How to Find Jobs as a Photographer

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So you’re thinking about getting your photography career off the ground. Where to begin? Still photography jobs are available wherever professional-grade images are needed, which means companies and individuals from all walks of life are regularly hiring. 

Read on for a guide to finding photography jobs, where to apply for and book them, and more tips on taking your photographic skills to the next level.

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What are good entry-level freelance photography jobs? What are the differences between those jobs? What should I consider?

Most professional photographers tend to specialize in a specific style or genre of image. Headshot and portrait photographers specialize in the human face; commercial photographers capture images designed to sell products in magazines and online; photojournalists and live event photographers capture newsworthy events as they happen; and cinematographers are filmmakers with photographic experience. 

Most of the above categories tend to need photographers on a freelance basis. If you’re just starting out looking for work, odds are that you’re hustling to piece together gigs. Eventually, once you’ve gained enough experience as a freelancer and built a portfolio, you’ll be more likely to be hired as a contractor and working with clients over extended periods of time.

How do I pick the right photography job?

Determining which still photography opportunities are right for you depends on which of the above categories you’re interested in. What tends to catch your eye in terms of color and composition? Which imagery or professional photographers do you admire? The benefit of being an early-career photographer is that the possibilities are endless. If you begin working in one area and find yourself gravitating toward another that’s a better fit, your career path can veer in that direction.

Photography lends itself well to the gig economy, so those considering which photography jobs to pursue should be ready to be flexible. If you’d prefer regular, steady work, this may not be the field for you. Geography is another consideration: Do you live near a production hub like Los Angeles or New York City, or are you looking to work from home? Remote freelance photography jobs have become more available over the last years of at-home work. 

As a freelancer, say yes to everything you’re able to say yes to, especially last-minute gigs—if somebody needs a photographer on short notice, you could be their hero.

What skills do I need to get an entry-level photography job?

Professional photographers should develop the following abilities throughout their careers:

  • A keen eye for visual details, such as how lighting, color, and composition affect images 
  • An artistic point of view and a strong visual imagination 
  • Communication and interpersonal skills, particularly when it comes to client relations and customer service 
  • Business skills and an entrepreneurial attitude 
  • A mastery of equipment including camera elements like aperture, shutter speed, frame rate, and film speed 
  • A familiarity with digital editing, touch-up software, and graphic design

Where can I find entry-level jobs for a still photographer?

From general job posting resources to more specific ones, the demand for photographers can be found everywhere professional-level images are required. Use any or all of the below resources to find freelance photography jobs.

  • Social media: It’s right there in the name—socializing online has never been easier thanks to the internet era’s advent of the platforms and websites below. From browsing photography content to reaching out to photographers at any career level, social media is a powerful tool for image-takers across the world. Establishing an online presence can give any professional a leg up, but for freelance artists like photographers, it’s especially important.
    • Facebook: This social media titan, in particular its Groups, can be a wonderful resource for amateur and aspiring freelance photographers. Local photography groups, ranging from purely recreational to current still photography jobs and assignments, exist in every major city. 
    • Instagram: Owned by Facebook, this mobile app is the image-oriented social media platform. Use it to display your work, either via a personal or professional account (or both). Many photographers today use Instagram as a calling card or means of attracting customers and clients.
    • LinkedIn: LinkedIn is similarly structured, boasting a variety of groups featuring thousands of members looking for community, freelance opportunities, and everything in between. As with Facebook, the search bar is your friend; searching LinkedIn for photography plus specific areas of interest yields dozens of group and job results. 
    • Reddit: Don’t discount this sprawling online community; its ability to filter out nonsense and hone in on particular topics such as freelance photography jobs makes it another viable option.
  • General job sites: These sites are designed to connect workers of all kinds, but especially freelancers, to paying opportunities. Many can be sorted to search for remote work; others post regionally specific jobs or enable searchers to whittle down results based on geographic location. At least a passing familiarity with how the below sites work and what kind of still photography jobs tend to be posted is recommended for all aspiring photographers. 
  • Photography job boards and sites: Sites such as Get Photography Jobs and Photography Jobs Online function like those above, but are focused solely on still photography work. Stock photography companies, like Shutterstock and Getty Images, can also be sources of income for professional photographers. These sites include tools for photographers to see which kinds of images are in demand, which changes constantly. To get paid for work that appears on these sites, you’ll need to target what niches require stock imagery and submit only your highest-quality work. 
  • Industry-related job sites: For more specialized search engines and resources specifically for those looking for work in events, media including film and television, and other specific areas, check out the sites below. 

Persistence and consistency are key to maximizing your odds of booking still photography jobs. Bookmark job sites in your browser and schedule regular times to check them out.

How can I apply to photography jobs and get ahead?

All that is required to use most of the above job sites and social media networks is creating a profile. Fill in accurate personal and contact information, and keep it updated as things change. If the site is subscription-based, make sure you’re continuing to pay fees. 

Successful photographers are also experts in displaying their work. In the digital age, that means a website complete with a portfolio of samples and a résumé full of relevant work experience. Think about establishing a web presence that summarizes who you are and advertises your services. 

Once those elements are in place, networking is crucial. Reaching out to grow a personal network of contacts and potential employers and clients is a years-long process, one that rewards persistence, organization, and professionalism. 

If your website and LinkedIn accurately reflect your professional endeavors, your social media presence includes a dazzling Instagram account, and you have a few happy clients ready to rehire you or recommend you to others, congratulations—you’re taking the first steps toward becoming an established photographer!

For more on how to get work on a film crew, visit Backstage’s crew hub!

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