Making An Income With Your Photography.

Photography and Text By Jaybee  © All rights reserved.

A hobby that pays for itself doesn't have to be a dream. With a little thought you can breach the world of the professional and make an income from your images. If you can string a few words together then you double your chances. The world revolves around imagery and there are huge holes in there that the amateur photographer can fill. Many of these voids are there simply because the professional photographer either thinks it beneath them OR the returns are not worth the effort involved. BUT those gaps have to be filled and you're the person with the filler. I used to make a lot of money from photography many years ago doing things others didn't want to do or had never thought of doing.
Here are a few examples.
Magazine Work:
I looked through various magazines on the news stands and picked out a couple I thought would be interested in submissions. One was a magazine called Popular Do It Yourself. After browsing the magazine for a few months I realized the type of article they used and the style of the writing and images.
My first submission to them was simplicity itself: Changing the washer in a leaking electric kettle. I used my own (not leaking) kettle for the images. First shot was the kettle standing in a pool of water. I then took shots (using the self timer) of the entire procedure of removing the washers and replacing them with new ones (cost me a few pence) These were close up shots of my hands removing the threaded cover, etc. Final shot was the kettle on a dry surface. I submitted this with a few hundred words of text explaining the procedure and a few months later it was used and I received a nice check.
Second submission was even easier - Making a double plug extension lead - same procedure and same result... check in the mail. I happened to talk to the editor at a later date and commented that I was surprised the articles had been used - especially as they covered such basic subjects. His reply was an eye opener. He said, "Remember a lot of people who read this magazine CAN'T do anything simple - they may be a widowed woman who has no one to do it for her, and often it's the simple things that they need help with."
Another magazine I submitted work to on a regular basis was called Art and Craft magazine - this was an educational magazine and being an art teacher (for 20 years) meant I had a bit of an advantage here. Every new art project I did with my class I photographed. Ostrich puppets from egg cartons springs to mind. Take photos - add a few words and submit. Check in the post several months later. Not only was the money nice but the knowledge fellow teachers around the country could then try this was an added bonus.
Came winter time and snowfall... my camera was always around my neck whenever I went out. Local newspapers love winter shots, especially when it involves vehicles that have collided on the ice. They love shots of children playing snowballs, ducks on a frozen pond etc. I've had everything from house fires to winning football team photos used on a weekly basis with local newspapers.
If you can find a national hobbyist paper covering something you enjoy, then your laughing. That's exactly what happened when I started to submit photos to a national weekly called Trials and Moto-X News. It started so small. I went to a local meeting for the first time and took a few shots of the riders. Went back the next week and gave away the shots I had taken to the riders involved. A few weeks later I submitted a couple of shots to trials and Moto-X News and they were used. For several months I did that - weekly local meetings - submit photo and have it used in the round up section of the paper. To cut a long story short - eventually the deputy editor rang me and asked if I would cover the entire North East for them on a weekly basis - photos and words. So I ended up doing just that (including 2 world championships each year). Of course, on top of the weekly work for the paper the riders also bought photos - quite often 3 or 4 each - AND money eventually came up front (once they knew and trusted me).
As often happens I eventually got asked by a friend to do his daughter's wedding, which I nervously agreed to. If ever a single activity causes stress then wedding photography is it. They were pleased with the outcome - so pleased his daughter's friend asked me to do her wedding - and so the snowball grew. At the end of each year I would dread hearing the wedding march one more time; come January I was wondering how long it was going to take for the first booking to come in. Taking the photographs on the day is not too bad if you can organize a crowd and manage to keep the family out of the bar until after the photo shoot. Opening the envelope that has just been delivered from the labs is when the nerves take over. Just remember - even if you are not 100% happy with the shots you have taken, the family will almost certainly be very pleased. Until you deliver the proofs, the only photos they have normally seen of the wedding is the snaps taken by aunts and uncles.
Word of caution - if you are faint of heat - DON'T Take on wedding photography.
Find someone local who is well know for a craft or a musician etc - take some free shots for them. I photographed a guy at work once - he hand painted gypsy caravans - the real things. Before long I was photographing the caravans for the gypsies AND their horses. Shortly afterwards I was photographing horses right around the county AND even judging horse and carts at an annual event - the winner - best turned out (decided by me) won a 20x24 print - taken by me but paid for by the show organizers.
I have photographed local bands for local newspaper coverage and promotion work, ships in bottles for a glass factory, photographed old photographs for a society specializing in the past, family portraits, babies, dogs, cats - even a pet owl. And all the while if any of these photos had a subsidiary use such as a submission to the local press then I did that: group photos of football teams, photographs of the school play (parents love those), the local dance class competition. The world is full of activity and it all requires recording, and someone somewhere is willing to pay for you to do just that.
Don't set your sights too high; it's unlikely you will be called upon to do the stills for the next blockbuster movie or the 2005 portrait of the president. But the everyday things, the mundane, the uninteresting, the ordinary all need a photographer at some stage and you could be the person to do that.
Just remember - a good amateur is far better than a bad professional.

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