Here’s the thing. Making a living at photography can be a challenge, but it’s certainly not impossible. There are two types of photographers. There’s the type that prefers to fly by the seat of his or her pants, also known as, the freelancer. And then there’s the type that appreciates the comfort of having a team with a single vision, or the in-house photographer. You may be a jack of both trades, in which case, more power to you. Here are a few clues to help you determine which type of photography fits for you:
You need a consistency. If you’re not a plan of playing your career by ear, opt for an in-house photography job. “In-house” typically means you’re a employee for a brand or company. Instead of soliciting for work week after week, the in-house photographer is responsible whatever images the brand needs. For example, you might work for Billabong and shoot their newest products or their latest advertising campaign. It’s important to understand that no two companies are the same. Depending on the brand’s financial allocations, the work available to the in-house photographer may look different. But, at the end of the day, you have consistent work cut out for you.
You need variety. If structure and consistency bores you, aim for freelance. Variety really is the spice of life for some folks! If you’re someone who likes to pick and choose who you work with and when you work with them, there’s no shame in that game! Freelancers operate as independent entities. You may hear the term, “independent contractor,” meaning, you work separately from your client. For example, you may be occasionally hired to shoot for a few smaller brands here and there, or you may dapple in various types of photography for hire overall. If you like to switch things up, freelance is a great choice.
You are a one-person show. If you feel like you’re a brand all your own and you work better alone, freelance may be perfect for you. While both freelance and in-house photography require some style adaptability, you are more likely to stand out as a freelancer. Freelance clients will often hire you based on your portfolio. For example, if you’re a wedding photographer or a lifestyle photographer, your client chooses you based on your style of expertise. You still need to play nice with others, but you’re likely in charge of the creative vision.
You would prefer to work with others. If you feel like being a team player is your strong suit, consider working in-house as a photographer. In-house photographers need to play by the rules. Brand continuity is key and also a big responsibility. Fortunately, you’re likely to have a marketing team, a CEO, and a content manager there to guide you. If you’re good at your and you’re even better at prioritizing the goal of the brand, in-house photography is the way to go.
Photography is how you express yourself. If photography is your most prized form of art, you may want to consider freelance. Freelance photography provides all the room you need to color outside the lines, in order to explore your creativity. If you don’t like to follow the leader, follow your dang dreams, am I right?! Go embrace your inner artist.
Photography is just a cool way to capture an industry or a brand you love. If you’ve got a knack for telling a compelling story, and at the same time, a strong passion for a particular clothing line or a sport, in-house is your territory. Plenty of people happen to be blessed with an artsy gene and enjoy shooting photography, but don’t feel a need to explore creativity wherever the wind blows. And that’s perfectly ok!
If you need more guidance, be sure to check out The Hub! Joining a community of like-minded creatives will help you expand your network, whether you work freelance or in-house!