11 Ways Photographers Can Make Money at Home in 2020

11 Ways Photographers Can Make Money at Home in 2020

We’ve asked these inspiring creatives to share their ideas on diversifying your income, from online stores to virtual workshops and everything in between.

According to a Bankrate survey conducted last year, almost half of working Americans have a gig outside of their regular jobs. In the age of the coronavirus, these “side hustles” can be more important than ever, especially for photographers who are used to traveling the globe and organizing shoots in faraway locations.

Artists have been hard-hit by the pandemic. An ongoing survey from Americans for the Arts suggests that ninety-five percent of creatives have experienced a loss of income. At the same time, many are finding creative ways to connect with their communities, market their work, and make money on the side.

11 Ways Photographers Can Make Money at Home in 2020 — Be ResourcefulExplore creativity in everyday moments. Image by antoniodiaz.

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“What I’ve learned from all of this is that photographers can be very resourceful,” Mexico-based Shutterstock Contributor Antonio Diaz admits. “Without the possibility of using professional models and going out to shoot, I think I’ve become even more creative when it comes to planning and executing a project. This time has taught me that you can work with what you have at the moment — you don’t need much.”

We asked a dozen photographers from around the world to tell us how they’re adapting to life at home — and even earning money in the process. Read on for their tips and ideas for making the most of the situation.

1. Schedule a Remote Photo Shoot

11 Ways Photographers Can Make Money at Home in 2020 — Revisit Archived MaterialYou can also take this time to revisit archived material. Image by Shea Evans.

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“I was a chef before I was a food photographer, so when the pandemic hit, I pivoted and created a special gallery on my website of all of the shoots that I had styled at home alone,” Northern California-based photographer Shea Evans recalls. “From there, I began marketing that to folks looking to do remote shoots while we shelter in place.’

“I also figured out how to set up my router to allow remote access so a client can watch a shoot happen in real-time via the Capture One app — Capture Pilot — from anywhere in the world. They can see images seconds after they were made, scroll through the whole shoot, and rate images, just like they would be able to do if we were on set together.”

11 Ways Photographers Can Make Money at Home in 2020 — Remote Photo ShootsSet up an avenue for your clients to view your work remotely. Image by Yuya Parker.

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Yuya Parker, a photographer based in Los Angeles, has also been offering clients remote photo shoots — through Zoom! “Here’s how it works,” he tells us. “The prop stylist orders props online and provides artistic direction via Zoom. The stylist and clients can see live views and stills off the camera.’ 

“It took some time to get used to it, but it’s a lot of fun. Although the stylist and clients are participating in the photo shoot remotely, it saves time, energy, and cost for all of us. I’m thinking that if I can keep up the quality of the work I produce from these remote shoots, this could be an ongoing thing and something I can offer to clients even after the pandemic.” 

2. Host Workshops

11 Ways Photographers Can Make Money at Home in 2020 — Resources for StudentsWorkshops provide a great learning resource for students. Image by Michal Durinik.


“Since I’m actually a university teacher in my day job, I recently took on teaching photography online,” Slovakian photographer Michal Durinik tells us. “My new teaching gig supplements my work on Shutterstock well. I have video courses students can access on Udemy, and many of them have become successful Shutterstock Contributors themselves. I was never into making videos before now, but preparing my courses has been a much-needed push in that direction.”

3. Join a Freelance Platform

As Hayden Brown, the President and CEO of Upwork told Fortune in April, we might well see an uptick in freelance workers during the coronavirus pandemic, due in part to the security that comes with having several streams of income. By signing up to a site like Upwork or Freelancer, you can connect with clients looking for photographers. They will get a fee based on the transaction, and you’ll keep the rest.

4. Release a How-To Guide

11 Ways Photographers Can Make Money at Home in 2020 — Create an Online GuideCreate an online guide focusing on your area of specialty. Image by Kim Bear.

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“During this time, I set out to drive more exposure and connections,” Kansas-based photographer Kim Bear explains. “I created a simple free lighting guide to help drive website traffic, and I also created a Vintage Modern Prop Guide to inspire others to create a prop capsule that can be mixed and matched to create both timeless and modern still shots.” In her thirty-two-page prop guide, she covers everything from where to find props to how to store them, all in one package.

5. Join #TheFrontStepsProject

11 Ways Photographers Can Make Money at Home in 2020 — Give Back to the CommunityGive back to the community by donating your time and talent to a non-profit organization. Image by NadyaEugene.

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Launched in March by the Massachusetts photographers Cara Soulia and Kristen Collins, the idea behind The Front Steps Project is simple — participating photographers create portraits of local families outside their homes. They follow any and all social distancing restrictions, and the shoots last for five minutes or less. 

In exchange for the professional photos, clients donate to a local non-profit to help them weather this difficult time. As of May 9th, more than 450 photographers have taken part, raising $1,250,000 for local hospitals, food pantries, animal shelters, and others.

This one isn’t so much about making money for ourselves but contributing to the community — and that’s something the Artists and Shutterstock Contributors behind NadyaEugene can get behind. “Volunteering your time to create portraits of families on the balcony, or front porch, during quarantine is a great option right now,” they suggest. “Just remember to stay positive and maintain social distancing rules!”

6. Open a Print Shop

11 Ways Photographers Can Make Money at Home in 2020 — Set up an Online Print StoreSet up an online print store where clients can view and purchase your work directly through you. Image by Josh Griggs.

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“Taking this time to organize my back catalog of images, with the purpose of selling prints, has been valuable,” Auckland-based photographer Josh Griggs tells us. “I have sold prints and framed prints for a while now, but mostly only when people inquire if it’s possible to get a particular image they like printed. I’m now in the process of setting up a permanent print store with some of my best images so people can see what is on offer all the time — not just if they inquire directly.’

“Through selling prints and framed prints, I have found a straightforward form of secondary income. For me, all images I print are already shot, so there are no additional costs on that front. I’ve also developed a great relationship with a local printing and framing company, so it’s easy and quick for me to send an order off to them. I am actually looking at ways to automate and increase the efficiency of the system even more, but in its current state, it still works very well.”

11 Ways Photographers Can Make Money at Home in 2020 — Keep Clients InformedKeep clients updated on new projects, but continue marketing your customary catalog. Image by Sara Wight.

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Once you’ve launched your shop, spread the word. “I have a huge archive of fine art landscape prints, so I’ve been promoting these images through social media and newsletters in order to gain more print sales,” Brooklyn-based photographer Sara Wight explains. 

“While it’s important to pivot, it’s equally important to continue to market the work you typically do. Clients like to see other projects you have going, but don’t give them cause for concern by not marketing your usual work. It’s important that they know you are still doing what they love and hire you for!”

7. Share a Tutorial

11 Ways Photographers Can Make Money at Home in 2020 — Create an Online TutorialUse this time to create an online tutorial around your specialized talent. Image by oneinchpunch.

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This one is similar to the virtual workshops mentioned previously, and you can sell it as a bundle through your website or another platform. “Right now, we are experiencing a new business trend, and that’s online video courses,” Italian photographer Cristian Negroni of oneinchpunch reflects. 

“I’ve developed a course on microstock in Italy (it’s in Italian), and I share a range of skills I’ve gathered throughout the years, from producing photos and videos to building video strategies. If you are good at something, this is something to explore! Start by promoting yourself online — through Instagram, Facebook, email marketing, etc. — to build an audience.’

“If you aren’t yet at a point where you can sell a course or monetize your skills, then use this period to learn from others. Join tutorials and online workshops, and learn the skills you’ve always wanted to have. Once we get back to work, you’ll be more prepared to tackle your creative projects.”

8. Sell Your Presets 

Many commercial stock photographers we’ve interviewed in the past have personalized Lightroom presets that they use to edit their photos, so why not monetize them? Instagram influencers have been selling custom Presets for years, whether it’s on their own websites or via marketplaces like Etsy or FilterGrade. 

9. Become a Mentor

11 Ways Photographers Can Make Money at Home in 2020 — Mentor Other CreativesPursue a mentor-style role, focusing on your particular skill set. Image by Darina Kopcok.


If you’d like to coach other creatives on a one-on-one basis, mentoring might be another avenue to explore. “As a photographer who concentrates on working in one genre, I have always pursued multiple income streams as a way of weathering the natural lulls in my business,” Vancouver-based photographer Darina Kopcok says. 

“Building side income through premium stock and e-book sales has become very helpful at this time, but I also provide one on one online mentorship services. I have seen an increase in these services as photographers have more time on their hands at the moment, and are wondering how to move forward in uncertainty.’

“Think about where your skills best fit and where you’d feel most comfortable, and pursue those avenues. For me, it’s working more behind-the-scenes shooting stock, writing articles and e-books, and coaching others.”

10. License Your Photos Through Shutterstock or Offset

11 Ways Photographers Can Make Money at Home in 2020 — License Your PhotosContinue promoting and selling your photography through Shutterstock or Offset. Image by View Apart.


“I’m lucky because, during this difficult time, I have enjoyed a solid passive income from stock photography,” Italian photographer Mirko Vitali of View Apart tells us. “Of course, I’ll start to organize photo shoots again as soon as this is over, but I have a lot of best-selling assets that have continued to sell throughout this pandemic. My biggest tip to other photographers is to create natural, authentic lifestyle images, as these are evergreen and always in demand.”

To ensure your photos are visible to clients, make sure to add metadata and titles. “In addition to opening up a print shop on my website for my more artistic photos, I’ve also been working on my stock photo work,” Kansas City-based photographer Anna Petrow reflects. “That means taking the time to keyword more carefully, create tighter edits for submission, and generally hone in on anything I can to increase the success of my stock sales.”

11. Organize a Stock Photo Shoot at Home

11 Ways Photographers Can Make Money at Home in 2020 — Explore the New NormalExplore the new normal by creating imagery specific to the pandemic. Image by Rido.

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In addition to uploading existing photos to Shutterstock, many contributors are creating new, timely content right now. “As professional photographers, we have had the opportunity to create a completely new array of images related to life during the pandemic,” Italian photographer Rido says. 

“In fact, in almost no time, the entire world started to need images and videos related to the new situation, and creators have had the opportunity to fill huge gaps in content. Even though the possibilities were limited due to the strict lockdown here at home, I managed to create some images and videos that I thought might be in huge demand — video conferences, working from home, and taking online classes, etc. I must say that they performed really well.”

Cover image by Rido.

Learn more about what brands are looking for and how creatives are innovating in stock imagery here:

6 Types of Visual Trends We’ll See in a Post-Quarantine WorldHow Brands Are Using Editorial Content to Capture the Here and Now6 Pro Tips on Creating Authentic Social Distancing ImagesThe Ultimate List of Free Business Resources for Photographers11 Ways to Create Stock Photos that (Actually) Sell in a Competitive Market

The post 11 Ways Photographers Can Make Money at Home in 2020 appeared first on The Shutterstock Blog.

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