10 Tips to Become a Freelance Photographer in 2024


10 min


July 3, 2024

Are you passionate about photography and dream of being your own boss

As a freelance photographer, you can pursue your passion while enjoying the freedom and flexibility of working for yourself. 

There’s no denying that building a successful freelance photography business will take time, effort, and insight. Obviously, you will need to develop essential technical skills and acquire quality equipment, but that is not all. 

You will also need to enhance your marketing and business acumen, mastering everything from social media marketing to invoicing or accounting

If you are considering this career shift, we have some tips and strategies to help you thrive as a freelance photographer in 2024.

What is a freelance photographer?

A freelance photographer is a self-employed professional who takes photographs on a contract basis for various clients, such as individuals, companies, or media outlets. They manage their own business operations, from marketing and client acquisition to editing and delivering the final images.

Photographer persona: Jane is a freelance photographer who specializes in wedding photography. She promotes her services on social media, books clients directly, shoots the weddings, and handles all post-production work before delivering the final photos to her clients.

Professional photographer

10 Tips for Success as a Freelance Photographer

Your business must succeed for you to reap the long-term benefits of a freelance photography career. 

Let’s explore some tips and strategies for building a winning freelance photography business that’s sustainable and scalable.

#1 Define Your Niche

Before diving into the freelance photography world, you must define your niche. Consider the types of photography you excel at and enjoy the most. 

Some popular photography niches include, among others:

  • Portrait photography
  • Wedding photography
  • Landscape photography
  • Fashion photography
  • Newborn photography
  • Product photography 

Picking a niche will help you focus your marketing efforts and attract the right clients.

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#2 Invest in High-Quality Equipment

The essential photography equipment for a freelance photographer includes:

  • A good camera: Your choice of camera is vital and depends on your particular needs and preferences. Popular options include the Nikon D5 and Canon EOS 5D Mark III.
  • Lenses: Having the right lenses is essential to capturing different types of shots. At the very least, make sure that you have zoom, macro, and telephoto lenses. Ensure compatibility with your camera brand and opt for high-quality glass like the Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS for Canon cameras.
  • Lighting Equipment: High-quality lights are essential, especially when working in environments with limited natural light. LED lights like the Aputure Amaran 100D LED are recommended for their brightness and durability.
  • Tripod: Obtain a three-legged stand to stabilize the camera for steady shots, regardless of your photography specialty.
  • External hard drive: This is crucial for storing and backing up photos to prevent data loss. External hard drives like the SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD are recommended for speed and durability.
  • Editing software: Having and being able to use software is essential for post-processing and editing images. It allows for adjustments in exposure, contrast, saturation, and more. Adobe Lightroom is a popular choice for its functionality and ease of use.
  • Memory cards: These are used to store digital photos and videos, so memory cards with sufficient storage capacity are essential. Opt for cards that match your camera’s requirements, with options like a 64 GB memory card available at an affordable price.
  • Camera bag: A durable camera bag is indispensable for transporting equipment safely to different shoots. Look for features like modular design and protection for your gear while on the move.
  • Props: Depending on your chosen niche, you’ll need props like fashion accessories, home decor items, or pet accessories to enhance the quality of your photos.

Remember to protect your expensive photography gear from accidental damage or loss with insurance plans, which are surprisingly affordable. 

#3 Continually Enhance Your Technical Skills

Ongoing learning and creative growth are essential in the art of photography. To succeed as a freelance photographer, you’ll need to really know your way around a camera. 

Some essential skills you’ll need to be a master photographer include:

  • The knowledge and ability to make the most out of your equipment. This includes aspect ratio, zoom, shutter speed, and so forth.
  • Post-production skills, including photo editing and proficiency in software like Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom.
  • A solid understanding of lighting, color, and contrast.
  • Knowledge of basic and advanced photographic principles like the rule of thirds.
  • Understanding of photographic techniques specific to your niche.
  • Image stabilization techniques .

To stay ahead of the pack, you must continuously improve your skills. 

Attend workshops, take online courses, and seek feedback from mentors and peers. Embrace new technologies, techniques, and styles to keep your work fresh and innovative.

freelance photographer jobs

#4 Create a Realistic Schedule

Freelancing means freedom, but it also requires discipline. Set a schedule to stay organized, meet deadlines, and balance your creative flow with business responsibilities.

To effectively create a work schedule as a freelance photographer and maintain a good work-life balance while providing reliable services to clients, you must identify priorities and set specific goals for your photography business and personal life. 

Here are some tips to help you achieve this:

– Identify your priorities: Identify your priorities in your photography business and personal life. Consider what is most important to you and what aligns with your long-term goals.

For your photography business, priorities include acquiring new clients, delivering high-quality services, expanding your portfolio, keeping up with industry trends, and maintaining a robust online presence. 

In your personal life, priorities may include pursuing hobbies, spending time with family and friends, maintaining your physical and mental health, and getting adequate rest.

– Set specific goals: Once you have identified your priorities, set specific goals for your photography business and personal life. Make sure these goals are realistic, measurable, and achievable. 

To advance your photography business, you can set goals such as upping your customer base by a particular amount within a specific timeframe, taking part in workshops or courses to enhance your photography expertise, and refreshing your portfolio with novel and assorted projects

For your personal life, goals may include dedicating a certain number of evenings per week to family and individual activities, engaging in regular exercise or outdoor activities, and taking vacations or breaks to recharge.

– Prioritize daily tasks: Each day, prioritize your tasks based on their urgency and importance. Focus on completing high-priority tasks first, both in your photography business and your personal life.

– Delegate or outsource: Identify which tasks can be assigned to others or outsourced in order to reduce your workload stress and free up your time.

One option is to engage an assistant to manage administrative duties, while another is to contract out the task of editing photographs.

– Schedule work and personal time: Create a weekly or monthly schedule with dedicated time slots for work-related tasks, individual activities, and relaxation. Stick to the schedule as much as possible to maintain a balanced routine.

– Set boundaries: Establish clear boundaries between work and personal life. Avoid overworking or bringing work into your personal time. Communicate these boundaries to clients and ensure they understand your availability and response times.

– Regularly evaluate and adjust: It’s important to frequently evaluate how you’re doing in relation to your goals and be willing to modify your work schedule and priorities as needed. Review your schedule to ensure it remains efficient and balanced.

Consider factors such as workload, client demands, and personal commitments, and modify your schedule to meet your evolving needs.

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#5 Build an Impressive Portfolio

A portfolio is your visual resume and a powerful tool to showcase your skills and style to potential clients. 

Start by selecting your best photographs that align with your chosen niche. Improve your portfolio by prioritizing quality over quantity

Choose a diverse range of images that demonstrate your skills and creativity.

If you’re building a product photography portfolio, don’t only include one genre of product or style. Showcase your full range to highlight your skills. 

Or, if your niche is weddings, share more than black-and-white photos or close-ups. Provide a full overview of what you offer. 

To make it simpler for prospective clients to browse through and view specific types of photography that may be of interest to them, categorize or group your portfolio into different projects.

Ideally, you should have an online portfolio as well as a professional hard copy.

freelance photographer portfolio

#6 Become a Marketing Maestro

To attract clients and stand out in the freelance photography industry, you need to promote your services effectively:

  • Look into social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook as places to display your work and interact with prospective clients. 
  • To establish yourself as an industry expert, create a basic website (or online portfolio) with a blog.
  • Consider investing in online advertising.
  • To broaden your network and increase your exposure, make an effort to connect with other photographers and influencers in your field and collaborate with them. (See more on this in Tip #9.)
  • Attend industry events to increase your visibility.

#7 Manage Your Finances

Money matters! 

As a freelancer, you must be able to manage your finances effectively. In order to become a pro at running your finances, you’ll need to do the following:

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#8 Stay Up-to-Date with Industry Trends

The freelance photography industry is constantly evolving, driven by various trends that shape its landscape. 

Stay informed about emerging photography trends, like pattern-focused shots and AI-enhanced editing, which can enhance your skills and set you apart from the competition.

Follow other photographers on social media, join forums, and read the news and other online publications that provide up-to-date industry insights. 

#9 Network and Collaborate

Networking is essential in any industry, and freelance photography is no exception. 

Wherever possible, connect with people face to face. Attend industry events, join photography communities, and connect with other professionals in the field. 

Collaborate with other photographers, models, and stylists to create stunning and unique projects. Building solid relationships and a strong network can lead to exciting opportunities and referrals.

The more people get to know your name, the easier it becomes to grow your business.

#10 Provide Excellent Customer Service

Finally, remember that customer satisfaction is crucial to maintaining a successful freelance photography business. Communicate clearly with your clients, understand their needs and expectations, and deliver exceptional results. 

Show professionalism, reliability, and attention to detail in every aspect of your work. Going above and beyond to exceed your client’s expectations will earn you positive reviews and repeat business.

You must provide the best possible customer experience to ensure that they either rebook you or recommend you to others needing your services.

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8 Main Activities of a Freelance Photographer

A freelance photographer captures images on a contract basis for various clients. Their work involves managing multiple aspects of their business to deliver high-quality photographs.

  • Client Acquisition: Marketing services and networking to attract clients.
  • Booking and Scheduling: Organizing shoots and managing appointments.
  • Photography Sessions: Shooting events, portraits, or products.
  • Post-Processing: Editing and retouching photos using software.
  • Delivering Final Products: Providing clients with edited images in agreed formats.
  • Billing and Invoicing: Handling financial transactions and maintaining records (invoice tracking).
  • Maintaining Equipment: Ensuring cameras, lenses, and other gear are in good condition.
  • Continuous Learning: Staying updated with industry trends and improving skills.

What are the average Freelance Photographer Salaries?

Wondering about the average salaries for freelance photographers? Earnings can vary significantly based on factors like location, experience, and the type of photography work. Photographers in different regions and specializations often see diverse income levels, reflecting the dynamic nature of the profession.


Average Annual Salary

United States

$50,000 – $65,000

United Kingdom

£25,000 – £35,000


AUD$55,000 – AUD$80,000


€25,000 – €40,000

What to Expect as a Freelance Photographer?

Even with all of these tips, you may still be wondering how likely you are to succeed as a freelance photographer.

Let’s take a quick look at some industry trends and statistics to put things in perspective and help you set realistic expectations.

Salary trend in photography industry

  • The demand for freelance photographers is on the rise, creating ample opportunities for aspiring professionals. Recent projections reveal that the freelance photographer job growth rate is expected to be around 9% (roughly 11,200 new jobs) from 2018 to 2028.
  • According to Exploding Topics, 84% of companies in the Asia Pacific region have outsourced work to freelancers. This highlights the growing trend of companies relying on freelance photographers to meet their creative needs. 
  • The average freelance photographer stays at their job for 1-2 years. While this may seem like a relatively short tenure, remember that freelancers often work on a project basis, allowing them to explore various opportunities and gain diverse experiences. 

In a survey of freelance photographers conducted in May 2021, 49% of respondents expected their photography business to get stronger in the upcoming months. This data indicates a positive outlook for freelance photographers, suggesting that the industry is experiencing growth and opportunities for success.

Final Words

With the ever-increasing demand for freelancers discussed above, you can absolutely build a thriving freelance photography business! 

Just remember that you’ll need to develop a combination of skills, knowledge, and strategies to reach your goals. 

You can thrive in the ever-evolving freelance photography industry by defining your niche, building an impressive portfolio, and leveraging marketing opportunities

Staying on top of industry trends, networking, providing excellent customer service, managing your time and business finances, and continuously improving your skills also all contribute to getting ahead. 

Explore your creative side and set out on a thrilling adventure towards a successful freelance photography career today. 

Get your camera ready and start capturing stunning photographs for your portfolio!

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SEO Specialist at Billdu

David Fačko works as an SEO and Content specialist at Billdu, globally recognized as one of the top-rated invoicing software solutions for freelancers and small businesses.