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How can I make extra money with photography?

looking for ideas where i could take my photography to the next level and ultimately make up for the cost of equipment.

are there any common avenues to pursue in order to get some assignments (free or paid) in ones spare time? I wouldn't mind doing free at first for experience..

or maybe some ideas of trying to sell some works online? seems like this is already over-saturated with photography, but maybe some specific work is still in demand?? What are some experience peopel have had with common photography selling sites?

  • This is really more of a discussion than a question, and as a question its asking for a list of responses, rather than an actual answer. Such questions really aren't a great fit for our forum, so I've closed this.
    – jrista
    Sep 13, 2012 at 17:34
  • here we go.. thank you oh wise forum keeper for saving the world from a question that does not have a single exact answer. after all, forums are only for black and white questions right? nobody could benefit from advice in this thread? what about all the people that upvoted all the questions and answers? people like you make stackexchange much worse off
    – Sonic Soul
    Sep 14, 2012 at 18:53

3 Answers 3


I have tried shutterstock without much luck. It seems that people that actually buy the photos from that site are looking for extremely specific images, so if you don't have what anyone is looking for, you don't make any money....

I have seen local restaurants allow artists to hang works (photos, paintings, etc.) on the restaurant walls with names and contact info and allow people to buy them.

There are always craft shows, festivals, etc. where you can set up a stand, display your images, and try to sell them.

Finally, if you want to work for free, family, friends, and churches are a good place to start!


I think if you want a way of "just selling" your work to pay for equipment, then the honest answer is "don't do it".

If you wan to sell your work it requires a fair bit of effort on your side, no matter whichever way you go. Just for the record, I was thinking along your lines once and had a look at Microstock... I think Dreamstime went to 11 odd Dollars or so in several years... - I gave up on trying and just continue to shoot what I want to shoot.

First of all you need to decide which avenue you take:

1) Stock photos: These are photos that news outlets buy rights to use or that companies buy rights to use for or even buy all rights for a specific image. If you want to go into the Stock Photography business, you need photos that have a publishing potential for advertisements or news stories. One example would be public buildings (city/town hall) or generic images of say writing instruments, a "happy couple on a beach" etc. These images also may not contain any trademarks. You will need a model release form for any recognizable people in these images. (Except for editorial, i.e. news usage.) Please read about the details if you want to go down that route on the site you register with. Just some examples of agencies are Getty (top), Dreamstime, Fotolia and the aforementioned Shutterstock.

2) Fine Art Photography: These are photos that are printed on canvas, paper mounted in frames or under acrylic to decorate homes, offices etc. For that you need images that are worth printing and that would decorate a place nicely. I.e. you need an image that people would want on their wall. Please consult a lawyer or appropriate sources on trademarks and people in these images. Such images can be offered via Web Services such as Artflakes or Photoshelter or 500px or alternatively via privately owned websites if you are able to provide high quality prints. (Fotomoto is an option if you cannot print yourself for example.)

3) "Contracted Photography" I don't think this is suitable for you, but any sort of assignment would fall under this. From weddings, to interiors.

In any case, but especially in cases 2 and 3 you need to ask yourself one question: What will make people buy my photos? And if you are just shooting for fun, I fear it might not be good enough, yet I may be wrong (I have seen some very good images that people shoot for fun and that I think should be printed when they are not, while I have also seen images from photographers who made a lot of money where I do not understand why anybody would pay that amount of money for it - and I have not seen a lot.). Hence, marketing is key here, and marketing takes time and effort. I have photos on Artflakes, I have some on 500px - sales: zero. Maybe I'm not good enough, but the other truth is: I don't know how to market images to a specific customer base, also I don't really specialize either. (Some people do for example predominantly aircraft shots, others shoot predominantly cityscapes, etc.)

For option 1 just having good photos can be enough, however unless you can get a lot of photos online that people are interested in, I don't see you making any significant income from it. But again I may be wrong.

I hope I haven't discouraged you from trying with my slightly negative attitude, but just having good photos or just being great at marketing is not enough, you need the right combination of both.

Still, whatever you do, best of luck!

  • this was actually some great advice. i wasn't expecting it to be a walk in the park. but i'm just getting tired walking around for hours trying to find photo ops.. i figured having a goal of making money, or getting gigs would stretch my abilities to do something that is in demand (by a single individual or online groups).. thanks again! very useful advice
    – Sonic Soul
    Sep 14, 2012 at 2:48

Probably the easiest solution is to define your own assignments, then plan and shoot them. This way it can be anything convenient, but still be a learning process.

For more ideas, try looking in regional magazines, which frequently have photo needs. My regional magazine, Our State, frequently requests images of scenic areas of the state, with simple submission guidelines.

Also, follow GettyImagesWant on Twitter. This is a twitter feed from Getty Images where they frequently request particular photos. Of course, this is more geared to photographers with stock catalogs, but nevertheless, it will provide you with a frequent set of assignments.

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