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How to land photography jobs in a digital market

Tips and Inspiration

28 June 2017

Posted by Gemma Suyat

The photography market has evolved dramatically in the past five years and those unwilling to adapt risk being left behind. Photographers are using innovative techniques and online strategies to land paid work in ways the past never demanded. While the value of an image dwindles, the role of a photographer is becoming ever more multi-functional in an overcrowded marketplace. What’s the answer? We spoke with the experts and asked Matt Dowling, Director of The Freelancer Club, to break it down.


We are currently witnessing a major shift in the business of photography and the role of a photographer. Never has it been more challenging or confusing as it is today for working photographers to earn a living. New photographers often try to be all things to all people when starting out. This occurs for a couple of reasons. Firstly, photographers starting out in the business rarely have a developed portfolio of work. Secondly, they are often desperate to find paid jobs anywhere they can find them and feel that a wide-ranging, diverse portfolio will allow them to apply to more opportunities.

We asked whether or not this approach bears fruit? Based on the statistics we glean from the employers who post work on our jobs board and the freelancers who land the jobs, it would suggest that an eclectic portfolio showing small amounts of quality work in a range of areas and categorised neatly for presentation purposes increases the odds of landing entry-level work.

The reason why is that most work at this level comes and goes quickly. The employer is generally a startup or small business with a quick job and limited budget or an individual from the private sector. Both parties, in this case, typically require a ‘general’ solution and are less concerned with a particular style. However, to land the really big jobs, agencies, brands and employers tend to favour a niche-styled portfolio. Photographers who focus their style tend to do well over time as their brand becomes more established in a less crowded sector. A single focus is also a benefit for social growth, particularly on Instagram.

A Photographer friend shooting in Budapest.

A Photographer friend shooting in Budapest. Read less

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oliver pearce

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More and more, photography agencies are having to adapt to the changing market. They have recognised that the demands of the client is shifting and more brands are bypassing agencies to source talent directly while ‘influencer agencies’ find their feet. Take a look at the way model agencies are adjusting to this shift. Over the last few years, agencies have introduced their talent’s social influence as a selling point. Similarly, clients demand more from a photographer than just a technician with an eye for detail.

Technology, tools and access have made it a lot easier to take a good picture and an employer’s criteria has changed. Brands looking to produce a specific campaign tend to source photographers with a honed style that is evident throughout their online presence. They are looking for someone who has the creativity to produce something out of the norm, an ability to work with a team and the means to promote the brand’s message to their audience.

Influential photographers carry more weight than ever and those with Instagram followings of 50,000+ and high levels of engagement are reaping the rewards while the rest catch up. However, as the influencer market is still finding its feet, brands often look to hire micro-influencers in very niche areas. These photographers have a modest but loyal following who engage at a high level and produce work that aligns with the client’s brand.

Travel more and be always ready to go! I took this picture in January and this was one of my resolutions.

Travel more and be always ready to go! I took this picture in January and this was one of my resolutions. Read less

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Image content has never been more in demand and access to quality work is easier to find than ever. Stock libraries such as Picfair are improving the quality and competing in price. Equally, today’s photographer can look to these sectors for additional routes to market. Putting artistic integrity to one side, and presuming that the majority of photographers have to earn a living from their craft, there is an emphasis on the business side of photography now more than ever.

It’s prudent to take a step back and assess which sectors require a pro photographer and which do not. The wedding sector still looks strong and we have not seen the predicted decline in bridal jobs on our site. Corporate events are still a great source of work, as are private events and individuals seeking professional imagery for their personal brand. High-end fashion remains a bleak option with so many fashion brands underpaying or exploiting photographers whereas commercial fashion such as online retailers or boutiques provides a great funnel for work.

New markets are also materialising. Photographers required to shoot portraits for social media profiles are in greater demand while work with bloggers who require high-end imagery to complement their regular posts are appearing more frequently.

It’s an exciting time to be a photographer if you’re willing to embrace the new landscape, adapt, and innovate. The Freelancer Club helps photographers access paid jobs, showcase work, connect with others and develop their business.

Sign up for free or use code: PICFAIR20 to get 20% off any their premium membership options. Click here to see paid photography jobs in your area.

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