So you take great photographs, and maybe you’re thinking of starting your own freelance photography business. How can you tell if you have what it takes to make the leap from part time professional, to full time business owner?

What is Freelance Photography?

Freelance photography is photography done on a per contract basis. Instead of working for an employer, a freelancer works on multiple projects for different clients.

Know the Business

Freelance photography is more than just taking pictures; most freelancers find that much of their time is spent doing other things. Business, dealing with clients, invoicing, estimates, paying bills and marketing are some of the things you will take on if you go into business for yourself. Dealing with people is a huge part of the business too, so it’s essential that you enjoy doing this.


You will need a DSLR, several lenses, memory cards, flash, and a spare battery pack. One idea is to buy used equipment, saving some money. You are looking at somewhere between $1000 and $1500 for these initial purchases, but of course you probably have some of this equipment already, making your initial expenditures less.


As a freelancer, it’s important that you have plenty of experience. Take your camera with you when you go out. Offer to shoot for friends, doing portraits or even birthdays. Remember though, that the field that you specialize in is one that you want to fill your portfolio with. If you want to do real estate photography, having a portfolio full of pet portraits obviously isn’t as helpful to you as house photographs would be.


How do you know what to set your prices at? This is something that even experienced freelancers struggle with. One option is to ask your customer what their budget is. This gives you an idea of how much they are prepared to pay, and lets you know if they are serious. If the customer gives you a quote that is ridiculously cheap, you know that the job may not be worth your time. I have found that customers who don’t want to pay very much are often the ones who are the hardest to please.


A great portfolio is one of your most important assets. You don’t have to include every photo you have ever taken, just use your best shots. You can include personal projects too; most prospective clients won’t mind if the work in your portfolio is for paid work or personal.


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Additionally, creating a descriptive domain name that matches your business is important. It’s important for establishing your brand. You’ll look professional with an email address from your own website and there are also SEO benefits.

Photoswarm offers online portfolio hosting, and best of all you can try it for free.

Go Get Them!

Unless you have been in business awhile, clients aren’t likely to approach you with work; you have to go to them.

Online is a great place to promote your work and find potential clients. It’s helpful to have a portfolio, a blog, and to promote your work through social media.

Marketing in person is also important. Have some business cards made to hand out to people you know. Get involved with photography events in your area.

Be sure to keep in touch with former clients, you want to be fresh in their minds when they next need a photographer. Getting your name out there is essential for your success.

What about you? Have you made the jump to freelancer? What are some tips you have learned along the way? Let us know.