Chilliwack, British Columbia

Nick Adams - Managing Director at Very Good Creative Co
Nick Adams January 7, 2018

How To Make Money As A Photographer

Graphic Design, Web Design, and Brand Identity

What are you doing with your camera? Does that beautifully crafted CMOS sensor only ever see the tips of snow-capped mountains on weekend adventures? Or maybe your $1,200 Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art spends all its time getting blinded by white wedding dresses every weekend from May to August.

Don’t get me wrong, capturing mountain adventures can be spiritually and emotionally rewarding. And wedding photography is a decent way to make money. It’s in demand and currently at a premium. But too many photographers get stuck at this stage of the game. For an industry so focused on creativity, there’s a clear lack of it when it comes to business development.

Demand for photographers, and creators in general, is at an all-time high. Content creation for social media, branding, web design, and marketing can be incredibly time-consuming for small business owners and the skills and expertise of photographers and creators is primed to fill that gap.

So as a young photographer... how do you make a living off of taking photos?

1. Know How to Price Yourself

There are a few ways to do this. One of my favourites — and one that I rarely see around the internet — is to reverse engineer your goal. So let’s start there.

For the sake of working with actual numbers, let’s start by saying you want to make $55,000 gross income in 2018. (I know that's not a lot – but remember, this is an entry-level article.)

So that means you need to make $4,583 a month — or just under $1,200 per week.

At that price, you can sell two photography packages a week for around $600 each.

Want to make $100,000 a year? Just double all those numbers.

2. Expand Your Market

For young photographers and creators, those numbers might seem daunting. Here’s my advice:

Look beyond modelling shoots and family photo sessions. Professional services (lawyers, accountants, architects), construction companies, food services, and manufacturing companies all need content in order to promote their services and products.

Sure, a $600 photo or video invoice might be a stretch for a family photo session — but it’s not for a small business with an annual gross income of $850,000. AND, the small business is probably going to need monthly or bi-monthly work done, whereas the average family does portrait sessions about once a decade.


If you’re selling two $600 photo packages per week, you’re on target to hit $57,600 in a 12 month period. ($600 x 2 = $1,200/week | $1,200 x 4 = $4,800/month | $4,800 x 12 = $57,600/year)

In the best case scenario, each of those packages are recurring monthly contracts with businesses. All you need to achieve your financial goal is 8 clients.

That warrants repeating.

All you need to achieve your financial goal is 8 clients.

AND if you assume that each package includes a one-day photoshoot and one-day of post-processing, you’ve now got yourself a 4 day work week — EVERY WEEK.

3. Be Creative, Everywhere

Don’t let your creativity start and stop when you have a camera in your hand. From presentation and pitching to final delivery, make sure that your process screams value to the client.

“Acquiring a customer costs 5 to 10 times more than retaining one.”

Set the bar high and make sure the work you do is consistently world-class.

Yeah, I know we missed some stuff.

This example is extremely basic and doesn’t take into account factors like equipment costs, travel expenses, and an entire world of components involved with running your own business.

BUT, it’s a place to start for young creators who just need something to wrap their heads around. I hope that this simple explanation is enough to garner some confidence that creative industries are also financially feasible ones. And that you can do something you love every day and put food on the table at the end of it.

If you're interested in creativity and how we at Very Good Creative Co. make it work, feel free to drop us a line at hello@verygoodcreative.co.

Very Good Creative Co. is a design-driven marketing agency based in Chilliwack, BC. They are a growing team of creative problem-solvers who work with ambitious leaders, entrepreneurs, and businesses to create beautiful brand identities, websites, print materials, and more. Say hi at hello@verygoodcreative.co.

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