First off, just because you love taking photos does NOT mean you should pursue a career in commercial photography
While there are many benefits to being a commercial photographer, there are quite a few drawbacks as well.
So, before we go into the mechanics on how you can make $100,000+/year as a part-time commercial photographer working 10-15 hours a week, let's go through the pros and cons of being a commercial photographer:
- THE FREEDOM - you get to set your own hours and schedule. You choose your clients, and you choose the models you want to work with to make your vision a reality. If I wanted to fly out to Prague or Tokyo or Paris tomorrow, I could. I haven't had to use an alarm clock for over 11 months now. I'm my own boss. And, I don't have to answer to anybody other than myself.
- THE MONEY - For me, the money has never been the most important thing to me. The freedom is - to have the freedom to choose how I spend my time and with whom. Because I only work 15-20 hours a week, the vast majority of my time I do things I enjoy with people I like hanging out with. What makes this degree of freedom possible is the money. As a habit, every night before I go to bed, I check my business checking account. And, every morning, before I even brush my teeth, I check the account and there's at least $1000 in there that wasn't there the night before. Before I decided to become a commercial photographer, I used to dread mornings and having to go to work; now I wake up excited to start each day.
- THE OPPORTUNITY - The one thing my photographer mentor taught me that changed everything for me was that "everything on Earth that can be sold, can be sold more effectively with effective photography." When this truly sunk in for me, it created so much abundance in my life and in my mindset. Basically what this means is that EVERY BUSINESS ON EARTH can benefit greatly from having a commercial photographer on staff. So the profit potential is TRULY and ABSOLUTELY UNLIMITED. I choose to only work a max of 20 hours a week to make about $40,000/month ($470,000/year), but I know that - if I really wanted to, I could work as much as 40 hours a week and make nearly $1 million every year. But, again, I value freedom more than money at this point in my life.
- THE MODELS - Over the last 2 years of my relatively short career as a commercial photographer, I've worked with over 150 of the most beautiful women on this planet! Just one of the perks of this job. In fact, working with these models has blown away each and every one of the stereotypes I had of models before. I've found the vast majority of them to be extremely personable, professional and intelligent.
- TEDIOUS - I'll sometimes spend 3 hours to get the perfect shot for my clients. To get the perfect lighting setup. To choose the right model for the job. To get the perfect sunset capture for a client. For many photographers, the "rinse and repeat" nature of commercial photography is extremely frustrating and boring. For them, the fast-paced nature of event photography or wedding photography is better suited for their personality. On the other hand, for me, because I have borderline paralyzing levels of social anxiety, I much prefer the low-stress nature of commercial photography over the excited, fast-paced chaos of wedding photography.
- UNINSPIRING WORK - Let's get real here: as commercial photographers, we are not helping our clients capture memories that will last them a lifetime (like wedding photographers do). We are helping them to move product. That's it. Nothing really life-changing. If you want to save lives, be an EMT or a doctor. You'll never receive a thank you card from your clients saying how much your work has impacted their lives, etc. However, as a commercial photographer, you help your clients push past revenue plateaus and beat sales records. Again, not life-changing stuff. But, rewarding nevertheless (at least for me).
- BEING ACCUSED OF "SELLING OUT" - As a commercial photographer, I create commercially viable images for a living. Meaning that I create relatively formulaic images that help my clients sell product and make money. So, I'm not in the business of creating truly ground-breaking photography that's going to get hung up at a museum and inspire millions of people to pick up photography. I'm not trying to create any waves in the artistic community here. It's kind of like when an indie artist goes mainstream and starts creating Billboard Top 40 hits on the regular. Like these artists, commercial photographers make a ton of money but have to face the backlash of the critics who will accuse them of "selling out" and valuing money over creativity
- LONELY - Much of the time I work alone - by myself or with a model. No funny co-workers to joke around with. No corporate parties or get-togethers. The downside to only working 15-20 hours a week and having the freedom to choose where and when I want to do my work (I can conduct business from wherever in the world I want, so long as I have Wifi and a phone connection) is spending much of my time alone - in solitude. And, yes, the loneliness is a killer sometimes
So, those are, in my opinion, the top PROS and the top CONS of being a commercial photographer.
If I haven't scared you away with the cons and you are still interested in pursuing a career in commercial photography, I encourage you to come out to one of our $10 Expressions Glamour Club shoots. It's an easy and stress-free way to get started in the commercial photography field.
Our photographers and models are here to help you. Through Expressions Glamour Club, my mission is to help as many photographers as possible to make a 6-figure income working part-time as a fashion/glamour photographer with us by coming out to our $10 shoots.
If you are curious what our $10 shoots are like, please check out our behind-the-scenes footage from our recent shoots at https://vimeo.com/259103587/411ecae5c9
If you'd like to attend one of our $10 shoots, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/465803913613458/permalink/714703662056814/ and comment with which shoot(s) you'd like to attend