small business, from finding opportunities and writing proposals, to completing the actual photographic work and taking care of administrative duties.
As a freelancer you’re not employed by a company which takes care of sales, marketing, accounting and health care. As with many full-time photography careers, each of those functions falls on your plate.
Going freelance full-time requires a unique drive and a clear understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. Possibly the single biggest challenge when getting started is finding freelance work.
Who hires freelancers?
Since “freelance” describes basically all self-employed photographers, it is almost more a question of “Who doesn’t?” Freelance photographers are hired by just about any industry you can think of, in addition to individuals looking for genres like wedding or family portraits, or that perfect art image to adorn the walls of their home. According to data gathered by Zippia, the top three industries are media, retail and the fortune 500.
Traversing their list includes practically any shoot type you might want to try your hand at, however. With such a broad range of genres, we’re honing in on freelance work with larger companies this time around; if you fall into the wedding or portrait photography categories, don’t despair. We’ve got some great tips on how to build your photography business in the recent archives!
Making a living as a freelance photographer.
Many photographers go the freelance route. Some to supplement their income, while for others freelancing is their income.
Within our definition above, there are 3 types of work that freelance photographers seek, one of which we’ll call freelance photography jobs (or gigs). The other two are contract work and selling stock photography.
Freelance photography jobs are one-off jobs. There is no long term commitment made by either party. After a job is completed, both the freelancer and the organization which hired them go their separate ways – although, if you’ve done your job well, they’ll send more jobs or referrals your way.
There are innumerable types of freelance jobs. Consider these examples:
- A three-day product photography job for an online retailer. The deliverables include all the RAW, unedited images (no retouching, cropping or post-processing whatsoever).
- Attending a corporate event for 4 hours on a weekend night. The photographer is to wander and photograph attendees throughout the evening. After, select and deliver up to 75 images.
- Meet a writer at an eclectic suburban home. Images need to be taken for both the interior and exterior of the home. The final product will accompany an article in a national publication.
Finding freelance photography jobs.
Freelance photography jobs can be found at a wide variety of sites.
Sites focused on arts, media and photography
- The Creative Loft
- Get Photography Jobs
- Journalism Jobs
- Obeo (Real Estate)
- RocketPhoto (Real Estate)
- Working Not Working
Gig/freelance job sites
Traditional job boards
- Career Builder
- Zip Recruiter
Contract photography is similar to freelance work. There are two standout characteristics which separate them. First, contract work is entered upon with the intent of an ongoing relationship and multiple jobs. Second, there is a contract which defines that relationship between the photographer and the client.
Offers to do contract work for an organization generally come from an existing relationship. Yes, you might find a contract photography job listed on a job site or by word of mouth, but it wouldn’t be the normal route to this type of opportunity.
Contract work offers a higher degree of stability and lightens the load on bringing new opportunities in. The challenge is being found, recommended or recognized as a potential contract photographer.
Getting contract photography opportunities.
Traditional freelance work is often the starting point for getting ongoing contact work. Doing a great job on one freelance shoot could be the start of one of these lasting client-photographer relationships.
Putting yourself out there is a good first step toward getting contract work. Avenues to consider include:
Portfolio and self-promotion
- Attending local photographer meet-ups
- Keeping an up-to-date online portfolio website
- Having (and posting to) social media profiles
- Creating a bio on sites like Find a Photographer and Photobooker
Dating back to the 1920s, stock photography has been around much longer than people realize. The name stock is derived from the one-time-fee royalty model. The purchaser pays only once for use of an image.
One distinct way that stock photography differs from other types of freelance work is that it generates passive income. Once you’ve shot, uploaded and had work accepted, money comes in over time as the work sells.
Where do you sell stock photography?
Popular stock photography sites that are front of mind include Bigstock, Creative Market, iStock and Shutterstock. For a more complete list of stock photo websites, read our in depth post on making money selling stock photos.
Tips for getting more freelance photography work
In today’s fast paced environment, finding opportunities can be challenging. Here are a few tips that can help you land new freelance work and get follow-on photography jobs.
- Stand out from the crowd by focusing on a specific niche.
- Have a Unique Selling Position (USP) and clearly articulate it.
- Be timely in everything you do from inquiring about a freelance gig to returning calls and responding to emails.
- Present yourself in a professional manner that is consistent across all the touchpoints you have with clients. Touch points include your portfolio website, online social media presence, business cards, deliverables and invoices.
- Think of yourself as a problem solver. To create the photographic product your client needs, you first need to clearly understand what they are trying to achieve.
- At the end of a freelance job, always ask for feedback. Whether good or bad, feedback allows you to improve. Remember, you are the business!