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Surviving life as a freelance photographer

Surviving life as a freelance photographer

Freelance photography is one of the most underrated professions that exist today. Since you don’t work for a studio, a magazine, or a newspaper, people look at your job as some sort of hobby. They don’t take you seriously, and they only see you like some kid with an excellent camera. You have no steady income and because of this, even your loved ones won’t put a high regard for your talent behind the lens. Worse, they completely discourage you in pursuing your dream.

We can’t blame them. The world is ruthless and unless you’re someone as good as Steve McCurry who can animate people through incredible portraits, it would be so hard to stand out and gain recognition through your shots.

It’s hard, but not impossible.

Just like every other job, working as a freelance photographer has its pros and cons.

Freelance photographers have the freedom of time. In exchange for this freedom, you will not get a secured paycheck if you do not produce anything worth paying. Having no authorities to follow also means having to be self-directed, marketing your own brand, sending pitches, and doing everything on your own. Being a freelance photographer, basically, is running a start-up business alone.

But that’s the thing: it is a business. It takes guts, grit, determination, and perseverance for everything to pay off. Nothing happens overnight. Just tread on and take pictures everyday. At the same time, find a way to pay the bills.

Photography is a great form of art; it’s a booming field for business as well.

Aside from photography being an emotional outlet, you have to realize that it can also be an opportunity to build a massive business.

The emergence of the internet makes it nearly impossible to not think of something that will reach people all over the globe. All it takes are your skills, a lot of time, effort, and your willingness to learn, create new things, go outside of your comfort zone, and venture into the complex world of business and finance.

You can build something epic!

It is vital for you to find your forte as an artist. Much like building a business, you must know your niche and your target audience. Concentrate on a particular type of photography that you can capitalize on. Your forte might not even be about taking photos, but may be about building brands through photos, creating quality social media presence through photos, increasing company sales through photos, or writing lead-generating camera product reviews. Thinking beyond the photographer role and adding a little entrepreneurial spice will definitely make the future look brighter.

You can’t just be a photographer. You have to be a photographer that gives great value.

Let’s take Timothy Hogan as an example. Hogan is a famous still life photographer of luxury goods in New York, Los Angeles, and London. If a client wants photos of landscapes and real estates, will they look for him? Of course not. However, expensive luxury products that need professional photography services will hire Hogan in an instant. Why?  There are a lot of other photographers out there who are probably ask for lower rates, even. What does Timothy Hogan do that no matter how high his value becomes, luxury brands go to him?

What makes Timothy Hogan thrive as a photographer is his ability to market himself and his skills. He’s not just a photographer. Timothy Hogan is an effective luxury brand sales professional. Through his effective visual communication skills, luxury companies generate more sales. Timothy Hogan is a self-made business.

This can happen to you as well. There are tons of opportunities in the field of photography. There are a lot of projects that can be built on being a photographer. You probably know by now the typical photographer jobs. Either you work as portrait photographer, an events photographer, or a studio photographer. But you can still find the entrepreneur within and juice out what else can be done with the skills that you have. Here are some examples.

Aerial & Drone Photography Services

Have you ever wondered how they took those great shots of New York from the skies?

Due to the advancement of mobile applications and technology, aerial and drone photography is now easily accessible and customizable. Aside from the aesthetic pleasure that it gives its viewers, photographers can earn from this area by providing photography services for news teams, organizations, companies, groups, and individuals who may need shots from above.

There is long list of the need for aerial shots. It may be used in important news reports, in calamity check-ups, in huge group pictures, or in area mapping. Get creative and think of other uses. Offer great value beyond your skills and provide efficient and world-class bird’s eye view to your clients.

Social Media Content Management Services

In today’s world, companies who are not in social media are as good as dead. This is why companies are spending so much money on social media content management services.

Salaries of photographers, graphic designers, writers, and social media specialists have soared. Companies are hiring the tech-savvy individuals who will ensure quality lead generation for increased sales. Good photographers can leverage on this by providing attention-grabbing pictures. The goal of social selling is stealing the attention of the cyber citizens despite all of the distractions online.

Find companies looking for social media content management services and offer great value by telling them how your pictures can convince people to stop and take a look at their website or their social accounts. It’s not about how good you are as a photographer. It’s about how good you are as a communicator.

City Photographer-Tour Guide Services

Have ever gone to a trip just to return home frustrated because while you took great photos of other people, they took crappy photos of you? I know, it’s a common problem for photographers.

You can leverage on this issue by providing city photographer-tour guide services. You don’t have to be the tour guide; you can collaborate with someone more knowledgeable in this field and work on a good package. The tour guide provides private tour services, while you ensure that the tourists get to keep their memories locked in nicely printed photographs. 

Photographer-Blogger Affiliate Marketing Services

The internet has provided great opportunities for online marketers since its inception. Until now, they are still booming. Students can earn just by blogging and some people are earning six figures straight from their bed.

Photographers can make use of this by giving great value for effective affiliate marketing services. Try hunting for photography-related affiliate marketing programs online and you’ll get hundreds and thousands of sources. All you have to do is find programs that will fit you and provide great content for your viewers. Your content can simply be a blog about your recent photography escapades or it can be a lengthy product review. Somewhere within the content is a link that leads to the affiliate marketing program you chose. When your viewers click that link and it leads to a sale, you get a commission.

Commissions can range from US $5 to US$300, depending on the industry.

Technical Product Reviewer

Since you are a great photographer, I am assuming that you know your gear well. You know how to spot good lenses, how to take care your equipment, and how to compare the many choices of camera parts and accessories in the market.

If you can write or take videos, you can create a business out of technical product reviews. A lot of companies in different countries look for remote reviewers and get paid with a base salary. Every lead and sale closed because of your content means added commission for you. Definitely a great way to hone your other skills while earning from what you love.

Don’t wait for your value to increase. Offer great value deliberately.

One of the biggest mistakes photographers do is to depend on their skills alone with the hopes of someone discovering them and making it big. Though skills are important, they are only composed of a part of what makes a successful photographer.

Instead of just waiting for your value to increase overtime, offer great value to potential clients by thinking beyond taking photos. What else can I do with my camera? What else can I provide with my skills? What kind of money-making gigs can I create with my equipment? How can I build a business around my skill and equipment capital?

Remove the photography stigma. There is money in photography. Study the market and find out what you can give. Great ideas founded on sheer grit and perseverance will take you to places.

Top Ten New York Attractions

Top Ten New York Attractions

“I want to wake up in a city that never sleeps,” Frank Sinatra once sang. And we’d have to agree, you’ll definitely want to stay awake while New York City, if you want to cover a lot of ground. With hundreds of attractions to choose from, here are the top attractions that you absolutely must visit.

Empire State Building

The Empire State Building, opened in 1931, is one of the world’s tallest structures, instantly recognizable by its spire.

The observatories at the 86th and 102nd floors can be reached by high speed elevators from the ground level. The upper observatory allows an 80-mile view in any direction. Visitors can see the neighboring states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut on a clear day.

The skyscraper is well known among film enthusiasts as the structure climbed by the titular character in the 1933 film King Kong.

The Empire State Building is located at 350 5th Avenue between 33rd and 34th Streets.

The Statue of Liberty

If there is one landmark that represents the City of New York, it’s the Statue of Liberty. Designed and built as a gift by the people of France to the United States and dedicated in 1886, the monument remains a symbol of freedom recognized worldwide. Visitors can enjoy a breathtaking view of New York Harbor and Lower Manhattan from Liberty Island.

Round trip fare plus admission to the island is available from the Battery Park ferry for $12 per adult, available 7 days a week from 9:30am to 5:00pm. Ellis and Liberty Islands are open to the public, however access to the interior of the Statue is restricted as a security measure.

Times Square and Broadway

Known for its mammoth billboards, Times Square is bustling with activity day and night, perfect for those late night jaunts. And if you happen to be spending New Year’s Eve here, you absolutely must attend the famous Times Square Ball, attended by almost a million spectators annually.

Theater enthusiasts will be glad to know that Theater District–AKA Broadway–is just a few minutes’ walk away. If you plan to watch a show, be sure to book your tickets well in advance.

Central Park

843 acres is certainly a lot of ground to cover, but this means that there is enough room for everyone wanting a little break from the hustle and bustle of the city. Attractions within Central Park include the Central Park Zoo and Strawberry Fields, a two and a half acre memorial dedicated to former Beatle John Lennon.

Visiting couples should not miss taking the horse-and-carriage ride. The romantic 45-minute ride starts at $155. There are other guided tour packages available on the Central Park website, if you’re looking for something different.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Located on the eastern edge of Central Park, the Met is the largest art museum in the United States and is the fourth most visited art museum in the world. It is home to a vast collection of Asian, European and Egyptian pieces, most notable of which is the massive Temple of Dendur installation.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is open 7 days a week from 10:00am to 5:30pm. Admission costs $25 per adult, but if you plan on being a frequent visitor, we recommend getting a membership for as low as $80 annually, which allows free unlimited admission among other benefits.

Fifth Avenue

Right outside the Met is New York’s premier shopping area, Fifth Avenue. The mile between 39th and 60th Streets is lined with prestigious shops and flagship stores, including Saks Fifth Avenue and the Apple store with its impressive all-glass exterior.

We recommend going to 5th Avenue by bus or subway: parking is hard to find and expensive.

Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center is a vast entertainment and shopping complex located between 48th and 51st streets in Midtown Manhattan. Declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987, Rockefeller Center was opened to the public in 1939. It was named after its founder John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

The centerpiece of the complex is the 70-floor NBC Building, also known as 30 Rock. The skyscraper is best known for being the home of NBC’s shows including The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live (David Letterman and Conan O’Brien’s Late Night shows were also broadcast from here).

A recommended tourist stop is the Top of the Rock, an observation deck located at the top level of the NBC building. Adult tickets start at $32 and can be purchased online.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

The Guggenheim, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1943, is a work of art in itself. Located at the corner of 5th Avenue and East 89th Street, the cylindrical structure is hard to miss. Visitors enter from the top through an elevator, then walk down a single spiral ramp that circles the entire building – one continuous floor spread over several levels. Over time, the museum had displayed works by Picasso, Chagall and Manet, among others others.

The museum is open every day except Thursdays. Adult admission starts at $25. Similar to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim is offering annual membership starting at $75, which includes unlimited admission.


There are hundreds of other stops to choose from, and these are merely the proverbial icing on the cake. There are also guided bus and cruise tours available. For a more somber tone, go to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. We recommend planning your route ahead of time to maximize coverage, especially during holidays. A New York Pass allows entry to over 80 attractions and can save up to 70% on gate prices alone.

List of Great Hobbies to Try Out

List of Great Hobbies to Try Out

At first glance, you might think this is the same old tired list of Hobbies You Should Try, so we decided to put a spin on common hobbies. Before you say “pass,” know that each chapter has its own plot twist.

Learn How to Bake

The great thing about cooking in general is that it’s a universally enjoyed activity, and it’s something that anyone can learn to do, and can adjust the final product to taste. Baking is a bit of a learning curve, as it requires a certain level of exactness to its process; it’s the science class of cooking. However, once learned, baking is something that you will want to do again and again, with friends and family.

Here’s a challenge: after learning how to make your own bread and cake, learn how to make bagels. There are several instructional videos and recipes online, and once you master the complicated recipe, you’ll never have to fall in line in a bagel shop again.


Many people find gardening relaxing despite the amount of labor required, which probably has something to do with the concept of making things grow. It doesn’t take much to get started on gardening. A lawn-sized plot is best, but growing plants in pots is a great alternative, especially if you’re living in an apartment; you can dedicate a portion of your balcony to a small garden.

Here’s a little twist: instead of houseplants, try growing fresh herbs in your garden: basil, chives, coriander (cilantro), dill, mint and thyme can be grown relatively easy and with minimal space required. Nothing beats the taste of fresh herbs on home cooking. Seeds are surprisingly easy to purchase online and you can even a get assorted seed “starter kits” for under $20.

Write a Blog

Setting up a personal blog costs almost nothing to set up, and you can write just about anything. Mark Twain once wrote “write what you know,” and it certainly applies here. Write about daily experiences, or some new music you heard. Write about your other hobbies. Even write about writing about hobbies. To borrow a cliche, the possibilities are endless.

A good blog articles needs a good layout. While there are thousands of free templates available, using your own design and layout gives your blog a unique look. Have a programmer friend help you design a logo, color scheme and overall theme. And you’ll definitely need pictures. Speaking of which…

Take Pictures

Amateur photography remains a popular hobby, from the days when the amateur photographer has to handle chemicals in a darkly-lit room just to get their photographs printed on paper. The advent of the digital camera has made photography more accessible. And it’s never been easier to take professional quality pictures.

With the recent advances in smartphone technology, smartphones have caught up. Forget those Instagram filters. Smartphone photography is a great hobby for those who are just getting started. Once you master the manual controls of your camera app, you can take professional quality photos, and no one would know the better. And the best part? You’re not spending hundreds of dollars on expensive camera equipment.

Play a Musical Instrument

Playing a musical instrument is a great hobby. But buying a quality instrument isn’t cheap. An entry level acoustic guitar could easily cost about a hundred dollars; a fairly decent drum kit even more so. The latter could also be a problem if you live in an apartment.

If you’re just getting into playing an instrument, learning the ukulele isn’t a bad place to start: it’s small, not loud, and simple to learn to play; best of all, it won’t break the bank. If you’re already playing guitar,

Why not challenge yourself to play your repertoire entirely on a ukulele?

Bonus: Learn How to Do Card Tricks

“If it were easy, everyone would do it,” Jimmy Dugan, played by Tom Hanks, said in the film A League of Their Own. He might as well be talking about card tricks, or more generally known as sleight-of-hand tricks. Learning how to do card tricks require a lot of patience and dexterity. Start with disappearing card or coin tricks and work your way up to more complicated tricks. You just might find yourself the center of attention at parties if you’re not careful.

Why I Love Photography? A Question I Love to Answer

Why I Love Photography A Question I Love to AnswerI couldn’t count how many times I’ve been asked this question. But it’s a question I’d never get tired to answer.

But before that let me introduce myself – I’m Mo. I’m just like any of the New Yorker guys you bump into every day. But unlike many, I love to see the world through the lens.

I’ve been a freelance photographer for a few years now. And my God! You just don’t know how much I’m passionate about my craft!

So, back to the question: Why the heck do I love photography?

There are too many reasons I can think of, but let me just give you a few things many will be able to relate to.

See the world in a whole different perspective

For most of us, everyday life can be very boring. Things almost seem very common and repetitive. But the world is entirely different when you see it through the lens! Just last week, I was asked to take photos of an indoor garden.

For those who are not into photography, perhaps, the LED lights (like the ones found at may be an unsightly thing to see in an almost perfect view. But looking through the lens of my camera, the light adds crispness and value to the scene. With the right angle and composition, the images look very live and powerful. Photography has changed the way I see the world!

Meet amazing people

I’ve met countless interesting people through photography. But I’m not talking about celebrities or high profile individuals. I’ve learned that you don’t have to travel far to meet the best people in the world. It turns out that the most interesting people are the average guys and gals who surround our every daily lives. Each has a unique story to tell that we hardly know. When you take their photos, you get to know them on a deeper level and you can always find inspiration in their stories.

Capture memories and history

What better way to immortalize memories than photos? Everything in this world is fleeting. The smiles, the laughter, the tears. Everything happens in just a flick of an eye. In photography, you get to capture these events and immortalize them forever. You can go back and relish all the good (and hopefully not, the bad) memories in your life.

Travel and experience the world

As a freelance photographer, I’ve been to different parts of the country and experienced different things. My most recent gig – photographing an indoor garden with all its weird looking plasma grow light – was shot in an ultra modern facility. I know I wouldn’t be able to get inside such a building if not for photography.

Through photography, I’ve travelled the US for free and even with income. I’ve attended a lot of festivals and events. I’ve enjoyed each and every second touring and seeing different parts of our country. What could be better than that?

Lastly, what I love most about photography is that it lets me be more appreciative of life. Photography is life! It’s my passion! And I’ll never get tired answering this million-dollar question.

Feeling the Bern

Feeling the BernWith the elections heating up as primaries and caucuses run their courses around the United States, I find that it’s just about time for Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton to start pushing hard here in New York, which will be the site of the next big election event. I don’t know how all of you are going to vote and I’m not too interested in that anyhow – what really gets me right now is that the two leading runners for the democratic nomination are going to be debating and clashing very close to where I live, and very soon too. The New York primary is on April 19th this year.

Before the primary rolls through though, there are going to be some debates, and this is what I’m most excited about. Clinton and Sanders have been going back and forth for months now, with Clinton, the front-runner, refusing to debate Sanders at just about every junction where the demand came up. But now, on April 14th, the two will be debating here in New York, at the Bronx. I’ve watched a handful of the Republican “debates” over the last several months and they’ve certainly been a spectacle, so I’m curious about how the Democrats will fare here in New York.

According to just about every major news outlet here in the United States, New York is a “must-win” state for both Sanders and Clinton, which may or may not be what has my interest piqued as far as how those two will do in their upcoming debate. One of the two seems to wear his policies and decisions on his cuff where everyone can see them, and the other is currently under investigation by the FBI for some sort of private email server thing. I wish this was the sort of situation where a little extra light would help make the candidates easier to see and understand, but Light Bar Report isn’t going to help here.

Actually, this brings me to Sanders’ slogan, or at least the slogan being touted by his supporters – Feel the Bern. If he really wanted people to feel the burn, he ought to put them down under some of the lights I use when I’m taking pictures. Those things are bright, sure, they have to be, but that radiance also makes them very hot, hot enough to cause first degree burns for people who touch them or their housing after they’ve been running for long enough to get hot. There’s a Bern for you.

While I wouldn’t say I’m supporting any specific candidate just yet, I’m very interested to see how things will go between Clinton and Sanders, mostly because they’re getting the biggest numbers from the primaries and caucuses around the United States. Sure, Donald Trump is leading the Republican party, but even Bernie Sanders, who is far behind Hillary Clinton, has more pledged delegates to his name than the Republican front-runner. This makes me think our next president will be from the left, which in turn makes me very interested in their debates.

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