Becoming a Freelance Photographer

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Photography and videography are one of those businesses that offer so many opportunities for someone that is in business for themselves. However, it is pretty much a known fact that running a photography business can be expensive, time-consuming, and most photographers and videographers don't make a lot of income. That is why many photographers only do photography on the side and make a few bucks for each job they get. Most photographers that want to make money want to start their own business and want to work for themselves. Very few rarely look at the benefits of working as a freelance photographer. In this post, I will talk about what is a freelance photographer, can all photographers do freelance work, and should photographers focus on specific products and services or should they expand their skill sets to do freelance work. 

So what is a freelance photographer? If you look up the definition on the Internet you can find a wide variety of definitions for the term. In most cases,  a freelance photographer is simply someone that does photography work for others besides themselves. Being a freelance photographer can be profitable if you can find the right business or company that needs your skills. Being a freelance photographer can be expensive because another business is normally not going to provide you with gear, equipment, and software to do a job. So a good freelance photographer has to have the proper gear to do the job. Freelance work can be very time-consuming and can require travel and additional travel expenses. Lastly, freelance photography work is normally a "contract" type of employment which means there is no normal work schedule and companies don't offer benefits. So pretty much, you are on your own. 

Now you may think that being a freelance photographer is not that great but there are some advantages to becoming one. Depending on the work, the money might be pretty good in some cases. I recently saw a freelance real estate job that was willing to pay over $75 an hour to do real estate property shoots within a 30-mile radius in my local area. That is pretty good money if you have the flexibility to do the work, the time, and don't mind the travel. Being a freelance photographer can be exciting because you normally don't do the same thing or shoot the same thing on every project. You may do portrait shoots, all types real estate shoots, special events, video shoots, or even drone photography work. So there are some benefits from becoming a freelance photographer and incorporate those services into your photography business. 

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So, can all photographers do freelance work? Many photographers have the ability to do freelance work, while others don't want to or don't have the proper gear or equipment for the work that may be required. Some photographers focus on a specific form of photography and never want to learn the needed skills to do freelance photography projects. In my opinion, many photographers would like to make a little extra income doing freelance work but don't have all the needed gear. There have been cases where real estate agents have used their cell phones to take images of homes and the images were downloaded directly out of the camera and no post-processing was done. As you can imagine the photos were pretty bad. Today, many real estate companies are looking for certified drone pilots to shoot video footage of homes and land. There are a lot of missed opportunities to make extra income if a photographer can do drone footage. 

I feel the biggest reason many photographers don't do freelance work is their unwillingness to learn new skills so they can offer their products and services to potential businesses. Many photographers are very skilled and have the ability to do freelance work but only focus on a specific type of photography or service. Now don't get me wrong, there are many great photographers that offer some amazing work through their own business and products and services are client specific. There is nothing wrong with that. I feel the issue comes from not being open-minded about taking on some freelance work when the opportunity comes along. Many photographers could not only make more money but freelance work provides them a method to advertise their services and products to those for free. The power of marketing and advertising through word-of-mouth is a powerful thing. Freelance photography work allows photographers to showcase their skills and the potential for more work is possible. 

For many photographers, the question is should a photographer focus specifically on certain products or services or should they expand their skill sets? It really depends on the individual photographer and the goals they set for themselves and their business. For me, I am always working to improve my skill sets and knowledge when comes to photography and videography. I like to study more about photography, how to create new products, and I strive to offer unique services to my customers and clients.  I have no desire to open up my own studio for a variety of reasons. One such reason is cost and overhead. Having my own studio would be nice but it would also not allow me to be flexible in my schedule so I could do freelance work. I want the flexibility to work one-on-one with my clients and customers. I enjoy providing my clients and customers one-on-one attention. That is very important to me. So, for me, freelance photography work makes sense. In my world, I can do both. It just takes time, patience, and the willingness to stay focused on building my business. 

So what is your opinion about freelance photography work? Do you do it now?  Are you considering it? If not, what is holding you back? I would love to hear your take on the topic. Feel free to post your comments on the subject of being a freelance photographer. 

Until next time, keep shooting!

Roger