How to Start a Photography Business – Forbes Advisor

Step 1. Buy the right equipment

In order to position yourself as a competitor in the photography industry, you will need the best equipment possible. A professional studio will need not only a camera, but also lights, reflectors and backgrounds. Wedding photographers or nature photographers will need to invest in very high quality cameras and accessories due to the more spontaneous nature of their subjects.

A high-end camera can cost several thousand dollars, while individual lenses can cost up to $1,000 depending on their niche of use. You’ll also need memory cards and possibly external backup drives to safely store the images, which can easily cost around $100 each. Making a list of everything you need and evaluating them is important to start with.

In addition to the camera, you will need to purchase a license for photo editing software. Adobe Photoshop is the best known, so that’s what most people start with. You will also need a computer with high bandwidth and storage space, as photo files can be quite large. Being able to store, edit and process all these photographs is important for sending them to clients.

If you’re a film photographer, you’ll need a whole different set of equipment, including access to a darkroom. Before you go on a spending spree, research the materials you’ll need and price what will best meet your needs for the early stages of growing your business.

Step 2. Consider your niche

At the same time as you buy your equipment, you will want to determine your niche. If you’re offering a full-service photography studio, you still need to know who your ideal client is. If you want to shoot headshots exclusively, you’ll need to set up your space and equipment to serve that niche.

High quality wedding photographers are also always in high demand. If you’re marketing to engaged couples, it would be a good idea to reach out to well-established wedding service brands like Zola or The Knot and ask to be on their vendor lists. Track businesses that serve the audiences you want to capture.

There are many talented photographers out there, but you can create an edge in your photography business by providing services that other businesses might not. For example, if you run a portrait studio, it would be a good idea to partner with a makeup artist who can touch up your clients to do their portraits.

Step 3. Conduct market research

Before you start taking on clients, figure out your rates and how to charge clients. If you want to bill by the hour, make sure you’re fairly compensated for your time. Offering flat rates is also advantageous for customers; you can offer a variety of packages to clients so they know exactly what they are getting and you will know exactly what work is expected of you.

To know your competition in photography, you need to research their offerings and see what’s missing. Filling a gap in the market is always a possibility for new businesses. If you are very good at editing or have a large studio space compared to other photographers, or even if you specialize in action shots, you can choose to charge a premium for these services.

Photography companies must also set prices when clients request additional edits. Your time is at a premium, especially with photo editing because it takes a lot of time, and you need to make it clear to clients that they need to respect the time and attention you put into this creative work.

Step 4. Establish an online presence

Before someone hires you, they will want to see examples of your work. Use a portfolio website builder to showcase the images that best display your skills and make sure your contact details and prices are clearly displayed. Photography is obviously a visual industry, so having a professional website is crucial to give potential clients a positive impression before they even meet you.

If you want to let customers contact you through the website, be sure to find compatible customer relationship management (CRM) software that will make it easy to stay in touch with them every step of the way. Some are also compatible with digital invoicing software that will help ensure you get paid on time.


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