earning money with PHOTOGRAPHY

Photography income

Whether photography is your hobby or your profession, there are possibilities to earn a monthly passive income with it for everyone. Who doesn’t want to earn money with something you already do and love? In this article we talk about some of the ways you can start earning money with photography.

We will discuss a few different ways to make money, and tell you about some of the sites you can use. Firstly the most common way to sell your photos; stock photography. Another option is to sell your pictures as art or printed on products. But there is more. Read the entire article to learn all about it.

Stock photography

Selling your photos through stock photography platforms is a great way to earn passive income. Stock photography platforms are basically large databases of photos where people or businesses can buy the right to use them for all kinds of purposes. This is a very popular way for photographers to sell photos. You can sell photos you have already made, or you can specifically photograph for stock platforms. The main thing you need is good quality photos that people can have a use for. An important thing is to stay away from saturated subject (e.g. flowers)

As with any type of passive income, you do have put in some effort before you start earning money. In this case it means creating titles and keywords for your photos and uploading them to the platforms you want to sell them at. You will have to have a portfolio of at least a couple of hundred quality photos before you start seeing a regular stream of income. But after the photos have been uploaded, they can keep selling multiple times for a long time. And then off course you can keep uploading regularly to expand your portfolio and increase selling potential. If you want to learn how to maximize income from stock photography, read my article on tips for stock photography.

Stock photography platforms

There are many stock photography platforms available. I will discuss some of the most well known platforms and some that I use. Each platform has it’s pros and cons and some platforms are better for specific types of content then others.

Most photographers who are active on stock platforms use more then one platform. Generally, more platforms mean more work, but also more exposure. Some would argue that submitting the same photos to several platforms is a waste of time and could even result in less sales. I personally believe the extra effort is minimal and the exposure results in more sales.


Shutterstock is one of the largest and most well known stock photography platforms. For many stock contributors Shutterstock is the top earning website. The website offers some useful tools for easy keywording as a part of the uploading process. This platform is notoriously strict in their review process, accepting only the highest quality and most wanted photos. It might mean many rejections in the beginning, but also a good opportunity to learn and improve your photography skills. 

There has also been a lot of criticism on the platform the last couple of years. The low minimum commission amount of $0.10 per image can be off putting for some photographers, who feel they get underpaid with this amount. Another often heard argument is the seemingly unfair level system they use for increased income, that resets every year in Januari. They make up for this with the large number of sales they realise.

For more information, please read my in depth article on Becoming a Shutterstock contributor

Adobe stock

Adobe is a well known company for many photographers, as many use the fantastic Adobe software like Lightroom and Photoshop for the post-processing of their photos. However, Adobe Stock, is also an important stock photography platform. With integration into their software, Adobe makes it very easy to sell and purchase photo rights directly. And because Adobe is widely used among professionals in the graphic industry, the customers are right there. The commissions that Adobe Stock pay are decent, but the number of sales is a bit lower then other agencies for me. Apart from the regular commissions on sales they often offer other incentives, like free software for big sellers. One of the drawbacks of Adobe Stock is that they only accept images with commercial license. Submitting editorial content is only open for contributers that sell many images, and then only illustrative editorial content.


Dreamstime is a smaller agency, but nonetheless worth joining. This platform is easier to get your photos accepted, making it a great site to get started with. The website is easy to use and review times for your files are very quick.

The number of sales is not the best, but slow and steady wins the race. A downside of this platform is the relatively high minimum payout amount of $100, which will be harder to reach in the beginning. Off course your earnings will stay available in your account, it just takes longer before you will be able to receive payment.

Sell your photos as art

As a photographer you can be proud of the works you produce. The ultimate compliment from other people is that they want your photo in their house. This can be in the form of a print from small sizes up to wallpaper size. An other way is to have items or clothing with your photos on it. There are many platforms that can help you sell your pictures or artworks in this way.

Art heroes

Art heroes is a European platform that sells high quality prints for your interior. Shipping is free for a number of European countries, but for other countries a shipping fee may apply. As an artist you can upload works to the site and receive a commission for every sale they make with a print of your work. If you produce fine-art photos this can be a good source of income.

The platform creates a storefront with your works, so you can direct customers there. Also, if you have your own website, there is a plugin that allows you to offer works for sale through your own website. They give you tips on how to market your works, so you can maximize sales. Check out my storefront on the Art heroes website as an example.


This may not be the first thing you think about when selling photographs. Redbubble is a website where you can order all kinds of apparel and other items that have been printed, among which wall art. As a photographer or artist, you can submit artworks and sell printed items. You can choose on what items your artwork can be printed. Also you can make designs with your artwork, where you can choose the size and location of the print. For every sold item you receive a commission. How cool would it be to see your photograph on a mug or a shirt?

Other ways to earn with photography

Besides all the options I discussed before, there are other, more indirect ways to earn money from your photography. These mostly mean that you are not directly selling your photographs, but for example your knowledge of photography. Also by creating other types of content and engaging with your audience, you can attract more attention to your photography work.

Writing articles

By writing articles about photography, you can not only spread your knowledge, but also earn an income in various ways. Before you can start earning, you need somewhere to publish your articles. If you already have your own website, that’s a good place to start. An other option would be to start a (free or cheap) blog using WordPress or Blogger. If you don’t want to manage your own website, you can write articles for others. There are many platforms for blog post writers, as many websites are always searching for premium content. 

The most obvious way to earn money, is off course to include advertisements in your articles. A good place to start there is by using Google AdSense, but there are many more providers for placing adds on your website. Do keep in mind that too many advertisements can make your website look cheap, so think about what you are trying to communicate to your readers. Another good way to earn income would be to include affiliate marketing links in your articles.

Create YouTube content

Creating content for YouTube can be a good way to earn extra income, all be it a very time consuming one. There are many topics you can choose from with regards to creating videos about photography. You can make videos on the technical side of photography, on the creative aspect, about your own field of photography, about equipment, informative or entertaining. 

There are several ways to monetize video content, but it all starts with views. If you start building an audience by regularly creating quality content, the views will start to increase. Once you get enough view time, YouTube will allow you to add advertisements to your videos and you can start earning that way.

If you’ve built a steady audience, you will be able to make sponsored video content. Companies will pay you to talk about their products in your videos. Another option is to add affiliate links to your video descriptions. For photographers this often means links to the equipment or platforms they use.

Create courses

If you feel you have enough knowledge to be able to teach others about photography, you can create online courses to offer for sale on platforms like Skillshare or Udemy. Creating a course can be a lot of work, but if it sells well, it can be a good source of income for a longer period of time.


As you can see, there are many ways to expand your photography income. If you’re a professional photographer or just an enthusiast, there is always something you can do. Off course it’s also possible to combine ways of earning passive income. Please be aware that earning a passive income, does not mean you don’t have to do any work. It can take a lot of work and time before you start earning. The idea is that you put in the work beforehand and reap the rewards later.

What are your thoughts about earning a passive income with photography? If you have any good tips, mention them in the comments below.


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