Photography business
How to Start a Photography Business » How To Start A Photography Business: All You Need To Know

How To Start A Photography Business: All You Need To Know

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Are you the designated and trusted photographer for your family and friends? Are you notorious for having an insane number of photos on your phone? – All clicked by you? Is it your lifelong dream to have your own photography business, but you don’t know where to start?

If yes, you are at the right place! Keep on reading to know all about how to start a photography business. It’s time to make your passion generate your income!

The photography world is filled with opportunities and potential for growth. After all, everybody wants their cherished memories to last forever. However, the photography world is saturated, which means you need to work hard and smartly to make yourself shine.

Whether you are a seasoned photographer wanting to reach global heights or someone whose knack for taking picture-perfect photos just makes his way into the photography world, this guide covers all you need to know about the photography world.

Step-By-Step Guide on How to Start a Photography Business

If you think a photography business is all about setting up a camera and clicking pictures, you are very much mistaken.

The following steps will walk you through everything you need to know about starting a photography business and how to become a photographer.

Step 1: Define Your Photography Niche

Before you do anything else, is it essential to identify your work scope? There are several types of photography businesses. Are you a wedding photographer, or do you plan to work in the fashion industry? Are you interested in drone photography, or do you specialize in portraits or events?

Different photography niches require different equipment. For example, wedding photography generally requires an elaborate team with equipment such as a camera and a backup camera. You must also invest in medium zoom and telephone lenses, wide angle and prime lenses, speed lights, tripod and light stands and flash diffusers, studio strobes, and umbrellas.

On the other hand, stock photography requires a good DSLR, kit lens, tripod, and lens if you are starting.

It is a famous saying that a jack of all trades is a master of none. Choosing one photography niche helps you focus all your energies on and excel in it. It enables you to stand out from the crowd and showcase your expertise in a defined manner. By mastering one specialized niche, you can build an audience that can understand and connect to your art. Furthermore, you can create your own photography style and establish yourself as an expert.

Step 2: Legal Requirements and Compliance

Like any other business, to start a photography businesses you also need to fulfill legal requirements. Once you have decided on your photography business niche, it’s time to register it under a corporate name. Your business name will be your identity in the photography world, so make sure to choose something unique.

Drone photography, for instance, requires that the photographer pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test with at least 70% or higher and also complete a flight review. Furthermore, as a drone photography business owner, you must follow the rules of drone photography as set by the FAA.

You must also determine your business structure as it impacts your taxes, personal liability, and business operations. If you are working on your own, a sole proprietorship is something you can pursue. You don’t have to share the profits or losses with anyone. If you are partnering with someone else, choose a partnership business model that will divide the profit and losses amongst all partners.

Any business is incomplete without its relevant licenses and permits. Depending on your business plan and structure, you must obtain licenses such as General Business License, Sales Tax Permit, and Special Permits and comply with various tax obligations such as Income Tax, Self-Employment Tax, and sales tax.

Now that you have set up your business and got relevant licenses, you need to stay to get it insured for rainy days. Different types of insurance cover various aspects, such as General Liability Insurance, which covers accidents, injuries, and claims of negligence. At the same time, Professional Liability Insurance protects against claims of errors and omissions, and Equipment Insurance covers damage or loss of your photography gear.

Step 3: Set Up Your Finances

It is said that you need to spend money first to earn money. Photography, like any other business, requires investment and running costs.

The first step is setting up your business bank account. Separating your personal and business bank accounts is always a good idea to manage money effectively. This will help you with better financial budgeting, professional image, and simpler budgeting.

Tracking your income and expenditures, receivables, and payables is crucial. Software such as QuickBooks, FreshBooks, or Wave can help you track your finances. Tracking your business-related receipts and invoices for tax deductions and financial audits is also important.

You don’t want to be in debt in the first week of starting your business. This is why you should create a budget with all your expected income and expenditure details and follow it. Secondly, regularly review your cash flow and tax liability to prevent any unwanted tax surprises.

Step 4: Acquire the Necessary Equipment

No photography business can thrive without the right equipment. A photography business equipment does not suffice with a camera and a few lenses. Fortunately, you don’t need to break the bank while purchasing equipment in the initial phase of your business.

Generally, any photographer requires the following equipment:

The need for particular equipment depends on the photography niche that you choose. For example, good lighting is crucial for wedding portraits but not so important for event photography.

While purchasing equipment, you must focus on key factors such as priority, reliability, hidden costs, and requirements. While many pieces might make your photographer’s heart skip a beat, you don’t need to buy everything.

Ensure that whatever photography business equipment you purchase matches your chosen business niche. Don’t splurge on things you don’t require. A stock photographer does not need strobing lights, at least in the initial phase. Natural lighting will do, so skip that for more critical equipment.

Step 5: Build Your Portfolio

How will you prove you are the photographer who will make your client’s dreams real? By your portfolio!

Your portfolio not only showcases your skills, style, and the quality of your work but also serves as a tool to attract potential clients. Many photographers add all of the work they have done previously, which is a big mistake. This takes up unnecessary time and does not yield fruitful results. Your clients want to see only your best work.

Here are some tips to help you select what to add to your portfolio.


You don’t need to add similar shots; you can add different and diverse pictures to give clients a better idea of your scope.

Make It Unique:

Anybody can add pictures in a file and call it a portfolio. You need to do something different with your portfolio to stand out among a sea of photographers. You can tell a story with your images or arrange it in a specific way.

You’re Personality Matters:

Your work should reflect you as a person and a photographer. Nobody wants to see generic work in a portfolio. So, add fun and surprise elements that engage your clients and make them curious about you as a photographer.

Check out the portfolios of Lorenzo Fanfani, Fei Luo, and The Wild Bride for inspiration.

Step 6: Marketing and Finding Clients

You have your business niche selected and finances sorted out. You have your portfolio in place and state-of-the-art equipment by your side. What now?

Every business needs clients. So, now, it’s time for client hunting. The question arises: how do you attract clients AND retain them?

In today’s digital world, your business needs to be digitized. You must have an online presence through professional websites and social media pages. It is of utmost importance that your online presence has your information and portfolio and promptly answers all relevant queries.

Another thing that should never be overlooked is the importance of word of mouth. Always attend local events, fairs, and exhibitions, share your business cards, and familiarize yourself with others. Also, ask your clients for referrals. Offering referral discounts and other deals is a great way to boost business.

Step 7: Pricing Your Services

Every photographer is guilty of searching for things like ‘how much do photographers make’ and ‘how much does it cost to start a photography business.

Pricing can be a daunting task. You want to offer competitive pricing while maintaining quality, covering costs, running finances, and making a reasonable profit. For appropriate pricing strategies, you need to consider the following things:

Understand your costs:

Calculate equipment, software, marketing, insurance, and operational costs. Determine your monthly expenses and then break them down accordingly.

Research the Market:

While pricing your services, market research is the most important thing. You don’t want to charge drastically more than your fellow photographers and don’t want to charge low that would not cover your costs.

Pricing Model:

It would be best if you determined your pricing model, too. Will you be charging for hourly services or offering a package?

Photography Niche:

Different photography niches have their pricing strategies. Is it event photography or drone photography? For example, portrait photography is considerably more expensive than product photography due to the increased props and equipment required.


Knowing how to start a photography business and understanding all photography business tips will make your photography business stand out in the sea of photographers.

You must have a clear vision for your photography business to reach incredible heights. Select a photography niche, register yourself, and purchase ONLY the relevant equipment. You can always add more equipment as your business progresses.

You need to keep your finances in check for your business to thrive. Too many expenses and too little income? That’s a recipe for disaster. Knowing your finances will help you make critical business decisions at the right time, leading to remarkable growth and results.

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