Art and Photography

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

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  • Oct 18th, 2019 10:43 am
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Penalty Box
Dec 27, 2013
8003 posts
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Toronto
baillieul wrote:
Nov 8th, 2018 5:04 pm
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.
that's what I thought.

There is some "skill" but if you are some what creative, a cool character, then if you snap 5,000 shots at a wedding, you will have at least 10% turn out good (i think)... the rest is marketing to get the gigs.

most people suck at marketing themselves, or don't understand the game.
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Sep 26, 2007
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most of what's been mentioned sounds like tremendous amount of grit and effort for a 'side gig'

what about to get into videography? how does one find something that challenges growth and make interesting content (for free, money that follow is a bonus)

things like unboxing/reviews/reactions 'vlogs' turns me off

are there like indie productions doing documentaries that need amateur help?
Russell wrote:
Sep 10th, 2011 12:29 pm
We come here looking for deals. We use the savings on the things we buy to justify buying more things, thus filling our homes with tons of unnecessary consumer products. Such is the key to happiness.

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Sep 10, 2007
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twitchyzero wrote:
Nov 18th, 2018 12:31 am
most of what's been mentioned sounds like tremendous amount of grit and effort for a 'side gig'

what about to get into videography? how does one find something that challenges growth and make interesting content (for free, money that follow is a bonus)

things like unboxing/reviews/reactions 'vlogs' turns me off

are there like indie productions doing documentaries that need amateur help?
Well, I've seen some gigs posted in film industry jobs/community groups on Facebook (where people also make connections/recommendations) where filmmakers/producers ask about videographers -- like 'Behind-the-scenes' (like what I do with BTS Stills, except you'd do BTS Video), or other video work like Indie Documentaries or even music videos. One can volunteer if they have little experience, build up a demo reel and can eventually get paying gigs with more experience. It's a freelance type of work, so you just apply or reach out when you are available, or feel like working. Most of my gigs were weekends until Spring/Summer when filming/production really picks up like crazy!
pmb

"When your work speaks for itself, don't interrupt."
~ Henry J. Kaiser
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Oct 8, 2007
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twitchyzero wrote:
Nov 18th, 2018 12:31 am
most of what's been mentioned sounds like tremendous amount of grit and effort for a 'side gig'

what about to get into videography? how does one find something that challenges growth and make interesting content (for free, money that follow is a bonus)

things like unboxing/reviews/reactions 'vlogs' turns me off

are there like indie productions doing documentaries that need amateur help?
We started doing wedding highlight video as a value add in our wedding package. The skill set is quite different than photography, there is a learning curve. I think there are fewer videographers in the wedding game, but customers tend to add it on after they have a photographer booked, so there isn't always much $$$ left on the table.
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Aug 16, 2007
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I am currently starting a bricks & mortar business that is looking to do exactly this - but my question to people - how much $ would you have to earn on the weekend for you to view it as a job? trying to straddle that line between making a side gig "flexible" and being "dependable" - which usually equates to how much $ the person can earn.

Are you booking off every weekend if you can make $250/day doing your side gig?
Newbie
Jun 19, 2017
17 posts
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Mayosandwich wrote:
May 17th, 2014 12:02 am
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.
Not sure about the money aspect, but as someone who went from full-time job -> part-time photographer -> full time photographer I may be able to help a bit (although I don't do weddings...)

Firstly, I'm fairly certain I've seen adverts on Kijiji for second-shooters with minimal experience. Some of these are gopher jobs (hold this, carry that) with minimal shooting and some ask you to take some more candid shots. If I was doing it I would look for someone who has a good eye for composition first and foremost. I'm unlikely to trust you with my gear so I'd be expecting you to have a decent DSLR, a flash that you know how to use (e.g. bounce it or diffuse it) and fast glass (say 2.8 minimum). I'd expect you to be polite at all times (particularly to wedding guests) so personality is going to be important and to dress the part (no jeans, dress comfortable but blend-in). I would expect your DSLR to have decent ISO performance (most do) and I would probably want to copy your SD/CF card at the end of the day. In return, I would say, some sort of payment/credit, dinner provided and access/usage to a selection of edited images so I could build out my own portfolio.

Now assuming you can't find a second-shooter gig, email a bunch of wedding photographers and just ask, if it's a No then you're no worse off than before. They may obviously be concerned about competition down-the-road. I think I've also seen Wedding Collectives - companies that have a dozen or so wedding photographers on their books and can 'assign' you to a wedding depending on demand.

Finally, shoot everything and everyone. Take your camera with you everywhere and shoot, then review, then improve and then shoot again. Be critical with yourself, compare your images to the wedding photographers you admire the most and ask what they did right and you did wrong. Learn for every shot you take and never assume you know it all. Learn the rules, then break them and develop your own style. Make your images stand-out from every other wedding photographer in the business.

Hope that helps.
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Jul 2, 2007
1244 posts
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Recently been thinking about doing some business on the side as well just to at least help fund the hobby...

Something I've wondered about is how many "side job" photographers actually have registered businesses? Is it a requirement? Just trying to figure out that aspect of things. Reason being is that one of the possible avenues that I may pursue is working with an actual company. At that point I'm guessing payments and everything need to be on their books, etc and so for me to offer my services to them, I'd need to reciprocate the 'legitimacy' part of the business... All that being said, I think I'd have a relatively low threshold for how much effort is required in that regard. I might as well just put up Kijiji ads for more personal photography.
Member
Jul 8, 2014
297 posts
150 upvotes
AB
I dabbled in photography as a hobby and considered doing this as a side gig but quickly decided it was not for me.

This is what I did to get started:

Built portfolio by shooting friends and family. I have a realtor friend so I I build my portfolio for real estate too (video and photo). I also volunteered as a photographer for some non profit organizations to get event photographer experience. Did about 10 free gigs.

Posted low budget photo/video gigs on kijiji and landed 2 weddings and also some random birthday parties for kids and a couple evnts. Ended up dislking it.

Lot of pressure to caputre the moments for a wedding, also had to sacrifice a lot of my free time for these events.

Maybe if I was more streamlined with editing and more confident in my abilities I would reconsider doing it. But at the end of the day I realized I was not ready to start professionally shooting. I enjoy videography more than photgraphy but the time I spend editing is not efficient enough to make it worth my while.
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Jul 13, 2009
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malaujai wrote:
Jan 23rd, 2019 11:46 am
Recently been thinking about doing some business on the side as well just to at least help fund the hobby...

Something I've wondered about is how many "side job" photographers actually have registered businesses? Is it a requirement? Just trying to figure out that aspect of things. Reason being is that one of the possible avenues that I may pursue is working with an actual company. At that point I'm guessing payments and everything need to be on their books, etc and so for me to offer my services to them, I'd need to reciprocate the 'legitimacy' part of the business... All that being said, I think I'd have a relatively low threshold for how much effort is required in that regard. I might as well just put up Kijiji ads for more personal photography.
Depends how much you expect to earn.

If you're only doing a gig a month, or less, it does not make sense to set up a company, register, have an accountant, insurance GST/HST remittance, etc etc.

If you're doing more than a gig a month, it starts to make sense.

Otherwise the rule applies, "cash is king" :)
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Aug 12, 2004
4116 posts
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Calgary
malaujai wrote:
Jan 23rd, 2019 11:46 am
Recently been thinking about doing some business on the side as well just to at least help fund the hobby...

Something I've wondered about is how many "side job" photographers actually have registered businesses? Is it a requirement? Just trying to figure out that aspect of things. Reason being is that one of the possible avenues that I may pursue is working with an actual company. At that point I'm guessing payments and everything need to be on their books, etc and so for me to offer my services to them, I'd need to reciprocate the 'legitimacy' part of the business... All that being said, I think I'd have a relatively low threshold for how much effort is required in that regard. I might as well just put up Kijiji ads for more personal photography.
Let's be real, if you are taking money for work done, you should be a business, and that includes paying taxes. Working as a photographer without a business license is illegal in most municipalities (although many do it). You can easily get away with it if you do not make much, but what if it takes off or something happens? People take risks, but what if you are doing a wedding, and someone trips over your light stand and sues you? What if you mess up and lost the photos, and the wedding couple is suing you? What if you are doing a wedding in Banff, and the park ranger asks for your business license and prevents you from shooting the wedding without one and fine you?

I was one of those "side job" photographers at first when I first started until I got noticed more, and signed a contract with a company for ongoing commissioned work a few years ago. I also have several weddings upcoming, it was time to legitimize as a business. If you are going to be working with a company, you most certainly need to be legitimate. Most venues will not allow you to shoot without liability insurance.

Register / your business trade name with the province - 52$
city business license cost and home business permit - about 400$
Commercial Insurance - 450$
Open up a business bank account - 0$
Register Business with CRA - 0$
Collect and remit GST - 0$
Pay taxes - varies based on how much you made and expenses (surprisingly lower than you may expect, you can expense a lot).

As you can see it costs about 1000$ just to get started before getting your first pay, which is actually not much. Now if you are doing this for very limited money, it makes little sense to do this legitimately, but be aware that you are running huge risks if something was to happen.

The benefits of being legitimate are great. You are a business, you can protect yourself, you can take on work with other businesses, you can be much more visible without fear.

Those 500$ photographers you see on Facebook booking weddings in places like Banff, they are certainly not legitimate and working illegally. No one in their right mind would work a wedding for that low unless they were poor skilled photographers and working under the table, Banff day license costs alone is 220$.

I made over 25K last year in revenue as a side job, the profit margins are much higher than most businesses (as long as you do it smart), and because I buy all my assets through the company, my actual income through the business is much lower and less taxes. Being legitimate opens doors for you, at the cost of some overhead and paying taxes (which you should be doing regardless). Working illegally, or legally is really the question.
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Aug 15, 2015
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Looking at my mother's wedding album has always been a favourite past time of mine. Recently, I asked my mother who took the photos. She told me it was my uncle, her sister's husband. I asked her that question, because he was able to capture the process of the wedding and the joy of my parents. There were a few photos in which my mother was not photogenic but the smile of her face was huge. Although I was not there, I can sense how happy everyone was.

I am not sure if a third party professional can ever capture what my uncle was able to capture on that day. It was a beautiful album.
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Jun 21, 2009
471 posts
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This thread is very interesting and have I thoughts about car photography as a hobby. But car photography sounds like a small niche compared to a wedding.

Does anyone have steady gigs for car photography? Can you share your thoughts such as, the income you get from it vs other jobs and how often you get requests?
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Aug 1, 2010
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Kouyo wrote:
Feb 13th, 2019 2:45 pm
This thread is very interesting and have I thoughts about car photography as a hobby. But car photography sounds like a small niche compared to a wedding.

Does anyone have steady gigs for car photography? Can you share your thoughts such as, the income you get from it vs other jobs and how often you get requests?
Car photographys ie extremely difficult to get into. You can start by taking small gigs at local car dealerships. Then take your best shots of the most beautiful cars and build a presence online. You really have to stand out but when you do, you can approach car magazines and you keep growing from there.
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Aug 12, 2004
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Kouyo wrote:
Feb 13th, 2019 2:45 pm
This thread is very interesting and have I thoughts about car photography as a hobby. But car photography sounds like a small niche compared to a wedding.

Does anyone have steady gigs for car photography? Can you share your thoughts such as, the income you get from it vs other jobs and how often you get requests?
If I remember right there was a RFD member that did car photography professionally, but he was top notch. Car photography as mentioned is very niche, and your client base is miniscule (who already likely have a preferred photographer). Just taking photos or decent photos is not enough to break, you need to have something that separates you from others. The RFD poster had a rig mounting the camera to the outside of the car to get awesome cars in motion shots. Your best option is to do photos for a car dealership (I've done a few), but it's not going to pay your bills on its own.
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May 11, 2009
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I have a close friend who is in the business and agree with what Firebot said, it pays to go legit if you are committed. People and organizations will take you seriously and compensate you accordingly, plus you will be covered on the legal and insurance side for peace of mind.

Like any arts/creative job you're going to have to rely on your own skills and rely on exposure to get you work. It all depends who you know and how you are able to market yourself, and just how committed you are. You can help build your profile with local charities or church/community groups doing pro-bono work to see how you like it with little risk.
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