I get quite a few private messages and emails asking me questions along the lines of how I earn my income and if I do photography full-time.. I thought I’d answer those questions in a blog post:

My income comes from a few different sources, although over the last 8 months it’s been pretty scarce. These are the main ways I make income in no particular order:

1 – Commercial Photography projects: For these I usually am working with Tourism Boards like Tasmania, Queensland, Australia’s Coral Coast etc. The goal of these projects is to produce a set of images that they can then use for marketing purposes ie – social media, websites, print campaigns etc. I also work with other sectors who are after outdoors, tourism and adventure style imagery. Companies like Flight Centre, American Express, Aurora Expeditions and Canon.

Kayaking in Antarctica on a project for Aurora Expeditions
Kayaking in Antarctica on a project for Aurora Expeditions

Most of the time this doesn’t just involve turning up and taking photos. It means sitting down with the client, asking a heap of questions, working out with them what their needs are, their goals for the images, who they are trying to reach and to what purpose. We then work out a strategy and my research into locations, ideal times of day (or night), required gear and possibly crew starts. Most of the actual work involved in these projects is in the lead up and then the post-processing afterwards, the shoot tends to be the easiest part. I love the creative direction and strategy sessions almost as much as I love the photography, it is in these sessions that ideas are born. It is also in these sessions that we work out what package of services the client might need, so maybe it isn’t just photos, but also video or 360 degree photos and video content for virtual reality, facebook and youtube. Or maybe they would like to get some social media coverage as well.

The commercial photography covers a wide gamut of skills and genres from the interior of hotels, to adventure images in Jordan, Antarctica, Tasmania and other places and aerial photography in places like the Kimberley region of Western Australia, Perth, Rottnest Island, Dubai, Tasmania and I’m headed to Sydney for an aerial shoot in June.

Aerial shoot for Aviair in the Kimberley
Aerial shoot for Aviair in the Kimberley

2 – Virtual Tours: Usually packaged with a commercial photography project, I create Google StreetView style virtual tours of the inside of businesses or parks / scenic areas. Hotels and other accommodation particularly benefit from these, but also restaurants and cafes.. anyone trading on their facilities and views. I’ve worked with various hotel chains and tourism clients in this regard, it really does help raise online revenue for hotels in particular. Best Western in the USA reported that they had over 60% growth in online revenue when they added a virtual tour to a hotel’s marketing mix. Google’s own stats indicate that listings with a virtual tour see over 40% more traffic to their listing verses those that don’t.

Terrace Hotel Virtual Tour
Terrace Hotel Virtual Tour

I’ve also produced virtual tours and virtual reality environments for the resource sector, they use them for insurance purposes, safety training, remote inductions, remote support and many other purposes. This part of the business got real quiet in the recent downturn.

3 – Video & 360 degree video: I’ve produced some short videos for wineries and other tourism based clients as well as tourism boards.. this is an area I’m working on growing and learning to tell better stories in. I quite enjoy the story boarding and planning out of the video, I’m learning more and more in this area. Some of this has involved time lapse and even underwater video, great fun!

4 – Print sales: – not a huge part of my business at this stage, I need to put more effort into marketing prints, but it’s not the core of my business. Most of my prints I sell through my online gallery (http://gallery.paulpichugin.com/), but I also exhibit my work at a few wineries around the South West of Western Australia and those prints are available to purchase. I really need to update my online gallery with my latest images, I don’t have anything from my trips to Iceland, Norway or Antarctica up yet!

5 – Image licensing: A growing part of my business is licensing images that I’ve already taken, to companies for their websites, magazines, marketing, print, virtual reality etc. I’ve licensed images to Canon, National Geographic, Conde Nast, large movie studios, TV stations, newspapers and many others. Most of this is now handled for me by Image Brief (http://www.imagebrief.com/photographers/paulmp#/portfolio), although I do still handle some requests directly.

6 – Social Media campaigns: I have a pretty decent following on Instagram (@paulmp & @paulmp.photo) and get requests to work as an “Influencer”, I’ve also had over 2.2 Billion views of my photography on Google+. I’ve worked on Social Media campaigns with Flight Centre, Tourism Tasmania, Tourism Dubai (as part of a large campaign run by Lauren Bath), Qantas, Tourism Queensland and many others. This affords me more opportunities to travel, I’m off to Christmas Island in May and Sydney in June in this capacity.

7 – Sponsorship: Some of my projects attract sponsors either in gear or financial or both. Recent projects have been sponsored by Canon Australia, Macpac, Fstop Gear, Oppo Mobile and a few others. I’ve also had help from companies like Induro tripods, Wacom and my awesome local camera store Team Digital. Definitely an area I’m keen on growing. Sponsors help me create personal work, which is where I get to experiment and really feed my creativity and explore ideas, personal work is *essential* to make it as a photographer.

The gear in this shot is sponsored by Macpac and F-stop Gear.
Taken on a sponsored Canon camera, wearing gear sponsored by Macpac and F-stop Gear.

8 – Education: I run small private workshops in various places (pretty much anywhere in the world) plus I’m working on a few books and technical guides, video tutorials and the such. At the moment these are by request only and places are always very limited. I make sure you get to the right places at the right time and I work along side you to make sure that you are getting the photos you want. If you are interested in a private photography tour and workshops in places like Iceland, Tasmania and Antarctica please feel free to contact me.


9 – Writing: I write for a few different publications, mostly around photography, travel and creativity. This is not a huge earner in terms of money, but it does pay and it gives me more exposure to grow an audience. My articles have been published on FStop Lounge, Matador, Flight Centre’s blog and in many other publications.

10 – Public speaking: Mostly with camera clubs around Western Australia at the moment, but I’ve also spoken to large crowds on social media, creativity and business. Again, not a huge earner in terms of money, but it does help me grow an audience and affords me other opportunities. Something that I’m interested in developing further if the right opportunities present themselves.

So as you can see, it is all photography related, but not 100% just taking photos. Most of the questions I get in this regard are people aiming to grow a business to quit their job.. it is a huge amount of work to do so, but if you are determined and prepared to put in the work, it can be done.

If any of that has triggered some ideas and you’d like to work with me, feel free to contact me, I’d love to catch up for a coffee, or a phone call / skype and discuss your ideas and see if we’re a good fit to work together!

The feature photo was taken for Tourism Tasmania on a project with them and I was sponsored by Macpac for the gear I’m wearing in the photo.

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