You’ve invested in camera gear and you love taking pictures, but you’re not interested in a full-time photography career, especially when pros these days don’t exactly have it easy. Still, you can earn a little extra with your camera—if you’re willing to put in the time and effort—and keep your weekly paycheck, too. Whether you want to shoot weddings or portraits, sell prints or stock, or capture local sporting events, here’s the skinny on getting started.
Wedding photography is almost recession-proof and, since weddings are seasonal and often on weekends, it’s relatively easy to shoot part-time. Freelance wedding photographer and writer Nathan Chandler splits his time between shooting and writing, and explains that his start in wedding photography began when family and friends saw his landscapes and casual portraits and assumed he could photograph nuptials, too. After about five years, Chandler was enjoying wedding photography enough that he begain actively trying to get wedding jobs. The Nebraska-based photographer now shoots about 20 each season.
Seattle-based Chloe Ramirez started out as a second shooter for other wedding photographers. “That gave me the background and confidence to start photographing weddings on my own,” says Ramirez, adding that she didn’t go out on her own until after a solid year of second shooting.
She also suggests styling your own wedding shoot for portfolio images by working with local vendors—make-up artists, venues, etc.—and exchanging pictures for their services. From there, send the final images to a wedding blog, says Ramirez. “If it gets picked up, that gives you and the vendors exposure for your businesses.” And, she adds, “Ask vendors if you can refer your brides and grooms; they will most likely return the favor and that will get you more inquiries.”
During the three-to-four month wedding season, Ramirez shoots full-time, accepting up to four weddings per month, and puts her three-year-old daughter in daycare two days a week so she can concentrate on editing. “That way, when I am home with my family, I am present and not trying to juggle both [family and work].”