Should All Photographers Have a YouTube Channel?

Should All Photographers Have a YouTube Channel?

Like many photographers around the world, I watch a lot of YouTube. Whether it's for inspiration, gear reviews, news, or beautiful cinematics, YouTube has changed the photography world. But should you start your own channel? Join me as I discuss some of the good reasons you should.

There are a lot of benefits to having your own YouTube channel for photography, and I am sure there are probably some downsides too, but I feel that the benefits can far outweigh the negatives here. Let's take a look at some great benefits!

Global Reach

The numbers greatly vary depending on the source, but according to Wikipedia, YouTube has 2.5 billion users. That is a lot of potential viewers which your content could reach! Of course, there are lots of variables to consider such as great titles, tags, and a great thumbnail to attract as many of those viewers as possible, but the possibilities are endless.

With global reach, comes great opportunity! If you are fortunate enough to publish great content, which gets picked up by the masses, this could lead to amazing opportunities such as sponsorships, ambassadorships, more clients, trips, and more.

Major companies are always looking for great collaborators or ambassadors, with YouTube they can watch you, see what type of persona you have, and what type of content you produce. Consider YouTube almost like a job interview, put on your best performance and see where it takes you.

We have all seen the photographers who get invited to amazing photography experiences such as trips around the world, the best gear, and brand deals. If you wish that was you, then all you can do is give it a go yourself. I know I get a little jealous seeing some of the amazing things YouTubers get for free, whilst I am still working the daily grind.

On the other side are potential clients. If you are a wedding photographer such as Taylor Jackson, for example, you could record behind the scenes on certain wedding shoots (real or staged) and use that as an opportunity to attract new couples who are looking for a photographer. Sometimes people want to see more than a website, or Instagram page. Using YouTube in this way, can help you connect with potential clients in a far more personal way.

You could get more wedding clients

Behind the Scenes

One very popular format for photographers on YouTube is to show the behind the scenes of capturing their favorite images. If we take landscape photographers, for example, they will often take you with them on their adventures to places all over the world, and will talk you through exactly what they are doing while they are taking the photo.

Seeing the final image being created in real time can have so many benefits, especially now with the rise of artificial intelligence. Have you ever taken a photo, put it on social media, and had people say it was fake? I have!

In July 2020, we had the amazing Comet Neowise in our skies at night and I ventured out at 2 a.m. in the morning to capture a shot of the Comet over the Liverpool waterfront. The image went viral, and sadly because of that, I had quite a few people being a bit mean and saying the image was fake. Fortunately for me, I always keep the raw files from every shoot but filming the behind-the-scenes experience at the same time can cut a lot of that negativity out if they choose to watch it.

Comet Neowise over Liverpool

With any negativity, it is important to not take it to heart, but sometimes you will. I did, but I knew how to fight my corner and prove the image was real. Just like an old math exam from school, it is great to show your work.

With artificial intelligence becoming a major product now, recording behind-the-scenes footage could become very beneficial to you. This can absolutely help separate you from some of the others in the marketplace.

Meet New People

When I was publishing regular YouTube content about photography, I had the opportunity to meet lots of interesting and like-minded photographers/creators. I remember one subscriber followed me due to some Icelandic content I published and they then followed my Instagram, eventually, we got talking and became online friends. A couple of years later, we both were in Iceland at the same time and we managed to meet up and photograph the northern lights together. It was an amazing experience, and without YouTube, I never would have met this person.

Of course, you can have the same experience with any social media channel but the more you have, the more potential there is to meet new people and audiences.


In a recent article, I discussed how to push your limits as an introverted photographer, YouTube is certainly another avenue you can take to help build your own confidence, especially when it comes to public speaking. 

Whether you are out and about vlogging, recording behind-the-scenes footage in front of general members of the public, or connecting with your audience via replying to comments, messages, etc., then YouTube is a great opportunity to gradually become more comfortable with people.

As I touched on previously, with any social media, there is a chance you will receive some negative comments, and it is important not to let them bother you. You can delete them or report them if they are bad; you do not have to take being bullied!

In this online world we live in now, sadly there are trolls, but the vast majority of viewers are absolutely lovely and appreciative of the efforts you put in. Never let these trolls phase you, just focus on the story that you want to tell with your content and enjoy the experience; this is when you will gain confidence and it can really pay dividends in your life.

Do not let online trolls bring you down

Added Extras

YouTube can be an incredible way to upsell your own products and services. Do you sell prints or run photography workshops locally or around the world? If you can grow your YouTube channel, you could sell even more prints or spaces on your workshops, or even Lightroom presets.

Go for it!


By no means is this an exhaustive list of potential benefits for starting your own YouTube channel as a photographer, but I hope it could give you some good ideas on where to take your journey next. You can indeed be the creator of your own story and use YouTube to reach new audiences around the world which could benefit you in so many ways.

YouTube is not easy, and I certainly do not want to give the impression that it is. The potential, however, is massive and it cannot be ignored as it is another leg on that octopus which can lead you to new places.

Greg Sheard's picture

Greg Sheard is a Scottish based photographer, focusing on wildlife, landscape and portrait work. Greg's mission in life is too help those who suffer with mental health issues and be a voice for the millions of people around the world who need that care, attention and awareness.

Log in or register to post comments

Should All Photographers Have a YouTube Channel? Umm, no. Just no.

Greg Shead asked,

"Should All Photographers Have a YouTube Channel?"

When it comes to giving an accurate answer to this question, there is a cheat code:

Almost any time a question has absolutist words such as, "all", "every", "always", "never", etc., the answer is usually NO. This is especially true if no qualifying word is used, such as "almost", "most", "usually", etc.

Hence, the answer to Greg's question is "no".

Perhaps it would behoove many, or even most, photographers to have a YouTube channel, but there are undoubtedly exceptions, and if the word "all" is used in the question, with no qualifying word, and there is even just one exception, then the answer must be "no".

I think not. There are some really good ones out there in all sorts of genres who have something to say and have some personality and photographic skill and knowledge. This is obviously not for everyone as while you may be the best photographer around your presentation skills may well suck. Possibly these photographic YouTube Chanels may be the best thing to have ever happened to photography as far as learning the finer points is concerned.

Great comment Eric and they are certainly valid points

Indeed that is true. Not only do you need personality / charisma but video, sound and editing skills in addition to being a high quality photographer.

I often think about starting a channel doing 5-10 mins shorts (I'm a retired expat living in China that travels, hikes and camps extensively in Asia and Europe) as I believe I am both a very experienced and good photographer with presentation and teaching experience (in my fields of expertise) and the places I visit would make great content - but I'm not photogenic and probably wouldn't have great delivery or charisma.

So no there are many aspects to being successful on YT and not everyone is suited to presenting a YT channel.


There are far too many photographers producing drivel and waffle.

Haha fair enough! However, what about more short film style content perhaps with no talking, like showreels?


This mentality that you have to do everything, be a jack of all trades, just makes you a master of none. I've seen first hand photographers that were good, that went down the rabbit hole of wanting to be a YTer/Influencer, that ended up jaded, and no longer shooting for the love of it, but were doing so only for engagement. Same M.O. , same posing, same lighting, same girl on a bridge, or sitting down. Because their method had been 'perfected', only to end up lacking passion , because that got them the most views, which now they no longer get.

Then there's the issue of understanding everything that comes in running a YT channel, because that in of itself is a fulltime job. Not everyone will be equipped to handle everything that goes into running a YT channel on top of shooting, editing, marketing etc... that a photographer already has to do. Not everyone is meant to be everything, and that's ok. You have to be likable, approachable, provide good content, know how to market, know how to engage and everything else.

So, again, no.

The same above can also be said for Influencers, and photographer teachers. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. All you're doing is selling something you your peers, so does that even make you a photographer at that point? Or are you just a YTer/Influencer/Mentor that dabbled in photography?

Fair points there, however I do think there is still some benefits to recording BTS content or showreels which you can use for clients. You do not necessarily have to go down the 'YouTuber/Influencer' route, but you can still have a channel (perhaps private) and share selected content with whomever you wish too.

Unless you go all in on YouTube and devote a lot of time to it and make it look and sound professional, what really would be the benefits? Not every photographer has video skills or access to another person to help film BTS content. Social media thrives on regular, updated content and also sadly gives preference to people engaged in trends and if this is not you then just having a YouTube channel for the sake of it might not be worth the effort. Also, anyone can create a showreel and upload that to multiple social media sites without needing to be on YouTube.

Some more good points there Sam, it is not easy to get into video if you haven't done it before, however it is an interesting learning curve which could have benefits.

You are right about social media algorithms, in that they want regular content which for many can be inplausible, but for those who do feel inspired by this article, they can go for it.

It's clearly not for everyone but some can embrace it.

I have an Instagram channel but because I don't do reels or upload photographs every week, I get very little interaction. I use it just to point people to my portfolio of photography but I simply don't have time to engage in the game Instagram expects you to in order to get more likes and views. To me that is counterproductive and just feeding people what you think they want to see in order to get likes and not being true to yourself. Likes and comments aren't an indication of the quality of a persons photography anyway.

I absolutely agree with all of that statement to be honest. I feel the same way about Instagram.

I completely agree with you, Sam. I actually love Instagram, because it is a way to further connect with and engage with other photographers that I meet in real life. It is also a great way to meet and get to know photographers in other parts of the country / world, and exchange information with them, and even set up real life shoots together. It is NOT about amassing a following or trying to monetize it, but it is very much about making meaningful connections with people that shoot the same things I shoot and are passionate about the same things I am passionate about.

You don't need a YT channel to host BTS content. What client, apart from influencers, wants BTS? Videography for weddings is completely different. Even then my point still stands, are you a photographer or something else? Being a jack of all trades makes you a master of none. It thins you out, and wears you down. Be, and do whatever you want, just be realistic with it.

I absolutely take your points on board. It is not for everyone clearly, and there are a lot of variables to consider.

Like anything else, YouTube can be a tool, it is up to you how you use it.

I think it's of benefit to most photographers to have a YouTube channel for all the reasons you mentioned - whether or not it is worth the additional time and creative investment is another matter. The biggest benefit I've seen from a business perspective is that potential clients can get to know you, or at least get a sense of your personal character, without meeting you or reaching out in person.

Great comment Gary and I 100% agree with all of it

As YouTube shoves more ads onto videos, I suspect engagement drops. YT is no longer enjoyable. Sure, you can use an ad blocker, although YT is finding ways to prevent that, but I'm sure it negatively impacts content creators. I've had enough of YT and only watch if the content is embedded elsewhere.

The ads on YouTube are incredibly frustrating. I paid for premium because 80% of what I watch on my tv is YouTube but, ads are defo a mood killer if you do get them.

I find the price of premium to be more than I'm willing to pay. Over the years I've unsubscribed to so many photography channels, as once the channel starts getting more popular, the creators start dumbing down the channel; they all think they are the instructor and I'm the pupil. I've been doing photography for 50 years and that's not what I need; I like channels that show photo locations and what the creator saw that interested them.

You're right, the price is expensive but I guess it is relative to your use. In your case, if you are unsubscribing to a lot of channels now, and not watching as much, then no real need for it.

I also love channels that show locations and what the creator sees, it is actually my preferred type of video for photography, or wildlife photographers on adventures capturing the shot with great footage of the animal and its behaviour.

I tend to not watch many tutorials, reviews etc unless it is something that really interests me and I always try to go for unbiased/not sponsored ones.

Greg Sheard wrote:

"I also love channels that show locations and what the creator sees, it is actually my preferred type of video for photography, or wildlife photographers on adventures capturing the shot with great footage of the animal and its behaviour."

Greg, we are very much of the same mind here. Kindred spirits, if you will!

I road-trip all over the United States to photograph wildlife. YouTube videos are my most important research tool for these ventures, with Instagram a close second. There are so many excellent videos on YouTube that provide very specific, detailed information about wildlife in a given area, and what kind of photo opportunities can be expected there.

For example, when I was interested in going to the Sax-Zim Bog in Minnesota to photograph boreal bird species and winter mammals, I found Sparky Stensass's channel on YouTube, and after watching a dozen or so of his videos, I knew SO MUCH about the bog and when to go, what to expect, etc. In fact, I even Googled Sparky and found his number and texted him ... and within a few minutes he called me back and talked to me for 45 minutes and answered all of my questions and gave me an enormous amount of info. And then of course when I went to the bog we met up.

I have done the same type of thing researching so many other locations around the country, with similar results.

That's great to hear Tom and using social media or YouTube as a tool can be so beneficial for such purposes.

I love to watch those kinds of videos so I can see behavioral traits, and it can give you a solid foundation to build from.

I agree with you about the photography channels being "dumbed down".

It is pathetic that these channels cater so much of their content to rank beginners. That tells me that they are trying to reach the masses, which means they are in it for the money instead of for more viable, altruistic reasons.

The worst part of it is that when they present the really basic stuff, they are only repeating what has already been posted hundreds of times on other channels. For example, the world does not need any more videos explaining the exposure triangle, because there are already videos on that which present the concept clearly.

Give me a video with info that I can not find anywhere else in the world - do that and then you are actually being useful.

My experience with YouTube is quite different than yours. I pay $10 or $15 a month for Premium, and get to watch all the videos I want and never see ads. It is well worth the cost. In fact, I probably get more value for that money spent than I do from anything else in my life that I spend money on.

I use YouTube as a research tool for wildlife photography and species-specific and location-specific photo trips. And the information gleaned is well worth $10 or $15 a month or however much it is.

I do not have any kind of TV subscription - no cable or satellite or Roku or anything like that, so YouTube also serves as my means of entertainment, and every month I watch dozens of hours of movies, documentaries, sports coverage, etc. there.

I am very glad that other wildlife photographers have YouTube channels because I learn a lot from them. But I would never want to have a YouTube channel myself, because recording and producing videos for others to watch is of zero interest to me.

It's an interesting discussion and a good article with much more in it than the title. There are excellent videos out there and some have brilliant content with excellent presentations. Otherwise, to me it doesn't matter if the production isn't great, nobody expects a BBC or Paramount Pictures quality video.

On the various business and marketing training courses I've attended over the years, the most important thing is sound quality as a lot of people listen to the videos while doing other things.

As you point out, it's the way for some photographers to go if they are creatively minded and enjoy doing it.

Currently, I just don't have time. Also, although I make videos for others, being in front of the camera is not my thing, nor is public speaking. So, perhaps it is something I should try because I like to push myself beyond my comfort zone.

Thanks for allowing people the chance to think about and discuss it.

Thank you Ivor, great points there, especially with sound. If a video has consistently bad sound, I turn it off!

An interesting topic and well explained as to the reasons for in the article Greg, however I do feel that it takes a certain skillset and mindset to actually be a photographer on YouTube right now ! Number 1 you are taking yourself from behind the camera and putting yourself as the star of the show in front of it instead, granted you may want to showcase the images you take or the locations you visit but the viewer is going to be seeing you longer than the fleeting images you showcase . Secondly it’s one thing to take a great image but it’s another to be able to take this image while all the while thinking about what you are going to say, what the audio is going to sound like and what the secondary video composition is going to look like, then after all of this you need to edit the video and turn your ramblings into a cohesive story that is going to be engaging, of good quality and make the viewer want to come back for more, not once but twice, three times and so on and so on!
Thirdly, while there are benefits associated with having a YouTube channel that can put you front and centre for potential sponsor and brands, it’s a space that unless you have a large audience, they are not going to be interested and if they are then they will expect you to make a video of their product in exchange for the product itself! This is a false economy IMO, and one which actually devalues both the brand and the creator!
Finally, If someone wants to “get into” the YouTube world for that overnight success and all of the potential benefits, then I would suggest don’t! You will end up bitterly disappointed and may even fall out of love with photography as a result! There is no such thing as an overnight success, unless of course you are Mr Beast Or Peter McKinnon right? but the fact is they weren’t overnight successes either, they have been working on their craft for many years before they gained even the smallest of traction!
Having personally recorded, edited and published a video every week since September 2017, I can tell you that it’s hard work but if you enjoy it then it’s not as hard to do, but you best ensure you enjoy the entire creative process and are doing it for the right reasons as if you don’t then it’s a fruitless exercise! YouTube is a numbers game ( like everything) and be prepared to be part of the numbers yourself! To be seen on the platform in the photography genre is hard enough but to be seen in the bigger algorithm is even harder!
With all that being said, it’s lots of fun and you will meet people who know you before you’ve even met them but be ready and prepared for the challenges that lie ahead for sure !!

Some great opinions there Darren and a well balanced argument over the potential downsides to the upsides.

Of course there are many styles of videos someone can make, that may not even put themselves in front of the camera but if you do go down that route, the story needs to be engaging.

It certainly isn't for everyone and it is a grift to do sometimes, but its a good debate nonetheless 😉

So, answering the title question, it's unnecessary for ALL photographers. It might be beneficial for some, but not for the majority, I know I don't need to start a channel because what would I use it for? Filming my Photoworks workflow? Sharing before and afters? Uploading smartshow 3d slideshows of bad shots for funsies? But most importantly, who would like to watch that?

The thing is, most of us don't have enough suitable content to start a solid channel and that's okay. Not everyone needs to be a photographer, a bloger and an influencer at the same time. If anything, we need less of such people.

Catherine Bowlene wrote:

"Not everyone needs to be a photographer, a blogger and an influencer at the same time. If anything, we need less of such people."

I agree about needing less YouTubers, especially in the photography genre. Why? Because the more overall content there is, the harder it is to find the really good content. Finding really good content that is useful to me is becoming like the proverbial needle in the haystack.

I find a lot of great content, but I waste many minutes each day previewing and eliminating useless videos in order to finally find one that is useful. This is because that proverbial haystack is so huge. If the haystack was smaller, then it wouldn't take as long to find the needles in it.

Not interested. I barely have time to get out and just take pictures. Video is of no interest to me. That's probably because every topic related to photography has already been thoroughly beaten to death on YouTube.