How To Get Paid As A Photographer

If you feel like you’re in the phase right now of being asked to do free shoots or offered discounts to your friends and family in your photography and you’re wondering, “How do you start to be taken more seriously as a photographer and essentially get paid more?” 

I want to provide you with four strategies for you to break out of this rut as a hobby photographer and instead be seen as a professional photographer! My unpopular opinion about this topic is that I think this has less to do with your ability to take photos than you might be thinking. This is probably 20-25% of what is happening whereas your mindset, business, and overall strategies are more like 80% of this equation. 

So, I want to give you some strategies to help you connect the dots at not just taking those great pictures BUT making money taking those great pictures. Let’s dive in!

How To Get Paid As A Photographer

Step #1: Take Ourselves Seriously

In order to first be taking ourselves seriously as a photographer, we have to be taking ourselves seriously.  Someone is not going to give ourselves permission to be taken seriously, we have to go out and do that on our own. Every photographer started here at this awkward point so trust me, you are not alone. 

When we start taking our businesses seriously, others start seeing that and in turn take it seriously. This is a CRUCIAL first step because if you don’t take yourself seriously, we can’t expect anyone else to take you seriously on your behalf. 

When you begin to do this, you also begin to think like a professional photographer. How does someone share their work? How do they share their pricing? How do they present themselves as a professional? This begins to affect how you run your business in the BEST possible way! 

Step #2: Take Your Client Experience Seriously 

The experience of working with a photographer can either make you feel like everything is laid back, fun, and taken care of or it can be a pain in the neck. You definitely want to be the photographer that guides you clients through the process of taking pictures with you! 

How do you create a great experience though? In order to ensure that this is seamless and professional, we need to walk through the steps of what a client has to do in order to work with you as a photographer. If you’re sending your pricing through the DM’s and it’s not in a way that is formatted and professional, you are NOT going to be taken seriously. If you are trying to go into shoots without contracts, you are NOT going to be taken seriously. And if you don’t have a way of accepting payments, especially credit cards, you are NOT going to be taken seriously. All of these things play into your client experience but they also reflect on you as a professional. 

If you don’t have anything setup like this right now, you need to check out a software called Honeybook. Honeybook has invoices, contracts, brochures, etc all pre-loaded into it which means when you come into it there are already some templates ready for you to use! You can take advantage of 50% off your first year HERE!

Step #3: Take Your Finances Seriously 

As much as we would like to skip this part, we simply can’t friend. I can’t tell what you what a HUGE difference this made in my own business and it really all started with a book that changed my life called, “Profit First”. This book essentially outlines the accounts you should have in your business and how you should be setting money aside for your expenses like your camera, website, money you pay yourself, and money you pay the government. This took such a weight off my shoulders that I didn’t realize I was carrying and helped me see with clarity where I should be spending my time because that’s what brought in the money. 

The sooner you can get your business finances in order, the sooner you’ll be taken seriously as a photographer. Additionally, this also comes down to separating your finances, so  your business should be separate from your personal. For many reasons including keeping personal separate and legalities, you don’t want your finances to be messy. This will also give you clarity in your business which will then give you confidence and confidence will allow for people to take your business seriously! 

You may not be naturally inclined to look at your numbers but the reality is, we can’t avoid it. If we avoid it, we won’t be able to have a thriving business and I know we all want that. 

Step #4: Take Your Craft Seriously 

You might have thought I was going to say, “You need to get really good at at photography” but I actually believe there are many other business foundations that have to be focused on first. At the end of the day though, your photography is still a huge piece of this equation. We often think that we can read just one book or watch one video to be really, really good at something. I want to remind you though of a quote by Malcolm Gladwell which says, “In order to achieve as an expert in anything, we have to first spend 10,000 hours on it.” This always stuck with me because I remember thinking at the beginning of my career, “Hm, I wonder how many hours I’ve put in so far?” I knew I wasn’t even close to 10,000 hours. 

Before I would get frustrated or disappointed, I kept telling myself that I wasn’t an expert yet because I haven’t put in the time. Expertise takes time to build so while you are building your other business foundations, don’t forget about your craft because that is a super crucial element to growing as an expert. Spend time building your portfolio, learning your gear, learning all the buttons, figuring out all that your camera is capable of, and so much more! Make sure to become a good student of the craft of photography so you can be more confident and taken more seriously as a professional. 

If you’re starting or growing. a photography business now and you want to surround yourself with like-minded photographers from all around the world, be sure to join the Photoboss Facebook Community! This is a place where we share expertise, build community, and support one another. If you’re in this growing stage of photography and you are going to implement something from this video to today, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below! 

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