The Freelance Photographer’s Guide To Success: Business Essentials

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Published by Focal Press/Routledge

With the exception of the first few years of my career in the early 1990s, I’ve freelanced for a living. During a five year contract position with the Los Angeles Times and continuing until today, I’ve been 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 Covid 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, Amazon, Apple and wherever books are sold. In addition, I will provide books for purchase at my workshop and speaking events when permitted (some universities don’t allow for such).

If you’re interested in staying up to date on freelance topics and for promo codes to save on the book, you may also follow me on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

“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.

Links To Todd’s Interviews, Podcasts & Webinars


Todd’s Interviewed by Allan and John for The B&H Photography Podcast 

Todd’s Interviewed by Michael Der About Licensing Images on “Artrepreneurs Podcast”

Todd’s Interviewed by Allen Murabayashi on PhotoShelter’s Blog & Podcast “Vision Slightly Blurred”

Todd’s Interviewed by Matt Brown On Podcast: Part Two “One Good Conversation

Todd’s Interviewed by Matt Brown On Podcast: Part One “One Good Conversation” 

PhotoShelter’s Webinar Featuring Todd Talking About How To Get Projects Published 

Todd’s Chat With Ken Jarecke On His Podcast “Talking Pictures.” 

NPR Affiliate WXXI Program: Todd Talks About Fair Compensation

Sony’s Photo Blog Interview With Todd Detailing How He Recovers Infringement Fees

Sony’s Photo Blog Interview With Todd Detailing How To Protect Against Infringement.