The Most Rewarding Photography Careers

In an era where digitization has taken off, photography holds immense space to grow as a career. Today, photographers are critical to several industries like sports, journalism, product marketing, and film production. Each role offers different opportunities and compensations, with few offering enough to make them viable for a full-time living fortune. 

So what are the most lucrative photography careers? Below are 5 top ones that will help you practice not only your passion but pay your bills too! 

1. Wedding Photography 

a couple at their wedding

When it comes to paying your bills, wedding photography is one for many. It is considered a prestigious job, both with high pay and creative freedom. 

Wedding photography requires expensive equipment, which is difficult to purchase if you are starting. Hence, we recommend joining a studio before setting out alone. Additionally, working as a second photographer will give you the insights to handle clients for your own business later on. 

What you will love:

  • It pays well. You can cover a single event in one month and earn enough to sustain yourself for the next three months. Depending on location and expertise, one can get anywhere from a minimum of 1500 dollars to a maximum of 10,000 dollars. The average cost is approximately $4000 per coverage of one wedding.
  • Easy Referrals. People often recommend wedding photographers to their friends. Word of fourth is free publicity.
  • It is consistent. Weddings happen all around the year. 
  • The work is meaningful. Getting chosen to capture a lifetime memory for someone is very special. It may be essential to photographers who are looking to create memories through their work.
  • You get to experience event luxuries. Even though you will be at work for most of the day, dressing up and going to weddings at work is exciting. Weddings are classy events. Depending upon the host, you may also get free food.

Some Downsides:

  • There is lots of competition. Several photographers look towards weddings to make easy money. 
  • You cannot reschedule. In case of technical issues, you would need to work your way around it. Have alternative equipment and locations to shoot in. Prepare for all unprecedented situations.
  • There is lots of stress. The couple will not be models. Hence, you have to make them comfortable. Bad clients that are unkind are also nightmares as they add to the stress. Therefore, you need to be easygoing and professional at the same time.

2. Product Photography

a studio taking photos of food products

Though this job may seem average, it can get you some decent cash considering your expertise. Product photography includes all pictures taken for business or promotional purposes. Food photography also falls under this category. The pictures need to be engaging and hold viewers’ attention. This job is more on the technical side. Usually, the companies have a strict image of what they have in mind, offering little to no freedom. However, this does not mean you cannot get creative.

What you will love:

  • It is technical. If you are a geek for camera equipment, this job is for you. Learning to light and positioning through product photography can be a good experience if you love the numbers and details. Do check out the best lighting boxes for capturing products.
  • There is creative freedom. You need to be creative to stand out. Businesses are growing into allowing creative freedom to experience new and different engaging images. 

Some Downsides:

  • You have to meet client expectations. Some businesses have an exact image in their mind, not appreciating personal creativity. Furthermore, clients tend to have higher expectations in product photographs. 
  • High Work Hours. Work hours can increase to as much as 40 hours a week.
  • The pathway is repetitive. As it comes to the territory of technical skills, many shoots feel the same. While it may not matter for some, for others, it can be a deal breaker. 

3. Fashion Photography

Image of professional movie camera lens.

Fashion photography is a commercial shoot aimed at selling clothes. Unlike glamour photography which focuses on the model, fashion photography focuses on attire. It is a prestigious job, and most photographers usually strive for this career pathway both for fame and money. 

What you will love:

  • It is an adventurous work. Go through any fashion brand’s social media, and you will notice the different settings people capture pictures in. You get to travel to diverse places. 
  • There is room for lots of creativity. Fashion photographers have lots of control. Creativity is appreciated, especially if the company has a contemporary or futuristic trendy vibe. 
  • It has a lot of fame and prestige. Most famous photographers work in this industry. You get a name working for luxury brands and have your work featured in exclusive magazines.

Some Downsides:

  • Getting in requires connections. It is hard to get into this line of work without knowing any fashion photographers already. You may need to pitch your work repeatedly to small brands first. However, it is not impossible to get an entry into this lucrative work all alone.
  • Your picture must sell. It needs to be appealing. 
  • Pictures are modified digitally. If you prefer originality, working in this career may not be easy for you.

4. Sports Photography

Image of football on pitch.

Another big hoop you can throw your ball (camera) in is sports photography. It is a fun and unpredictable work where you get to snapshots of some of the most famous players in the world. You may not get a spot in the photography team of national or international games at first. However, you can eventually get there like all!

If you are in college or high school, you can start by taking pictures of your local tournaments. You may have to do it for free, but it will build your portfolio. You can use your experience to take on paid tasks, and if you are good at it, you may land yourself a permanent job in even the NBL (National Basketball League). 

What you will love:

  • Sports photographs are versatile. You do not need to set up strobe lights or any fancy equipment as is usual for product or wedding photography. You take your camera, go to the field and snap. It is exhilarating, and you surely will not be bored. 
  • You get to meet famous personalities. If you are into sports, this may be your dream job. Even if you are not, you can always get autographs for a sports fanatic, you know. However, in some places, to maintain professionalism, this may not be allowed. Still, a photo of famous players that you took is quite a boast.
  • Your schedule will be predictable. Since most sports events get scheduled a long time before, you would be aware of your timetable. It can help you build the rest of your life, taking out time for friends and family.

Some Downsides:

  • Sports are fast. You may not capture the right time when a footballer is mid-air if you are not quick. There is no time to adjust the lighting or your position. You need to click and click to find the right picture. It may be hard if you are a newbie.
  • The players are no models. They are not even there to make sure they have good pictures. You cannot adjust them to your liking. You have to run around them to get your shot.
  • The equipment for sports photography is quite expensive. Since you cannot step foot in the actual field, you may need different types of zooming lenses which are costly.

5. Portrait photography 

Image of a girl portrait. 

Portrait Photography is for all those that love meeting people. There are several ways to make a fortune in this pathway. From business headshots to studio portraits and senior photos for school, you get shots of people in portrait modes.  

Why You Will Love It:

  • You do not need to invest in expensive gear. Portrait photographers can get shots with less equipment. All you need is a camera and some lighting settlements!  
  • The Pathway is Self-driven. In others like wedding and product photography, the boss is your client. However, in portraiture, you take over the role. You are more in control! 

Some Downsides: 

  • You require a charismatic personality. Most people are not confident about portraits. Hence, have the charisma to make your clients comfortable. 
  • There is no prestige or fame. We have never heard of any world-famous portrait photographer. Portraiture is considered a lesser endeavor even within the photography community. But if you are looking for money, you will need to treat it as a business before anything else. 

The Bottom-line

Every career has some advantages and disadvantages. Photography has various fields to choose from based on what you like. Make sure you have a liking towards this career if not passionate to survive for long. We recommend trying a bit of everything before you settle for one!