From the Archives: Making a Living as a Nature Photographer

© Michael Struble

© Michael Struble


Story and photographs by Jack Graham

From the Editor: This article has consistently been one of NANPA’s most popular blog posts, despite being originally published in 2015.  We bring it back in case you missed it the first time and to kick off an occasional series of articles on the business side of nature photography.  If you have tips or ideas on running a successful nature photography business, share them with us at

I am often asked if it’s possible to make a living as a nature photographer. No matter whether you attempt to do it as a full-time professional or a part-timer to supplement income from an existing job, there are many things to consider. Nature photography is a tough way to make a living. However if you do it right, you can make it work.

Both full-time and part-time photographers need to remember and understand these concepts:

  • You need to get really (and I mean really) good as a photographer. This takes many years of working hard. As the late, great Henri Cartier-Bresson famously observed, “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”
  • Be prepared to spend as much or more time in your office as in the field.
  • You must deal with rejection.

Full-time photographers can add these to the list:

  • If no one buys your work or attends your workshops, you don’t eat.
  • You have to know your market and change when necessary.
  • Develop business savvy.
  • Be able to justify expenditures such as travel, equipment and extensive marketing (website, social etc.).
  • Become known.
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