Freelance photography is often a flexible, exciting and potentially lucrative profession to explore. When you become a freelance photographer, essentially, you're opening yourself up to do any kind of independent contract work that comes your way. You may take pictures in hopes of selling them for money to your contract employer, or you may be hired exclusively for one shoot. Many amateur photographers who are considering becoming professional will dabble in freelance first. This helps to give an idea of what it's like to become a professional. While many freelance photographers are still amateur, you will still want to make sure you have a superior knowledge of film, developing, lighting, composure, and an extensive understanding of your equipment. A freelance employer can and will refuse to pay you if the quality of your work is not up to standard.
It's important that even the freelance photographer have a stunning portfolio to display his or her work. This is the only real indication of the kind of work you can do, and you may even want to put your specialty of photographer in the centerfold of the portfolio so the client knows what kind of shoots you enjoy the most. As a freelance photographer, you may also want to include a description of how each print was achieved - a further indication of the kind of work you're capable of.
As a freelance photographer, you also want to make sure you're marketing yourself, and getting the word out about your services and talents. A portfolio is not enough to get you business: make sure you're in the phone books, and have a website, and are listed in photographer directories online and in regional trade journals. You already have a tough time proving yourself in the huge pool of photographers, so get some really great shots together, and make yourself a brand. A lot of your business is going to come from word of mouth referrals as well - so be sure, any time a new client calls, you're perpetuating your image as a flexible and accommodating professional. When you have commissioned a job for yourself, it's important that you're there on time, have all the equipment you could possibly need, get the shoot done efficiently, and have the photos developed in a short amount of time - getting your client the quickest possible turnover for their money.
Adequately pricing a freelance photography job can be tricky- but it's important to know how to charge appropriately so you can stay competitive while being compensated for your efforts and talents. You have the option of charging by the hour, by the job, or by the day. You must take into consideration any extenuating elements you might be dealing with for the shoot and price accordingly. If you have friends or acquaintances who are photographers, call and ask them what they would charge on a job you're unsure of. Remember to include developing, film and other supply costs into your quote, and always consider the area you're living in. If you're in a small town in the mid-west, you certainly shouldn't be charging the same price that a photographer in New York City would!