21 Ways to make money with photos (more than selling photos)

You want to turn your hobby into a profession and earn money with photos? You can sell your photos online, but there are many more opportunities!

Earn money with photos

Earn money with photos

In the first part of today’s post, I share a story of mine. After that, I’ll show you 21 different ways to start your own photography business. In the third part I have a few tips on what you should pay attention to and give recommendations for online marketing.

Do you really want to make your hobby your profession?

Many of us dream of becoming to be able to deal with photography every day. Maybe the job isn’t going so well, and maybe you don’t find it particularly fulfilling either. But before you really start thinking about doing your photography full time, let me tell you a story.

I took up photography as a hobby during my undergraduate studies. I have learned more and more little by little. Photography was incredibly important to me at one point. At the end of my studies, the point had come where I said to myself: If you don’t do it now, you’ll never do it. So I tried to make money with my photos.

I took orders, acquired clients and did photo shoots. I also photographed within different subject areas like portrait, which were actually not my field. At times I had to have my money topped up by the employment office, but I could just pursue photography every day.

In spring of the next year I had a photo assignment for the tourist office Thale. I should take pictures of the Bode Valley and the surrounding area. In a contract, I had agreed to produce 25 "hero shots" that one week. That’s a lot, a lot, for one week, especially when you consider that the weather could throw a wrench in your plans. I took pictures at every sunrise and every sunset. I ended up making the 25 pictures. But after a few days in the week there I realized that I was not happy.

Sunset at Hexentanzplatz - This photo was taken during the week

Sunset at Hexentanzplatz – This photo was taken during the week

I was alone all week. I lived in a 20 euro a night vacation apartment. I had to take pictures to get the job done. I had to earn my bread by doing what I actually loved.

When you are forced to do something every day so you can pay your rent, it can take the fun out of it. For many of us, photography is something beautiful, something you do when you feel like it – not because you have to.

So think again carefully if you really want to go this way.

21 ways to earn money with photography

In the meantime I work in online marketing, so I have a support to be able to photograph when I feel like it too. Thanks to the Internet, today there are a lot of ways to earn money with photography. I have 21 of them collected. In addition, I give you in the gray boxes Approaches, how you can start with the particular way.

Almost each of these ways is suitable for it Earn enough money to be able to live on it. Often still more than that. It always depends on how much work you put in. Almost all paths are also suitable, them to start part-time.

offer commissioned work

A classic way to get started in full-time photography is to do commissioned work. Someone hires you to make certain photos. Especially well known are for example wedding photography, portraits or even architectural photography.

How do you start?

A own website is definitely useful for this. With this you have to Customer acquisition go. This can be done through online or offline marketing. You can, for example, place ads in newspapers or advertise on Google or Facebook. Of course, referrals from clients you have already photographed for are also very helpful.

Reportages for newspapers

In this business model, today it is often the case that the photographer shoots from himself and then sells the images. For example, many newspaper photographers now work independently and offer their pictures for sale to the newspapers after they have actually taken them. If you are the first on the scene, you have good chances that the pictures will be bought afterwards.

How do you start?

Make contacts to the local newspaper and inquire how a collaboration could be made. Is there a fixed model? Are more photographers needed or does the paper already have a sufficient base of freelance photographers?

Stock Photography

Newsletter Lead 1 - E-Book

In stock photography, you also shoot in advance and then offer your images for sale. You stock up on pictures for certain themes ("in stock"). At Stock Photography Platforms you can then put your pictures upload and with Keywords Provide. Prospects who need images for a specific purpose, such as a magazine or flyer, can then license your images there. Per image sale you get between 50 cents and 2 euros, depending on size. That doesn’t sound like much at first, so it comes down more to the mass of good pictures to. A picture can be sold several times, of course. Practice shows that it is also possible to earn good money here. An exciting article about this can be found in the blog of Robert Kneschke.

How do you start?

Sign up on platforms like iStock or Shutterstock. Take a look at how other successful photographers operate there and what subjects they produce images for. Which images have many downloads? Which Tags are used there? Deal with the quality standards, necessary for the stock photos. Then you can start taking stock photos yourself and uploading them there.

Open earnings in my Shutterstock account

Open revenue in my Shutterstock account

Photo workshops

If you have some basic knowledge in photography, then you can start offering workshops. Surely you think now that you are not ready yet. But think about how involved you are with photography. How much time you have already invested in it. What you learned during this time. This Knowledge you can pass this on.

How to start?

Think about what topic you want to cover in your photo workshop. Then think about how you can Topic to best teach the participants. Which Structure the workshop should have? Which Documents are necessary? You need Training room? you can rent it in almost every hotel. To try out, if you like workshops at all, you can offer your first photo workshop for free. At the end you should have the participants fill out a feedback sheet to improve your workshop. How do people find out about your workshop? You can write about the workshop in a forum, like the DSLR forum, and say that it is free of charge. This is how I started.

teach photography in adult education courses

Again, it’s about sharing your photography knowledge. With a Course at a community college you can earn money. If it suits you, you can also offer several courses.

How do you start?

Set up like a workshop concept for a course on the legs. Only, of course, this course must be divided by hours over several weeks. With such a concept you can Contact to the local community colleges record and to need to ask. Or you call the adult education centers first and ask if there are certain courses that they would like to have in their program. If the desired courses fall into your subject area, you can set up a course for it.

Create video courses

In video courses you present your photo knowledge as a video. Participants can buy such a video course online as a download or offline as a DVD and then watch it at home.

How do you start?

Think about the The best way to impart knowledge you can visit. In which Share should the course be structured? Which practical exercises should be done by the participants? Whether you then film the course or record it on the computer is up to you. After the video editing you have to provide the necessary Documents provide to the course. When the course itself is ready, it goes into the Marketing. Again, you can choose from online and offline marketing.

Photo workshop in the Harz Mountains

Photo workshop in the Harz mountains

use affiliate marketing

What is actually affiliate marketing? You write on your website, YouTube channel or wherever you act, what camera and lenses you use. From there you link to Amazon for example. Whenever someone clicks on your link and then buys there too, you will get a small Commission. This is how I do it on my recommendations page. For photo equipment, the commission on Amazon is 3%. It’s not much, but the bigger your channel or website gets, the more it pays off.

How do you start?

You need a Website or a YouTube Channel. Then you can sign up for the Amazon affiliate program for example. Now you can put links to Amazon and when you sell there is the commission for you.

affiliate marketing

affiliate marketing on my recommendations page

Banner advertising on your own website

If you run your own website about your photography, then you can also advertising banner use to earn money with it. The more visitors the site has, the more rewarding it is, of course.

How do you start?

Build your website on and then steadily off. You can then sign up for Google Adsense for example. There you can generate a code to embed on your website. Now Adsense plays matching ads to your website visitors.

write e-books

Do you like to write? Then e-books could be a business model for you to make money with. Also here it will probably be about passing on your photo knowledge. You can write the e-books on your own computer and then, for example, use them on your website via Amazon or through your own website Offer.

How do you start?

Again, you need to think about what you’re writing about and how you’re going to use your e-book structure want. Which Pictures you need? You may need to graphics to explain certain topics? When your e-book is ready, you can post it on Amazon KDP or offer it on your own website via Digistore24.

E-book - 14 tips for maximum image quality in landscape and architectural photography

Get into the art market

The art market is probably one of the more difficult models to make money from your photos. You always hear stories about high prices and auctions, in photography for example by Andreas Gursky. Still, of course, some photographers try to get into the art market and make very little money doing so during their lifetime. But still: It is possible.

How do you start?

I believe that here the contact galleries and curators plays a big role. Exactly these people you have to approach with your finished portfolio.

Write books and articles

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Writing about photographic topics is not just for e-books. You can also write your own book. A word of caution in advance: The authors of books often earn only a relatively small share of the sales price. Mostly, it’s more of an ego project so you can end up being proud of having written your own book. With several photo books and the right contract for your share, you can also earn money here.

It can be more interesting to write professional articles for photo journals and magazines. These are needed all the time and are not the size of a book.

How do you start?

You should be able to try, Whether you are comfortable writing such articles. Then you can work with magazines and editors get in touch. Here you can get inquire, Whether certain topics are in demand at the moment or whether there are plans for special editions on specific areas of photography.

Create presets

If you work a lot in image editing, then you certainly have a certain routine in it. maybe you have created presets for Lightroom or actions for Photoshop. A business model can now be to comprehensive Offer presets for sale.

With appropriate programming skills it is also conceivable that you can Plugins or stand-alone programs for image editing develop.

How do you start?

Besides the presets themselves, this is where the marketing a crucial role. Presets sell especially when you already a name in the photo world have. Through your website, YouTube or Instagram you can promote the presets among others.

Become active on YouTube

How to make money through YouTube? If you there videos Upload and these videos enough hits then YouTube will pay you money to show ads there.

How do you start?

The first thing you need to do is YouTube Channel about your photography Build. You should Ongoing produce interesting videos and get as many subscribers as possible. With time you can start monetizing within YouTube.

My YouTube channel could also be better maintained

My YouTube channel could also be better maintained&

Offer travel lectures

If you like to travel, it can be a profitable business model for you to offer travel lectures afterwards. The basis is Photos of the trip as a presentation work up. With that, you can then move onto Tour go and give this talk in different places. Of course, marketing also plays a big role here.

How do you start?

Besides the Creation of the actual presentation you need organize events yourself. You need to find spaces for it, get ticket sales going and then promote the event itself.

Selling usage rights

Selling usage rights works primarily passively, at least for me. Agencies Want to create a flyer or a website, for example. For this they are looking for pictures. If they now get attention to your pictures, then comes one Request for the rights of use of the respective image in.

How do you start?

You should spread your pictures as much as possible on the net. Picture communities, photo competitions and an own website are important. Also Search engine optimization plays a role here. On your own website must then of course contact possibility Be available to you.

Become a sponsor / influencer

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If you have a certain reach, it can be interesting for companies, sponsor you. Then you get an amount of money for using their photo equipment and getting this out there through your social channels as well.

Especially On Instagram it is common for a company to pay money to have their product in the photos. Depending on how many followers you have, this can be a profitable business.

How do you start?

The most important thing is to have a name in the photography world. This can happen in many different ways. It certainly makes sense to Build good Instragram channel with lots of followers. Then at some point you can also approach companies on your own initiative and ask for cooperation. Normally, however, the companies come anyway at some point to you.

My Instagram profile

My Instagram profile

Set up your own (online) store

Running your own (online) store can be a major project. First and foremost Trade in photo products. However, it can also be interesting to sell through the store your own products offer.

A Idea would be, for example, to focus only on filters. Especially in the field of ND filters or gray graduated filters there are still some manufacturers like Lee or Singh-Ray, which are not so easy to get in Germany.

How to get started?

Especially with an online store, you can first of all start small. For the first steps you don’t need an inventory with 1.000 products, 20 will do. Here’s one Investment necessary to store a small stock for this purpose. For your own online store, website hosters like All-Inkl offer ready-made store installations that allow you to start right away without any major programming knowledge. Again, the key factor here is Marketing.

Lending photo equipment

Similar to a store is another business model, Photo equipment not to sell, but to lend. Many people want to try out a camera or lens before they buy it. Borrowing a larger camera for a specific job is also relevant for one or the other photographer.

How do you start?

For a rental, of course, you need your own cameras and lenses, in which you need to invest in advance. So to start this model bigger investment needed. In addition to a website, you should then be looking at Online marketing employ.

offer image editing as a service

Some photographers have a relatively fixed workflow for their images. So it can make financial sense to make the Post-processing of photos not to make themselves, but to a service provider. This service provider could be you.

How to get started?

On platforms like Fiverr, Upwork or MyLittleJob you can create a profile and offer your skills. Interested parties will find you there and commission you then with the postprocessing of their pictures. The more orders you have processed there, the more money you can charge for your services as well.

Sell your pictures as prints

This point is especially interesting for the artists among us. You can print your own pictures on Exhibitions, your website or via appropriate Platforms sell. If you need more information about printing, you can find it in my post about printing photos.

How do you start?

First of all, of course, you need a good portfolio with your work. Then you should ask Exhibitions and Openings strive. Also your own website can be provided with suitable Marketing contribute to the sale. About Platforms like Saatchiart, you can request to be included in their portfolio and start sales through it.

Photo prints for customers

conferences& Organize trade fairs

Have you ever been to Photokina?? There are a wide variety of trade fairs and conferences on a wide variety of photographic topics. When a strong organizational skills is your forte, then you can host such an event yourself.

How do you start?

To start, you should organize your event according to a specific Topic align. Which interesting Speaker there is here? Which Photo maker identify with this theme? Beside great Premises you probably need a Team, what this task with you stemmt. You need to sponsors search and your Event according to apply.

What makes a successful photographer?

How to become a successful photographer? If you have read carefully up to this point, you will not have missed the fact that I am marketing mentioned very often. I believe that with a successful photographer only about 20% of the capabilities is photography. With 80% the much more important skills are in marketing. You should keep your pictures and yourself marketing online and offline can. This is the only way to reach enough people to become successful with your photography business.

What makes a successful photographer?

What makes a successful photographer?

Do I need a business registration?

If you want to earn money with one of the 21 ways with photography, then you should definitely already have a Register a business. For the beginning it is enough to Sideline which you can apply for for very little money.

I registered my business online at the local business office 4 years ago in 10 minutes. The cost for this was 25 euros.

My recommendations for online marketing channels

If you want to build your photography business, then you need to decide for yourself what to do with your limited time start. Since my background is in online marketing, I would like you to recommend some channels.

Google My Business

Especially when it comes to local clients in contract photography, Google My Business is one of the most important factors. Here you can Achieve a lot with relatively little time. Customers search Google for "wedding photographer Kassel", for example, and then find the local providers with your phone number. Then the customer often just picks up the phone to make an appointment.

The Google My Business profile should well maintained its. There you can find in different fields Use search terms, which should be tailored to your own activity. Also you can always current images upload to this profile to attract customers to you.

My Google My Business profile

My Google My Business profile

Own website

An own website is part of the standard marketing repertoire. Depending on your knowledge and budget you can create a website Have it created externally or create it yourself.

If you don’t have the knowledge for it yet, then you can Learn along the way. If you register an address and a hosting service for your website, these hosters often have the option to directly install a specific software for your website. Here WordPress offers itself. This system is relatively easy to use and offers enough possibilities to expand your website later on.

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Maybe at first it seems like an impossible task to create your own website yourself, but it’s worth going down this path. You learn a tremendous amount of skills in the process, who will help you professionally later. If you get stuck with something just use Google to find the solution for it. Many other people have had to deal with the respective problem before you did. This is how you can almost always find help.

A blog is associated with a little more time. However, it is a good way to always have current work and projects to show from you. With WordPress you can create this blog on your own site and thus further expand your website.


Of course social media marketing is also important. Here I recommend that you build up a Facebook fan page. There are also many free tutorials and guides on the net. Many photographers complain that the normal reach of Google has been decreasing for months now. That is also true, however is worth it yourself, put a little money into your own posts on Facebook that are important to you.

For example, when I share a new blog post on Facebook, people see that post without spending money only ca. 50 people. However, if I promote the post with 5 euros for my Facebook followers, then I make sure that the people who have liked my page also see this post. So I reach about 500 people. I write about 2 new posts per month, so with a total of 10 euros per month, these costs are also still absolutely within limits.

My Facebook Fanpage


As a photographer you hardly get around today Instagram around. Here it is, post new photos regularly, the to use the right hashtags and Be active in the community. There are many different social channels, but to keep the effort manageable, I would recommend only Facebook and Instagram in the end. With it you can also the biggest effect achieve.


That was surely a lot of new information for you. If you plan to make money with your photography, then do not wait for a certain time. You don’t need a new video camera or a better reflex camera. Strictly speaking, you could use almost all business models even completely implement with your smartphone.

Take one or two of these ways and start with it.

What are your experiences with earning money with photos?? What worked for you and what didn’t? Write me in the comments! Also, if you want, I can give you a short notice every time I make a new post, so you don’t miss anything anymore.

Matthias Haltenhof

I’m Matthias and I’ve been passionately photographing landscapes and architecture for more than 15 years. You can learn more about me here. If you don’t want to miss any more articles, just leave your email and I’ll send you my latest blog posts regularly.


I take photos as a hobby and make my pictures available for work (tourist information/community). Here I got for a few pictures a cost contribution. Now a guest would like to have a picture file of my pictures to enlarge. How should I best proceed here now? With the cost contribution, did the municipality thus buy the image file from me and I can thus send it to the guest, or should I require a small contribution for the file from the guest for this purpose?
Thanks for a help in advance. LG Vicki

It depends on what rights of use you have agreed with the municipality. May they pass on your pictures freely for use by others?

thanks for your quick message. Yes the community can share my pictures freely. So then I can just send the picture to the guest without asking for money, as this then goes directly through my work. Let me get this straight?
LG Vicki. &

then the municipality may make the picture available to the guest free of charge.

Hello Matthias, first I must say great article. I can really take a lot from it.

I still have a question. I have built a website because I want to offer my photos for sale. These I print out at home, because I bought a photo printer, this can print up to size A3. The prices for A4 and A3 are also already fixed and are also given on the website with and if someone wants the photo larger only on request, because I would have to order this. Now I ask myself the question of whether I now already have to register a small business or not……da I do not know if that is accepted at all. I really do not know what to do. Above all soas one announces also not every day& How does that run off? Maybe you have. Oh a few tips for me? Greetings Alex

thank you! The rule of thumb because of business is: as long as you have under 2000 € a year in profit, the tax office is usually quite indifferent to it. profit = expenses – income. Keep in mind that you also have expenses due to website hosting and the purchase of the printer. Since your profit is currently even in the minus. So you can start first and see how it goes. If it works very well right away, you can make a business registration even retroactively. Let’s go! &

Thank you for your reply ✌&

Glad you put in the work!

Thanks a lot! A great article.

Thank you Monika!

Hy, I find your articles really great. I take pictures more for me as a hobby, but would also like to do it a bit more public and evtl. also earn some money with it. What worries me a little bit is, when do I have to register a business, so do I have to do that if I want to try it first and what about the rights to the pictures?. I mainly photograph landscapes as well. But what if there are buildings on it or even people or animals of someone. How does it work with people’s permission and when do I need it?. Maybe you can help me out a bit there or tell me where I can find exact info on it.
Many thanks already.

thank you! As far as I know, it is also possible to register a business retroactively. You can start making the first steps towards finances in the new year for example. If you then find, for example, that you in September slowly money comes in, then you can for example retroactively from June still register the trade. As long as it’s small amounts anyway, I don’t think you need to worry about this point for now. I think everything what is under 500 or rather 1000 € in the year, the tax office does not interest so much.

When it comes to rights, it depends a little bit on the subject. If a person is your main subject, then you’ll need an appropriate modeling contract. If 5 people are casually included in an architectural photo of public property, then it is not. Basically, if individuals, private animals or private property are the main motive, I would rather secure myself with an appropriate contract. Architectural photos usually don’t need permission as long as they are taken from public land. These rules of thumb apply in Germany, and you can’t hold me to them&

Besides, asking costs nothing. This is also how you get in touch with the people in question, and maybe you’ll get insights you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.

Hello Matthias,
thanks for your tips! I have a special question: I like to edit my photos with apps. If I want to sell the photos as print, how is that legally? Can I just?
Dear greetings

if you have bought the app or it is officially free, there is no problem here.

Dear Matthias,
thanks for the good news and the super fast answer!

a very good and detailed contribution. I too am currently trying to implement some of your listed points and set myself up more broadly.

Marketing is the be-all and end-all. I see this almost every day. You have to find ways to draw attention to yourself.

Many greetings from Winterberg,

thank you! How are your experiences with selling your prints so far??

I have one/two questions. I guess I am one of the hobby photographers as they say but am thinking of earning a bit of money on the side with mainly landscape/travel photography u.a. also with the sale of calendars and postcards. The trade office now tells me that this requires an entry in the chamber of commerce. How do I do that exactly and what does it cost? Can you help me there maybe?

registering a sideline is certainly not a bad thing. After I got the first bill from the chamber of commerce, I talked to them on the phone. In the conversation I have said how much I currently earn with it (at the time approx. 70 € in the year). I should then confirm this again in writing. Then you have waived me the amount. That’s how it went in the second and third year as well. The normal membership costs otherwise approx. 350 €.

first of all thank you for this really helpful blog.
Furthermore it would be very helpful if you could help me regarding the right appearance on Instagram. Should I continue to run my site in German or is it more advantageous to "convert" it to English??
(As website I put my Instagram profile because I don’t have a website)

Thank you, Markus

thank you! I’m not very active on Instagram myself and I’m not warming up to this channel either. So I can’t give you any tips about this.

Ok anyway thanks for the quick reply!

Hi, I love taking photos but don’t know how to make money from it. Can you help me with this?

Look above, I have shown 21 ways to do this.

working for newspapers hardly works as you described it. There are blue light photographers who go out to some catastrophes and then offer the pictures to the editorial offices. But this is rather unserious because you are directly dependent on the number and severity of accidents. Besides, it’s not so much about taking pictures, but rather about surrounding yourself with a network of informants from the police and fire departments. Normally, however, as a freelance photographer you get the photo appointments from the editorial office. In editorial conferences, topics are set and their weighting is determined. Then the extent of the reporting depends on it. Copywriters and photographers are then booked accordingly. A good way to get a taste of the field is to take on a vacation replacement. Many newspapers offer daily rates. The move between 140 – 250 euro. This seems to be little, but it ensures that within a very short time in the distribution area of the newspaper you really get to know a lot of people and can make extensive contacts. Which can result in many nice photo assignments and freelance work. If there are pictures of you in the newspaper every day anyway, and you are present in the cityscape, you can save all the marketing. Prerequisite for the job is that you can imagine what the editorial staff really needs in terms of images and you also only deliver those. You have to be able to offer a good mix of portrait and landscape formats that are labeled according to standards. Better ten bangers than 100 louses. In addition, you should be able to get the pictures out very quickly. If you then have no shyness in front of people and desire to constantly new then it can be a really good job!

Thank you for the insight, very exciting!

Hello Matthias,
very interesting article…I’m just about to turn my hobby into a career, so a similar situation to yours at the time. And for me it is clear that especially at the beginning it needs something in addition to photography, and for this the area of online marketing is certainly super suitable. I already work in photography on the side. And my first step a few weeks ago was definitely to create my own homepage, as well as build Instagram and Facebook channels. Can you give any other tips?

thank you! You’re certainly on a good track there already. Actually I don’t have any more advice for you. It is important that you stay with the channels website, FB and IG and work there really continuously on it. Many give up after a short time, but if you always stick with it, you will win in the end.

thank you for this interesting report!
Some topics have already been implemented or are still being refined.
But there are also exciting new topics that I’m going to look at!

Kind regards

with pleasure! Excited to see your results, let’s hear from you then!

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