Balancing a Photography Career in a Gig Economy with a Full-time Job


Long gone are the requirements of following a traditional in-office career path. Nowadays, there are endless opportunities for creatives and freelancers globally to choose a new form of career- one that often involves a gig economy type of environment.


What is a gig economy? 

A gig economy is an economy where part-time work is given via contracts for short employment engagements. Shutterstock Custom is an example of a gig economy. We deploy contractual projects to creatives around the world, who accept assignments based on the things they have access to, portfolio work, and location. These assignments often don’t last more than 1-2 weeks, giving contributors an opportunity to photograph a wide array of assignments.

Whether your primary motivation for choosing this type of work experience is to work from home, travel the world while earning an income, or to be your own boss- there are a lot of benefits to expanding your experiences beyond traditional full-time employment. In a conversation with contributor and Toronto-based photographer Kristina Ruddick, Kristina stated “Making the transition to a full-time freelancer gave me the opportunity to set my own schedule, which is something I’ve always aimed to do.”

Creating a schedule around the work you want to do can be a really fantastic way to have a fulfilling career. You select and choose the work you want to take on, and schedule your work around your personal goals rather than the opposite.

Making the transition to a full-time freelancer gave me the opportunity to set my own schedule, which is something I’ve always aimed to do. I feel more in control of the work I take on, and now I am able to make time to travel- visiting family more often and really taking hold of my work/life balance.
— Photographer Kristina Ruddick

Balancing freelance work and a full-time job

Besides the benefits of working in a gig economy that we outlined in this article, there also comes a time of balancing a full-time job and creative ‘gig’ opportunities. For a lot of creatives, there’s a requirement for stability that comes with a full-time job and crafting side-gigs in your creative field around those opportunities. At Shutterstock Custom, there’s no requirement for you to accept or decline assignments- giving you the choice to take on assignments that fit in a full-time schedule. This balance can require a lot of multi-tasking in order to work effectively, but can absolutely be worth it in the end.


Spain-based contributor and lifestyle photographer Victoria Bee shared the following tips for balancing a freelance photography career and a full-time job including:

  • Create a schedule that works for you that you’ll want to look at.

  • Put everything on a calendar- from personal appointments to deadlines.

  • Organize your schedule and prioritize your day from start-to-finish

For more tips on balancing your workload, click here. Victoria is also an amazing photographer who thrives in a gig economy. “It gives me the ability to continue to build my portfolio, and a chance to work on new and exciting things for a variety of clients. It is work experience and provides me with new challenges. Most importantly, I do what I love.”


Achieving work-life balance

The most important thing when you are working on creating an effective balance between a photography career in a gig economy, and a full-time job is that you know your limits and prepare your workload so that you aren’t exceeding those limits. Thailand-based photographer Tinnakorn Srivichai says “To accept and shoot a Shutterstock Custom assignment, I need a few days to contact a model, prepare props, and look for a location. I plan to shoot on the weekend (when I’m not at a full-time job). I think to think about each assignment proposal and the lead-time it takes to prepare and meet a deadline to get the best work to the client.”

Are you trying to turn your photography passion into a photography career? Check out this article for more tips on how to do that with Shutterstock Custom. If you have any tips for creating an effective work-life balance between a freelance photography career and a full-time job, we encourage you to comment them below. We’d love to share them with our network.

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