How to start a photography business

A Guide on how to start a photography business.

If you are seeking for how to start a photography business, I will say that this article will give you some insights. Photography business is one of our top picks for work from home small business ideas. If you are good at photography, it is actually a happy you can turn into a home based business. Photography is very wide. It includes but not limited to commercial photography, headshots, weddings, portraits, graphic designs and teaching. There is huge market for all kinds of pictures such as sports, fashion, nature, animals and underwater etc. Although the market is becoming more competitive, you can still make it by starting a photography business if you know what to do and do it right. In this article, I will be sharing with you how you can start a photography business.

How to Start a Photograph Business

It doesn’t matter if you have been operating photography as a hobby. Like any other business, starting a photography business requires a business approach. The following are the steps you need to take in starting a photograph business.

Register your business

The first step you need to take towards starting your photography business is to register it as a legal business. There are different legal structures you can choose from.  The common ones are Sole Proprietorship, Partnership and Limited Liability Company. Each business legal structure has its own implications. But among all, sole proprietorship is the easiest and the cheapest to register and maintain.

Develop a Business Plan

If you are serious about starting a photography business, I need to be frank with you that you need a business plan. Photography as a hobby may not require a business plan. But now, you are it is a business.  Whether you want to know how to start a photography business or any other business, I will always reinforce the need for business plan. You can even use it to approach investors for funds. It it is well prepared, investors can easily pick interest in your photography business.

Read Also: 8 Reasons You Need a Business Plan for Your Small Business

Source Funds

Starting a photography business requires that you have initial capital. It is not a business you can do without capital, though the investment can be low. You need funds to buy some essential equipment that you can use to kick start the business. Some of the basic equipment you will need includes the following:

  • Cameras
  • Gears
  • Studio
  • Video Equipment
  • Lighting
  • Backdrops/stands
  • Props
  • Photo packaging materials
  • Memory cards

Please note that you don’t need much equipment at the start. You should just ensure that you invest in the right equipment.

Other Considerations

Other things I will like to discuss on how to start a photography business is what I call key success factors. They are very important factors that will determine whether the photography business you are starting will succeed or not. Therefore, you need to pay attention to them.

The Key Success Factors in starting a photography business are outline below:

Skilled in photography

For you to acquu should be able to shoot in different modes such as Aperture and Shutter Priority modes. This will make shooting enjoyable for you. However, learning how to shoot in Manual mode will help you understand the functionality of your camera features better. This is one way you can quickly improve your shoot skills. As a photographer, you need to develop your ability to take shots at the right moment

Don’t mistake business for hobby

Many people see photography as a hobby. Of course, it can be a hobby. But if you want to be earning money through photography, it is no longer an ordinary hobby. It has become a business. Many people started their photography business as a hobby. If you fall into this category, you should know when to start seeing it as a business. One thing that will help you is to quickly legalise the business by registering it.

Read Also: How to Turn Your Hobby into Home-Based Business


Being skilled in photography may not guaranty success. As a photographer, you need other entrepreneurial skills. If you are just starting your photography business, there is likelihood that you will be the only person running the business. Therefore, you will be playing many roles in the business. You need to go out there to look for customers. You need to do the main business which includes shooting and editing. You need to keep accurate records of your transactions to ensure that all invoices are captured and payments received customers. Photography business can be very challenging. But if you continue, you will soon adapt to the demands of the business. As you grow, you will breathe a sign of relieve when you start employing staff.


Photography business is not like buying and selling that can start generating revenue almost immediately. It requires patience to master the skills and to start building customers’ loyalty. Therefore, you need to prepare your mind that cash may not start rolling in immediately. Photography business is better started as a side business especially when you have other business you can do. Starting it part time will help you cushion the initial cash flow problems.


The competition in photography business is very stiff. One way you can distinguish yourself and make your business to stand out from the crowd is by branding. Branding is not just about your colour or logo. It extends to the quality customer service delivery. You may not get your branding right when you are just starting your photography. That is why it is advisable you don’t invest too much on the printing of photography business cards and letter head papers. This will help you minimize waste in case you need to re-brand.


You may say that you are a photographer and not a marketer. You are right to some extent. The truth is that, you need to market aggressively for your business to gain attention and enough visibility. You will be the one to do this at the initial stage. You may not continue in doing this alone. If you do it alone, your growth may be slow or you are spending too much money and time on marketing. You need referrals. That is why your customer service delivery must be superb. If you delight your customers, that will be ready to refer other customers to you. Don’t assume they will do this on their own. You need to consciously ask them for referrals.  Your photography business cards should always be with you. It is important that you see your photography business cards as a marketing tool.

Good organization

When I say good organization, I am not talking about your photography business itself. It is more of skill. You need to be organized. You may not understand the need for you to be organized at the initial stage when you don’t have much customers or photos to deal with. But as your photography business begins to grow, you will start having more customers. This comes with more catalogue of photos. You should have a good system in at the initial stage when you don’t have much customers or photos to deal with. But as your photography business begins to grow, you will start having more customers. This comes with more catalogue of photos. You should have a good system in place which will help in the storing and retrieval of photos without wasting of time. If you shot a wedding picture two or three years ago and the couple come back to you for re-print, you have a good system in place that will make it easy for you to locate and retrieve the pictures easily.

Storing of pictures is just one area. Other areas include filing and arranging customers or contract files, and the arrangement of your inventories.

Good pricing system

If you are starting a photograph business, don’t think that what the customers will pay for is just the photos you produce for them. No! You don’t sell picture only. What you sell most is your time an expertise. Photos are just the by-products. Therefore, you should value your time and charge appropriately. If your customers understand that you charge for your time, they will equally value your time. When you are just starting a photography business, charging for your time may be difficult. You are hungry for business and you will be ready to accept any price. However, this cannot continue this way. You should know when to start charging the right price.

Read Also: Home Based Business Guide – Work from Home

Maintain a focus

I mentioned earlier that photography business is wide. There are many things you can do working as a photographer. But your success lies in having a focus. Don’t be carried away by the money you will make if you do a particular job. If it is not the area of your passion, you may not be able to do an excellent job. This will also impact negatively on your area of focus. Staying in your area of passion and expertise will help your photography business. If you develop an expertise in a particular area, you will be able to charge a premium price. You will be able to achieve more with your limited time. Your uniqueness is the most valuable asset that you have.

Risk Involved in starting a photography business

There is no business that does not involve risks. This time around, I will not talk about the general risks which every business faces such as risk of losing your investment capital. The main focus here is the risks involved in starting a photography business. If you know these risks, you can easily put a system in place that will help you mitigate them.  Therefore, it is not just enough to know how to start a photography business, you should also arm yourself on how you can face challenges you may encounter starting a photography business.

Fluctuating Income

You should understand that photography business is seasonal to some extent. People tend to take photos more during holidays, anniversaries and festive periods. Your photography business will peak during these periods. If you are just staring a photography business, and it happens that you start around these peak periods, you may think that the business will continue that way. Business can be very dry during off-peak periods. But if you are good at cash flow management, you will not feel the effects too much. You should learn how to save against the raining days. When your photography business booms, you will have more than enough. During this period, you should not eat with your two hands. You need to put aside a portion of your income. This will help you weather the storm during period of low business.

Another way you can tackle this challenge is by having a second business which you can easily run along with your photography business. Of course, such business is not expected to be seasonal like your photography business. If it is going to be seasonal, the peak periods of the two businesses should not fall to the same season.

Legal Liability

If your client is unhappy with your work, he may take a legal action against you. Photography business is peculiar. It involves capturing of happy moments. If you miss such moments that your clients expect you to capture, it may be difficult to replay the scene so that you can recapture it. One legal liability against you can wreck your photography business. If you are starting a photography business, it is advisable that you take insurance so that you can mitigate the risk. Another risk you may be exposed to is the risk of personal injury which your clients may suffer while in your premises. That is why I usually recommend that it is better for anyone starting a photography business to go for comprehensive home business insurance. This may seem like additional expenses but it will surely save you some headaches in the future.

Apart from taking insurance, if you have a good relationship with your customers, they may not be willing to take any legal action against you.  Also, if you take time to understand your client’s needs when signing contract with them, you will know what they actually want and what will satisfy them. With this, you will be able to capture the moments that are important to them. Your work will not just be a guess work. You will work with precision knowing fully that what you are doing will delight your customer.

Equipment Risks

Photography business involves working with cameras and different lenses. Cameras and lenses are very fragile. If any should mistakenly fall, the equipment can damage. Imagine you rushing to catch up with an event, say wedding. And your equipment gets broken. What a disaster! You may not be able to meet up with the event. This can lead to the client taking legal action against you as earlier discussed. Apart from this, it will cost you money to repair or replace the equipment. It can also lead to loss of customers and jobs.

To guide against this, it is always good for anyone starting a photography business to be organised. You should know how to keep your equipment safe. You should handle all your equipment with care. You can also insure any equipment you know that are very expensive to replace.

Data Loss

Data loss could pose a serious problem to any photographer. We all know that photography business involves storing and retrieval of photos and images. In fact, photos and images serves as inventories in photography business. Therefore, if you are starting a photography business, you should have good storage facility in place. Also, backing up your data in more than one place is advisable. Keeping all your backups in one location is not safe enough. What will happen if there is a fire disaster? Therefore, it is a wise decision to keep a backup of your data in a different location other than your studio.

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