Want to know how to make money as a street photographer? Read this piece.
Photography is a fine arts genre, where photos are captured by an observer using a device, with the light available through natural or unnatural circumstances.
Though most people assume it to be a casual activity and dabble in it as a hobby, only professionals know the struggles surrounding the job and how, much like any other art form, it requires dedication, hard work, and unique talent to make money and a decent living.
And like genres of art, the photography business has its various fields, and Street photography is one of them.
Considered a rebellious style by individuals of the community and the public, street photography is when the photographs captured often attribute spontaneity, random events, and unplanned settings in a public backdrop. It is also often called candid photography, though the terms are similar but not the same.
Street photography doesn’t necessarily have to be set in urban streets or have huge crowds. Sometimes the people are features with consent, and sometimes not. Street photography can also speak about humanity or the trace of human existence, rather than only capturing human beings.
Dive into the History
Capturing a candid moment, the people on the street and historical circumstances in a very realistic manner have existed in art through time. Street photography has featured people’s lives through time since portable cameras were introduced.
Street photography gained popularity as a genre in the photography business in the same era as photography, presented by Louis Daguerre, the French photographer, also called the father of photography.
His photography of Boulevard du Temple vaguely captures a man getting his shoe polished by the empty street. This photograph could be called one of the foremost examples of street photography. This style picked up popularity in the United States around the same time when Jazz was introduced to the continent, as photos tried to sell depictions of mundane daily life.
A street photographer cannot just capture any image. Like Cartier Bresson points out, they must have a point of view, of a perspective in the photographs that they capture. There have been many street photographers throughout history, some recognized in their life where they were selling photos and making money, and some after, through their photography in negative films and personal photo books.
This too has its techniques, styles, and detailed studies for those keen on mastering the art of street photography and stand out in the crowd of millions today who dabble in stock photography or use it as a means to make money.
They have also been often confused with documentary photographers; where documentary photographers have a message to convey and a particular event to record, street photographers often sell on the randomity and uniqueness that comes with capturing pictures in an undefined manner in a public setting and making it appealing to the photography business.
Street photography as a fine art
Street photography business, much like any other photography, is a field where the art form improves over time and through experience. Venturing in this genre with no knowledge is hardly advised.
It almost always helps to have attended workshops and training to help a photographer understand the genre, experiment with other genres, and finally find that street photography is their forte.
Most amateur photographers, who are better at teaching the art of photography, advise others to submit their images to stock websites and make merchandise to earn passive money through time. While it is not bad advice, as a photographer, it almost always tarnishes your portfolio if your photographs are submitted to stock images platforms.
For photographers who view their fields as a form of art, utilizing their skills to sell their work to the general public who cannot appreciate the effort or skill is a huge disappointment.
Nick Turpin made quite a few valuable points in ways to monetize your street photography, as well as Eric Kim, who spoke of this genre as an art form that is steadily developing in the current digital world.
Often considered a hobby by people interested in photography, street photography is one of the most challenging fields and even harder to monetize for a living. As advised by numerous individuals in the community, any photograph, like any art, makes good money with the proper marketing skills and advertising.
And the reason most people consider this genre a hobby than a source of income is due to its legalities that need to be considered for the sales and the gamble it is with what people would think as a good photograph.
Like any artist, a photographer, especially a street photographer who has their unique style in capturing the images or recording events, is more likely to attract the eye of people and distinguished artists than capturing random images not focussing on any particular concept.
There are only a handful of street photographers today who only work on the streets to capture their photographs there, rather than depend on other genres for financial benefits. In the field of street photography itself, though there is minor editing, it often speaks of capturing images as it is and not adding or cropping or editing romantic elements to make the photograph attractive and aesthetic.
Many people start street photography as something they love doing, and it is easy to dive headlong into business if one starts to monetize it and completely forgets the purpose of why they chose it. People have often turned this hobby into a profession chasing revenue and not the passion for the art.
So, today we will see the different ways in which you can make money being a street photographer.
How to Make Money as a Street Photographer?
1. Digital Sales
Today with technology, there are numerous internet markets to buy and sell everything, including street photography. Many websites purchase photos from artists for their platforms and attribute them mutually benefit.
This way, the same image can also be sold to multiple individuals willing to pay. Though digital sales may be a little slow and pretty rare, people genuinely interested come looking for original works of high-quality images and would pay to get the actual work through the photographer’s unique camera style and prints.
With most people having either random choices or particular tastes in their decor and fashion, making merchandise and photos’ prints based on requests or in bulk for sales on specific platforms is an excellent way to invest and make money.
Some companies purchase focused street photography to print t-shirts, posters, and greeting cards. These could also be bought in concentration by specific people who are fans of a particular photographer’s work.
Often money from street photography cannot be the only way to make money. Hence many photographers mean to start selling prints of their works.
3. Review Products and Camera
While most photographers create video content on famous platforms like Youtube channels to talk about the best camera they have used to capture better photos and the features of each product through product photography as well, street photographers can focus on reviewing products or props that a professional photographer would use particularly for their style, capturing high-quality photos and the commercial work in street photography.
This would give a unique perspective to the video content and the selling side, highlight the photography gear most photographers prefer and inform those looking to dabble in this genre. Placing ads on your video will also add to the passive revenue on Youtube channels.
4. Photography Blog
Having a fixed domain or a blog and actively updating it with new works not only add value to the portfolio but also is an excellent way of advertisement and passive revenue.
Sometimes, a photography blog can earn money with your page as a business, while some allow revenues depending on website traffic and follower numbers. Placing sponsored links and affiliate links also works.
5. Stock Websites
Though making money through stock photos is not an appreciated form of revenue, stock photography is a steady long-term investment that brings you money passively through time if street photography is a passionate hobby for extra cash and earning money but not something that can affect your mainstream finances.
These sites are Dreamstime, Shutterstock, BigStock, Unsplash, and Pixabay. The key to getting noticed on these platforms is adding loads of relevant keywords and describing your work as detailedly as possible.
Today Social Media websites have become a resume of their own, with an Instagram account being a hub for photographers. While it is easy to be a subject of fraudulent individuals looking to steal your work, Instagram is also an excellent platform for the right companies and artists to find you if you are a successful micro-blogger through steady well-timed posts and corresponding with the platform’s algorithm.
7. Tutorials, Editing, and Restoration
While it isn’t glamorous work or something that any photographer dreams of, restoration of old photographs and films appeals to vintage lovers. With a growing fanbase for vintage aesthetics, restoration is a budding job opportunity.
However, the challenge of finding the proper organization to work for or to find new clients exists. Photo editors are hired by numerous companies today to make a specific work match the theme and vibe of their work style.
8. Prints and Books
It is still a prevalent way to market and sell street photography. The photographs captured could be printed into photo books as a collection of commercial work and model releases’ photography by following a theme or a particular style.
Due to its unique style, it can also be printed in full-size photographs to the public as candid photos or as first value creation.
Like any novel reader, with the growth of e-readers and e-books, there is still a crowd of people who prefer hard-copy books and printouts for the aesthetic appeal, the status it represents, and the personal sentiment it brings them.
These books can also be an insight into the techniques used or how an image can be focused on capturing a sentiment.
9. Articles and Ad Illustrations
People looking for ways to market a particular article or data will know that using the correct image will boost the article in ways that no article without an image would, and it would not take a photojournalist to realize the power of visual media.
Illustrating images for travel magazines through travel photography, picking gigs for the local newspaper, advertising agencies help many photographers to earn money. Being reserved as a photographer and hiding your works will not get you recognized.
Often street photographers have to chase agencies or contacts in their network for the right opportunity to boost their career and work.
10. Direct Sales
When clicking a picture in a public setting, often the strangers that are covered are informed in advance or later about the photograph captured and seek consent to clear out the legalities and copyrights issues. Selling the picture to them or giving it free in return for some advertising through their connections is a way of monetizing this work.
Freelancing for independent stores in nearby localities or shops that need advertising works for you like artwork in your portfolio and as a promotional step of advertising for them. Joining freelancer websites is also a suitable method, but often tedious depending on the work assigned.
Making deals with local small-scale merchants, local magazines and fashion magazines, and media outlets adds to the portfolio and improve the photographer’s expertise and skills.
10. Teaching Street Photography
While it is not professionally being a street photographer, it is a very reasonable and steady method of income to maintain a livelihood. Teaching has its pros and cons. While demanding the skills of a teacher, it also has the challenge of communicating the knowledge effectively to new learners.
A typical path most amateurs take is conducting workshops to teach this genre of photography. Another convenient revenue method would be signing up to an online skills training platform and recording informative videos to upload there. While that could very quickly become a passive revenue, it will still have traffic due to its educational purposes.
Street photography can be taught in the field during particular tourist seasons or weekends by sharing experience, personal insight on techniques and styles, and engaging the crowd into the local attractions to attempt the new learnings.
11. Personal Projects, Gallery Shows, and Cinemagraphs
Organizing trips to capture candid moments from a specific location or capturing street photography during a particular event or historical situation would be an excellent opportunity to project it as a personal project and sell it to artists interested in it or who would invest in the photos.
This could also be an opportunity to display their works to the public and capture the eyes of people who are curious about this style. Cinemagraphs are short videos where the photos captured are animated in a gif-like manner.
It often captures viewers’ attention and can also be used as a marketing tool on advertising and social media platforms.
12. Wedding Photography
Wedding photographers having a portfolio of previous works of shooting weddings and attempting to capture someone’s special day in their unique style of capturing candid moments works for many artists in today’s world, for both selling prints and making money.
Many street photographers attempt wedding photography to capture these moments in an urban, street style, and authentic manner. The couple and the guests are captured in their rawest, genuine moments.
They can also be considered fine art photographers in these moments as they capture essential moments, unlike other street photographers who don’t dabble in wedding photos.
13. Photo Contests and Photo consulting
While it is a chance opportunity for amateurs and professional street photographers, it has some bare minimum value to attempt it at least once. The chance of winning a contest brings cash and a product or a feature in a specific brand’s works, which is a professional boost in its way.
Photo consulting is not a popular job, though it is considered in advertising agencies to use the right kind of images to depict the exact idea in their mind and choose the accurate picture to keep the focus on their topics.
Street photography is a challenging field of work as it isn’t mainstream as that of a professional photographer and is a very vague form of making money. Not many people are ready to buy close-up focussed shots of strangers or street photos for their homes or workspaces.
The main challenge is advertising the works to reach the right audiences and shifting to the business side. Knowing one’s strengths before beginning into commercial photography works wonders to drive their focus.
Knowing the strengths could also guide them to pick how to make money as a street photographer, along with keeping their passion for the genre alive and thriving. As mentioned earlier, developing a street style and sticking to it highlights the photographers’ work and attracts many eyes.
While any job line can be unstable at a point, photography is a fast-developing field with millions trying to succeed with their talents and influence. In the end, it is almost always talent and the right connections that lead to the success of any artist.