The presence of computers in the home, the Internet, and digital cameras have brought us a new category of professional: the self-sufficient home freelance photographer. Before the Internet, this would have been a prohibitive venture; you’d have to send printed photos in the mail, and you’d have to correspond with publishers and buyers. On the photography end, you would have had to have your own darkroom studio to develop film in.
These days, you only have two expenses: a computer and a digital camera. Once you have both of those, you can actually go into business not just for low cost, but for zero cost!
Freelancing from home has become the new option for the 21st century workforce. Dozens of freelancing websites have sprung up all over the World Wide Web. They all use a process more or less like this:
* Buyers post a job request on the site. They might be publishers, webmasters, or any variety of business.
* Registered sellers post bids on the job in an auction. Frequently they’ll put up an example of their work or a portfolio or resume.
* The buyer selects the winning bid and work commences through the site.
* The buyer pays the money and the seller delivers the work.
Another version of this, which is done slightly different, is the stock photography site. Dozens of these have emerged on the Internet too, and in these cases the provider uploads their finished work, and buyers can browse the site and buy individual pieces as suits their needs. So it’s kind of the opposite process from the auction-bid model.
In choosing subjects for stock photography, you have to think really simple. There’s plenty of shots of the Eiffel Tower out there, but day-to-day businesses need quality photographs of very ordinary subjects. A pair of glasses, a desk, a phone, a dog, a car, or an office environment are some examples of subjects which can be needed for product branding, website display, and incorporating into graphics designs on everything from product packaging to T-shirts.
Model photography is another pressing need online. Companies always like to have quality images of real people to give their product or service the human touch. In photographing models, you might have visions of taking glamorous shots of sexy swimsuit models, but in reality all kinds of people’s images are needed. So don’t overlook capturing an adorable kid for kid’s products, or some active seniors out for a morning jog to provide images for products marketed to seniors. And don’t forget pet photography, too!
In uploading a photo to a computer and processing it, you will need some photo-handling software. The industry favorite for this is still Adobe Photoshop, but the cost is daunting. Many free alternatives are available if your needs are less sophisticated. There is open source software including the Gimp and Cinepaint, and there are commercial free programs such as Google’s Picasa, Microsoft’s Paint.NET, and Serif PhotoPlus. Many users are fearful of using anything besides Photoshop, but remember that all image processing tools are roughly equivalent; what matters is the skill of the user and not the tool! In the case of open source programs, you would be reassured to know that movie studios in Hollywood use Gimp and Cinepaint themselves, and indeed even have their own staff of developers to improve the software.
The low costs and almost no barriers to entry mean that your overhead will be little to nothing, and so you can afford to charge less for your work. You should prepare yourself to accept far lower prices for your work than you would have 20 years ago, because the effect of all this innovation is that you are competing with the global market. That means that if some guy in Romania is willing to do what you do for a dollar cheaper, you’ll be undercut.
Fortunately, the removal of all of those previous barriers to entry for the photography business means that you can focus on quickly producing much more work and selling it just as fast. The profit margin for working from home is lower than what you’d get working hourly for a company, but consider that your costs are next to nothing and you can work most of the time in your pajamas. After a while, freelancing on the Internet feels less like a job and more like the ultimate MMORPG – you just keep score with money!
This English photographer knows how to have fun while he takes some creative shots and inexpensively too!:
Ray has provided access to his down-loadable guide at this link on
starting a profitable photography business from home.