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When you’ve been out at a club you may have noticed someone going around with a camera taking photos. Chances are you may have wondered who exactly they work for, and how they make money photographing drunkards like yourself.
Well, it’s actually a great starting point for budding photographers and is a great way to earn a little extra cash. Realistically a nightclub photographer should be earning anything from £30-£100 a night if they are being paid directly by the club, so this can be a nice little earner as long as you’ve got a camera, the right technical skills, and are confident enough to work with people in a club environment.
Anyone can become a nightclub photographer, although it will obviously help if you feel comfortable in the clubbing scene and have the confidence to approach strangers to take their picture. It’s particularly suited for students who are looking to earn a little extra cash during their studies. You’d probably be out all night on a weekend anyway, right? Making money doing it sounds like a no-brainer.
If you’re not a student and don’t live in a university town, don’t worry – this gig really suits anyone who’s interested in pursuing a career in photography.
Don’t be fooled, though – nightclub photography is not particularly easy and producing good quality pictures that work with the lighting and capture the atmosphere and mood of the night well requires some skill.
As a nightclub photographer you are getting paid to photograph people as they are clubbing, as well as taking photographs of the crowd as a whole. It’s your job to make the club look as appealing and attractive as possible, whilst also capturing memories of people’s good times.
Some may think that is where the job ends, but that is not the case. After the night out you’ll be responsible for selecting and editing the photographs that you’ve taken, making sure you retain a particular style and aesthetic that is on brand for the club and its marketing.
You will then need to upload the photos online for the club to use. This can be a lengthy process, and you will likely be expected to do it the following day, straight after you finish editing the pictures. Photos may need reformatting and resizing for the particular platform (for example for different social media channels, or for the club’s site) and this can all take some time, so you must have a real passion for getting the best photos you can.
To begin with it’s worth contacting the clubs in your area directly and asking them if there are any available nights you could do. It is always helpful if you know someone who works in the club who can put in a good word for you such as the DJ, promoters or manager.
If you’re a student you’re at an advantage here, because you can contact the students’ union or university-owned bars or clubs directly to see if they’ll employ you on a freelance basis. Student union venues are more likely to want to encourage student entrepreneurship than employ non-students, so this is a great place to start..
If you don’t have an in at the club already, start networking so the staff get to know you. Offer to do photography at an event for free so you can prove to them you have the skills required. Don’t, however, continue to work for free. The club will be drumming up business from your work and should, therefore, be paying you.
Another way in might be to work for companies who employ you to sell key rings and pay you commission. This is more promo work and not the most rewarding form of nightclub photography, and we certainly don’t recommend it as a long term job. However, it could be a way to get your foot in the door whilst you work out what your nightclub photographer offering is.
You will still take photos but the only money you will make will be a commission from selling key rings using the photo you took (the company should provide you with a key ring cutter and printer). In other words, you do all the hard work and then only get a percentage of your sales. However it has allowed photographers to prove themselves and move on to getting paid for their photography.
It’s also worth checking on local message boards and in local Facebook groups to see if there are any advertised photography jobs in your local area.
One thing you need to make sure you have is a portfolio – without it, you won’t be able to prove to the decision makers that you’re capable of taking a good photo. This is best displayed online, and it doesn’t need to be professional work. Just make sure you demonstrate that you can use the light well, have a good eye for a subject, know how to frame a shot well, and that it’s all displayed in a design-led way.
As you are self-employed you get to choose how much you get paid per hour, although some clubs might have fixed rates. Whilst you shouldn’t be over ambitious and price yourself out of a job, it’s also important to make sure you charge a fair amount.
The average freelance photographer in the UK charges £100 per hour, but this is skewed by the high rates that are available to commercial photographers and those covering events such as weddings, which obviously take a lot of very precise planning. As a nightclub photographer you should be charging at least £20 per hour, possibly upwards of £30 depending on your experience. It might sound steep, but remember you are working anti-social hours, that you will be spending a fair amount of time editing images, and you will have probably forked out a fair bit on your equipment. Photography is a high level skill when done properly, and photographers should be paid properly.
As with any job, you can change your prices depending on how high class the venue, and how much money you expect them to bring in. You can also take on more than one client, and raise your rates accordingly.
You will need a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera. These can come as cheap as £200 but for top of the range models you can pay around £2000. Whilst a good quality camera will come in handy, don’t forget that you will be bringing it to the club which is packed full of intoxicated, clumsy people, so it may not be wise to bring along the most expensive model that money can buy.
You will also most likely need an external flash, which are around £20-£60, and you might consider buying a diffuser to go with that, which will help evenly distribute the light from your flash. You will also need a memory card, preferably around 4 gigs, so that you don’t run out of space. Finally, it is worth owning photo editing software like, for example, Adobe Lightroom, which starts at £9.98 per month and should provide you with all the tools you will need to make your pictures perfect.
Admittedly this is all quite costly, so photography will need to be something you are generally passionate about if you are to make this financial cost worth it. However we emphasise again that you don’t need to buy top of the range. Buying cheap will be safer in the clubbing environment and is preferable if you’re not sure how long you intend to pursue photography.
Find out other ways to make money from photography here
Moneymagpie interviewed Leon Anderson, who has spent time successfully earning money as a nightclub photographer.
I became a photographer at the end of September 2012. I started with no experience of the job, other than
my basic college level education of photography. I originally started with a company who paid me commission for selling key rings.
When working under my independent brand name I was earning £40 per night for just two hours of work.
It has some fantastic perks such as free drinks depending on club management rules, free entry to the clubs… and you develop a reputation. By far the best thing is the social reputation you gain; it gives you so much confidence and self-esteem.
Anybody who has a basic knowledge of photography and who is willing to build and learn new skills. Some computer skills will be handy, especially with Photoshop.
If you have a passion and eye for creativity, go for it and do it with all your heart. It will give a sense of stability in your life and a social life that before I started this job I had only dreamed about. So my advice is, if you’re going to give it a go, always be willing to learn something new, because you will with every single night out on the job.
You can also make money by getting people into clubs. Find out how here.
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