How to Start a Photography Business

How to Start a Photography Business

Do you carry your camera with you wherever you go?  Are you the go-to photographer at all family functions? If taking pictures is kind of your thing, then you should look into turning your photo-taking interest, talent, or hobby into an actual thriving business.

And while you’re good at photography and have had a good track record selling photos online on the stock market, those things alone do not make for a successful photography venture; here’s a few other things worth considering

Get into the Business Owner Mindset

An interesting component that always comes to the surface when creatives decide to open a business is the fact that only a tiny fraction of them actually think the bureaucracy through. They may have a certain idea; creating for a wider, more lucrative audience, but a few of them actually think about the business side of business. The irony is indeed lost on many creators, with photographers failing to be an exemption to the rule. All they want is to capture cool shots in peace, but all of that becomes complicated when marketing, branding, pricing, and packaging is involved. So, if you want to get ahead of the pack and get your business thriving, it’s time you start thinking about those aspects; really think about them.

Write Up a Business Plan

Ask any entrepreneur, and they’ll tell you that the most important part of starting a business is organizing your thoughts on paper; aka writing a business plan. This detailed document will serve as a roadmap to your profitable journey, breaking down things like cash flow, expenses, ownership, and competition. Since photography is one of the most competitive businesses out there right now, you need certain savvy to know and navigate the ropes. And the sooner you get on to writing a business plan, the sooner you’ll get to the visions you’re probably daydreaming of right now.

Assess Startup Costs

All successful business plans have one thing in common—they all take into account the costs needed to launch a business. You’ll need to think about gear (more on that later), business licenses, insurance, a website, and possibly a studio. The latter entirely depends on whether you want to start out with a dedicated studio space or work out of your home. If you decide that you absolutely cannot do without an office, you’ll need to investigate commercial rental properties and figure out their monthly cost; this means accounting for utilities as well.

Secure those Costs

Even if you have enough money in your bank account to start a business, you’ll find that many entrepreneurs need assistance when starting out. A lot of folk usually ask for some assistance from friends and family members, or hold on to their day job until their business becomes profitable and self-sustaining.

So whether you ask people in your life for assistance or apply for a small business loan, these factors are made easier by a well-thought out business plan; it will thoroughly lay out how you’ll spend your money and pay your lenders back.

Think about Pricing

A lot of photographers have difficulties with setting a price for their work and determining their value. Obviously, you should never price work so high that your business ends up losing money or pick something that goes way below the minimum wage—you’d be surprised how many people do this. To avoid these pitfalls, you can always research your area and see what your competitors charge, with an ultimate goal of selecting something that you think you’re worth as well.

Generally, you’ll want to estimate three hours of editing time for every hour you spend shooting. A lot of industry professionals use a gauge of roughly $50 an hour to cover standard costs (these include travel and prep time as well).

Don’t Stress the Gear, At First 

Here’s an open secret—the gear you start out with has little to do with whether your business is successful. Getting the best of the best is an obvious thing your mind may jump to; you want the gear industry superstars use after all. And while this may be a shortcut to improving the quality of your work, it most definitely is not a surefire route to a thriving business.

The psychology behind this is more than understandable; we all have bookshelves filled with books we’ve been meaning to read, closets full of clothes we saw someone famous wear once, cupboards brimming with expensive gear we never use, etc. We purchase these things because we want a shortcut. But, as time will often prove, business does not really work like that at all.

If you’re starting out, a simple Nikon D5100 or a Canon RebelT3i will more than do. Lenses should follow the same train of thought—beginners should look at a 50mm f/1.8 for Nikon, and advanced players can do the same, adding a 35mm and an 85mm both for Canon and Nikon to the list.

Look Into More Tech Stuff Down the Line 

As said before, thinking about tech is one of the most common ways to procrastinate as a business-owner-to-be. This is not the best approach. It’s unlikely that any of the photographers you look up to did not start their business until they got their hands on the latest imac.

When you’re just starting out, you’re more than advised to use whatever you have available. But as your business starts to grow, you can consider looking into a tad more high end stuff like the Imac Computer, Backup Hard Drives, Screen Calibrators, as well as Lightroom, and Photoshop.

Carve out a Niche for Yourself

In a field as in-demand as photography, having something uniquely your own is perhaps the most vital part of your success. Ask any expert; being an everything-person to everybody is the easiest way to get your business sinking. Instead, you need to carve out a distinct brand and style to attract your customers. For this, you can start by identifying your target market—do you like shooting pets, landscapes, maternity shots, etc? All questions worth pondering.

As with any business, ups and downs are not unlikely. But with enough skill, determination, and careful marketing, it’s more than possible to create a thriving business and a one-of-a-kind experience for your customers.

About Carson Derrow

My name is Carson Derrow I'm an entrepreneur, professional blogger, and marketer from Arkansas. I've been writing for startups and small businesses since 2012. I share the latest business news, tools, resources, and marketing tips to help startups and small businesses to grow their business.