For most photographers, getting a paid gig seems to be getting increasingly more difficult. With the advent of affordable DSLR cameras, nearly everyone is a photographer now and the market seems saturated.
The savvy photographer, however, realizes that the market is still thriving and well… if you know where to look.
Just as times change, markets change too. Below are five markets that are easy to penetrate if you have a plan and some drive. The best part? They're all hungry prospects looking for photographers!
1. Corporate functions/Event photography
Corporations are constantly looking to document events. Likewise, events are always taking place. Whether it be a fund raiser, a holiday party, a college graduation, or a mixer for the chamber of commerce, companies and individuals alike are always in the need for web photos and even prints.
Find yourself a niche in this market by joining organizations, participating in mixers, and using word of mouth to promote yourself. Other possible revenue streams could be: Corporate Head shots, architectural photos for print ads, and employee events/portraits/weddings.
2. Club/Bar Photography
Bars, restaurants, and clubs are always looking for photographers to document their hip new locations and trendy club-goers. They're looking for photos to use in fliers, website promotion, and possibly even wall art!
Find yourself a niche in this market by targeting restaurants and bars you frequent often. Start small. Ask the owners if they've ever thought about using photos to enhance sales for their restaurants. Once you've received a few paying gigs you can use the images as promotion to other club owners. Other possible revenue streams could be: Fashion work if you see the right person, stock photography (don't forget a model release!), and abstract art.
3. eBay Photo Guru
Every day, millions of people log onto eBay.com to find the perfect gift, toy, or collectors item. However, many items go overlooked because they don't have a photo. Help some people liquidate any items that might fetch a premium to the right buyer on eBay and other classified sites by offering to take photos of goods using a mobile studio. The mobile studio need not be extravagant, simply a white poster board and a flash could be sufficient.
Find yourself a niche in this market by working with sellers that list items frequently but have poorly designed listings, often with no photos. Use word of mouth along with posting ads on popular local classified sites like craigslist.org and backpage.com. Other revenue streams could be: catalog work for entrepreneurs that sell jewelry and widgets online. Also, you may find goodies you just can't live without and be able to negotiate a deal before it hits eBay!
4. Rock Band/musician photographer
Do you know of anyone that is in a band or performing arts? Big name bands pay big bucks for tour photographers. Shrink this philosophy to a local scale and charge a band for a nights worth of photos that they can use for their demo album, myspace page, and other promotions. Band photography can be tricky, so be sure to do some reading online before you accept a paying gig. It might be wise to do a few shoots for free just for experience.
Find yourself a niche in this market by making contacts at open mic night and larger band performances. Often opening bands are up and coming in the rock world and if you can get in early, you might be able to ride on the coat tails to a national tour! Other revenue streams could be: Night club, bar and venue photography contacts, other bands, fan print to order pictures, and newspaper submission abilities.
5. Real Estate Photography
Due to recent market changes, Realtors are looking for anything and everything to improve their chances of selling a home. There is nothing that helps a home stick out on the MLS more than a professional quality listing photo. Take the time to make the home look top notch and the Realtor will be nothing short of ecstatic with you. Get up early and use the early morning (or evening) light to work in your favor for exterior shots, and use a tripod or flash system to light the interior shots. If you can get the hang of this, you won't have time for any other business.
Find yourself a niche in this market by making contacts in the real estate industry. Stop at real estate branches and use morning meetings, fliers, and phone calls to get in touch with decision makers. Create a couple packages for agents to choose from to make the quickest sale with the least headache, then organize a time to gain access to the home. Realtors are huge on word of mouth advertising, so make sure to use it the best you can. Also team up with lenders and title agencies (if you have them in your area) for joint marketing campaigns. Other revenue streams could be: Office party event photographer and business head shots for promotional materials like business cards and web sites.
Like any endeavor, a business should have a plan and requires follow through and hard work. The reward, however, can be monstrous and well worth the effort. Be sure not to make promises you can't deliver upon, and handle yourself in an ethical manner. Also, always have a spare business card handy!