In today’s video we’re talking through how to start a photography business, and what you’ll need to start one. Be sure to concentrate throughout as we mention free tools that you can use to start a photography business today.
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How to start a photography business? It’s becoming easier and easier to get started these days! New cameras, lower entry points and a huge demand for professional photos due to the social media generation.
Despite this, it’s not easy to break into a photography niche and earn money for a living. So we’ve put together some great tips to help you get your foot in the door.
It’s a long video, with a lot of info so have your pen and notepad at the ready — here we go.
Photography as a profession can be super tough but super rewarding at the same time. Delivering a finished product to a client and seeing the joy your work has created is one of the best feelings in the world. But behind every smile from a client is hours of hard work, snapping, editing, travelling and a whole lot more.
The first thing you’ll want to do is decide what type of photographer you want to be. The most successful photographers specialize in a particular type of photography. Why? In short, specialists are more sought after than generalists.
So, before you start your photography business, take some time to decide what type of photography business you want to run.
Do you want to be a wedding photographer, capturing people’s special day and creating memories forever?
Do you want to do portraits, Real estate, Travel, Events, or Food? The list goes on. Find your passion and then you have your starting point.
Deciding which style of photography you want to do is paramount. If you don’t enjoy the photos you’re taking, then the quality isn’t ever going to be at its full potential. Good photographers who love their work succeed far more than those who don’t!
For the next step on how to start a photography business, you’ll want to figure out how much it’ll cost you to get started, and how much you’ll need to survive until your business starts to flourish.
Jamie Swanson, a wedding photographer in Wisconsin, USA, calculated the total costs of starting two different types of photography businesses. Here’s what she found:
The total costs of starting a portrait photography business will be between $8,500 – $12,300
And the total costs of starting a wedding photography business may be between $13,000 – $17,000
She summarized by saying, “For less than $10,000, you can start a portrait photography business and for less than $15,000, you can start a wedding photography business.”
It’s a safe assumption that you could be spending up to $20,000 to get your photography business ready to hit the market, but you’ll also need to consider whether this is a full time or part time gig. If it’s your full time job, you’re going to need some extra money saved to pay your living and travel expenses.
Remember – clients will sometimes opt to pay after the job has been complete if you give them the choice, so you’ll need to fund your own travel, food, and accommodation until they pay you.
So where does all of this money go?! If you’ve been an amateur photographer for a while, you may already have most of the equipment you need. Still, you should consider whether the quality of your equipment is high enough to produce work that you can confidently charge for.
Your photography equipment is your most important assets. Having a camera is an awesome start, but having a backup camera is just as important. If your battery runs out mid job and you don’t have a backup, chances are, clients are not going to be too happy with you. Always have a backup camera as an insurance policy, it doesn’t need to be as good as your main camera, but good enough to get the job done.
You’ll also need lenses to capture the right picture at the right time. And a tripod for steady photos and unaltered frames.
Depending on the type of job you’ve been hired to do, you may also need to bring your own lighting and backdrop. Umbrellas or reflectors are a great way to replicate sunlight in dark areas. For head shots or portraits, this is almost always going to be needed.
Next up you’ll need a reliable way to get around to your gigs. A car or a van is a must, if you don’t have one already, you’ll need one. Not showing up to an event because your car broke down is not a good look, and a $200 Uber is going to eat into your profits big time.
Along with all of these items, you’ll also need a computer to edit your pictures, editing software to go on that computer, and an external hard drive to keep your computer running smoothly. The road to starting a photography business is definitely not cheap.
Now that you’ve got your gear sorted let’s take a look at how to market your photography business. Here are some of the tools you’ll need.
The first and most important thing you’ll want is a website to display your portfolio. Anywhere that a photographer is present is a big occasion. They’re not going to hire you if they can’t see your previous work. Create a high quality website and publish your best photos to show prospective clients that you’re the one for the job.
You’ll also want to be active on the right social media platforms to show your work. Clients love to book someone who’s already in demand. If they follow you and see you at a different wedding every weekend, they’re gonna want you to capture their’s too. People want what other people want.
Finally you should consider having business cards. This way if someone approaches you on the job, you can give them a business card and ask them to call you. You can continue shooting, instead of getting dragged into a sales pitch.
Next, you’re going to need a way to take payments. Normally, you’ll invoice for a job and get the money sent to you via bank account. But if someone wants to pay you on the day, or over the phone as soon as they book you, you’ll want to process this immediately before you potentially have to chase it in future. Shopify allows you to do this from your website. Alternatively you can use a service like PayPal, Stripe or another payment provider.
After you’re safely and securely able to take payments, you’ll need a business license. This will vary all over the world, so speak to your right local or state department to find out what will apply where you live. It’s a good idea to speak to other photographers to see how they’ve set up their business license, most will happily share the info saving you time and money finding out.
Next up – Insurance. Accidents happen. You may wish to purchase business or equipment insurance to help protect you if things go wrong. If you take a step backwards and knock over a $30,000 generator, you’ll want to know that those damages will be covered by a reliable insurance plan. Business insurance is important and should definitely be considered.
Once you’ve got all of this sorted, you’re going to need to get your administration in check. The tax man doesn’t like when people don’t pay, so having a solid system to keep your accounts in check is vital. With products like Xero, you can invoice clients, track your sales, tax, expenses and more. If this is all too foreign for you, you should look into getting a bookkeeper to help you out.
The next thing you’ll need to sort out is client contracts. Whenever you get a new client or project, it’s good practice to have the other party sign a contract. This helps to protect you if things go wrong and clarifies to both parties what’s expected from the arrangement. You can purchase contract templates or hire a local lawyer to create contracts for you.
With all of that now sorted, you’re just about ready to start hitting up clients to show them your stuff. Well, once you’ve figured out how much a photographer earns.
According to the business platform Fash, professional photographers often charge between $100 and $250 USD per hour. This typically works out as $25 to $100 per final edited photograph.
It’s important to note that how much a photographer earns is mostly dependent on their level of skill, experience, and the type of photography they’re doing.
Also, remember that this is what photographers charge – it isn’t what photographers make.
Although a photographer may charge $200 per hour, they need to subtract the cost of administration, travel, marketing, equipment, and editing time. Once they’ve taken these additional costs into account, their take-home pay will be less.
The final piece of your photo-puzzle is naming your business. When naming your photography business, there are two basic options available:
Use your name and simply call your business, “Jane Smith Photography” or “Jane Smith Wedding Photography.”
Create a new brand name for your photography services, like “Luxe Photography” or “Luxe Wedding Photography.”
If you chose option one, you’re all set. However, if you choose option two, there are a few things to consider. To start with, you need to choose a name that fits the type of photography business you’re starting.
For example, “Happily Ever After Photography” will work nicely if you’re photographing weddings. But it might not work so well if you’re shooting corporate business conferences. A good tool that can help you is Oberlo’s Business Name Generator which will provide numerous ideas based around your business idea.
Don’t forget to register your business name once you have decided on it. If you are interested in how to register a photography business name contact your local government offices as the process varies depending on the country and region.
How to Start a Photography Business Conclusion
Of course there are other things to think about like marketing and branding but everything we talked about is important to start your journey. If you need more information about how to start and grow your photography business we’ve dropped a link to our article in the description below, along with all the tools we referenced.
What’s your favourite style of photography? Have you found any innovative photography startup hacks that could help other budding artists? Let us know in the comments below.
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