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Freelance Photographer: Job Description, Income & Salary, & How To Become

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Are you a photographer struggling to find the perfect freelance position to suit your needs?

Are you passionate about capturing beautiful moments and wish to share them with the world?

The good news is you’re not alone.

Photographers across the country are seeking the best avenue to share their talents and earn a living simultaneously.

Finding the perfect freelance photographer position is easy, but you have to know where to look.

What is a Freelance Photographer?

A freelance photographer is someone with a natural ability to capture moments using photography who works at their own pace and schedule.

Working freelance means you have the flexibility to create your schedule yet still adhere to specific and time-sensitive deadlines.

Many people worldwide have found the joys of working freelance, as it gives them the freedom to do what they love when they can do it best.

Companies and individuals are hiring freelance photographers and others in record numbers as more and more people embrace the remote work lifestyle.

A freelance photographer is just one of many gig economy side hustles that have exploded in recent years.

What Does a Freelance Photographer Do?

Freelance photographers work with clients they have built connections with and take pictures of their subjects.

They conduct photoshoots for a range of purposes and then sell their work to clients or other agencies.

The best part is that the photographer sets their schedule and determines their client list.

They must market themself to drive business and guarantee money in their pocket.

They are also solely responsible for supplying themselves with their equipment and, in some cases, a space to shoot photos.

What Does a Freelance Photographer Usually Focus On?

Freelance photographers get to determine their focus.

Typically they spend their time shooting photos for groups and events, though they are also known to work primarily with individuals for personal photoshoots.

Photographers seeking the ultimate cashout typically turn their attention to events such as weddings, school functions (such as graduations or proms), family photos, women seeking maternity photoshoots, and more.

Photographers also apply their focus on building an impressive portfolio to attract future clientele and broadcast their talents.

Freelance Photographer Job Description

Freelance photographers are self-employed creators specializing in still photo art.

They produce their content and work for clients and companies at their discretion.

Freelance photographers can create their schedules and apply their style to their art.

These skilled craftsmen are their own managers, meaning they can determine their schedule and promote their work in whatever way they see fit.

They provide photographic services to clients they contract and work when and where they desire.

Top Freelance Photographer Jobs and Careers

Working freelance means you get to work when and how often (or little) you wish, which makes it a great side job.


Wedding photo shoots are never in short supply.

Photographers possessing a keen eye and a knack for capturing life’s special moments will excel here.

Couples are more likely to hire a photographer if they have a personal connection to them.

Listen to the couple’s needs, make them feel comfortable, and the job should be yours!


Graduations are some of life’s most defining moments as young learners turn the page to begin a new chapter of life.

Families seek the perfect photographer to capture all the precious moments during their special transitional day.

Maternity Shoots

Expectant mothers, especially those carrying their first child, often seek a talented and passionate photographer to capture that glorifying “glow” they radiate.

Photographers with a knack for being with people in their most vulnerable yet beautiful moments are the perfect fit for these expectant parents.

Where Can a Freelance Photographer Work?

Once again, the word “freelance” comes with a great deal of flexibility.

Freelance photographers can rent their studio or work on location. Renting studio space comes with additional costs, of course.

This added expense might be worth it to many artists who seek to broaden their horizons.

What It’s Like to be a Freelance Photographer

Before seeking work as a freelance photographer, it’s crucial to consider various aspects of the job.

Many day-to-day operations must occur for success to happen.

You also must be willing to embrace the challenges that come with the work.

Is Being a Freelance Photographer Hard?

There are plenty of challenges associated with being a freelance photographer.

The photographer must be good with various aspects of technology.

They are self-disciplined to find work and get it done well.

They also must constantly evolve and seek out methods to improve.

Is a Freelance Photographer’s Job Stressful?

Managing ever-changing client schedules and making it to various photoshoots can add a layer of stress to the life of a freelance photographer.

Time management and understanding how to best block off time for work is something every freelancer learns when they take on work.

It can be very stressful to find the perfect fit for all photoshoots while ensuring a steady income.

Common Freelance Photographer Work Day

Freelance photographers are at the mercy of their self-discipline.

They are responsible for creating and managing their schedule at all times.

Freelance photographers typically spend their days moving from client to client, studio to location, and getting all the photos they need to boost their income.

Freelance Photographer Tasks & Duties

A freelance photographer must take on the responsibility of creating and managing their to-do lists.

They must purchase and maintain their equipment, schedule appointments and photoshoots with clients, maintain and advertise a portfolio of their work, and promote themselves to seek additional employment.

None of these duties should get neglected for long.

Consistent and constant maintenance of all aspects of the job is essential for success.

Freelance Photographer Work Hours & Schedule

Once again, being a freelance employee of any kind comes with the perk of creating your schedule.

As pleasant as this may sound, don’t forget that this is still work. Any job requires dedication and commitment.

Freelance photographers create and follow a schedule over which they have the final say.

It’s crucial that photographers fill up their schedule enough that they have consistent work, but not so much that they overlap and are running wild.

Balance is crucial to success.

Does This Career Field Embrace Work/Life Balance?

To put it simply, yes!

Being a freelance photographer means you can balance your personal and professional responsibilities in any manner you see fit.

Just don’t forget to work enough that you can still live comfortably off the clock!

Do Freelance Photographers Make Good Money?

Freelance photographers can make enough money to live a somewhat comfortable life.

Depending on where the photographer lives and opportunities for additional work, the photographer may or may not find lucrative success.

How Much Do Freelance Photographers Make?

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, photographers can expect to make around $38,000 annually.

This salary equates to a wage of anywhere from $18-$23 per hour.

This number is an average amount of pay and isn’t definitive when considering starting your career as a freelance photographer.

Many factors contribute to the success or failure of freelance photographers.

Still, it’s good to know the average numbers across the board.

How Do Freelance Photographers Get Paid?

A freelance photographer can earn their wages in a variety of ways.

They often have many irons in the fire. Different clients, gigs, and opportunities will comprise their workflow.

Depending on each photographer and their clients, they may receive payment via cash, personal check, electronic payments, or formal paychecks.

All freelance employees must remember to document and keep track of their payments.

When tax season comes around, they must be able to report all their earnings.

Be sure to save money, just in case!

Requirements, Skills, and Education Required for Freelance Photographers

As with any career path, a specific set of skills and interests must be present to guarantee success.

Who Should Consider a Freelance Photographer Career Path?

Anybody possessing a strong passion for capturing life’s precious moments via photography should consider becoming a freelance photographer.

While you definitely will put in some serious work as a photographer, if the enjoyment is already there, that’s half the battle.

Those who know how to work photography equipment well and understand the art behind the skill are excellent candidates, too.

Photography is one of the great hobbies that make money quickly.

Who Should NOT Consider a Freelance Photographer Career Path?

Freelance work isn’t for everyone.

Some people thrive on the reliability of Monday-to-Friday jobs that offer benefits and consistent, guaranteed pay.

Some people need to be around the same team, working together to accomplish the same goal. In the freelance career path, you do all (or most) of the work alone.

Those considering making the jump to freelance career paths must weigh all the pros and cons beforehand.

Is It Hard to Become a Freelance Photographer?

It takes a skilled businessperson to launch and then maintain a lucrative career in freelance photography.

Becoming a freelance photographer is only the first step.

Growing a list of steady, reliable, and well-paying clientele is another beast.

Networking is a must, and it’s imperative that you consistently promote your self-brand.

What Do I Need to Become a Freelance Photographer?

First, the photographer must possess the correct (and best) equipment.

Do your research on camera models and types, accessories, lighting, and more.

You must come up with a plan of action regarding your business.

  • How do you plan to attract clients?
  • Where will you shoot your content?
  • How much will you charge your customers?
  • Where will potential future clients go to see the work you’ve done?

What Skills Does a Freelance Photographer Need?

Photographers must possess a keen eye for capturing the right shot at the right time.

They need to understand cameras and photo artwork and how to manipulate situations to create the perfect shot every time.

The freelance photographer must also understand how a business operates or be willing to learn quickly.

What Education Does a Freelance Photographer Need?

A freelance photographer can get into business without ever taking a class in the subject matter.

However, clients may be more likely to hire a photographer with an impressive resumé and a great deal of knowledge.

Let’s face it; practice makes perfect.

While on-the-job experience does count, some people may only hire those who get professionally trained in their craft.

What Experience Does a Freelance Photographer Need?

Those who seek to market themselves professionally can only jump in with experience.

Build a resumé that features plenty of proven success stories.

Take every opportunity that comes your way to practice and learn as much as possible.

This trait will make you more marketable to a large audience, which will help when you begin selling photos online.

How to Become a Freelance Photographer

There isn’t a step-by-step guide on how to become a photographer, but there are plenty of great places to look to get started.

Where to Find Freelance Photographer Opportunities

Freelance photographer opportunities are available anywhere.

Those who aspire to begin their career in this field can start by searching for openings with companies or individuals online.

Photographers may also market themselves in their home base to attract local clientele rather than seeking work in a corporate environment.

Applying for the Gig(s)

Anytime you apply for a freelance photography position, employers or prospective clients will want to see a portfolio of your best work.

Be prepared with plenty of shots that adequately showcase your talent.

It’s also important to know who you’re applying with and what type of content they will want to see.

Interviewing for the Gig(s)

You’ve landed an interview for a position! Congratulations!

Be sure to keep calm and openly express your breadth of knowledge about photography.

Detail your education, your training, and your experience.

Perhaps come prepared with your equipment and demonstrate how you would capture the perfect shot.

It’s also worth it to detail how you plan on managing your time and schedule once you have the job.

How Do I Prepare for Freelance Photographer Gigs?

Preparing for a job as a freelance photographer is a pretty straightforward process.

Don’t go to work empty-handed, having never picked up a camera in your life.

Go out and about, shooting content with your equipment.

Perhaps get a few trusted friends to be sample models for practice shots.

Build your portfolio and your resumé with as many pictures and experiences as possible.

Learn everything you possibly can from any available avenue.

The more prepared you are, the better your chances of getting hired by a fantastic company.

Similar Careers to Check Out

If being a freelance photographer suits your fancy, it might be worth your time to check out these related avenues for earning a living.

  • Freelance Social Media Manager: A freelance social media manager manages the social media accounts of influencers or other well-known people. This position relates to the freelance photographer due to the content that needs to post to online accounts to market an individual.
  • Freelance Digital Marketer: These individuals use various avenues and methods to help businesses and corporations market themselves online. This is a related career because of the need to market a brand for success.
  • Freelance Writer: Freelance writers write content for SEO and produce copy for websites, brands, companies, and corporations. This is similar to freelance photographers because they make their schedules and must find a way to market themselves to potential employers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the most commonly-asked questions regarding freelance photographers.

How Many Photos Should I Give to My Client?

The answer to this varies a bit.

Depending on the occasion, price, and length of the photo shoot, clients should expect to receive anywhere from 20-100 pictures per session.

Wedding parties typically require more photos, whereas private photoshoots may only request 20-30 pictures.

How Many Pictures Should Be Expected From a 1 Hour Shoot?

Clients who book a one-hour photoshoot can expect to receive at least 50 photos, but this (again) depends on the occasion.

Be sure to communicate openly with your client, find out their needs, and determine a plan of action surrounding how many photos you plan to take.

Wrapping Up

A freelance photographer is someone who knows their talents and understands how to apply them to avenues that will help them earn a livable wage.

Though the career path is not for everyone, those who choose to make this their full-time or even part-time career will likely find that they enjoy it.

The flexibility the job offers is not something easily found.

If becoming a freelance photographer is the avenue you plan to pursue, take everything we discussed here to heart.

Take your time, learn as much as you possibly can, and have fun while you pursue your passion.

Take a few moments to check out the freelance photographer career!

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