Photography is an hobby, a profession and can be both. Making money in photography can be difficult and the field is very competitive.
Almost anyone with a good camera, a business-savvy attitude, and marketing know-how can take & sell photos. What distinguishes those who sell some photos from those who make photography their living is dedication,perseverance,technical expertise,patience,a good "artistic eye", the ability to network, lots of effort and some luck.
Almost any photography genre can be used as a way to make a living. Is it easy?, no. Photography is quite popular and there is a large abundance of professionals trying to sell their art. Unless you happen to be the one who takes the first and only shot of "the first alien visitors to planet Earth", making it big will require effort. Making photography into a business takes planing, market research, and lots of marketing.
None of today's top professional photographers made it in one year, in fact it took them an average of ten years, lots of submissions and side jobs. But they all had one thing in common: they had a love for photography that never waned.
The basic steps that one should undertake in no specific order are first to research the market; Is there a demand for the genre that you want to pursue; i.e photos of flowers. Who will be your main buyers, how will you market yourself, do you have the technical skills needed to repeatedly make 100% technically sound photos, do you have the gear or can you afford the gear, can you sustain yourself for up to a year with some other income besides photography.
Once you have mulled over these questions, the next thing to do is decide which photography genre will make up your mainstay. The main money makers are: portraits, business/commercial, fashion, nature,photojournalism,and scientific. Other genres are restate photography, astronomical photography, and photojournalism. Each of these break further into subdivisions.
For example, when I first started I found it easy and profitable to take photographs which were meant to be used in wall calendars, with nudes being the most in demand at the time. Soon I found myself gravitating towards nature and shortly afterward decided to focus on nature photography. I had a very good paying (other than photography) job at the time so money was not an issue and nature photography was and is very well represented, I therefore knew that it would take time for me to become recognized and start selling my wares.
The next step is to shoot enough quality shots to be used in submission to various publications or used to display your talent. After a period of four years my photos and work slowly began to be recognized and used and by that time I had accumulate about 2300 quality photos.
Next was to set up business cards, office supplies, contracts, models releases, a business address(my home), a business phone and email, a storage system, work space, and marketing materials which included a sample portfolio, a computer, scanners, light box, and applicable office equipment. Photography as a business is not only going out and taking the best shots that you can. Like any other business it takes many aspects coming together to make it a success.
The best advice that can be offered is to first accumulate as many quality shots as you can (usually in the range of 500 to 1,000), and then start contacting publications to obtain their submissions guidelines and then start your submission. Note: never- ever submit unsolicited material, more than likely it will be returned unopened or worst, discarded. If publishing is not on your mind, you should at least have enough quality photos which you can use as your advertisement format in your shop or by portfolio. They will be your "business cards".
Some definitions of the various photographic genres are: Portrait: people, babies, couples,school, weddings,birthdays etc. Fashion: models, fashion shows, accessories Nature: fauna, flora,landscapes,natural events(not disasters although this is a gray area) Scientific: microscopic organisms, crystal formations,bacteria, virus etc Product/commercial: specific products, store fronts, services, business concepts, people at work(not to be confused with portraits), industry shows, car shows,food. Photojournalism: news, events at local, national and international level, disasters; natural or man made.