Freelance photographers are individuals who express themselves through the art of captured images. And because the Philippines is a democratic country, we expect that everyone has equal rights to express themselves freely. In line with this, no matter what kind of art you pursue, you are most welcome to do so.

Since Filipinos are known to be creative and expressive, we were able to find numerous ways to let others know how we feel. One good example is through timeless images where we capture moments that are precious to us. Freelance photographers just can’t take snaps anytime they like because of legal issues that come along with Photography.

This is exactly why I’m sharing this valuable information with everyone. So that you too may be well aware of what you can do. You’ll also be able to discover the scope of coverage of your rights as a freelance photographer.

How to Become a Freelance Photographer?

But before we dig deeper, let us first understand how it is to become a freelance photographer in the Philippines. And we’ll also need to know the requirements as well as the tools that we need to use in order to start our very own photography gig.

So, How do you become a Freelance Photographer? And what will you be needing in order to fulfill such status?

Surely, it’s easy to get in the moment and take shots of the scenic surroundings that you’re in. When you have a camera and just love taking pictures of random things that you come across, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re already a photographer. Being a photographer is not an easy task.

Yes, you have an eye for turning normal things into art and a passion to express yourself through pictures. But it doesn’t directly follow that you can just become a freelance photographer right away. Deciding to venture into the world of photography may be as easy as it seems, but I will tell you otherwise.

I’m not telling you this in order to scare you, but I’m giving a heads up on the reality of what you’ll need to face in the near future. Discovering how to run a successful photo business is a little more complicated than you think. It’s because your success doesn’t only rely on your photography skills, but also you’ll need to do all the administrative work as well.

How to Start Freelance Photography Business

Decide on your Specialty

You can specialize in various types of photography such as portraits, weddings, news, and other special events as a professional photographer. Yet, if you’re thinking of going freelance, you’ll need to have focus and know what type of accessories, tools to use, and how to market your own business.

You can offer more services by not limiting yourself into only one specialty. Such as introducing yourself as an event and portrait photographer so that newlyweds may contact you again when they’d want their kids’ photos to be taken.

  • Those that take photos at weddings, parties, graduations, and other special events are called event photographers.
  • While photos of individuals, families, children, or pets are taken by portrait photographers.
  • Pictures of products, properties, and other items that market businesses are captured in commercial and product photography.
  • Stock photography is where individuals and businesses buy photos of certain objects or situations in order to sell their own items. But you need to make sure to prepare a model release for your own safety if you’re shooting on public or private property.
  • While it’s exciting to take pictures of current events as a news photographer, it’s extremely challenging to get freelance work without previous experience.

Create A Strong Portfolio

In order to market yourself as a freelance photographer, you must have an impressive collection of photos to show your prospective clients. You may also ask your family and friends to pose as your model so you can get them in your portfolio. Local models are a good catch as well for your photoshoot so they can add their pictures in their own portfolios.

Ways To Get Customers

  1. Build your website. A website is a good way to showcase your work so that prospective clients can see what they’ll expect. Your site may help to draw in potential customers where you can easily schedule services and deliver your finished photos. Another thing to note is that it must be easy to navigate and only contain your best photos.
  2. Create your social media accounts. Social media is also a great way to market your services online. Since photography is a visual medium, your photos can quickly go viral and potential clients will appreciate your work. Join Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest so you can show off your work and people can share it easily.
  3. Get your business cards ready. Get new clients through word of mouth by letting your friends, colleagues, and others pass the cards to people they know who might be interested in your services.
  4. Establish networks to generate leads. By establishing connections with others, you may be able to find new clients. For example, you may get in touch with event-related businesses to introduce yourself and your work. So that recommendations will be easy when they need a photographer.
  5. Choose to accept free assignments. Gain experience and generate a buzz with potential clients by accepting free assignments. You may ask your family and friends if they need their photographs taken. Small businesses may also be a good place to shoot photos for their marketing materials.

Level Up Your Skills in Photography

  1. Give your tools an update. A career as a freelance photographer cannot be achieved by using your phone or some antique camera. Investing in an upgraded digital camera is essential in taking high-quality photos. Level up your equipment when you start to gain profit from your business.
  2. Join classes. Even though some skills come naturally, like having a good eye for composition. Yet, if you’re not very familiar with using a camera, you may need to join photography courses.
  3. Be part of seminars and other training. You may want to try to work as an assistant to a professional photographer so you can learn tips and techniques, or get feedback for your pictures.
  4. Contests are a good way to boost your skills. Entering photography contests can be a good way to boost your confidence and see how well your skills stack up against other photographers. And if you win, you’ll have achievements to add in your resume.
  5. Enter a photography group. Constructive criticisms are great when you get them from fellow photographers. So you may join a photography club or group to discuss your work with other photographers.

What Are The Rights of Freelance Photographers In The Philippines?

With the advent of technology and social media, it’s so easy to claim and own various forms of art. Especially with everyone wanting to become their own photographer, tons of high-quality pictures are readily available for grabs. But that should not be the case. Photographers must be well aware that they have the right to own their captured images.

Those with high-value must be kept in the hands of the rightful owner. But, the reality is far from the truth because other people don’t know the boundaries of owning or claiming photos as your own.

For this reason, everyone must be educated in knowing the Photographer’s Rights. This is a very serious and essential matter if you want to protect your works or images. And as a photographer, I would like to share this valuable information with those who are willing to learn more and explore their rights to their own photography.

This is specially dedicated to all freelance photographers in the Philippines.

As beneficial as it will ever be, I would like to encourage everyone to learn, understand, and know their rights by heart as a freelance photographer in the country. Since typical Filipinos are quite strict on seeing anyone holding a DSLR camera, more companies or individuals in the Philippines get paranoid when it comes to security.

Knowing this, below are common examples of scenarios that depict this type of attitude:

  1. If you have a corporate client and you need to visit them for a meeting, the security guard will check your bag at the entrance. And if they find your camera or laptop, they will immediately ask you if you have a permit for those gadgets or verify your agenda for the visit.
  2. While on another instance, if you’re the freelance photographer who will cover the event in a hotel, they will definitely ask if you have a permit to use your camera.

But when a foreigner is the one entering those premises, the security won’t even bother to ask them about their camera. Even if it’s hanging on their neck. I mean, where’s the logic?

In order to give you more reference for that information, here’s Your Rights and Remedies When Stopped or Confronted for Photography as published by Bert P. Krages II.

A PDF document that’s loosely based on the ACLU Bust Card, The Photographer’s Right is the go-to document when you want to learn more about how you can be a confident Freelance Photographer. You may wish to create copies of these and have them in your wallet, pocket, or camera bag.

This will serve as your quick access to vital information about your rights and obligations concerning confrontations over photography. You may even share the guide to others while giving credit to the author. Yet, the distribution must not be done for commercial gain.

The Photographer’s Right

The guide tackles different confrontations or situations wherein there’s a hindrance to the constitutional rights of an individual to capture images that are becoming more common nowadays. Created in order to fight the abuse of your right to free expression, you need to know and understand your rights to take photos as well as the solutions available to defend your rights.

Below are the topics discussed in this helpful document:

  • The General Rule
  • Some Exceptions to the Rule
  • Permissible Subjects
  • Who Is Likely to Violate Your Rights
  • They Have Limited Rights to Bother, Question, or Detain You
  • They Have No Right to Confiscate
  • Your Film Your Legal Remedies If Harassed
  • Other Remedies If Harassed
  • How to Handle Confrontations Disclaimer

This serves as a general education guide about your rights to take photographs as well as your limitations on how far you can go. For more information about the laws that affect photography, the second edition of the book Legal Handbook for Photographers (Amherst Media, 2006) is a good source to verify what the law states.

One more thing to note is that this guide is not for the purpose of getting a piece of legal advice. If you do need a piece of legal advice for some situations that you are experiencing, I recommend that you seek a reliable and competent lawyer to help you with your case.

You can easily download the original Photographer’s Right in PDF file using this link here to explore more about your rights.

Should photography come before my job?

Well, this solely depends on you. If you have some time to spare in order to follow your passion or hobby while doing your day job. Then, by all means, you may keep both activities as long as you’re not missing out on all the important moments or events in your life!

While on the other hand, if you find your true calling in photography. You may follow that road and see where it leads you.

As long as you’re happy with whatever decision that you wish to follow, you won’t be able to have regrets or complaints.

Just do whatever you love and make a profit from it if you can!

Let me know your story and share your opinion in the comments section below if you ever experienced this kind of situation. I’m doing this so that we can spread awareness and give other freelance photographers the picture of reality that they may have already experienced or will encounter in the future.

Let me say it in Tagalog: “Huwag kang maging dayuhan sa sarili mong bayan!”.