Art and Photography

What's it gonna take to do photography as a side job?

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Jun 28, 2012
5562 posts
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Calgary

What's it gonna take to do photography as a side job?

How much money does it require and whats needed (gear wise and licensing etc). I know what my fav type of photography is, and Ive been very curious over the past 6 months about exploring it as a part time job to do on weekends and maybe Fri nights. Even if the pay is only $20/ hour, I'd still jump on it because of the experience and I enjoy it. Even if I could be a volunteer at a wedding, I would do it! For instance, I get incredibly disinterested and bored out of my mind if I shoot landscape and boring city streets. Its tedious to me and no matter how hard ive tried, unless im in the mountains or somewhere with great wildlife and scenery, landscape shots in the city just dont do it for me. Buildings, yes! But grassy hills? Boring. But im a completely different person when I shoot people and special occasions. I just have this burning passion inside me for this type of photography. Just dont know where to go from here.

Ive posted ads on Kijiji a few times before offering my services but I always got my ads removed, dont know why. Ive actually shot a few randoms off Kijiji for portrait shots for them to build thier portfolio and it went very well. Both of us were happy. But again, my ads get removed so I went through this 6-9 month drought where i didnt post a single ad.
18 replies
Sr. Member
Oct 29, 2005
963 posts
41 upvotes
Coming from someone who's been doing this as a "side job" you'll have to spend more $$$ on gear before you start getting real gigs! :)

Seriously though, if I had to start from scratch today, I would do the following:
1) learn photography
2) network amongst other pro photogs
3) try to land an assistant job/Second shoot
4) learn more photography and business (consult with an accountant for the latter as well)
5) start building a portfolio
6) build a brand - website, business cards, etc
7) learn how to market (seo, social media, etc)
8) hopefully start landing gigs
9) maintain those relationships with past clients
10) improve portfolio, branding and marketing

I'm continually working on #9 and #10 (though, marketing has been neglected) and it has been good
Photographer @ Nikko Photography
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Jan 17, 2010
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lz7j wrote:
May 17th, 2014 9:11 am
Coming from someone who's been doing this as a "side job" you'll have to spend more $$$ on gear before you start getting real gigs! :)
Not sure if you're joking but this isn't true. Perhaps you got trapped into the marketing idea of "professional" lenses and cameras. Especially considering Mayo didn't post the gear he currently has (unless this is common knowledge amongst more frequent posters) I did product photography for quite a while with my D80 and the 18-135 kit lens. I now do boudoir and fashion portfolio photography with a pretty mid-level setup.

Mayo, not sure why your Kijiji ads keep getting flagged. Are you posting photos that aren't your own? I flag those without a second thought. I post ads on Kijiji for art nude work which is very much against their ToS and I've only had 1 or 2 removed out of probably 50 or so ads I've posted. I have a regular ad I post on Craiglist in the "Artists" community page just offering my services to other artists in need. Very little paid work comes of it but it has been a HUGE marketing tool for me. 1 or 2 people I shoot for trade can easily become 5 or 6 of their friends paying for my services. Same with friends...I photographed a maternity set for one friend and ended up with more requests for maternity work than I really wanted to deal with (passing it off to other photographer friends looking to get their start)

Bottom line, you like people photography and special event photography. So focus on that...why even bother mentioning landscapes? You don't enjoy that type of photography so it's a moot point. You will find faster glass helps you with event photography, as does a camera with good high ISO performance. I recently shot an event (something I do very little of) with my D80 and the 80-300 VR...not very spectacular results but it was near Jane and Finch and steretyping be damned, my D700 was staying at home for that one.

People photography? You'd be surprised what you can do with natural light and any old lens/camera combination. My D80, again, was my only camera for a long time and it did just fine with outdoor portraiture and not bad at all with the short time I used it for studio work before upgrading to the D700. Learn the REAL limitations of your gear before you upgrade it. You may just waste money otherwise.
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Oct 5, 2004
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Personally, I never believe when people say they want to be a wedding photographer unless it's ONLY because of money.
It is the hardest field of photography to do and after 10 years I am still learning so much at every wedding. Yet, I shoot anything and everything because I do enjoy PHOTOGRAPHY not not just weddings.
7-10 years ago nobody liked doing weddings and now this is the ONLY field everyone wants to do. Largely because in reality you need absolutely no skills and the cheapest gear to enter the field. Nobody wants to be fashion,editorial, wildlife,commercial,macro, scientific,sport,still life,advertising,aerial, nature, landscape, underwater,travel, war, forensic,fire, news,journalism,glamor,nude,fine art, food, headshot, photographer - most of these require more training and skills to start and are really fun and exciting fields.

My advice for you to make it less about money. With hard work and talent(if you have it) you can get in any field you actually do enjoy doing and then money will follow.
I get it, your current job may suck and you want out of it, but getting into a field currently 99% of all photographers do it would be pretty hard and if your only drive and desire to do it is money, then you won't make it too far. This is why out of these 99%, 98% are part timers. When you'll get a family(if you don't already have one) your relationship may suffer because you'll be working 16 hours/day 7 days a a week( 8/5 at your current job plus weekends plus editing,meetings,emails,etc)
Is it worth it?
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Jan 13, 2005
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I really want to get into Sports photography but my skills are still in the beginner stage... This summer I am doing family portraits for co workers on a strictly pay what you can basis.
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Feb 13, 2007
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I find this whole concept interesting. I cherish my weekends, especially the free ones. Often, I spend that time with a camera taking pictures, but on my own schedule and whims.

For me to give up free time for committed shoots, I'd have to be paid enough for it to be worth it (or have another upside like work to land future, better-paying jobs). Dealing with clients and their demands for a pittance holds no appeal. Especially since there's an obligation with this.

It's not just showing up and taking pictures, it's scouting, and setup. Then it's hours of editing and re-editing and dealing with demands. All on a deadline of some description (some people want photos the next day, others can wait months depending on the job).

Really, the money cost falls down the list of importance in my opinion. Well after the cost of time and stress.

But as always - any equipment will do, as long as you know how to make the most of it and get great shots.
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Oct 23, 2006
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What's it gonna take to do photography as a side job?
1) A camera
2) Gullible people
Board games!!!!
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Jun 29, 2009
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projectmoonlightcafe wrote:
May 21st, 2014 12:26 pm
What's it gonna take to do photography as a side job?
1) A camera
2) Gullible people
3) Ability to use Google Images to "build your portfolio" ;)
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May 7, 2014
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If you are really interested in photography..then it's good to do it as side job... :)
Jr. Member
Sep 3, 2007
158 posts
30 upvotes
You want to shoot events and you also seem somewhat willing to do it for free, how hard can that be? At least 3 or 4 times a year, I get emails about a "call for photographers" to shoot events put on by small charity or community groups without looking for them (or even wanting them). Start contacting local charities or groups, give them your name and offer your services for upcoming events. Build your portfolio and help non-profits at the same time.
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Uncle Chester wrote:
May 22nd, 2014 9:15 am
You want to shoot events and you also seem somewhat willing to do it for free, how hard can that be? At least 3 or 4 times a year, I get emails about a "call for photographers" to shoot events put on by small charity or community groups without looking for them (or even wanting them). Start contacting local charities or groups, give them your name and offer your services for upcoming events. Build your portfolio and help non-profits at the same time.
I do free events all the time which has led to paid gigs.

I offer services to my church, local bands and museums. I sometimes get paid in food or alcohol or both lol.

Maybe check out the local Snap papers? Don't know how that paper works though. Anyone know?

I'd say work in a real job and do this on the side like others have said.
Deal Addict
Oct 8, 2007
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Bedford
My wife helps me out on wedding shoots. She has improved her skills and now does some of the video as well. Its great that she has the interest, otherwise she wouldn't be happy with me working so many summer/fall weekends.

At least in my area, its a tough gig. Once your photography skills get to a certain point, its really all about marketing.
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Nov 4, 2016
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I shot a friend's wedding once. It takes hours to pick out 60 pictures and edit them in DarkTable. If I was paid I would need to produce 200 or more.
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Sep 10, 2007
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I'd been shooting and learning as a hobby for 10 years (got paid for certain shoots when people/companies approached me, but I wasn't advertising myself as a business at all).

Then for the first time, 4 years ago, I wanted to make a go at something completely different, and to make some income from it too.
So after nearly 30 years in a design career, I started out again, shooting in the Film/TV industry on-set as a 'second' career, but at my own pace. I was hooked from Day 1 and it snowballed from there by word of mouth and getting more paying gigs. I have about 28 production credits so far (including a Netflix series back in August). I had to learn all of the industry specific stuff on my own (no training is really available); improved my workflow, learned the protocols and s/etiquette, etc.. I shot concerts for years, so I already had the specific quality of lenses and camera I'd have needed for this new venture. The only piece of gear I had to get was a specialty/niche one -- a sound blimp (built my own and used it for 3 years because a Pro blimp was too pricey when just starting out; have a pro one now once I knew that career was for me).

One has to start out in the indie film/TV industry in this work, but I will be applying to get into the cinematographers guild/union next year for the bigger Union-run productions which pay a lot more. The main things for me -- especially starting something new so late in a career/working life -- was to choose something I'd enjoy, fits my shooting style, was still challenging with room to grow, while still making an income and meeting new people. For me, this was it.

I still shoot other subjects I love (nature/wildlife, concerts) but just for fun and leisure. Film/TV is the 'business' work.
pmb

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