A career in photography is very rewarding. You get to use your creativity, you aren’t stuck behind a desk, and many times you can set your own hours and work from home.
But how do you make money by taking pictures? It is possible, but it does require effort.
There are many ways to make money through photography gigs. The method we’re going to go through now is commercial photography, and we’ll answer the question of how to find commercial photography jobs and make a good living doing so.
What is Commercial Photography?
It is helpful to know what commercial photography is. For many, including me when I got started, the phrase is very vague.
My definition of commercial photography is the taking of pictures that your client will use to sell something. If your client sells cars, and you take pictures of their cars that they put on their website, then you are a commercial photographer.
For various perspectives of commercial photography, here are some more thoughts. While everyone may have a different way of saying it, they are all saying the same thing.
Freelance Or Assignment Work?
When it comes to commercial photography jobs, they are broken down into two groups: freelance and assignment.
Freelancing is when you go out on your own, take your own pictures, and offer them up for sale. Freelance photographers enjoy the benefits of working at their own pace and taking photos of anything that they find interesting. The downside is that they aren’t guaranteed any income from all this work.
For more information on freelance photography jobs, check out our guide.
Assignment work is when a client books you for a job. Using the car example from above, if a car dealer hired you to take pictures of the cars for sale, then that would be assignment work.
Both freelance work and assignment work can be rewarding, and most photographers have done a little of both. Once you have some gigs under your belt you will know better which side you like more.
Research Other Commercial Photographs Jobs To Know What Sells
It is easy to get overwhelmed when you start a new job, especially a freelance job. What do clients want? What do THEIR clients want? Until you jump in, you just don’t know.
Take some time to research what sells. What are others doing? What kind of angles, lenses, lighting, and filters are they using?
Yes, every client and assignment is different, but you still need an idea of what works and what doesn’t. Spend some time online looking at what the big companies do. How do they set up their photos? What kind of mood are they setting?
The big companies have a seemingly unlimited budget and can test endlessly to find out what work. If they are presenting an ad to the general public, then you can be fairly certain that they are confident it will work.
As a photographer, there is no need to recreate the wheel.
Create Sample Campaigns for Your Portfolio
Once you have an idea of where you want to go with your commercial photography, it is time to build a portfolio.
A portfolio is a collection of your work. It is necessary to build this collection so that you can show it to potential clients. They will want to see what you have done in the past.
Having said that, if you can’t get clients without a portfolio, and you can’t get a portfolio without clients, what are you to do. Simple…create your own commercial photography campaign, or job.
You won’t get paid to create a fake campaign, but you will get experience and portfolio material, and you will be able to do the job the way that best shows off your abilities.
To create a sample commercial photography assignment, find something that you think would make great advertising material. If you wanted to sell that product, how would you capture it in pictures? Again, research what sells and incorporate that into your work.
Now, you have a start to your commercial photography portfolio.
Be Ready To Start With Small Commercial Photography Jobs
Once you know what you’re doing and you have begun building a portfolio, it is time to go look for work! Keep in mind that the big commercial photography jobs and big bucks don’t start coming in right off the bat.
Photography work is definitely a labor of love when you are starting out. Because of this you will need to be prepared to start small. Small jobs, small pay, and small clients.
But that’s ok! You have to start somewhere. Those small jobs lead to bigger jobs, and those bigger jobs lead to large jobs.
And don’t forget that your most important source of referrals will come from past clients. Clients that just need you for a small job will talk to their friends, and if you do a good job your name will get passed around.
Use The Internet To Market Yourself
Aside from referrals, the internet will be a huge piece of making yourself known to potential clients. Make sure you have updated social media accounts as well as a visually appealing website. If someone’s first impression of you as a photographer is your website, you want to be able to blow them away.
When you market yourself online you have the ability to post your pictures for public use and get paid for doing so. The best way I have found to be able to do that is Photography-Jobs.
When you go there you can learn how to market yourself by posting your photographs. By doing that you can begin to brand your name and your work. Check them out.
Keep Working Hard
This goes for any career path, but especially in the photography business. If you work hard at getting better and making yourself known, the work will come.
As you build your portfolio full of commercial photography jobs, you will find that they are rewarding, fun, and creative!