Want to make money as a part time photographer?

by Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor on July 5, 2009

in PartTimePhoto.com News,This is Business,This is Life

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If you’re here, you know you’re here, and that’s good enough for me.

If you have a few hours a week, access to a camera, and a hint of gumption, it’s my goal to help you make money as a part time photographer.

Perhaps:

  • You have an unfulfilling day job and want to stretch your legs as a professional photographer
  • You have a good day job that doesn’t pay enough, and you want some extra money to pay down debts, save up, or play with as fun money
  • You’re a stay-at-home mom or dad and would like to earn some money working part-time with a set-your-own flexible schedule

Whatever drives your desire to explore the world of part-time professional or ProAm (professional-amateur) photography, it’s my own desire to help you be successful.

There are metric tons of information online about starting your own business and becoming a better photographer. Where I saw a need was while surfing photography forums and seeing so many men and women asking best-guess questions about how to get started. You don’t know what you don’t know, right?

In the same threads, I saw a lot of full time professional photographers give half-hearted advice and plenty of negative feedback.

“It’s not as easy as it looks.”

“Your photos are horrible; perhaps you should find another job.”

“The market is saturated with amateurs like you killing the industry.”

“If you’re not doing it full time, and you don’t have my expenses, and you don’t charge what I do, you’re not a real professional and you’re taking food out of the mouths of my babies.”

To which I indelicately respond, “BS.”

Anyone who has studied business will tell you there are many, many markets and demographics for any given product range. Professional photography is no different from car sales or widget sales or interior decorating.

From “budget” to “luxury,” there’s a lengthy scale of customers seeking different levels of service at different prices.

Everybody has to start somewhere, every journey begins with the first step, and it’s my goal through PartTimePhoto.com to help you transition and grow into the ProAm or Part Time Professional Photography business. I want to help you make money with photography.

I have no love for overcomplication, hidden agendas, withholding information, snobbery, and bait and switch games. I like simple instructions, “do this this way” clarity, and obvious next steps. Reading this blog and learning to make money with your photography shouldn’t be an exercise in existential thinking.

On a daily basis, you’ll find within these pixelated walls my best advice in developing your artistic and business skills to make good money for your time. I’ll give you concrete examples, walkthroughs, visual examples, step-by-step tutorials, equipment buying advice, marketing pieces and projects, a hell of a lot of encouragement, and a holistic approach to doing good business that serves your own life as much as your customers.

Who am I to give such advice? Tune in tomorrow for my self-indulgent bio, but all you really need to know is that my name is James Taylor, I own Outlaw Photography in the rural town of Bandera, Texas, and I’ve enjoyed the life benefits of part time professional photography for over 10 years now.

Next Steps

You’ll find that I am very big on clear, specific Next Steps. David Allen’s system of Getting Things Done is a brilliant one, and one of the biggest things I got out of his book was the practice of establishing Next Steps.

I think the two biggest things missing from most instructional-type web sites are real world examples and well-defined Next Steps, so you’ll find plenty of both here on PartTimePhoto.com. At the end of every article, I’ll provide one or several Next Steps to give you an exact idea of what you can do at that point to better your part time photography business.

Here are today’s Next Steps:

  • Take a deep breath and let go of any preconceived fears or doubts you have about becoming a part time professional photographer. Shake them haters off.
  • Get a sticky note or piece of paper and tape – write down the three biggest ways being a successful part time photographer would improve your life. Put this piece of paper on your monitor or somewhere you will look at it on a daily basis.
  • Grab a piece of paper or open up your computer’s note pad and brainstorm – this will be a Next Step for nearly every article I post to PartTimePhoto.com. I cannot overemphasize the value of a good brain dump, pouring your ideas out on paper or to a text file. Today’s topic: Envision how your life would be different if you could earn some money through part time photography. No idea is too stupid or simple – write everything down. Spend several minutes on this. Try to build off every item you write down. Don’t do it any specific order, just get it out on the page. Grab a folder for your paper or create folder on your desktop in which to place these brainstorm sessions.
  • If this all sounds like a good thing for your life, please feel free to click on the “Subscribe” link at the top of any page on this site.
  • What experiences have you had in your search for information and inspiration in becoming a part time photographer? Leave a comment below, e-mail me, or call or text me at 830-688-1564.

Congratulations – you have taken the first steps toward enjoying the lifestyle of a part time photographer!

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeremy Madore February 4, 2011 at 8:27 pm

Hi James,

I got here from a link on a photography message board, and I honestly didn’t expect what I have come across. After reading just this simple first post, I can already tell that I’ll finally be able to make sense of all the thoughts that are running through my head (thoughts about risks, rewards, goals and failures).

I’m going to patiently read every post on this site, and will even probably PDF them for future reference. This is sort of a gold-mine for me, as I’ve already started making money with my business (this year is proving to be twice as good as last year) so it’s encouraging to build off the energy exuding from these “walls”.

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor February 6, 2011 at 4:42 am

Thank you for your kind words and your readership Jeremy! I’m glad you’re finding some clarity and cohesion here on the site!

Congratulations on already having started earning an income from your photography! Getting started (and then maintaining momentum) is always the hardest part. You’ll find that every year is better than the last, so long as you stick to the fundamentals and keep your hustle up.

Rock on my friend! I checked out your web site, and your art is definitely there! Practice kaizen, grow a little bit each day (as an artist and as a businessman), and you’ll see more growth over the year than you expect even now.

Reply

Angie October 27, 2012 at 11:28 am

Thank you James-your website is awesome! I’ve been researching a lot of them trying to decide if I should pursue this or not, and finally came across your site. You provide so much valuable, encouraging information! I’ll definately be referencing it again and again. Thank you so much!

Reply

Allison March 15, 2013 at 2:12 pm

You have no idea how excited I was when I stumbled upon your blog last night. I had been struggling to “name my business” but when I read your article regarding that I decided to go with my name even thought it’s boring. I’m working on my logo and hope to start a facebook page soon. I’ve taken pictures forever but mainly just my family members and daughter. I’ve always liked my own stuff and everyone tells me I could make money with it, so I decided to try it out, but I’m pretty nervous about it. Anyway, I’m going through all your articles to see what I can learn!! At some point I would love some un-biased feedback on my pictures if you aren’t too busy. Thank you so much for creating this blog!!

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor April 27, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Thank you for your comment and kind words Allison!

I would be happy to critique your photos! E-mail some over to James@banderaoutlaw.com any time.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the wrong things when you’re starting out. We photographers will spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars on gear and brochures and a web site and all that, and not drop $100 on the start-up and setup advice from a good CPA.

Starting out shooting family and friends is the very best way to grow as an artist and get the positive, encouraging feedback you need to take on the challenge of going professional. As soon as you hear the words, “You could do this for a living!,” or, “You should charge for your work!,” you know you’ve reached a great point in your art where options open up to you left and right.

Now you just have to make decisions and keep making progress forward.

Thank you again Allison! Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!

Reply

Kate C. April 26, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Seriously this is like the BEST Site about become a part time portrait photographer that i have read. I signed up for your newsletter too. I have TONS of Questions but I won’t bombard you yet that as of yet.

Thank you so much for this awesome site.

Reply

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor June 4, 2013 at 8:39 pm

Thank you for your comment and kind words, Kate! I’m really glad you’re enjoying getting benefit from the site. Feel free to write me anytime at James@banderaoutlaw.com – it’s my pleasure to help!

Thank you again for your readership! Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!

Reply

Beloved Wedding Photography and Films February 17, 2014 at 3:07 pm

I just discovered your blog. Thank you for your go-getter attitude and positive, forward thinking! I’m currently working a full-time job but just opened my own business in January doing wedding photography and wedding films. I’m not too sure of how to book the clients continuously, but I’m going to give it a true shot and try full-time! I’ll definitely start applying much of what I’m reading from your posts, though I think I’ll have to revisit my current structuring after reading this stuff, haha. Thank you again!!!

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