Becoming self-employed

The three P's of freelance photography



    Freelance Photography has never been more accessible. With advances in technology and post-production software, it’s becoming easier to take a professional shot. In addition, employers, who would have previously reached for the Yellow Pages, are now looking in-house for an amateur snapper to shoot a product or team photo.

    So where does this leave the professional photographer and how have these advances affected the industry? The Freelancer Club, a Members club for creative talent, is fortunate enough to house hundreds of exceptional photographers, so we decided to ask a couple of them to discover how the industry has changed.

    Dawn Marie Jones is an Edinburgh based fashion and beauty photographer. Her editorial work has been published internationally and several pieces of work have received recognition from the BIPP.

    Kitty Radford has been taking pictures professionally since 2010. Excelling in many photographical disciplines and catering to a number of different styles and briefs, Kitty produces high-end work and continues to develop today.

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    As a freelance photographer, have you noticed any changes in the industry over the last few years?


    I think one of the biggest changes is the increasing implementation of technology into everyday cameras and devices such as phones. With perfectly exposed images and impressive toning and after effects available at the touch of a button, there is an ever-increasing body imagery being made available for consumption and it’s difficult for the average viewer to see the skill involved in creating a good quality, high-resolution image. Photography is becoming more accessible and easier to create, so I think it is important to stay informed and keep a professional edge over the consumer products out there.


    As I have only been a freelance photographer for the past five years, I haven’t noticed a massive change in the industry as a whole. One aspect that I find very perplexing, and mildly annoying, is the rise of the ‘new’ photographer. Of course, every industry will have competition, but I’ve found certain people believe they can buy a camera, set up a website and instantly start charging for their services with no experience, therefore taking work away from professional photographers.

    What’s been your biggest challenge as a freelance photographer?


    The industry is always evolving and with more and more photographers out there to compete with, companies and individuals are certainly taking advantage of the situation by cutting photography budgets and often shamelessly asking for free photography in exchange for ‘credits and exposure’. It can be a catch 22 and is difficult to balance sometimes as we all need to start somewhere in an attempt to build portfolios and connections, a bit of this kind of work can be tempting or even beneficial, to get ahead.

    I think that all you can do is chart your own path and make a considered decision. If something really is going to be beneficial, then it can be worth doing, even if you know the price should be higher or it is a ‘no budget’ job. I’ve done a lot of great collaborations over the years, which have helped me to build a strong portfolio and get commissioned work.


    The biggest challenge is getting yourself out there and noticed. At first, this is something that seems simple due to the many platforms you can share your work on. Though the sudden realisation that it isn’t just a handful of freelancers out there does seem daunting!

    For me it pushes me to do better. It’s a hard job to be constantly online and sharing your work and improving yourself but it does get easier over time and becomes second nature. Online you are painting a picture of yourself to show potential clients, so it needs to be done right.

    What one piece of advice would you give aspiring freelancers looking to get into freelance photography?


    Always remain professional and positive and don’t undervalue yourself or your services. Don’t be afraid to contact people, even if you sometimes feel disheartened or insecure – which is what us creatives tend to do! Keep going as you never know what’s around the corner if you keep looking!

    Have fun, we must love it to be in it right!?


    Most people go freelance because they want to be their own boss and this is a hard step to take if you are coming from a good job. You need to learn about the industry fast. Find someone out there and ask questions! Most photographers are happy to reply and help. If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’ll always be in the same place.

    To make it as a professional photographer, focus on the three P’s:

    1. Portfolio – it’s the defining feature of every creative freelancer and the number one factor that an employer will consider when choosing who to hire. No one will ask for your CV, everyone will want to see your portfolio.
    2. Professionalism – this one covers a multitude of sins from the quality of your website to punctuality on the day. The takeaway on this one is to ensure you don’t give an employer a reason not to choose you.
    3. Price – where to pitch yourself is a tough one in business but as a photographer, it’s even tougher. It’s not necessarily about experience as often talent can surpass years behind the lens. Once you do find your sweet spot, stick to it.

    To receive freelance support, network and access a range of freelance jobs, register for free at The Freelancer Club.

    Our self-employed community Crunch Chorus also has a wealth of helpful articles and videos, jargon-free business guides, a helpful Facebook group with fellow freelancers and even meetups where you can network with other self-employed people.