So who am I to give you advice on how to make money as a part time photographer?
My name is James Taylor.
I shoot almost entirely portraits; seniors, children, brides, couples, families. My wife shoots maternity and baby photos.
I fell bass ackwards into professional photography over 12 years ago. I landed a job as a photojournalist with my hometown newspaper, and as people saw my photos in the paper, they began asking if I also did family portraits. One good paid photo shoot led to the next, and I continued to do off-and-on professional work until I launched Outlaw Photography ‘officially’ in 2005. Since then, I’ve worked hard to improve my art and my business acumen while learning to balance a full time day job, part time photography job, and life.
Life for me includes my better half Jacklen and three young kiddos, McCayla (7), Canon (4), and the newest addition, Athena Corinna (celebrating one year in November 2011). Yes, Canon, as in my son is named after my preferred camera manufacturer. But that’s a story for another day.
I have been blessed with a great deal of success as a part time professional photographer over the years, and after a decade, I’ve hit a stride which now allows me the chance to share this success with others. Success to me is happy clients, happy family, happy self. A big part of the latter for me is giving back, which is what I hope to do here at PartTimePhoto.com.
After years and years of studying the art, business, and industry of photography online and here in the real world, I’ve learned that the people making the transition from unpaid amateurs to part time professionals is a massive, confused, underserved, underappreciated community.
That’s about to change. Drastically.
You generally have three levels of photographers:
- Amateurs and enthusiasts who shoot for fun and don’t care about making money off their work (Hi Uncle Joe!)
- Amateurs interested in making money with their photography (that’s you!)
- Professionals actively earning good pay for their time
Certainly there are, as the supermodels of ModelMayhem call them, “GWC’s” or “Guys With Cameras”; you have insanely talented amateurs and students all over Flickr; and you have a wide range of professionals from starvings artists to the Vincent Laforets and Anne Geddeses of the world.
This entire web site is targeted squarely at that Middle Category: amateurs, enthusiasts, students, part-timers, stay at home dads, unfulfilled day job moms, teenagers looking for summer work, etc.
I’m living that dream right now, and have been for many years. It is fun, it is stress-free, it is a perfect creative outlet, it’s a great way to meet interesting people, and it pays well. It took a lot of trial and a lot of error to learn how to achieve that sweet-spot balance between art, business, and life.
I hope that through sharing here on PartTimePhoto.com the whole of my experience in this journey, I will help others achieve the same success I have as a part time professional photographer.
Here’s some boring background bio info for you, just to show you how small-town I am and that it’s possible to be successful anywhere:
James Taylor’s “If I can do it…” Profile:
Born in Tarpley, Texas, population: 30.
Graduated from, got a job in, and started part time photography business in Bandera, Texas, population: 957.
Still working for the same newspaper over a decade down the road.
Still a happy part time photographer.
Won gobs of big fish, small pond journalism awards, for sports photography, feature photography, news writing, page layout and design, etc. Voted “Best Photographer in Bandera County (population < 20,000) in 2007, 2008." Most recently picked up my biggest contest win yet, a first-place sports photography award from the Texas Press Association.
Everything I know about being a successful part time photographer, I look forward to sharing here on PartTimePhoto.com. It will take time and plenty of writing, but I truly believe you have the capability to better your life and the lives of those around you through the art and business of part time photography.
It’s benefited my life, and if you so desire, it can benefit yours.
- Surf over to Flickr and find three photographers whose portraiture work inspires you. Bookmark their photo streams. Contact each one: say by phone, e-mail, or picture comment, “I am an aspiring professional photographer and your work on Flickr is really inspirational. May I contact you once in a while to talk about photography?” You’ll learn that the most successful photographers are often the most open to helping you.
- Brainstorm session: make a list of all the people – famous, celebrity, or otherwise – with whom you would love to do a portrait session. From the President to a favorite comedian to Grandma. Save in your Brainstorms folder.
- If you’re down with the clown until you’re dead in the ground and would like to continue benefiting from the articles posted to this blog, please feel free to click the “Subscribe” button at the top of any page of this site.
- Who inspired you to take up photography, and then take it to the next level by doing paid work? Leave a comment below, e-mail me, or call or text me at 830-688-1564.
- Want to make money as a part time photographer?
- How I found my calling as a photography mentor
- How to make money as a part time portrait photographer – Startup Series, Part 1
- What’s your (distraction) drug of choice?
- Debate: Is longevity the selling point for photography studio prints (and their prices)?