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What is the best way for a hobbyist to start generating income from photos?

I am an amateur photographer. I have been learning photography seriously for quite some time now and slowly improving too. I soon realized that it's an expensive hobby (at least for me) and I would like it to fund itself. Stock photographs is a known way but not for everybody. Thus I wanted to explore other routes. I think I'm good with street photography, portraits, long exposures. But I also don't have enough confidence (and proof of work) to take up wedding photography as it's too serious and requires the finess of a professional which I don't have yet.

What are the viable options for people like me?

  • Parties, functions, events, graduations, newspapers (hard to 'break in'), Small commercial commissions. Take photos of events and occasions and offer to organisers for free with a view to getting exposure and having them aware of you. – Russell McMahon Oct 8 '12 at 19:31
  • Deliver the BEST unpaid work until one day you have an impressive portfolio which whoever see it will think you are a pro and is willing to pay good money for your great work. – Gapton Oct 9 '12 at 2:07

As many other people have said better than I, being a professional is measured not just by the quality of your photos but also how you manage the business side of things. Being professional is handling client relations, billing, timeliness, attention to detail and most importantly - networking.

Expecting work to fall at your feet by just taking great photos is a myth. You have to be willing to seek out, continually, new work. That's the big step between hobbyist and pro.

Being a professional wedding photographer doesn't have any more or less professional aspects than someone who is a landscape or portrait photographer. Your viable option is to hustle. Hustle more to make more, less to bring in less.* Short of that you're a hobbyist.

*Momentum plays a big part here as well. If you get your name out there and have a steady stream of work it's hard to scale back when your interest wains if it's just a part time thing. It's hard to just do odd jobs. People won't immediately think to contact you if you're a "sometimes" photographer compared to someone who is known as a photographer. YMMV and all that.

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