If you're interested in turning your passion for photography into a new career opportunity, you may be wondering what it's like to be a freelance photographer. In the world of freelance professional photography, however, no two days are ever the same. In fact, the unpredictability of the freelance lifestyle is often considered to be one of its main advantages.
In the United States, almost half of all professional photographers are considered to be self-employed. Freelance photographers have many different types of job opportunities available. Some may specialize in photojournalism by working for newspapers, magazines, or Web sites. Others may deal primarily in commercial photography, shooting photos for catalogs and product advertisements. Portrait photography or wedding photography are also possible areas of specialization.
When working on freelance assignments, photographers often face long hours and short deadlines. Depending upon their area of specialization, photographers may also spend a large amount of time traveling from one photo shoot to another. In many cases, they are working with people who may not share their creative vision for the project. For this reason, strong interpersonal communication skills and an outstanding work ethic are essential for a successful career as a freelance photographer.
One of the most common misconceptions regarding freelance photographers is that they do nothing but take pictures. In the early stages of his or her career, however, a freelance photographer will likely spend more time looking for work than taking pictures. Only when a freelance photographer has a strong portfolio and solid industry connections will he or she be able to spend the majority of the day taking pictures. For this reason, it's important for photographers to set rates that are high enough to help compensate for all of the time they spend marketing their services.
Like writers, graphic designers, and other self-employed professionals, freelance photographers have many administrative tasks they must perform to keep their business running. They must keep track of all expenses, process invoices, and keep detailed records in order to pay all necessary taxes on their earnings. While not necessarily exciting, these duties must be completed in order to keep the freelancer's career on track.
A focus on continued professional development is often considered a key component of becoming a successful freelancer. A freelance photographer can often be found reading photography books, taking classes, and attending workshops to help improve his or her photography skills. Entering photography competitions is also common, since these events can provide exposure and opportunities for further career advancement.