I’ve shot film photography for 7 years, I earn a partial living in a number of different ways and In this article, I’ll give you some good ideas and tips.
You can make good money with film photography if you’re a good photographer and an even better business person. To earn a living from film photography will mean that you’ll have to have a number of different streams of income and a good audience. Often, it’s about finding what works for you and finding your audience.
If you want to find out some great tips to help you earn some money from your passion then keep on reading!
Selling Photo Prints
For most photographers, the first way to make any money is to sell some of their prints. Seeing your work as a print and having someone buy it is an incredibly rewarding and encouraging aspect of photography.
When you first start it’s not likely that you’ll sell a lot of prints but selling them to friends and family, in the beginning, is still a great way to get started. People don’t tend to make an entire living off of selling prints but it’s certainly a very good place to start.
Picking a select few photographs to be sold as prints is a great way to get started. A good way to cut costs is to only print what you’ve sold instead of printing a run of five or ten before selling.
In the early days using something like TikTok and Instagram is a great way to market your work to a new audience. Alternatively, you could add a large part of your archive to Etsy so that new people will see your work organically.
It would be very unlikely for you to make a full living from selling prints but it could provide you with a little bit extra each month that would help you continue your film photography journey.
If you want to learn more about how to make and sell your first prints then check out this article I made that will help you with all of that.
Stock Images (Not the usual)
Interestingly there are some websites that want very specific stock photographs. Shots that advertising agencies would pay large amounts of money for. Recently I was contacted by one of these agencies who wanted a select few of my film images to show to advertising agencies that would pay large amounts of money for a set of ‘different’ photos.
This is not guaranteed money but it gives you a chance to potentially get some extra income throughout the year. Getting involved with an agency like this could potentially give you an opportunity to make some really good money and also potentially be seen by people that otherwise wouldn’t have seen your work.
An agency that I could recommend reaching out to would be Kintzing but otherwise I’m sure there will be others around the world.
Film Wedding Photography
There’s almost certainly a market for a wedding shot on film. A lot of people love the aesthetic of film, so a lot of people would love it for that wedding. Of course, a wedding on film would now be much more expensive than a wedding shot digitally. I would suggest a hybrid or offering both or either.
I’ve certainly heard of film wedding photographers in the modern-day and one of the main aspects is that you must have quite an exclusive clientele that could afford the wedding to be on film. Therefore this depends on your location, your ability and your portfolio to be able to give confidence to your clients that it’s worth the money. You would certainly have to do at least a few weddings beforehand for free or for very little in order to have a portfolio and an understanding of how to shoot your weddings properly.
Wedding photography is still one of the most lucrative and reasonably easy kinds of photography to get into. As a film photographer, it may be a brilliant supplementary income while you pursue other things that you enjoy more since you can often get paid $2000 or more per wedding.
Photo books are one big way that film photographers can earn some form of a living. If you have a large archive, body of work or a documentary story then putting together a photo book is a fantastic way to potentially earn some good money while also being very satisfying.
The size of your following and audience and the quality of your work will depend on how much time, effort and resources you should put into a photo book. If you haven’t yet made a zine It would certinaly be the first step in understanding how to put together a book using InDesign and that would also give you an understanding of how many people may be interested.
Once your work is bigger and more professional then you will be able to make a larger run of photo books in the confidence that a lot of people might buy them. Also, you could try to get your book into a local or national bookstore in order to get your work out there to a larger audience and sell more units. It would be much easier to start locally, but there are a number of photography books in large book stores so there is certainly room to get into them.
For photographers like street photographers, this can usually be one of the biggest forms of income but is important to note that you certainly need to have multiple streams of income in photography.
If your work tends to be more fine art based then getting your work into exhibitions and selling your one-off pieces of art is certainly a good way to go. That being said, it is very hard to get recognised and valued as a fine art photographer. This kind of thing is much easier if you already have enough money in the first place to sustain yourself you don’t have to worry about earning a living.
If you do manage to become well known Fine Arts photographer then you could certainly sell your prints for quite a high amount of money via an exhibition.
Portrait And Editorial Work
Many photographers tend to make some extra money doing portrait and editorial based work. How much money you make will usually and on the client and your location.
To get experience with portrait and editorial style shooting, it’s best to take pictures of your friends and family. This will allow you to get used to your camera and how to get the best pictures with it. This will also help you to put together a basic portfolio.
You certainly have to have a good portfolio of your own shots before you get chosen to do any editorial work. Usually, a good way to get editorial work is to try to get involved with some form of agency that will try to match up brands with certain photographers. You’ll certainly struggle to do this if you do not have a good portfolio of portraits and editorial style work. Then you would also have to show the brand why it is important this should be shot in film.
Start A Blog
You can also start a blog as a photographer in order to get more traffic and expand your audience. If your blog gets enough traffic, you can monetise it with advertisements and affiliate products. You can also use a blog to sell info products which can produce a significant amount of income over time.
Gaining traction with a blog can take quite a while, it’s definitely a long term project that can benefit you for years to come. I learned about blogging via Project 24 and I would suggest that you do the same!
Start A Youtube Channel
YouTube is another great way to build a long term audience In a similar way to blogging. With YouTube you can gain a loyal audience who will learn to like, know and trust you. With YouTube, it can take quite a bit of time as with blogging, however, there is once again a long term pay off if your YouTube does well overtime.
Many YouTubers can earn money from affiliate and Ad revenue as well as anything else they might want to sell. In the photography world, there are a number of successful YouTubers that are earning money from things like Squarespace, Epedemic sound and a number of other interesting things.
As well as potentially helping you to earn some extra income (or even full time income), you’ll also grow an audience of people that feel like they know and like you. This means that any future work that you release will get a much greater reception.
Checkout Project 24 to also learn how to be successful on Youtube!
Teach Your Skills
Teaching your skills in one way or another can be a fantastic way of earning some income. A lot of photographers of all kinds use workshops, online lessons, one to one lessons or photowalks to earn some form of a living. This may not necessarily be a full income but it could certainly make up part of a good income when mixed with other things in this article.
One of the best ways to make an income through teaching your skills is to do some sort of online info product. This could be something like an ebook, a video course or something of that nature, this is the best because you only have to do the work one time and then you just have to sell the product. This is quite an intermediate thing but if you have a lot of knowledge that is certainly a very good way of making some extra money. In order to properly sell an info product you need a good enough audience or funnel to ensure that enough people see your product.
Teaching photography one on one or in a group Is also a good way of making a bit of extra money. Many photographers do photo walks as a way to earn a bit of money. Teaching multiple people at once means that you can charge less per person, so more people might be interested.
Fitz ography competitions are a way of making some money however they can be quite awkward and a lot of people tend to enter them at once. Often there’s also a charge to enter the competition, my best advice would be to enter a competition that has previously had similar winners to your style of photography. If the competition seems to have winners that have very different work to yours then it might be unlikely that you’ll win.
If your work doesn’t fit the competition then my best advice would be to look for a different competition. Not winning a competition can put quite a downer on your confidence, however, there can only be a few winners and there could be hundreds if not thousands of people that entered the competition. Choose wisely and don’t spend all of your time entering competitions, they aren’t the be all and end all of photography and they aren’t really a great indicator of your ability.
Sell Documentary Stories
If you tend to shoot documentary stories then you could create documentary projects and try to sell those projects to publications or magazines. This will also require you to have good writing ability and to tell an interesting story about a specific topic. This isn’t easy and a lot of people go to College to become a Documentary photographer.
Documentary photography is a very rewarding type of photography but it is very hard to get in to deeply. If this kind of work is your passion then trying to sell these stories to a publication is definitely a good way of getting some income through this passion.
Edit and Retouch Photos
If you become good at editing and retouching images then you can make some, if not the whole living off of doing just that as a freelancer. This can be quite a good means of making some money while also pursuing your passion of film photography.
Whilst a lot of people believe that film photos don’t necessarily need to be edited they have been edited since the beginning of the medium. Most film photographers will probably have learned how to edit and retouch an image quite well after a few years which means you could be able to make a pretty good living from editing and retouching.