Become A Freelance Photographer In 2022: A Complete Beginner’s Guide

Written by Xolo
on September 02, 2022 7 minute read

If you have an aptitude for taking photos and want to be free to work from wherever you like, you've likely thought about starting a freelance photography business and working for yourself. As a freelance photographer, you’ll be responsible for a number of tasks. Besides capturing beautiful moments, you will also have to take care of a host of other stuff. Read on to see what it takes to start a freelance photography career the right way…

What Do You Have to Do As a Freelance Photographer?

Being and working as a freelance photographer is so much more than just taking impressive pictures. A realistic day of working for your clients and preparing behind the scenes may require to work at least on some of these tasks:

  • Set up a Shooting Scenario for a Client. When you are set for a shoot, you should have a scenario ready, which includes setting up a background, settings, and the "story" that will be told in the pictures.
  • Understand Clients Needs. You should discuss expectations with clients. When you know their wants and needs, you can find it easier to fulfill their desires. Getting the same page about the style, colors, angles, etc is always an important start when you get cooking with the photos.
  • Prepare Photography Equipment. You should have the proper equipment for each photo shoot. This includes more than a camera. You should have different lenses, lighting, and other accessories that will create interesting shots. Always have them ready beforehand to avoid any possible bummers on the shooting day.
  • Upload and Transfer Image Files. A photographer must have a solid means of transferring information from one device to another. Photos are uploaded from the camera to a computer so that everything can be stored in one place. It sounds like a no-brainer task to manage but it’s always important to learn to do it with ease.
  • Manage Data Storage. It is essential to keep images safely stored. Today, there are a number of options for you to choose. Cloud storage, including Dropbox and Google Drive, provide convenient protections for your images. An external hard drive is another possibility. Also, a solid-state drive is an alternative. It brings the benefit of extra fast transfer of data.
  • Handle Post-Processing. During post-processing, a photographer needs to enhance clients’ images digitally to make them look flawless. Software like Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop will give you a hand to do your editing jobs better.
  • Receive Payments. Of course, you want to be compensated for your work. You need a way to invoice clients and handle payments. Xolo Go is an intuitive tool that will connect you with various payment gateways and allow you to invoice with VAT being calculated and added automatically.


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Starter Equipment for a Freelance Photographer

  • Camera

Obviously, the cornerstone of photography is a camera. There are two main types, which include mirrorless and DSLR varieties. As a starter, you should consider a DSLR model. These are affordable and come with current technology. One of the best is the Canon EOS 250D. The 24.1 MP resolution provides nice pictures, and the optical viewfinder is very user-friendly. Also, it comes with a large range of lenses.

  • Lenses

Certain cameras have built-in lenses. However, for the products that do not come equipped, you should consider prime lenses. These items don’t zoom. A wide angle lens and a telephoto lens are must-have pieces. They provide a way to take distance and close-up shots. The focal length, the distance from the middle of the lens to the sensor, is important to consider as well. If you’ll be doing portraits, you should have a lens between 45 millimeters and 85 millimeters. Nature photographers will need larger lengths in the range of 300 millimeters to 600 millimeters. Experts swear by the Canon EF 50 MM/1.4 lens.

  • Tripod

It is important to have a solid tripod for still photography. Manfrotto 190 X Aluminum 3-section Tripod maximizes your creativity and sets up quickly.

  • Lighting

As a beginner freelancer, you can start with one light. With time, you can add more. Most photographers require flash. No matter what flash you use, you must have a modifier so that the light is diffused properly. A shoot-through umbrella provides soft light in all locations. Many freelance photographers use standard 90 centimeter umbrellas. White umbrellas spread light. Back umbrellas are often lined with reflective properties that magnify light onto the surface of the subject.

  • Spare Batteries

A freelance photographer should have at least two camera batteries available. On location, it’s best to have a way to charge batteries as well.

  • Wide Monitor

 When you edit your images, you can use a laptop. However, a wide monitor will be extremely helpful. When you can view your work on a large scale, you can catch more imperfections and heighten your finished photos.

  • Software

Obviously, you need to invest in editing software. Adobe Photoshop offers high-end results and helps with cloning and retouching. To prevent your work from filling the memory of your computer, this software also offers cloud storage. 

Realistic Steps to Become a Freelance Photographer

Thanks to current technology, many people pick up cameras and begin shooting. However, certain people take photography classes to hone their skills. If you plan on becoming a freelance photographer, there are some helpful steps to follow.

1. Choose Your Freelance Photography Niche

Photography is multi-dimensional. You may decide to focus on studio shoots, nature photography, or a different niche. To compete, you need to develop a uniqueness that draws in clients. There are quite a few niches to consider:

  • Baby / family
  • Wedding / special event
  • Dating
  • Stock photos
  • Landscape
  • Business / professional
  • Nature / wildlife


If you want to be a wedding photographer, you should reach out to engaged couples in your area or submit photos to popular wedding magazines. To specialize as a baby or family photographer, you can connect and promote your services to families in the neighborhood, school PTAs, and similar community organizations that involve these groups. You should have business cards handy and offer discounts for first-time sessions. 

To get started as a stock photographer, you can sell your work through a third-party agency like Shutterfly or Getty Images. This is the simplest way to get your pictures noticed. If you wish to become a landscape photographer, you should start in your own town. You can shoot pictures around your community and take them to the municipality's administration. Many times, these entities have projects that use landmarks and other images from the area. To enter the wildlife niche, you can sell your pictures at craft shows or can run wildlife photography workshops. Also, you can try to sell your photos to magazines and newspapers. A corporate/business photographer captures a company's products and services. To start, you can contact a business and offer work that can be showcased on Facebook or other social media sites. Also, you may consider taking corporate headshots or covering corporate galas.

2. Invest in Quality Photography Equipment

As previously discussed, you want to arm yourself with functional equipment. You do not have to buy the most expensive items in order to take beautiful pictures. Besides equipment, you may wish to apprentice another established photographer or attend online classes that explain the correct way to utilize the equipment in your arsenal.

3. Decide on Your Rates as a Freelance Photographer

You will spend a lot of time organising shoots, taking pictures, and editing the results. Therefore, you want to be adequately compensated for your work. However, you want to offer fair prices to your clients. Many photographers offer packages that include a certain number of sheets for a set price.

4. Market Your Freelance Photography Business

One of the best ways to advertise your business is through social media. You can start your own business account and can showcase your portfolio. Also, it’s great to have clients post your work to their social media platforms. This is free advertising. You should establish a company website as well. It should be user-friendly and allow clients to contact you and to schedule a shoot without hassle.

5. Develop a Photography Portfolio

As a freelance photographer, your portfolio acts as your brand. The more photos that you take, the more pictures that you’ll have to display your talents. Your portfolio should highlight your specialties and things that set you apart from other photographers.


How to Create a Portfolio as a Freelance Photographer

  • Tailor Your Work to Your Target Audience

After you identify your niche, you should organize pictures that fit the type of jobs that you perform. For example, if you specialize in weddings, you should cater to bride photos, reception events, and church layouts.

  • Keep Things Short and Consistent with Your Style

Your portfolio should be concise and convey a clear message. You should not include every photo that you’ve ever taken, but you should include various colors, angles, and backgrounds. By viewing examples of other photographers' portfolios, you will get a sense of good content.

  • Create a Portfolio Website as a Freelance Photographer

Since most people get their information from online sources, a portfolio website is a great way to display and to promote your work. Deviantart is the largest social network for artists. On the site, you can promote and share your original pictures so that they reach the masses. Pinterest is another self-hosted website where you can create a board that becomes your portfolio. It is a wonderful marketing engine for your work to reach a large audience. Other good alternatives for you to build your site are Wordpress, Wix, or Squarespace. Besides showcasing your work, it also helps to lay out the services you offer, pricing, your contact information and a few words about who you are so your potential clients can know you enough to hire you. 

How to Find Clients as a Freelance Photographer

Some ways to market your photography services and find your clients when working as a freelancer:

  • Word-of-Mouth. This is always a great way to obtain business. You should have your friends and family tell people about your great work. Everyone can post your photos on their social media platforms to have a wider reach to your target clients.
  • Partner with Other Photographers/Companies. You should directly contact companies that benefit from your services or cold calling them as another way to put it. For example, as a wedding photographer, you should contact popular wedding planners in your area. You can offer a commission for every client that is referred.
  • Retain Connected with Past Clients. From time to time, you should touch base with past clients. For instance, you can send emails before holidays with invitations to book special shoots or offer discounts for returning clients.
  • Considering Volunteering to Schools or Local Businesses. Donating your services to local businesses is a great way to get your name into the public. For example, if you volunteer to take school photos, you’ll introduce your work to a variety of families.
  • Find Freelance Clients using Marketplaces. There are a number of online marketplaces that frequently post photography jobs. For example, Upwork has a large amount of listings, especially for a beginner. However, you may not receive the pay that you want. The Creative Loft, Shutterstock, Quantum Art, Adobe Stock, etc also have their own marketplaces that you can try scouting for freelance photography jobs across various industries and locations.

Set Up Invoicing and Get Paid as a Freelance Photographer

Before you've even landed your first client, it's a good idea to have a plan in place for how you'll manage expenses and invoice clients. A product like Xolo Go makes it easy to invoice as a freelancer. and keep all of your earnings in one place until you're ready for withdrawal. Invoices are VAT-compliant so you'll be ready to work with clients who pay in your currency and other currencies.

the freelancer's favorite pay-as-you-go invoicing tool

Starting Living your Dream by Becoming a Freelance Photographer

Getting well prepared with necessary equipment and skills are a great starting point to get yourself into the freelance photography career. It may take some sweat and lots of hard work but what you’ll achieve at the end of the road will be absolutely worth it. With Xolo taking the boring and hassle out of your task belt, you can focus better on your main business which is to take amazing photos. Send your first invoice as a freelance photographer with Xolo Go or start your own photography business today with Xolo Leap.