For the past 4 years (and counting) of me being a photographer, there are some questions people always ask me: 'How to make money from photography?' 'How much money do you make?' 'Is this your full-time job?'
Most of the time, I have a somewhat intelligent answer. I say my job doesn’t feel like work at all. And after that I get the stares...should I feel guilty for feeling this way? Fear not, you too can be in love with your work and enjoy it that much!
When I was starting out in college, I was around 19 and I didn’t even know that being a fashion photographer can be called a career. Be it for some extra money or to pay your bills. Here are some secrets that I’ve done to get some (or loads of) $$$ out of my camera. Time to lay down some serious truths.
1. Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate
In the age of H&M x Balmain, Daft Punk feat Pharrell, and other dynamic duos out there, it’s a proven fact that two is better than one. If you've noticed, every single thing needs photography. From a colleague's start-up brand, a menu from your favorite coffee shop, to a friend’s wedding party. Approach people, say hi, and don’t be shy. One of the best tips I ever received was from my good friend Nina (she’s the coolest lady behind NIKICIO, a pioneer of local brands in Indonesia), she said “When you meet people, always think of what ways can you collaborate with them?”. Who knows who might need your skills?
2. Go online
Put your works on the world wide web. From Instagram, Behance, LinkedIn, to Facebook. There is an endless pool of opportunities! And it’s free. Personally, I don’t take social media that seriously - but when I do, I use it mainly for work. Brand yourself and your photographs so they have your character. It’s totally fine if you need some time to develop your style, everyone does. And when you’re ready to take-off, there are some amazing platforms like Shutterstock, Upwork, and Elance for you to sell your photos and get clients. I learned about all of these from a friend who was working full-time from home (he’s a UX designer). Who says you can’t work from your bed?
3. Offline times
Get out of the house and check out some exciting exhibitions or art events in your city; some are open for submissions. This way, you can participate and get more exposure for you work. The organizers will also invite people you don’t know - this gives you an opportunity for exposure that you wouldn't get otherwise, plus it comes with the added bonus of meeting new people and making new connections!
4. Sharing is caring
After you’ve had a few experiences and some well deserved exposure, don’t hesitate to set up your first workshop and share what you’ve got. Usually, schools and universities are the perfect platform for this. Again, collaborate with people (see tip no. 1), see if you can become a part of a team. Share different talks, make it a competition, buzz your thing!
5. Never do it for money
I know it’s ironic! But in the end, what keeps you going is your deepest passions. Choose ways to make money with your photography by capturing things that resonate with your own interests. As cliche as it sounds, always take pictures whole-heartedly. The more passion and energy you have for your work, the more success you’re likely to find. If you do that, what fulfills your heart and mind will fulfill your wallet too!