Imagery has never been more in demand across both the private and public sectors. Yet, many freelance photographers are struggling to land their ideal photographer jobs.
But why are freelance photographers struggling to find paid work?
For starters, advances in technology have made it even easier to produce high-quality images thus eliminating the need for professional freelance photographers in a number of areas.
The rise of the amateur photographer has also pushed low-level jobs out of the market and the influx of new photographers off the back of the recession in 2008 as well as the impact of COVID has created a highly competitive sector.
Stock imagery and image theft are also reducing the number of freelancer photographer jobs. The result of these changes is that landing paid photography jobs is harder than ever and it pays to have all the advice you can get to have an edge over the competition.
How to find freelance photography jobs
Here, we post a lot of paid freelance photographer jobs in a variety of sectors. We're also seeing some surprising markets open up that most photographers are not tapping into.
Some of the better-known markets include the wedding industry, corporate events, portraits, private parties, and celebrations while the less obvious sectors include photographing bloggers/stylists, online boutiques, property photography, as well as content creation for small to medium-sized businesses.
Although many companies are utilising in-house talent for low-level photographic content as well as tapping into stock photography sites, there is still plenty of work for photographers to get their teeth into. For some people, sourcing a photography apprenticeship might be the thing which helps them kickstart their career.
The trick is to know where to find freelancer photography jobs and how to land them.
Should you feel you are already in a position to apply for freelance photography work now, click the link above to start applying for paid photographer jobs.
However, if you'd like more advice on the process, tips on approach, and techniques for improving your chances of getting the job, read on.
If you are looking to post a photography job and hire a photographer for a project, click here to post a photography job for free.
Different types of freelance photographers
Photographers come in all different shapes and sizes so before we look at the approach, let's do a bit of housekeeping. It's time to look in the mirror and ask some tough questions.
In the words of Derek Zoolander "Who am I?".
Soul searching is just another name for brand identity. What does your brand say? What message is it giving out to those who don't know you?
The easiest way to answer this question is to get an unbiased option, ideally from someone in a position to hire you.
Asking your mum what she thinks of your website probably won't provide the ruthless insight you require.
The dream guinea-pig is a potential client which is very hard to find and observe, however, a great experiment that should get you closer is to have a friend or colleague who knows nothing of your services to click on your site or look at your portfolio and simply observe their actions.
Are they clicking on the pages you expected when exploring your website?
Don't lead them in any way or offer any clues as to what to say - remember you're looking for brutal honesty. The objective is to see if an independent observer sees the brand you imagine in your head.
Another technique is to write down your last 10 clients. Were they all in the sector your brand is in?
Perhaps you have a fashion photography business with stunning editorial images adorned across your website and credits in high-end fashion magazines but 8 of your last 10 clients were brides.
If so, it might be time to ask some questions. Am I communicating a clear brand message?
The brand is all-important for clients as we, as consumers, like to know we're getting what we ordered.
A bride might be put off by a photography website if it also had galleries in erotic art or landscape.
She might be impressed if there was a fashion section and thought you could make her look like that on her wedding day!
Whatever impression the bride has was made by your site and her opinion. A strong brand should have minimal distance between those two worlds.
Need more inspiration? Check out Jeremy's inspirational freelancer photography story below!
Your portfolio as a brand
An extension of your brand is your portfolio and this selection of images is arguably the most important selling tool a freelance photographer has at his or her disposal.
Of the 100s of employers we researched, the majority stated that the portfolio is the most important aspect when hiring a photographer.
Your work says so much about you as an artist, a professional, and a freelancer. An extensive body of work with top-end clients will immediately project an air of professionalism and experience that is very attractive to an employer.
A consistent style running through your work also gives the viewer a very good understanding of what they can expect should they choose you for the job.
Those who have multiple galleries may have multiple styles, which is fine, but we sure to communicate with the employer what you can offer for their project.
Here are our top tips for compiling a high-level portfolio:
A portfolio is a body of work typically produced through a specific medium.
The number of images in a portfolio depends on the sector you specialise in however as a rule of thumb should not contain so little that it doesn't provide the viewer with an idea of your style, professionalism, and experience whilst not too much that they need to put the kettle on to get through it all.
The main function of a portfolio is to present your work to prospective clients or to generate opportunities.
Prior to showing your portfolio, it's vital to understand what the portfolio is for.
You may require a portfolio for an interview or to land a one-off job. A gallery may require a portfolio to ascertain whether to accept your work.
Your online portfolio (we'll look into this in more detail below) is generally an ever-evolving collection of work that you'll constantly be updating.
If presented well, the viewer should be able to easily navigate through your work to see what it is they require. When presenting your work via email or in person, your choices are vital.
Each presentation will be different and your choice of images to include or extract will often determine whether you land the job or not.
Choosing Your Shots
One of the most difficult aspects of compiling a portfolio is choosing the images to include and leave out. You'll most probably have a personal connection to the work which makes it tough to be impartial but it's important that you are ruthless in these moments.
Open with an image that defines you as a photographer and ideally one that makes an impact.
After all, we want the viewer to keep inspecting your work and in cases when there are 200 portfolios to get through, the first image can often be your last if the quality is not up to scratch.
Take the viewer on a journey through your work trying to keep some level of continuity running throughout. 10 to 12 images would be considered enough in each area you're presenting.
Remember that fashion can be a little different particularly if it's editorial work you're showcasing.
Don't skimp out on the portfolio book.
Great work can be ruined if presented in a cheap or tatty manner. There are tons of choices out there from portrait to landscape sizing to the type of finish you'd like.
Whichever style you go for we'd suggest a portfolio book that is at least A4 or larger in dimensions to allow the viewer to really inspect the work.
The quality of the prints is also an important aspect of your presentation.
We've seen some stunning work destroyed by bad prints and not only does it harm your chances of landing the job but it projects a level of unprofessionalism that you don't want.
A professional portfolio book and prints are worthwhile investments to make.
A portfolio's main function is to showcase your work to prospective clients. You will present this work via a variety of mediums to ensure that you're prepared.
Your online portfolio will most likely be hosted on your website and be the first point of contact for the majority of your clients.
Your digital portfolio is where you can include your entire body of work and really show off your experience. This is not to say that it should be a mess of images for the viewer to siphon through, on the contrary.
Your online portfolio should be categorised provided you have enough work to back up each section.
Should you be a photographer working in the wedding sector, for instance, you may want to split your work up by weddings. This will allow the viewer to see how you approached each event.
The viewer can then easily say which wedding they like and give you a really good idea of what they expect whilst providing the potential client with an easy 'menu style' way of choosing your services.
A fashion and beauty photographer may categorise work into commercial and editorial sections then further break down the work into shoots or styles.
Portable Digital Portfolio
The debate between printed and digital portfolios will rage on but our research has shown that it pays to be covered for both eventualities.
A portable digital portfolio is typically presented on a tablet, laptop, or phone.
The latter (phone) should only ever be used in cases when you're caught on the hop and not expect to have to present. Think of it as your digital business card.
You never know when you're going to meet your next client but it's unlikely you'll be dragging our laptop everywhere you go.
A digital portfolio should be categorised to make it easy for you to tailor based on the job. You should present your most appropriate work to each prospective client.
When an employer is looking to hire a freelancer for a one-off project, they have a few criteria. Near the top of the list is time and how long it's going to take to find the right person.
This is particularly true when the job is a quick, modestly paid piece of work. Their time is precious and if something doesn't take hold quickly, they'll move onto the next option.
Keep your showreel short - a couple of minutes can give anyone a good idea and if they want to see more then they've got your full portfolio to watch.
Once you've created your portfolio, learn how to upload it on your Freelancer Club page below:
The second most important consideration from an employer's perspective is the price of you photographer service.
When applying to freelancer photographer jobs on the Freelancer Club site, you'll be presented with a budget to quote within.
In general, the person who lands the job is rarely the cheapest so take that into consideration before you undercut the market and devalue your brand.
Equally, quoting over budget without an explanation as to why tends not to work.
From time to time, employers (particularly the general public) are not aware of market rates and will choose the lowest budget option when posting a role.
There is nothing wrong with some guidance when you apply to these positions so long as you are realistic and fair.
Should you not know how to set your freelance rate – which is a common problem that freelancers face all the time – then it's worth calculating your bottom line so you don't end up out of pocket.
To do this, follow a simple calculation to get your figure:
EXPENSES / HOURS WORKED + TAX
To help break this down, add up all your expenses including personal expenses (rent, food etc..) as well as your business expenses (kit, travel etc...). Let's say this comes to 10k per year.
Then figure out how many chargeable hours you work each year.
Chargeable hours are only hours when you are getting paid and not time traveling, doing admin, looking for jobs etc... As a ballpark, a typical photographer works around 20 chargeable hours per week with a 2 week holiday comes out as 1000 hours.
Divide the two and you get £10 + tax (around 20% depending on where you are and how much you earn), meaning that your bottom line figure is £12 per hour.
Remember, this is the figure that you need to survive and will rarely be the figure you actually charge. Use this as a way to ensure you never lose money on a job.
On your Freelancer Club profile, you can set your day rate and hourly rate in the EDIT PROFILE section, so be sure to include this to generate more leads.
Check out this video for a quick brief on how to set your freelance rates:
The other areas to consider when filling out your Freelancer Club profile are the portfolio, profile pic, services, experience, contact details, and links.
Your profile in many ways is the perfect snapshot to show an employer to get a very good idea of your brand, quality, professionalism, and price in seconds.
Should you not already be a member, creating a professional freelancer profile on The Freelancer Club will enable you to apply to freelancer photographer jobs with ease.
Use the following checklist when compiling your Freelancer Club profile to maximise your chances of landing freelancer photographer jobs.
✅ Profile Name: use your own name or brand name.
✅ Profile Picture: choose a picture of yourself, your work, or your company logo.
✅ Website and Links: in the EDIT PROFILE section insert your website (if you have one) and all social media links.
✅ Whilst in the same section, insert your hourly rate, day rate, contact number, and whether or not you are currently test shooting.
✅ About Me section: Write out your experiences, awards, and any past clients of note.
✅ Skill Set: list your skills that are associated with your services such as Photoshop or Studio lighting
✅ Services: under the UPDATE PROFILE click ADD A SERVICE to include any additional services that you offer eg: Retouching and postproduction.
Check out this video to learn more about the process of applying for jobs:
4 essential tips when applying to freelancer photographer jobs
Once you feel that your Freelancer Club profile is complete and up to speed, it's time to find freelance photography jobs and start applying for them.
Wondering how to find freelance photography jobs that you can really add value to? Firstly, ask yourself if your skills and experience are adequate for the job at hand.
Don't blindly click apply on every job you come across in the hope that something comes of it.
Find jobs that you believe you can do well, and spend some time working on your job proposal. Treat each job as an opportunity and approach the application process carefully.
Tip #1: Every application gives you an opportunity to add a message. This field is the main area for you to provide the employer with essential information.
They will see a snapshot of your work, your message, and a quote so make the most out of it. Address any areas of the job description and sell yourself to the employer.
Remember to not provide them with additional links to click. They have chosen to use our platform to save time!
Tip #2: Stay within budget when quoting. The employer will provide a budget range for you to quote within. Too cheap and you're unlikely to land the role while too expensive will turn the employer off.
Be competitive and find your range.
Tip #3: On occasion, the employer will have questions they wish to ask when posting a job. These additional questions are often qualifiers to help them narrow their search. Make sure you answer them honestly.
Tip #4: Keep your head up. Freelancing is not like the nine-to-five world. Freelancers have to apply for jobs all the time in the hope of landing one or two.
Should you not hear anything back after a week, that does not mean you're not good enough, you just need to keep pushing. It can take time to land jobs and if you're just starting out it's arguably the toughest time.
Stick with it - it gets easier.
The 'do nots' when applying to photographer jobs
Here at the Freelancer Club will strive to constantly improve and develop the platform. In fact, we dedicate the lion share of our time thinking about and implementing new ideas to add more value to the membership and improve the user experience.
The main source of data that we use from an employer's perspective comes from the backend analytics as well as employer feedback. Combined, these two elements allow us to see who is getting the job and WHY.
Using the same principle, we can also see who isn't landing freelance photographer jobs and offer feedback to help freelance members improve their chances in the future.
❌ Do not apply to jobs that you're under-qualified for.
❌ Do not apply for jobs without a portfolio.
❌ Do not leave the message section, quote, or questions empty.
❌ Do not ask the employer to click on another link to your website or social media platform
❌ Do not under or over quote without any justification.
❌ Do not offer your services for free.
To find photographer jobs in the UK it's important to be patient.
You'll have to apply for a lot before you land a few but the hard work pays off.
Don't be another statistic that wants everything on a plate. Hard work pays off when it comes to finding photography jobs.
Stick to our 6 do not points and you'll be halfway there.
For more tips on how to land jobs, check out this video:
Test Shoot to Help You Land Jobs
Struggling to find freelance photography jobs or want to create some cool content to help you land dream photography job?
Whether you're new to freelance photography or you've been working in the area for years, test shoots are a great way to create new content for your portfolio while also connecting with other freelancers.
Whats more, test shoots allow freelancers to try out new skills, techniques and ideas in a relaxed and creative environment.
Test shooting means meeting new freelancers who can recommend you for jobs.
Wherever you're based in the UK, teaming up and test shooting with fellow creatives could lead to job recommendations for exciting freelance photography work.
Learn more about how to post collaboration work below: