The Freelance Photographer’s Guide To Success: Business Essentials

Place An Order
Published by Focal Press/Routledge

I began my photojournalism career in 1989 with a staff position at the Simi Valley Enterprise, a small afternoon daily newspaper in a Los Angeles bedroom community. Ever since then I’ve freelanced for a living. Even during a five year stint with the Los Angeles Times as a contract photographer I was freelancing for national newspapers, magazines and agencies. Since 1996 I’ve been a full-time freelancer based in Los Angeles and shooting on assignment for a wide range of publications, corporations and non-profits.

In that time, there have been massive changes in the profession. The transition from film to digital is obvious, but less obvious was the steady move away from staff photographers to a freelance dominated profession. It is safe to say, and backed by research, that photojournalism and photography in general are now overwhelmingly freelance based. In other words, freelancers must now go beyond developing just their creative, technical skills and expand their business knowledge if they truly hope for a sustainable career as a freelance photographer. 

After years of developing and teaching my Business of Photography Workshop to photographers across the country at professional conferences, organizations and universities, it became more and more apparent that information about the business side of freelancing was needed as photographers found themselves navigating complex contracts, licensing agreements and more. I set-out to write a book in January, 2020 just as the pandemic hit and by late summer I had completed the manuscript and secured Focal Press, a division of Routledge devoted to photography books, to publish the guide. 

The guide is available on the publisher’s website and most major vendors including Amazon and Barnes & Noble. In addition, I will provide books for purchase at my workshop and speaking events. If you’re interested in getting a copy when it’s published, as well as staying up to date on freelance topics, please follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

“The perfect book to help you become a profitable independent photographer, whether you are just starting out or a seasoned veteran who wants to make the jump into the freelance world. There are valuable, real-life examples from his business. The section on Archives is worth the price of admission.”


William Snyder
Three Time Pulitzer Prize Recipient
Professor, School of Photographic Arts, Rochester Institute of Technology


Grounded in real-life experiences and scenarios, this practical guide offers editorial, non-profit, foundation, and corporate photographers an honest and insightful approach to running a freelance photography business.

Pulling from thirty years of experience as a freelance photographer, veteran Todd Bigelow presents a timely and detailed account of the methods and tactics best used to navigate and succeed in the profession. He explores the topics that define the business of freelancing, including: analyzing photography contracts; creating and maintaining an image archive; licensing for revenue; client development; registering for copyright; combating copyright infringement; taking projects from idea to publication; freelance tax issues; freelance business structures, and more. Chapters feature examples of real contract clauses and emails to better prepare readers for the practical daily activities that are essential to growing a successful business. Likewise, Bigelow shares conversational anecdotes throughout to provide real insight into the world of freelancing.

Based on the author’s sought-after Business of Photography Workshop, this book is an essential guide for emerging, mid-career, and experienced photographers interested in starting or improving their own freelance business.

Table of Contents: