Do you want to get paid for being creative? If so, becoming a freelance photographer might be the side hustle you’ve been looking for. It’s never too late to turn your passion into a money-making opportunity. In this article, we cover a ton of different photography business ideas that you can do as a freelancer.
Regardless of your level of experience, we’re confident that you’ll be able to find something that fits what you’re looking for.
Turning Your Photography Business Ideas Into Reality
A photographer is someone who captures beauty or emotion in a photo. This is a natural fit for freelancers since photographers can work directly with the clients and there is little need to set up a business entity or corporation.
Photography is a flexible line of work, and you can pursue it both full-time or part-time. While having great equipment helps, it’s not necessary to have a top-of-the-line camera or studio set-up. Ultimately, your equipment needs will depend on the types of photography businesses you’re interested in.
As you’ll see from the options on this list, there are photography business ideas for nearly every level of experience or investment.
23 Photography Business Ideas 2022
1. Portrait Photography
People need photos that make them look good, and that’s exactly what portrait photographers offer. Whether you’re providing headshots for your client’s modeling career or their next LinkedIn picture, your job as a headshot photographer is to know how to highlight your subject’s best features.
The great part about portrait photography is that it’s very versatile. You can shoot in a studio or in public. At the end of the day, all of the focus will be on your subject, anyways.
2. Drone Photography
Besides just being cool, drones can provide excellent photos and videos from angles that stationary photographers simply cannot offer. Drones are of course miniature flying machines that you can pilot from the ground, and use to take photos or videos. This can be great for taking pictures or videos of landscapes, real estate, or even capturing special moments and events.
Drone photography can be a standalone product, or it can be a fantastic upsell for a photographer taking advantage of one of the other photography business ideas on this list.
3. Stock Photography
Stock photography consists of generic images and videos that businesses and individuals can license for their projects. Licensing photos can be a lot cheaper and faster than taking the photos yourself, which is why most people choose to pay for them.
As a photographer, you can basically rent your images to dozens or even hundreds of businesses at a time, making it a very lucrative photography business idea for someone getting started. Once you have some high-quality images, you can upload them to sites like Shutterstock or Envato Elements and get paid when customers use them for their projects.
4. Wedding Photography
One of the highest-ticket photography business ideas on this list is wedding photography. Wedding photographers immortalize the magic of a once-in-a-lifetime event by capturing it on film. Many people identify their wedding day as the happiest day of their life, which means that they’re often willing to pay thousands of dollars for high-quality photos of it.
There are a lot of sub-categories you can focus on too. You can take formal shots, candid shots (where people aren’t posing), or you can even focus on engagement photography (capturing proposals). Either way, if you’re thinking about becoming a freelance photographer, this is certainly an idea worth giving some consideration to.
5. Airbnb Experience Photo Tours
Airbnb Experiences is a subsection of Airbnb that allows regular people to host experiences designed for tourists in their city. One of the fast-growing gigs people are offering is something called a ‘photo tour’. A photo tour is when you give your client a tour of your city, showing them the coolest spots while taking photos of them along the way. You’ll be acting as a mix between a tour guide and a portrait photographer.
Solo travelers and tourists are willing to pay for this because they often don’t have a good camera or someone to take pictures of their travelers. Nowadays, everyone wants photos of their travels, especially for Instagram or TikTok. You can get paid to help them, and likely meet some interesting people in the process.
6. Graduation Photography
High school and post-secondary programs often take years and thousands of hours to complete. Graduation photographers help new graduates capture feelings of accomplishment, by providing high-quality images that can be shared with family and friends.
You’ll basically set up a shoot with your client, either on the university’s campus or in a studio, and take pictures of them in their cap and gown. There’s a giant market of students to sell to, and while it tends to be a seasonal business, there’s no sign of graduations slowing down any time soon.
7. Real Estate Photography
Real estate photographers take photos of properties that are being put on the market. In most markets, the selling real estate agent will get a 2-3% commission on the home’s price — which is $428,000 on average in the USA as of 2022. This means that the average home sale will generate over $10,000 in commissions for the real estate agent selling it.
Attractive photos go a long way in stimulating the interest of potential buyers. Photos lead to calls, which lead to appointments, which lead to sales. This is a great opportunity for recurring business, too. If you do a good job, you’ll likely continue to receive gigs from your clients as they work on selling new listings.
8. Boudoir Photography
Almost everybody wants to feel physically desirable, and boudoir photography helps capture that side of them. Boudoir photography is the art of taking sexy and sensual photos. Clients are photographed in intimate settings, usually in varying stages of undress. For the most part, you’ll be taking photos of women in underwear or lingerie — not exactly a bad gig.
In many ways, it is like portrait photography except that it emphasizes more on capturing the sensuality of the person than their personality. It can be a fun line of work for liberal, professional photographers with an eye for sex appeal.
9. Underwater Photography
Underwater photography is exactly what it sounds like — taking photos underwater. This is usually done while scuba diving or snorkeling and is a cool way of taking photos of marine life. It’s certainly more complicated than taking photos on land, but the higher degree of specialty often results in a higher price tag.
The idea is to find interesting things to take photos of, and then to find people that need those photos. You might work with marine biologists one day, and nature publications the next. Either way, there is usually a market for underwater photography, even if you’re just licensing the photos as stock imagery.
10. Social Media Photography
Even though social media photography is basically just a mix of the other photography business ideas on this list, it has become big enough to deserve its own mention.
Business owners and influencers know how much photography can make an impact on building a profit (and generating income), which is why they’re willing to invest in it.
Social media photography is specifically designed to attract followers, sell products, or create an image. There’s a reason influencers have very polished content — it’s because beautiful photos allow them to stand out. This allows you to profit off of society’s vanity, and help small businesses & entrepreneurs in the process.
11. Product Photography
Businesses make products because they want to sell them and generate income, which is a lot easier with compelling product photography. Product photography displays products in the best light possible and gives customers an idea of what benefits they can expect to receive by making the purchase.
These photos can be used in social media, online stores, billboards, posters, packaging, and more. It’s an extremely valuable service and is unlikely to slow in demand any time soon. If you’re looking for scalable photography business ideas, this could be the perfect starting point.
12. Sports Photography
Sports photographers capture the highlights from sporting events, both for the organizations and the athletes. It’s one of the most creative photography business ideas you’ll find, especially if you’re a sports fan.
One of the best applications of this is to work with high school & college athletes to put together highlight reels they can use when advancing their careers. These highlight reels have a direct impact on their ability to get scholarships or drafted, which is why they’re willing to pay for them.
13. Runway Photography
Runway photography is one of the most established photography business ideas, and it has been around for ages. The way this works is to take photos of models that are wearing the latest fashions as they walk down the runway.
It can take a bit of work to get access to the main events in the industry, but you can always start small and work your way up. Plus, if you’re looking to travel for work, this might be an idea to take a look at since there are fashion shows all across the world.
14. Catalog Photography
Catalog photography is similar to runway photography but without the crowd. The idea here is to take photos of the products on models that can be used in magazines, websites, or wherever else your clients need. You can also do it for non-clothing items, by staging products in environments that show their benefit.
15. Pet Photography
Pet photography is photography that focuses on domestic animals. This can either be for pet owners, or for commercial purposes. Many people love their pets as if they were their children, so it may not come as a surprise to find out that they’d be willing to pay for professional photos of them.
On the flip side, pet product brands need photography for their social media pages, their websites, magazines, and more. If you love animals, this might be the niche you’ve been looking for.
16. Family Photography
Family photography is photography of multiple family members at the same time. It’s a great way for people to capture memories with their loved ones. Many people choose to hire a professional photographer because the photos will be more professional than if they were to use their smartphone. You can do it in a studio or in public areas, making it a flexible option for freelance photographers.
17. Wildlife Photography
Wildlife photography is one of the most exciting and challenging photography business ideas you’ll find. It involves capturing images of wild animals in their natural habitat, which can often be difficult and dangerous. But, the results can be truly stunning, offering a unique glimpse into the world of these amazing creatures.
Most of the time, you’ll get paid by licensing your images to nature publications (e.g. Natural Geographic) or by selling them outright.
Astrophotography is a specialized and beautiful form of photography where you take pictures of space and the cosmos. This includes images of the night sky, other planets, constellations, etc. Due to the nature of night pollution, you’ll need to be far from the city in order for this to properly work. But, the results can be breathtaking.
19. Event Photography
Event photography is all about capturing those special moments during a gathering or celebration. As an event photographer, you’ll be responsible for documenting all the key moments of the event as they unfold. This could include everything from speeches and performances to more candid shots of guests enjoying themselves.
This also includes stuff like concert and music festival photography, which means you’ll often get free admission to some of the most entertaining events of the year (score!).
20. Crisis Photography
Crisis photography is when you go to scenes of a crisis and take photos of the events. For a better idea of what this can mean, check out the movie NightCrawler with Jake Gyllenhaal. Crisis photographers obtain images of crime scenes, accidents, and other explicit materials.
This is easily the most intense idea on this list and isn’t for the faint of heart. However, the brutal nature of it can mean that you’ll get paid more. Overall, it’s not one of the photography business ideas we’d recommend for beginners, but it’s certainly an option.
21. Celebrity Photography
Celebrity photography focuses on capturing images of celebrities, either at events, portrait sessions or in their daily lives. These photographers are also known as paparazzi and are responsible for capturing most of the images you’ll see in pop culture tabloids.
While attractive photos of celebrities are in-demand, the highest prices will usually be paid for photos of celebrities in compromising positions. Capturing a photo of a famous actor cheating on their wife will naturally fetch a higher price tag than one of them sipping a coffee. You can then sell the photos to publications like TMZ, or even back to the celebrities themselves.
22. Macro Photography
Macro photography is a type of photography that involves taking close-up pictures of small objects. This can be done with a specialized macro lens, or by using a regular camera lens with a close-up filter. Macro photography is often used to photograph small insects, flowers, and other small objects. It’s perfect for capturing textures, materials, or the beauty of everyday life.
23. Baby Photography
Newborn baby photography is a genre of photography that focuses on capturing the first few weeks of a baby’s life. This type of photography can be done in a studio or at the baby’s home. Newborn photography captures the innocence and fragility of babies as they transition into life outside the womb.
It’s a beautiful way to preserve the early moments of a child’s life, which is exactly why parents are willing to pay for it.
Photography Related Business Ideas
- Graphic design
- Starting a Youtube channel
- Make & sell art
- Create an online course
- Youtube Video Editing
- Product Review Youtube Channel
More Freelancing Business Ideas
Overall, these were our top photography business ideas, but there are a lot of related ways to make a living. As a photographer, you’ll likely need to learn how to edit photos or shoot videos, both of which open up a ton of other possibilities.
If you’re curious about what other options are out there, then check out our Hustles directory. We’ve been working to compile every way to make money online that we can find, and we’ve added a ton of filters that make it easy to find what you’re looking for. You can filter for ‘freelancing’, ‘business building’, or more.
We’ve got more than 170 ideas and we’re adding more all the time. Check it out, and you’ll thank us later!