Have an interest in photography but don’t know where to start? Do you feel like you have an eye for what looks good? Photography is an art where everyone can find a niche they enjoy. That’s why we’ve put together a guide to help you begin your journey as a professional photographer.
Ready to learn how to start a photography business? Let’s dive in!
What Kinds of Photography Businesses Can I Start?
If you want to have your own photography business, you can pursue quite a few avenues. For example, ask yourself if you enjoy capturing people? Or do you prefer to photograph objects or places? Whatever your preference is, there are several photography services you can offer.
Here are a few of the most sought after types of photography:
This is one of the most popular photography businesses and is among one of the easiest to start. Everyone gets family pictures taken at various stages of life. With some basic photography knowledge, you can start taking pictures of people in no time.
Wedding photography is quite lucrative these days. As a result, reputable wedding photographers are highly sought after. When people pay big money for one of the most memorable days of their lives, they expect perfection. So professional photographers who cover weddings know to bring their A-game. In addition, this type of photography requires expensive equipment and experience.
With many retailers and small businesses now online, product photography is frequently needed. You can set up a small “studio” in your home (mainly just a white surface and backdrop) and get started after learning some simple elements of composition and lighting.
Real Estate Photography
Real estate agents typically aren’t simultaneously experienced photographers. Check out sites like Zillow to see the difference between listings that use professional photos vs. cell phone snapshots. A real estate photographer can make all the difference.
You’ve probably seen some pretty amazing travel photography on Instagram, right? Travel photography can be more difficult and competitive to pursue financially, but certainly not impossible. Blogs, magazines, and even social media accounts will pay for amazing photos taken worldwide.
Birth photography has become a much more in-demand service in the past several years. Parents want to capture the first moments of meeting their precious babies and be able to look back on them forever. If you’re willing to be on-call at all hours of the day, birth photography pays well and is very rewarding.
Other known options are sports photography and stock photography. Many successful photographers work with stock photo sites and get paid a commission for each image sold.
How Much Money Can I Make as a Photographer?
The amount of money made by many photography business owners varies. It greatly depends on skill level, experience, niche, and popularity. For example, a rookie photographer shooting a small family might only bring in $150 for a one-hour session. In contrast, an advanced and prominent professional wedding photographer could bring in $5,000 or more for a full-day gig. Your earning potential is what you make it, and there are no limits.
Tips On Choosing Pricing
- Research local photographers in the same niche and look at their pricing structures. Are they charging hourly? Do they bundle services for a better deal? What do their packages include? Do they provide all printing rights to the client?
- Consider your experience when charging customers. A beginning wedding photographer may only be able to charge a fraction of what an accomplished photographer does.
- Start your prices out low to attract more business. You can increase your prices once you become more experienced and recognized.
- Offer potential clients price breaks for add-on services. For example, if you are hired as a wedding photographer, you could offer an engagement shoot for 50% off.
How Do I Start My Photography Business?
You need to have a photography business roadmap when starting your photography career. A roadmap is like your business’s direction and how to get to where you want. Below, we share with you a roadmap that will help you start your photography career and take it from one level to the next.
Create a Photography Business Plan
Professional photography is like every other business, so you need a business plan. But, first, you have to put your thoughts and plans on paper. The document will serve as your roadmap, detailing your business structure and how to achieve your goals.
For example, in the plan, you’ll develop a business name to break down your expenses, cash flow, ownership, and competition. Note that photography is a competitive business, with many photographers seeking to outdo themselves. So, it would help if you stood out from the beginning.
Assess the Startup Costs
As a budding entrepreneur, you need to assess your startup costs. That is, find out how much it would cost to start your photography business. Note the essentials beginning with your camera gear, business licenses, insurance, accounting software, etc.
Will you rent a studio space or start taking pictures from a home studio? These are things to consider before starting. Also, consider monthly utility costs, and factor them into your financial plan.
Secure Startup Funds
After assessing, you need to secure your startup funds. It could be from your personal finances if you have money saved in your bank account. If the money is not enough, you may need assistance.
Like small business owners, we advise new photographers to ask friends and family members for a loan before approaching financial institutions. First, however, you must have a business plan in place, and it should contain how you’ll spend the money and pay the lender.
Invest in Your Photography Equipment
Depending on how serious you are about your business and what type of photography you choose to pursue, your equipment is a serious choice. DSLR cameras can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars without even adding extra lenses, flashes, or other accessories.
Some beginner photographers opt to start with cheaper equipment and upgrade as needed, while others want to start with the best they can afford. Decide what works best for you. Remember your equipment is part of your personal assets.
Additionally, invest in photo editing software. There are several photo editing software to choose from, whether beginner or professional.
This is another crucial photography business step, especially as a novice. Fortunately, the resources available for learning photography are practically endless. YouTube is a fantastic starting point for basic and intermediate lessons. Sites like Udemy and Skillshare are also perfect for learning specific photography skills.
We highly recommend getting a mentor or becoming an assistant for an advanced photographer in the niche you’re looking to break into. Local community college classes and workshops are also valuable options if you prefer in-person learning. Nothing beats hands-on instruction! Be patient with the time it takes to develop and cultivate your expertise and artistry.
Build a Portfolio
Once you have the hang of shooting in manual mode and properly composing and editing your shots, it’s time to practice. Take your camera out whenever you can, and start taking pictures. Take as many as humanly possible.
Offer your services for a highly discounted rate or even free in turn for getting shots for your portfolio. You’ll build both your confidence and competence. You’ll also want to save your best shots for social media and your website to attract customers.
Create Social Media Accounts and a Website
Don’t get too overwhelmed with this step. A website at this point as a beginner doesn’t need to be anything fancy. All you need is your best work and a form for people to email you. So keep it simple to start.
The same sentiment applies to your Facebook and Instagram pages too. Showcase your best work and provide contact information. Giveaways can work well in the beginning to get more “likes” and “shares.” Many professional photographers do this. So why not do it too?
If you think you are just a photographer and do not need to do anything extra, your business will fail. Getting your name and work out there is essential, especially in the competitive world of photography.
If you’re in a more specialized photography niche like real estate, pass out business cards to real estate agents. Getting in with one professional can mean repeat business. Get creative! Try trading with a graphic designer to create some marketing materials for you to share. Lastly, work on your people skills; it will help you build long-lasting business relationships.
Ask for Referrals
There’s no better business than repeat business! Where applicable, ask your clients to leave you a review on social media and recommend your services to friends/colleagues. Getting referrals is a quick way to build your photography business.
How To Get Clients
This may seem pretty overwhelming for those starting a photography business, but don’t stress. Follow these steps and you will have a pipeline of clients in no time!
- Beware of advertising discounts or sales. The type of customers discounts attract are typically not the ones you will want long term. Don’t cheapen your brand.
- Get out in the community. Attend trade shows or set up booths at local events. Have business cards linking to your social media to hand out at a moment’s notice. Sitting behind your computer all day won’t get you anywhere!
- Volunteer. If there is a charity event that needs photographers, have at it! Again, getting your face and a business card out there is always going to be valuable.
- Start with your inner circle. Network with people you already know and ask them if you can provide your service for them. Build your portfolio. Ask your friends/family/colleagues for referrals when possible.
- Create some social media ads. Target your local area and set up parameters based on the target market you want to attract. A few dollars per day can go a long way!
- Get a mentor. Like we mentioned before, nothing beats having an expert teach you the ropes. Ask a photographer you know or have mutual connections with if you can intern with them and learn the business.
Get Started Today
While the process can seem intimidating, don’t let nerves stop you from pursuing a photography business! Success is inevitable if you take all the proper steps and allow yourself time to grow as an artist and business owner. Good luck!