The Myth of the Part-Time Photographer

Author Recent Posts Nicole BegleyNicole Begley, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, is a zoological animal trainer turned pet photographer and educator. She created Hair of the Dog in 2012 to empower pet photographers to turn their dreams into reality by helping them improve their craft and grow their pet photography business.Nicole has authored a book “Pet and Equine […]

Written By Nicole Begley

On August 11, 2016
If I hear it again, I’m going to scream.

“Part-time photographers can afford to charge less than full-time photographers because they don’t have to rely on the income.”

This echoes far and wide across the interwebs and it’s just plain wrong, in my little humble opinion.

I believe that it is MORE critical for part-time photographers to charge appropriate prices than it is for full-time photographers!

Think about it. Does the gear cost less for a part-time photographer? No. Do computers last longer for part-time photographers? What about that insurance payment? All no.

The fixed costs for a photography business are just that. Fixed. It takes longer for a part-time photographer to make a profit because those costs are the same whether you are full-time or part-time.


Secondly, what’s the most important ingredient in all of our lives that is absolutely 100% fixed and no single person gets more or less of it in a year?


The part-time photographer has So. Much. Less. Time. Why would you spend that time taking clients that aren’t going to make a profit for you?

Wouldn’t you rather spend that time enjoying your life?

“Wait, Nicole, I love photography!” Ok, that’s great! Then make a decision if you want to enjoy photography as a hobby or a business. There is NOTHING wrong with either option. Just own it.

If you want to run a part-time photography business then it’s time to get serious with your pricing.

#1. Figure out what your yearly fixed expenses will be, as well as estimate your projected income.

#2. Figure out what your cost of goods sold expenses will be. (these are all of your expenses incurred when you make a sale…product, packaging, credit card fees, etc)

#3. Go through the Hair of the Dog FREE Pricing masterclass to determine YOUR business pricing based on YOUR costs and income goals!

This will give you so much information to help you determine just what kind of sales it will take for YOUR business to be profitable.

Everyone will be different. Some people love their full-time job and just want to offer photography on the side to earn enough pay for an epic vacation each year. That is OK!

What is not ok is pulling prices out of the air and telling yourself that it’s fine to not charge much because you are only part-time. Your time is VALUABLE!

One huge benefit to being a part-time photographer is that you can be super selective about your clients. This gives you time to build the business the right way by building a boutique brand and an exceptional experience that people will pay for. You aren’t worried about paying your mortgage with your photography so you shouldn’t be tempted to take any random job that comes your way or contemplate slashing your prices to get more people in the door.


For some of you, the goal will be to take that business full-time. Which can happen with lots of hustle and work…but it won’t happen overnight. It usually takes at least two years to be able to start pulling a true salary from your business.

Some of you have no intention of ever leaving your full-time job, and that’s fine! Just please treat your part-time photography like a business and not a hobby…unless it truly is a hobby…

A few years ago, I had left my full-time job in the zoological industry and while my husband earned enough for us to live on, it would have been a stretch to live on his salary alone. My salary at the time was for all of the extras, retirement savings, traveling, home improvements, etc. I was able to have 50 fabulous clients with a $2,000 average, earning 100K gross in my business and paying myself a salary near $40,000. I was probably working 20-25 hours a week that year because I had two tiny humans in my home that I had to make sure didn’t self-destruct most of the day.

The key here is for YOU to decide what you want from your business and build a business that can give you that. Only once you know your goals can you create the game plan to get you there.  So grab the free training below.


Looking for some more pricing training?  Forget what every other pet photographer is charging -- the best thing you can do for your business is set your prices based on YOUR business and YOUR goals. It’s time to stop following the pack and let your rates lead you to a sustainable business!

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • The #1 thing you need to know BEFORE setting your prices
  • My simple formula to set up your pricing structure for success 
  • How to increase your prices without losing customers

Oh, and did I mention this is a free training?  Grab it below.

Nicole Begley

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  1. Diana Lundin

    Oh Nicole, so much yes! The other thing part-timers might fail to realize is that professional photography is a luxury item. That means if you don’t charge properly, your hard earned money is going to subsidize someone else’s LUXURY. It’s not a necessity. The money you earn full-time that is paying for your computer and your camera and your software and your insurance, etc., isn’t going to help feed someone or provide them shelter, it is going to pay to give someone, probably a stranger that you have no real attachment to other than they have a pet, a luxury item. I’ll tell you what… I’m not doing that. Money isn’t coming out of my pocket to provide a luxury for someone I don’t know.

    • Nicole

      Great point! I totally agree! …….if someone is willing to subsidize a sailboat for me that would be super. 😉

  2. Stephanie Reed

    Nicole- FABULOUS article. I am a part time photographer, for now, because I’m a full time high school English teacher. The way I look at my business is that I have roughly 8 more years in the classroom during which time I can build a profitable, boutique photography business catering to the type of clients I want to have. Having the “day job” allows me to say no to the bargain hunters who do not want to pay premium prices and the people who don’t value my work or photography in general. Once I retire from the classroom I hope to be able to sidestep directly into my photo biz full time so it’s worth the extra effort now to cultivate the dream business I want.

    • Nicole

      Thanks Stephanie! I believe that is DEFINITELY the best way to do this. Take your time and build a boutique business.


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