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While you’re watching the mail for that photo contract from SMITHSONIAN or an invitation from a local gallery to exhibit your best work, don’t let your camera lay idle. Here are 20 creative ways to not only bring in extra cash but increase your marketing skills. (What you charge, of course, is contingent on your level of expertise, your overhead, and the sophistication of your equipment!)

1. WEDDINGS. Professional studios are always in need of extra help during February, June and December, especially if you have a portfolio of past work that really shines.
2. WEEKLY NEWSPAPERS. School sports and community events don’t often merit the attention of a staff photographer. If you can turn in consistently good material (complete with appropriate releases), don’t be surprised when editors start personally asking for you.
3. REAL ESTATE. Quality shots of exteriors and interiors can make a difference in attracting potential buyers.
4. SLIDES FOR TRAINING FILMS/SEMINARS. Get to know the decision makers in corporate training offices; the next plum assignment could be yours!
5. INSURANCE. Whether it’s creating a visual record of existing property or taking accident/damage photos, individuals and businesses will be calling for your work.
6. PET OF THE WEEK. Many animal shelters now run ads for adoptive pets. Catch these critters at their cutest and help find them a home!
7. AUTHOR! AUTHOR! Seek out writers whose area of expertise is cooking, arts and crafts, gardening, or travel. Such collaborations could be profitable to both of you.
8. YEARBOOKS. While schools generally contract with established companies for the physical printing and production, it’s still up to the students and teachers to supply all the photographs that will fill those books.
9. THEATERS. If you have a love of the performing arts, you can put your photography skills to use in two ways: taking photos of upcoming productions for publicity, as well as individual head-shots which actors will want for their next audition!
10. GREETING CARDS. If you’ve checked the prices lately of photo-art cards, you know they fetch a pretty penny. Arrange with local stores to sell your work for a percentage of the profit.
11. POSTCARDS AND POSTERS. While the competition is fierce, check out the various national companies which buy stock photos for postcard and poster reproduction.
12. TALENT RECITALS. Is the local dance studio having its first performance of first-grade tap dancers? What parent wouldn’t appreciate the chance to buy a quality photo of their little star?
13. PRODUCT PROMOTION. Small businesses in particular are cost-conscious when it comes to buying advertising. A picture is worth a thousand words; a really good picture or two could land you a long-term assignment!
14. RESTAURANTS. While chain restaurants rely on advertising agencies to put together glitzy color menus, small cafes and the like often resort to trying to take pictures of their specials themselves. If you see a way to improve on their concept, offer it!
15. ROTATING ART. Until such time as you’re asked to show at a major gallery, scope out how many local shops, clubs, beauty salons or restaurants would be willing to display your work for its patrons to enjoy, and buy! (And don’t rule out donating an occasional piece to fund-raisers; it’s not only tax deductible but gets your work known around town.)
16. BEFORE AND AFTER. Painters, landscapers and architects pride themselves on the results of their Home Improvements. They would also welcome someone who can capture that before-and-after look as an effective sales tool to attract new business.
17. REUNIONS. The problem with large groups getting together to have fun is that someone IN the group is always missing from the lineup because he or she was wielding the camera. If part of your package price is to put together nicely labeled memory albums, you’ll be invited back time and again.
18. BED & BREAKFAST INNS. The next time you stay at a neighborhood B&B, take some pictures of the rooms and the grounds. If they turn out well, make an appointment to show the owner your work and propose the development of brochures or postcards to promote their business.
19. COMPANY NEWSLETTERS. Anything you can do to make a newsletter writer’s job easier will be appreciated. It may not pay very much but it all factors into your portfolio of diversity.
20. COVER ART. Large book publishers have art departments to design their covers. But what about small to mid-size presses or the rapidly burgeoning E-book business? If you have a talent for capturing a premise or theme visually, you have two avenues open to you: approaching the publisher with a sample of your work OR advertising your availability to the authors themselves, many of whom have no clue of what a good cover should look like!