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If you have a passion for photography and need to make a bit of extra cash, have you thought about starting out as a freelance photographer? Here’s a few hints and tips from someone who started from scratch that might help you along the way.
Unless you already have the kit that you need, this bit can be expensive but is the most important. If you don’t already have the camera and accessories that you need, you can build them up slowly. I started out with a low end bridge camera at my first freelance job and as I started getting paid, was able to upgrade my kit to include everything that I needed. So although it can cost a lot, it does not have to come all at once.
Tip: Do LOTS of research before you commit to certain brands and equipment. Everyone has their preferences but try to find out what will work best for you.
Building contacts is one of the best ways to get work. I landed my first freelance job by finding out that the company that I was already working for was looking for someone to take some promotional photos of their staff at work. Jobs don’t always come this easily, but once you get one it becomes a lot easier to build your list of contacts.
My top tip: Make up some business cards and take them with you when you go on jobs. If anyone asks about your work or where your photos of them will be available to view, then you have your details ready.
Arguably just as important as the kit is the editing software, and just like the kit, it is important to find one that works for you. The most popular and the one that I use is Adobe Photoshop but there are others on the market and even some free online ones if you are working on a budget. Always be sure in your talks with the client to try and find out what kind of editing style they would like. It can be quite important to some.
Tip: If you are a student then you can normally get some pretty good discounts on software.
Classified Ad Sites
One of the key tools that I found really helpful in finding work was classified ad sites such as Gumtree, where I could advertise that I am a photographer and people could approach me with their needs and a discussion could begin. It can be a bit hit and miss at times but is one of the most helpful things that I could recommend making use of.
Meeting with Clients
Discussing with your client before the event takes place what their needs are is very important. It can be done online if that is the platform that you are using but it is often better and more personal to meet and discuss things face to face. Make a list of questions that you need to ask them before you meet so that you are prepared and let them open the discussion with their expectations and you can guide them along if needs be.
Knowing What to Charge
This part is fairly straightforward, but it can sometimes be a bit difficult (at least at first) to know what to charge people for your services. As with anything, you don’t want to sell yourself short, but also don’t want to overcharge and put people off. A good guideline is to think about an hourly rate for the event itself that you will be at to photograph. In this, you need to include the time that it will take you afterwards to sort through the images, edit them, and so on. You can also offer extra services such as printed photo albums, etc.
Always Keep Practicing
One of the best tips that I can give you is to take your camera everywhere with you. Always keep experimenting and practicing. As an aspiring photographer, I am sure that you are doing this already but it helps build on your skills and can also help you to build your portfolio.
Tip: Use an online portfolio website to keep some of your best work and your paid freelance work. This will give potential clients a way of looking at your work before hiring you.
Freelancing is always tough. It is not always steady work and can be temperamental, but as with many industries, it is one of the best ways to break in. If you have a real love for photography, stick with it because it is such a rewarding passion to follow.