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How to Start a Photography Business

You already have what it takes to be a professional photographer, so follow our tips for starting your own photography business.

Photographer taking a photo of a subject
February 14, 2023
Chloe Mulliner
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Reading time about 6 min

When starting a photography business, you’ve already done the hard part: You’ve mastered the art form and are ready to take your skills to the professional level. Now, it’s just a matter of figuring out some of the ins and outs of getting your business off the ground.

In our guide on how to start a photography business, we’ve outlined some of the most important steps to take when embarking on a solo business endeavor.

How To Start A Photography Business

Our starting a photography business checklist is a great place to start navigating this exciting new stage in your career. From calculating your start-up costs to writing your business plan, we offer all the best advice to help you land your first photography gig.


Calculate Start-up Costs

You’ve heard the phrase, “You have to spend money to make money,” and that logic certainly pertains to starting a photography business. No, you don’t need to go out and buy all the state-of-the-art equipment and rent a studio immediately, but there are some start-up costs you’ll want to consider, such as equipment and insurance.


Budget for Equipment

If you’ve been dabbling in photography, you’re no stranger to some of the high price tags accompanying photography equipment.

The good news is that you don’t need to have all the latest and greatest gear right out of the gates, but there are some tools you may want to invest in as you’re just starting, including:

  • High-quality professional camera
  • Back-up camera
  • Professional lens
  • Case to protect your gear
  • Photo editing software
  • Tripod
  • Reliable computer or laptop
  • External hard drive

As for some of the other equipment you’re eying, it’s not necessarily off the table. Add those items to a section of your budget, and as you begin making a profit, you can start prioritizing what gear you’ll purchase next.

Consider Purchasing Insurance

No matter how careful you are, accidents can—and do—happen. That’s why it’s a good idea to purchase insurance to protect your assets in the case of an injury, lost or damaged equipment, and even lawsuits. In fact, some clients and venues may even require it.

Some of the most popular kinds of insurance for photographers include:

  • Professional liability insurance
  • General liability insurance
  • Business property insurance
  • Electronic data loss insurance
  • Commercial automobile insurance


Pinpoint other Costs

Aside from the fundamentals, think about other costs you may incur. For instance, what kind of marketing tools do you plan to use? Are you willing to pay for a platform to host your portfolio? Are you planning to enroll in any advanced photography courses? And will you use software to help organize your clients, projects, and schedule?

While you might not need these for your first few assignments, it’s a good idea to consider investing in them.


Look for Funding

If you’re feeling strapped for money, research ways to receive financial support, such as applying for a small business grant or small business loan. The beauty of a grant is that, unlike a loan, you don’t have to pay it back. Other funding opportunities include:

  • Crowdfunding
  • Requesting venture capital from investors
  • Even asking for donations from friends and family

Fortunately, you can hit the ground running once you have enough to cover the basics.

Select Your Business Structure

The next step in figuring out how to start a photography business involves selecting your business structure. Your choice will influence many aspects, from the taxes you pay to your level of personal liability. For example, you have unlimited personal liability under a sole proprietorship, but you hold no personal liability with a limited liability corporation.

Some of the most common business structures include:

  • Sole Proprietorships
  • Limited Liability Corporations (LLC)
  • S-Corps
  • Partnerships

Once you decide on the appropriate business structure, you can register with your state and apply for an employee identification number (EIN) from the IRS. From here, you can then apply for any additional licenses or permits associated with your photography business.


Do Some Market Research

When starting a photography business, it’s crucial to research the market, local industry, and competitors. The information you garner from this research can help you make major decisions about your business, from who you target to what you charge.

For instance, maybe you’ll discover that your town is oversaturated with wedding photographers. In this case, you may want to focus more on portrait photography, as there aren’t currently any portrait photographers within your radius. Or, after researching your competitors’ rates, you might determine a suitable price range for your services. You can even use this research to pinpoint the kinds of clients who are most inclined to do business with your photography company.


Find Your Niche

You may already know the clients you want to attract, but your market research can help reveal potential clients, too. For example, your local community has a large demographic of clients in their 20s and 30s interested in engagement sessions, wedding photography, and family portraits. Or your city is home to several major conference centers and venues needing event photographers.

Getting to know your target audience makes developing marketing strategies geared toward your clients’ wants and needs easier. This can help you determine valuable information, such as how they prefer to consume media and where they spend their time online. The more you know about your ideal clients, the more you can appeal to their preferences.

Market Your Business

Word of mouth is a great way to begin drumming up interest in your business, but if you want to reach the masses, it’s time to invest in different marketing strategies.

Sample SMS Message

Once you have a better idea of your target audience, you can begin considering the best ways and places to market to them. For instance, if your ideal clients are business professionals, consider advertising on work-centric platforms like LinkedIn. Alternatively, advertising on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram may be more lucrative if you want to appeal to recent college grads.

Aside from more traditional marketing approaches, such as purchasing ad space, creating a social media presence, and experimenting with email marketing, consider other avenues like SMS texting. This strategy lets you send texts straight to your potential clients’ cell phones, providing you with a fast and reliable way of communicating with them. You can use SMS texts to offer special promos, announce new services, and share your latest work.


Write a Business Plan

Once you’ve sorted out some of the specifics above, you can begin drafting your photography business plan. This will act as a roadmap for your business, outlining your goals and how you plan to achieve them.

Your photography business plan should include the following:

  • A summary of your objectives and mission statement.
  • A description of your services.
  • Market research with information regarding your target audience and competitors.
  • A marketing plan that covers how you’ll promote your company and target customers.
  • A financial plan estimating your expected incoming and outgoing costs.


Get Creative

You can now focus on the fun stuff with some of the nitty-gritty business stuff out of the way. You’ve already got an eye for imagery, so start brainstorming ways you can incorporate your artistic skills into branding your business.

Think about the kind of personality you want your business to convey and explore colors, fonts, and images you want associated with your company to develop a cohesive look and feel. You can even create slogans and logos to go along with your business, too. From here, incorporate these elements into your messaging, from your social media posts and emails to your portfolio and website.


Discover How EZ Texting Can Help Your Photography Business

SMS texting provides an excellent way to connect with potential clients and encourage engagement, making it a prime marketing tool for your photography business. Contact EZ Texting today to learn how to implement an SMS marketing strategy of your own.

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