Freelance photography, like travel writing, is potentially at least financially rewarding and can see you zooming around the world on exotic and glamorous assignments.
Success in this field is not all down to luck, and if you approach it from the right direction and in a persistent way you’ll increase your chances of success. Especially these days, the scope for selling good photographs is huge, with the internet greedy for content in addition to the traditional magazines and newspapers.
The traditional route into freelance photography is to work alongside the professionals as an assistant in a studio. This is also useful in helping budding professional photographers decide whether this career is really for them. The experience gained in this environment is invaluable and you’ll learn tricks of the trade as well as the discipline required to go it alone.
Taking an instructional course is another option, especially for adult enthusiasts looking to break into the industry. Once you have the knowledge and skills, and the enthusiasm, a freelance career can then get off the ground by taking on assignments or covering events that seem newsworthy, with the object of selling the product to magazines and newspapers on a freelance basis.
Whether just starting out or with plenty of prior amateur experience, a good portfolio is essential to show to potential clients to prove that you have what it takes to do the job accurately and on time. These days, an online portfolio is just as viable as a printed version, or you could have both to look even more professional. Think of setting up your own website too, to highlight your skills and experience and outline your business methodology and contact details.
Confidence counts almost as much as a skill in a freelance career, and one of the prime requirements for a successful freelance business is that you love the work. A steady office job may seem much more secure – though less so in these uncertain times than formerly – and certainly more financially predictable. But freelancers are prepared to start small and slowly build the business because they’re enthusiastic about what they do and regard it as a labour of love. Income and security come second to a passion for taking photos, and will fall in place as the business grows.
There are plenty of different markets to start the process, and it’s often a good idea for people already in some form of steady employment to hang onto this whilst getting the freelance venture off the ground in their spare time. Lots of online companies for example take stock photos for online photography archives. There are photo agencies that specialize in many different subjects, such as art, industry and fashion, so a part of the process of becoming a freelance photographer will involve identifying your interests and strengths.
Once you’ve had some experience and developed a taste for the often uncertain but always exciting lifestyle of the freelancer, and have built up a decent portfolio, you might think about setting up your own studio. But never forget that it’s your passion and faith in yourself that will be the driving forces behind your freelancing career. Many of the legendary images were taken with the most basic pieces of equipment, and many photographers with tons of the latest kit remain mediocre at best.