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As a photographer, making enough money to pay all your bills can be difficult, especially when you are first starting out. It isn’t uncommon for photographers to also be working as waiters, customer service representatives, or administrative assistants to supplement their incomes. However there are other, more creative opportunities where photographers can put their visual talents to use and make a few extra dollars. Here are five potential side gigs to help you make some extra cash.

1. Blogging

There are many companies looking for photographers who can also write. These blogs can take various forms. There are websites that publish content like this blog: how-to posts and advice to help other photographers. Once you have enough experience and feel confident giving advice on photography-related topics, this can be one avenue worth pursuing. Another is blogging in a more journalism-based field. This doesn’t have to be hard news, but can cover any culturally relevant topics. Many writers now shoot the images to go along with their articles themselves, and it doesn’t hurt to have photographers do the same in reverse. If you do decide to get more into blogging, I recommend researching the blogs you are pitching to, and trying to find stories that fit with the rest of their content. You can also write “on spec,” meaning you write the article, and then contact editors trying to sell it. Although the Internet has drastically changed the journalism industry, there are ample opportunities for those who are interested in pursuing it.

2. Graphic Design/Web Design

Okay, both of these require a bit of extra training, however the visual component of each of these fields makes the transition a bit easier. Also, given that most photographers have a pretty intimate knowledge of Photoshop, the jump to understanding the rest of the Adobe Creative Suite is a much smaller one. Designers are in high demand, and although it can be a competitive field, there are also many opportunities to do design work smaller companies or firms.

3. Photographer’s Assistant

This one I think is a given, and the best way to get your career going. Many photographers start out working for other photographers in one capacity or another. There are those who start as in-studio assistants, helping with lighting and other miscellaneous on-shoot duties, but there are also many photographers who start as office managers for a photographer, taking care of more of the clerical side of the business. Perhaps the most established and experienced of the candidates can take on second shooter assignments, working alongside the primary photographer to help fully capture an event or shoot. Taking a job like this can help you gain a greater perspective on the business side of photography, build connections with working professionals, and improve your photography skills.

4. Bartender

Hear me out. Firstly, bartenders typically work at night, when you are least likely to be able to shoot outside if you are using natural lighting. Thus, photographers who take night shifts at a bar or restaurant usually free up their mornings and afternoons, the ideal schedule for those who are working to build up their portfolio. The second advantage of a job in this field is that working in a bar or restaurant can inadvertently help you establish connections, especially if you have moved to a new city. Photographers, artists, agents, and more all frequent bars and restaurants as frequently as anyone else. It doesn’t hurt to establish friendly relationships with new people through your work. Sometimes these loose connections can end up leading to your first gig.

5. Expand Your Photography Portfolio

This isn’t exactly a second job, per se, but something that many photographers seem to over look. There are definitely advantages to specializing in a given niche of photography. However, sometimes simply venturing outside of your niche can lead to other opportunities and potential clients. For example, fashion photographers can explore wedding or event photography or portrait photographers can explore stock photography options or catalog work. Keep your options open, and always keep your eye out for help wanted ads asking for photographers in your local classifieds/Craigslist ads. 


Megan Youngblood

Megan Youngblood is a Brooklyn-based writer and photographer with roots in the San Francisco Bay Area. She writes about art, technology, all things counter-culture, and the occasional auto-biographical musing. Her writing has appeared at Hyperallergic, The Creators Project, Stocktown, Bowery Boogie, and, of course, here. For more on Megan, check out her website or follow her on Twitter.


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