How to Start a Photography Business

Have you ever wondered how to start a photography business? Maybe you want to take your photography hobby to the next level by making it your professional job. The good news is that in the last ten years, cameras and photography equipment have become more affordable and accessible to the everyday consumer, making it that much easier to start up your own business.

With more and more people having access to cameras, it seems like everyone is a photographer. We are living in the age of social media and the internet, where imagery and photographs are everywhere. If you want to start up your own business, you have to set yourself apart from the amateur shooters. There are many opportunities to earn a living wage as a photographer, but it takes hard work and some business savviness.

Before You Start a Photography Business

There are a few things to keep in mind before starting a photography business. Mistakes are inevitable, but can be great learning experiences and opportunities to improve.

  • Ditch automatic mode. Teach yourself how to shoot in manual mode right away. This is one of the main things a professional photographer can do to be distinguished from amateur shooters. Manual mode forces you to be aware of your environment and can help you better control your shots.
  • You are more than just a photographer. To start and maintain a successful business, you cannot just depend on your photography skills. Running a business requires you to wear dozens of professional hats, such as a manager, an accountant, a customer service representative, a social media specialist, and more.
  • Be patient. Starting a business can be tough. Make sure to set reasonable expectations for your business, especially in the early years. Learning how to be a better photographer takes time. Learning how to run and maintain a thriving business takes even longer.
  • Don’t buy unnecessary equipment. It can be tempting to buy the latest and greatest gear for your business, especially if you are wearing your photographer hat. However, as a business manager, you must always keep your bottom-line in mind. Before making a purchase on the latest photography gear, ask yourself if you really need it to take better photos. If not, save your money. It’s hard enough earning a profit without huge business purchases to worry about.
  • Seek unconventional inspiration. If you want to be a wedding photographer, it can be helpful to quickly browse how other wedding photographers shoot. However, it is important that you seek out unconventional sources of inspiration so that you don’t end up being the same as other wedding photographers. You need to distinguish yourself from all the rest, and that means thinking outside of the box.

Starting Your Photography Business

  1. Choose your target clientele. Things such as demographic, location, economic status, style, and personal interests matter when deciding what type of customers you want to attract. The type of audience you target will help you determine how much time and resources you need to put in to your business.
  2. Set your expectation for a schedule and revenue stream. It’s important that you decide how much time and resources you are able to put into the business and how much profit you want to make. This will help you decide how much to charge for your work and how much time you are able to put into each project.
  3. Create a business plan. Creating a business plan is a critical step towards helping you build a successful business. It serves as a roadmap, laying out the business’s goals and strategy for being profitable. It should also describe how the business will differ from other photography businesses. Specifically, the business plan should include:
  • A description of the company. What is the company’s mission? What type of products are you offering? How is your business different than other businesses?
  • Management and organization chart. Decide what type of business structure you want. Do you want to form a sole proprietorship, a limited liability company, or a corporation? Each type has its advantages and disadvantages and can vary in terms of initial investment costs, personal liability, and tax liability.
  • Services and products. What type of product is your business offering? What types of services do you provide to your customers?

Starting your own photography business can be an intimidating but exciting experience. If you need help with starting a photography business, you can post your legal need (or post your job) on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.