Paid Jobs for Amateurs?

Started Dec 19, 2006 | Discussions
whode Junior Member • Posts: 48
Paid Jobs for Amateurs?

Reading the thoughtful replies in the thread regarding the teen who's thinking about photography as a career yielded a number of posts that basically said, "if you love photography, consider getting a different job as a main career to fund photography as a hobby since doing it for a living can take some of the joy out of it because of (low pay, dealing with clients, worrying about the business and marketing side of things, etc.)" or "if you really like photgraphy, try it out part-time or on the side."

My question is, for someone who's not a full-time photographer, what's the best way to generate some income from photography just to help offset the cost of all the expensive gear, not necessarily make a living at it? I'm sure there are others who wouldn't mind a means of a subsidizing part of their hobby.

Antonio Cotto Contributing Member • Posts: 636
Re: Paid Jobs for Amateurs?

When I was starting out as a photographer in order to off set the cost of my gear, I started out by selling photos to microstock companies. here is one of my favorites:
http://submit.shutterstock.com/?ref=465

I still do sell to microstock companies for a bit of money, but most of my money now comes from weddings, model portfolios, and magazines.

BAK Forum Pro • Posts: 25,471
Re: Paid Jobs for Amateurs?

Lots of amateurs take pictures of school sports events, and then try to sell the shots.

Others take very nice scenic shots, get them framed, and talk a coffee shop owner into hanging the shots on the cafe walls.

BAK

CharlieDIY
CharlieDIY Veteran Member • Posts: 7,120
Re: Paid Jobs for Amateurs?

BAK wrote:

Lots of amateurs take pictures of school sports events, and then
try to sell the shots.

Others take very nice scenic shots, get them framed, and talk a
coffee shop owner into hanging the shots on the cafe walls.

I live near a small town, where craft and other fairs are common. We probably have a dozen or more a year in our 60,000 pop. 750 square mile county. Nearby towns and counties do the same. During the season (spring, summer, fall), it is probably possible to hit three dozen of these events, with proper planning.

I see at least a half dozen photographers at each, selling primarily art shots, some matted and framed, most just matted, and some just printed.

I have no idea how successful all this is, but I do know that some of the photographers in my nearest town have been displaying for years, which wouldn't happen if they didn't make some money--for one thing, there's a fee to exhibit.

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OP whode Junior Member • Posts: 48
Re: Paid Jobs for Amateurs?

Thanks for all the great and varied ideas. Are portraits another avenue or is that more suited to full-time?

Ryan Thomas Forum Member • Posts: 81
Re: Paid Jobs for Amateurs?

I have a full-time job during the day, but have started doing some portrait business. Most of my requests seem to come from people who see my work and want me to do on-location shots of their kids.

With Christmas cards, etc. this time of year that seemed to get a lot of attention. I also look on Caraigslist for people that need to document an event for marketing, etc. and will usually do that kind of stuff. It's pretty easy work and buillds a network and portfolio. I'll do random work because I just enjoy doing it, but am starting to find more of a niche in the portrait area. I like natural lighting, so I have been able to pick the day/time for better lighting. If I get more into it I'll probably pick up a couple light stands, lights, and softboxes/umbrellas that I can take with me.

It isn't too hard to get into if you have some sample portfolio work to show people. I'm actually sort of surprised at how many people have started approaching me asking me if I can do a session with their children, or their wedding (I don't do weddings, but made the mistake of taking one seriously as a guest to get some good shots, and now she's trying to promote me as a wedding photog).

It's all good exposure. At my full-time job I make sure to tell people I do this work on the side, and I sat in on the Holiday Event to take pictures of the kid's with Santa, and put the images up on a local share. I'm sure I'll get some hits off that too.

Just keep working it.

-Ryan

rodrisco Regular Member • Posts: 388
Re: Paid Jobs for Amateurs?

Hello,

This thread caught my eye, as I am in the same situation. I'm an amateur photographer, and in college. I need someway to earn money to fund my hobby. I've taken a look at this shutterstock website, however I have a few questions which I hope someone can answer.

1. Who owns the images once they are submitted?

2. Is there a minimum resolution needed to submit a photo?

Thanks in advance!

Rory

OP whode Junior Member • Posts: 48
Re: Paid Jobs for Amateurs?

Ryan,
Would you mind sharing how you charge for the portraits/sessions?

Rob Kircher Veteran Member • Posts: 3,451
Shoot Weddings....

... You can do that on the weekends and still hold down a regular job or go to school during the week.

It’s the perfect plan... apparently everyone’s with a DSLR is doing it. Go ask your Uncle Bob... he knows.

-- hide signature --

Rob Kircher
My Stuff: http://www.pbase.com/rkircher

OP whode Junior Member • Posts: 48
Re: Shoot Weddings....

I was actually thinking weddings would be one thing I wouldn't want to do. It doesn't sound all that enjoyable for one, and it would also be stressful since it's a one-time event that can't be repeated.

Rob Kircher Veteran Member • Posts: 3,451
Re: Shoot Weddings....

I was actualy joking but you may have to follow some of the other wedding threads to get it.

-- hide signature --

Rob Kircher
My Stuff: http://www.pbase.com/rkircher

Eric Sorensen
Eric Sorensen Veteran Member • Posts: 4,641
Here's how I do it...

...I'm no pro, but look here for the types of jobs I've been paid for:
http://www.pbase.com/ericsorensen/business

I really rack up at Little League baseball. I charge $20/kid and every kid gets a disk with a pose, a group shot, and then I stay for the game and catch all the action with my 5D and 100-400L. All the pictures come on a disk and I get about $240 for about 3-4 hours of total work. Here are some from last year: http://www.pbase.com/ericsorensen/little_league

I started by taking shots of a friend's kid (His dad was the coach), then word-of-mouth spread and I got severla jobs. I hope this year is even better. It's the most fun you can have - shooting these kids out on the field. But you need a quick responding camera and a good zoom.

Weddings are stressful, but I am getting better at them. I'm what the pros call a "bottom feeder". I get $500-600 per wedding with the agreement that I will just do the best I can. I get paid when the wedding is over and I have all the shots capture. It's rough. I have backup gear - which is a must. I provide a disk with all the shots and the client can print them anywhere. So far, all of my weddings have gone well and the clients loved the shots. See the comments at the bottom of each gallery! But I wouldn't recommend weddings to anyone.

Lately I have been doing portraits at a local park. I charge $50 for a 20 minute session and they get a disk with the touched up shots mailed to them within a week. I have probalby done 30 families over three separate days in the last 6 weeks. I just keep getting more requests! Word of mouth is working well. The 85 f1.8 is a champ and you just can't help but get good shots. See here: http://www.pbase.com/ericsorensen/portraits

I also make money doing special events like birthday parties and go cart racing. I usually charge about $50-$75 per hour of taking pictures.

Good luck!

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Bossier City, Louisiana
http://www.pbase.com/ericsorensen

 Eric Sorensen's gear list:Eric Sorensen's gear list
Canon EOS 5D Canon EOS 5D Mark II Canon EF 85mm F1.2L II USM Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Sigma 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 EX DG Aspherical HSM +3 more
Mike and Julie Senior Member • Posts: 1,103
Re: Paid Jobs for Amateurs?

It sound like the same thing I am attempting to do. I will not do weddings. I did one only because it was a friend on my wifes, they couldn't afford a photographer, and would not of had pictures if I didn't do it. I hated it. I did make me some money from prints.

What I've been doing is volunteer work with the humane society. It has given me a lot of practice shooting animals. Animal that don't like to sit still because they have been locked up most of the day. I also shoot there social fundraising events which give me some good practice with people and inside shots with my 550ex flash; I have picked up some work from that. I've been able to pay for a wacom tablet, a new canon 30d, a 1.4 tele converter, background support, one background, a sunpac j120 flash some stands, a better beamer, 3 pocket wizzards, just to name a few items, with the money from contacts I've made by doing this. It's a lot of work just getting your name out. I don't consider myself a pro by any means, but the people I shoot for love my pictures and like working with me. I have turned down 2 jobs shooting products, because I don't like doing that either. I've refered 3 others who wanted wedding pictures to two friends of mine who are professional photographers. Good luck and keep shooting.

Mike
http://www.MikeStalnaker.Smugmug.com

Vegasluv Contributing Member • Posts: 845
Re: Paid Jobs for Amateurs?

I started out doing local freelance work for local newspapers. This got me a press pass to attend college basketball, football and baseball games. Then it progressed to NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB games. Once I got my foot into professional sports, selling to trading card and poster companies was easy.

If you live near a tourist area, you can sell your images and make postcards, calendars and framed prints to sell to local vendors.

OP whode Junior Member • Posts: 48
Re: Shoot Weddings....

Well, part of the reason I wouldn't want to do weddings is that I would feel terrible if the pictures didn't come out for some reason.

A couple of weeks ago I was at my local photo store when someone came in with a problem with their high-end compact flash card. It turned out he couldn't get any of the pictures off of the card and the store wasn't able to read them either. When I saw him, I realized it was my wedding photographer from 14 years ago. That would have been a real bummer if it were my wedding on that card (or parts of my wedding). He was a higher-end professional and even with all of his backup equipment, if the card that holds the pictures is defective (can write but can't read) he's still out of luck. Fortunately, I heard him say that the event on this card was repeatable, but I can't imagine what would have happened if it had been a wedding.

Now, this isn't meant to be one of the comments on amateur v. professional photographers, since he was most certainly a professional photographer. I was just commenting about how I would feel too responsible if something were to go wrong with a wedding shoot.

BAK Forum Pro • Posts: 25,471
Re: Paid Jobs for Amateurs?

Portraits are tricky for beginners who want to make money.

The first decision is to determine your market. Kids, familieis, adults, for person purposes (put in a frame) or business purposes (put in an appointment announcement.

The second decision is to determine a style.

It's easy enough tio mimic Walmart, but Walmart is really pretty good and so cheap that you'll never make any money.

But if you get fancier, you need talent and experience.

so, portraits are something you work up to.

BAK

OP whode Junior Member • Posts: 48
Re: Here's how I do it...

Eric and others,

Thanks for all your ideas. That 85 f1.8 is one of the things that prompted my original post. I'd love to get one but it would be easier to justify/fund if I could subsidize some of the cost somehow.

OP whode Junior Member • Posts: 48
Re: Paid Jobs for Amateurs?

I was thinking something along the lines of what Eric had done, outdoor location portraits. I like the look of that better than the posed studio portraits, and like you said, Walmart and others can crank the studio portraits out so cheaply it'd be hard to compete anyway.

If I were to pursue it, I think I'd want to shoot for free for family and friends first to build up a little bit of a portfolio and gain more experience. Then, maybe word of mouth and a little internet advertising could bring in a few paying customers, nothing too ambitious.

BAK wrote:

Portraits are tricky for beginners who want to make money.

The first decision is to determine your market. Kids, familieis,
adults, for person purposes (put in a frame) or business purposes
(put in an appointment announcement.

The second decision is to determine a style.

It's easy enough tio mimic Walmart, but Walmart is really pretty
good and so cheap that you'll never make any money.

But if you get fancier, you need talent and experience.

so, portraits are something you work up to.

BAK

Rob Kircher Veteran Member • Posts: 3,451
Re: Shoot Weddings....

I understand completely what you are saying. Although I think a very small hand full of the WPs who post here are quite rude, I have the utmost respect for all of them based on their responsibility to "capture the moment." Not a gig I'd want in a hundred years.

As for a serious answer to your question, and I'll open myself up for criticism here I’m sure, I (not a professional) shoot "professionally" for both my daughters schools. Most of my work is either FOC or for payment other then cash, and primarily for school use only. In some cases, after the school has its pick, the rest of the images (low res) are made available to the parents and students evolved in the activity. I shoot plays, events, and sports mainly. I don't and won't do senior portraits or class photos. Most of my stuff is used for the schools websites and publications, but with as many times as I'm asked by parents if they can BUY photo's I suspect I could setup a pretty darn good side business.

I’m lucky because I have a long standing relationship w/ the schools and the administration. As others have pointed out in previous threads some schools have standing contracts with professionals but it’s worth a shot. Contact a few local schools (or your kid’s schools) and offer your services. Tell the school they can have first choice FOC, and then sell the rest to parents. This way the school wins, the parents win, and you win.

One other note: The schools I shoot for are very protective of their student’s privacy. In most cased I’m asked not to post identifying images in any public forum.
--

Rob Kircher
My Stuff: http://www.pbase.com/rkircher

Craig J Contributing Member • Posts: 577
Re: Paid Jobs for Amateurs?

rodrisco wrote:

Hello,

1. Who owns the images once they are submitted?

You own the photo and can submit it to multiple sites. Some sites (such as Dreamstime and iStock) have exclusive contracts which means you cant sumbit elsewhere. You still own the photo but give rights to others to use.

2. Is there a minimum resolution needed to submit a photo?

The minimum on shutterstock is 4mp. Othersites go as low as 2mp. However, their requirements are strict and a DSLR is recommended. Noise is a big issue at Shutterstock so be careful whey you submit test images.

Shutterstock pays the one of the lowest commissions in the industry but their subscription model encourages downloads to the extent that is most peoples top earner, or at least in their top 3.

Another option is Alamy (www.alamy.com). You earn higher royalites than at micro stock sites but the number of downloads is less. Which one is better is subject to much debate.

Note: some people see microstock as cheapening or destroying the industry. I dont want to comment on that. Just asking the questions asked.

Shameless promotion: Have a look at my blog (signature below). I state which sites produce the most money on a monthly basis.

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My blog on Micro-stock photography:
http://blog.myspace.com/cj_photo

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