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How to Make $100,000 a Year as a Photographer

Four steps to growing a photography business to six figures
Photo of photography business tips

The goal of many professional photographers when they’re starting out is to eventually build a six-figure business. But getting to earning $100,000 a year as a photographer can be a challenge. In the below video from Atlanta-based pro Evan Ranft, he explains how he was able to reach that elusive goal for his photography business.

“Today we’re talking about how to grow your photography business to the point where it’s making six figures a year,” Ranft says. “I think this is a realistic goal for most creatives out there and most people trying to get into photography especially with all the opportunities that are present out there these days.”

To clarify, he notes that the six-figure financial goal he achieved is just for the business itself before you calculate in taxes and expenses.

“Realistically for most people, you’d probably make around $60K of actual profit, which is still very good money,” Ranft explains. “This photography business I’ve built over eight years has brought in over six figures the last couple years and it’s continued to grow year by year. Today we’re going to break down the exact step-by-step process of how I did that.”

#1 Focus on People

“A lot of people think you need to start building a social media base from the jump and I do agree with that but your first priority when it comes to making money should be person-to-person interactions,” he says. “People are what will get you paid. That goes all the way through your career. The connections you make in person are going to be the most valuable.”


#2 Build Your Art & Social Media Will Follow

“While it’s important to build up the person-to-person freelance side to your photography business, it’s also beneficial to build up the art side,” Ranft adds. “What this does for you also is it prevents creative burnout. You’re not going to get so tired of constantly doing portraits and jobs you may not be super enthused about all the time. You’re going to be able to do those half of the time and be able to do art and creative stuff the other half of the time.”

#3 Create a Knowledge Branch

“It’s not that I want you to go create a YouTube channel, but you can start thinking of ways to leverage your knowledge once you have it. Let’s say you do your photography for a couple years and you start building a little business for yourself. Now you might find yourself in a position where you can do things like workshops, or you can do something like sell presets. You can do gear reviews; you can make YouTube videos. Whatever it is you might now finally have a skill that you can pass along to other people and create another branch of your business. This is what I call the knowledge branch, which is another way to make money.”

#4 Commercial Photography Projects

“Now how I define a commercial photography project is pretty loose. Basically, this means that a company is buying out the rights to the photography that you are creating for them. These jobs are not going to come early in your career. They’re going to come after you’ve built up a clientele, you’ve built up a name for yourself, a reputation for yourself, and you’ve continued to grow your business.”


Watch the video below and if you want to learn more about how Ranft was able to build his YouTube presence, check out this story where he explains how much he makes from his channel.

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