How to start a photography business?

If you are hardworking, starting your own photography business can be a great way of earning a second or main income. Although the market for photography is highly competitive, many photographers have found their niche …

If you are hardworking, starting your own photography business can be a great way of earning a second or main income. Although the market for photography is highly competitive, many photographers have found their niche and built a successful career. You must balance your passion for photography and business skills to succeed in this creative field.

Start-up costs

Photography equipment can be quite expensive so it’s important to start small. If your business is just starting out, a $5,000 lens won’t make much sense. Professional photographers recommend that you budget about $10,000 for your first business in photography.

Austen Diamond, professional photographer, says that “building slow but smart” will allow you to be agile. He suggested that you should allow your business’ organic growth to finance gear improvements and, if possible avoid debt.

Interviews with professional photographers have shown us a basic budget to start your business. This does not include studio space or office space. Prices are either annual estimates or one-time.

  • You may also need to do other things (which could be free or very low-cost).
  • Social media marketing (Facebook and Twitter to begin) is a great way to market your business.
  • Your business name and logo can be created
  • Find the right business structure for you (LLC, S corporation or another).
  • Obtained a sales tax permit and an employer identification number (EIN).
  • Creative Commons provides free services such as image licensing and usage agreements.

Establish business bank accounts

You will need to find a way of managing client email addresses and contact information (see BND’s list of the top CRM software).

Google Docs offers free spreadsheets and scheduling solutions.

Locate an expense tracker (mileage and expenses, billable hours) such as BizXpenseTracker or Expensify.

Your brand and reputation

The following tips were provided by our experts to help you build your professional brand as a professional photographer.

Your people and your gear: You are your brand if you work with people. Your reputation can be affected by the smallest things. Most of your business will come from word-of-mouth referrals. Dress appropriately when you attend a shoot. Iron your shirt. Wash your car. Get organized. Be prepared to bring your own water, snacks, and chargers. Charge your electronics. You should show appreciation and respect for referral gifts. It shows professionalism and respect that you are available.


Many photographers struggle with setting their prices and determining their worth. Although you shouldn’t price work that results in loss of money or lower than the minimum wage, many photographers do. Although you can do research in your local area to find out what others charge, ultimately you will need to charge what it is worth.

For every hour of shooting, you should estimate three hours of editing. To cover their standard costs, some photographers use a rate of $50 an hour. Remember to account for travel time and preparation. You should also consider ongoing costs such as insurance, gear and accounting services, as well your website.

Contracts and customer expectations

Your success depends on your ability to manage your clients’ expectations. Clients should be able to clearly communicate with you what they can expect from you, and what they can expect from you. It is important to plan ahead for weddings. Your customers need to know what accessories and clothes they should bring for infant photos. People should be able to put on a corporate headshot.

Where can I find work?

One note on wedding photography

Weddings are your only chance to make it perfect. You can easily ruin your reputation if you are having problems with your memory card or camera, and you don’t have backup gear. You will not be able to produce the best work if you don’t prepare for lighting problems or dealing with family members who are emotional and opinionated. While weddings can be a lucrative gig, most experienced wedding photographers suggest that you begin as a second photographer with a professional wedding photographer before moving solo. Part-time and freelance photographers are looking to get into the wedding business. However, there are many other options to make money while learning the skills you need and buying the right gear.