With phone cameras improving and digital camera prices dropping, more people have the chance to take better photographs than ever before.
A recent Guardian career chat featured international freelancers plus experts from the Guardian, and the UK Guild of Photographers. You can read the whole chat transcript here.
Here are five useful tips from the chat:
1. Diversify your subjects. "It's a very good idea to look beyond your friends for people to photograph," said Heike Löwenstein an executive member of the Association for Photography in Higher Education. "You could start sourcing people from the street, you could advertise in the local paper or online, or even through your university."
2. Get a web presence and use social media.
"A website is a must in this day and age," said Caroline Hunter, deputy picture editor of the Guardian Weekend Magazine. "It's like the first stop for editors, curators and anyone else who you want to see your work. Consider also creating a blog within the website--another good way of showing people what you're interested in and what you're currently doing."
She also recommends using social media, noting that Facebook can be great for building a community, but Twitter is probably better for attracting new people and directing traffic to your website.
Your website should have a simple design and load those photos quickly. Potential clients and editors don't have time to wait.
3. Don't work for free.
"You need to put a value on your time and skills," said Steve Thirsk, director of The Guild of Photographers. "Where that price or value should be will vary according to individual needs of course.... Create a business plan for yourself based on the income you need to generate, what you wish to charge and focus on how to get that client base. If business isn’t your strength, take advice or focus on developing skills in that area as it should make a significant difference to your situation!"
4. Network, network, network.
"The one thing about freelance photography or photography as a profession is networking," said Roycin D'Souza, a professional music and lifestyle photographer. Published in every major Indian publication, he got started with an online portfolio of Twitter users with the #TAD365 project.
He recommends using social media to gather intelligence and contacts for editors, portrait subjects and upcoming events. Then be sure and put your best work front and center with a simple website where your photography is the focus.
5. Got clients? Outsource the printing or go digital.
If you're earning an income from taking images, don't mess with the prints. Find a reliable lab and form a relationship with the people there, said Chris Milne, who runs the Blackthorn School of Photography. Sarah Hill, who launched Telegramme Magazine, also suggested offering a selection of photos on CDs to clients, who can then print them on their own.