How to Start a Photography Business? – The Only Guide You Need

A photography venture is a great passion project as well as a lucrative business. With the expansion of social media, the demand for such businesses will only rise. If you have the right skills and the drive to start your photography business, you’ve landed at the perfect place. 

But photography skills are not enough to get you started. As of 2023, there are nearly 305,053 people employed in the Photography industry within the US. You need the right guidance on how to start a photography business and grow it sustainably. 

If you’re a budding photographer, the best news is that starting your own business doesn’t have to be as expensive as you might think. You’ll need to consider how much time and money it will take to get your business running and what type of photography you want to focus on.

So let’s get started on how to start a photography business for making a side income or as a full-time career.

About the Photography Business

Before discussing how to start a photography business, let’s understand a bit about the business. We’re amidst a photography revolution and it’s not just because of the rise of social media and the selfie craze. It’s also because people are taking more and more amazing photos and spending more on basic photo editing software.

The photography services industry has grown at a 10.6% annualized rate since 2020, and it’s expected to continue growing steadily with a 5% annual growth rate until 2025. This year alone, the sector is valued at $32.92 billion—and it could hit $44.07 billion by 2025!

The photography industry is changing rapidly, and 12,458 companies operate in the US alone! If you want a piece of the pie, keep reading.

Why Should You Start a Photography Business?

Starting a photography business is a great way to make money while doing something you love. Here are some primary reasons to run a photography business.

1. Demand and opportunity

As per the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment rate of photographers is going to see a rise of 9% between 2021-2031. This proves that the business is in great demand.

Also, there are now more ways than ever to get your photos out there. You can sell them on the street, in a gallery, or online. You can even sell them to people through social media sites like Instagram and Facebook.

2. Flexibility

A photography venture doesn’t require you to work fixed hours each day. It’s a creative business that enables you to choose your hours and schedule. You can work from anywhere in the world, at the hours of your choice, and still, make money. 

3. No income ceiling

Given that you’re working on your own photography venture, you won’t be tied to an income ceiling. You are free to choose and work on the projects that excite you and set prices as per your skills and experience level. That means you can earn as much as you want depending on the kind of projects you pick. 

4. No formal degree

While you can choose to learn from apprenticeships and courses, a photography business doesn’t require you to have a formal degree. Your high-end clients will want to see your bit of experience and photography portfolio before working with you and not your formal photography education.

How to Start a Photography Business?

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you start a photography business: 

Step 1: Research the market needs

Research is the key to success for any business, and there are many ways to go about it.  

You first need to determine if there is already a market for the type of photography you want to provide. You can do this by talking to other photographers who offer similar services. Additionally, search for some successful photographers by visiting their websites and social media accounts.

For example, if you specialize in pictures of children and families, you need to know whether other famous photographers are doing the same thing or offering something different. Your primary question in this step is—do you think your product has a market?

Step 2: Create a photography business plan

A business plan outlines what steps you need to take to open your own photography business and how to make it successful. 

Create a photography business plan before starting a photography business

The business plan should include the initial investment amount and effective marketing strategies to start the business. You can also make a list of equipment you need for photography.

A typical business plan has the look sections:

  • Executive Summary
  • Company Description and Mission Statement
  • Products and Services
  • Effective Marketing Plan
  • Operations and Management
  • Financial Plan to establish startup costs, ongoing costs, or how much more money you require.

Step 3: Decide your niche 

Do you want to create an online portfolio, or can you get by with just snapshots? 

Are you looking for portraits, landscapes, or something else?

The photography business can provide various services to help you get the most out of your photography needs. The first thing to consider is what kind of photography you need. This will help you differentiate from other photography businesses. 

You can provide a wide range of services to your clients, including but not limited to the following:

  • Portrait photography: family portraits, people, animals, objects; whatever you want!
  • Event coverage: wedding photography, parties, birthdays; sports photography, or any business event you can think of.
  • Commercial photography: storefronts, products, food, anything that needs to be captured in a professional setting. 
  • Bold product photos 
  • Cinematography
  • Commercial photography

Step 4: Invest in photography equipment

With the right tools and some hard work, you can have a thriving photography business as a professional photographer in no time. The most important thing to remember is that photography businesses are not just about taking pictures but selling them.

Invest in equipment before starting a photography business

It takes a lot of professional photography equipment to run a photography business. There are several expensive gears you can use, including

  • Digital Cameras
  • Lenses
  • Tripod
  • Memory card
  • Light modifiers
  • Reflectors
  • External flash
  • Lighting kit

Step 5: Register your business

The next step is to decide on a business entity. Many photographers register as a sole proprietorship or LLC (limited liability company), but weighing the pros and cons of each is crucial.

Sole proprietorships are free to form, but this business doesn’t protect against personal liability.

LLCs have reduced liability, but they also cost more to set up than sole proprietorships. In addition, choosing to be taxed as a sole proprietorship or corporation affects your business in many ways, such as how much money you pay in business taxes and how much personal liability you might face if things go wrong with your client services business.

Choosing between these two entities will significantly impact your photography business, so it’s essential to consult with a business attorney or tax professional before deciding which entity is suitable for you.

Step 6: Get business insurance

There is a high demand for photographers, but no one wants to think about photographers’ risk. Therefore, insurance is the best way to protect yourself from professional and general liability.

If you are looking for photography insurance, consider the following:

  • Business Income Insurance: This will protect your revenue in case of theft or damage to your expensive photography gear, property, or vehicle. It can also cover lost income due to illness or injury and even legal business expenses if someone sues you over an accident.
  • Commercial Auto Insurance: If you drive any vehicles on the job, ensure they’re covered with this policy! It protects against physical damage, liability claims, coverage for injuries sustained by passengers riding in your vehicle, and uninsured motorist coverage.
  • General Liability Insurance: This covers bodily injury caused by something that happened at work, like slipping on spilled water on the floor while taking photos at a wedding venue and property damage.

Step 7: Apply for permits and business license

The time has come. You have a business plan, you’ve started your business, and now it’s time to ensure that you can legally continue to operate.

Your first step will be to obtain the proper licenses, permits, and insurance necessary for your photography business. 

Every state has different business laws, so you must check with your local city hall and state licensing board to ensure you comply with the necessary regulations.

Step 8: Market your photography services

The photography business is a unique field with many customers and needs. It can be challenging to market a product in which people have varied interests, but the key is to find out what they want and give it to them.

You can use these suggestions for effective marketing of your photography service:

  • Create an online presence for a successful business. This is a non-negotiable when starting a photography business.
  • Create marketing materials and portfolios that display your skills in food photography, fashion photography, landscape photography, wedding photography, business photography, etc. 
  • Promote yourself on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Vero, and Twitter to reach your ideal client.
  • Many professional photographers use email marketing campaigns and online newsletters to grow mailing lists and connect with future clients.
  • Use Google AdWords advertising service to advertise on search engine results pages (SERPs) when people search for photography-related keywords.

Step 9: Join hands with local businesses

As a small business, joining hands with local businesses can be a powerful way to build your photography business.

By partnering with local businesses and doing their photography, they can offer their potential clients a service they might not have been able to provide before. As a small business, you can offer them something unique and valuable to help them stand out from their competition.

Here are just three reasons why you should consider joining hands with local businesses:

  • It’s free advertising for you when starting a photography business. 
  • You’ll make new friends who share your values and interests.
  • You’ll get access to new resources that will help you grow your business.

Step 10: Ask for customers’ feedback

This is something many photography business owners miss out on. As a photographer, your customers are your most important asset. Here is some advice on delivering good customer assistance:

Ask for photography customers' feedback
  • Being a photographer is not just about being behind the camera. You need to be able to communicate and connect with your clients.
  • Always be on time for appointments, and be professional. Wear clean clothes and have a positive attitude.
  • Give your clients an estimate of how long it will take to complete the job, so they know what they’re getting into!
  • Be friendly and welcoming! It can help build trust with your clientele and make them feel comfortable working with you on their big day.

Schedule Routes for Your Appointments on Upper

Unable to visit your clients even after working for hours? Let Upper help you schedule routes in advance with its route planning and optimization capabilities.

How Much Does it Cost to Start a Photography Business? 

Starting a photography business will cost you anywhere between $5000-7000. Here’s a list of recommended gears and accessories with approximate prices for starting a photography business:

Camera $1,200-$1,500
Lens $1,200-$1,500
Professional website hosting $100
Tripod $100
Equipment Insurance $500
Business registration $500
Softwares (photo editing software, accounting software, etc) $300
Lighting kit $500
Memory card $50

All said and done, it’s best to automate what you can to improve the efficiency of your photography business. Let’s see how you can automate route planning and optimization, which is one of the top contributing factors to your photography business.

Optimized Service Routes are Easy to Find on Upper

Now that we’ve discussed the basics of starting a photography business, let’s talk about growing your venture. The last thing you want is for your service routes to get in the way of your business. 

After all, you want your photographers to be able to complete their assigned routes in the shortest time possible at a cost that won’t break the bank. And you want your target customers to be happy with the amazing customer service they receive.

Upper is a robust route planning and optimization software that helps businesses get the most out of their delivery routes. 

Why Should You Choose Upper for Launching a Photography Business?

1. Fulfill your projects in a timely manner

It’s more critical than ever to optimize your service routes. Imagine setting a service appointment but getting delayed without optimized routes due to road accidents, unexpected traffic blocks, rush hour traffic, and more. 

This can result in business loss—monetary loss as well as customer loss. Upper route optimization can help you optimize routes considering all the contingencies, so you’re always on time.

2. Get optimized multi-stop routes for photography projects 

With Upper, as a photography business owner, you don’t have to drain your time and efforts in manual route planning and optimization. You can now automate the entire route planning and optimization process to find the quickest and safest routes. 

You can then send these efficient multi-stop routes to your photography executives so they can fulfill more projects using the same resources. 

3. Send automatic ETA notifications 

Sending automatic notifications to customers for ETA is a great way to please your clients. It ensures you want to offer better services to them. By sending automatic ETA notifications, you keep your customers updated. As a result, you will have to handle fewer customer calls.

Get a free 7-day trial of Upper to see how it can make a difference to your photography business.

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FAQs

Bestselling photography types vary on a yearly basis. But, candid lifestyle images and images of individuals are evergreen bestsellers.

Here is how you can expand your business by following these simple ways:

  • Find your niche as a small business
  • Take stock photos
  • Develop a unique brand image and style
  • Have a comprehensive marketing budget
  • Be consistent with your branding and marketing efforts on social media platforms and attend trade shows for networking
  • Set an attractive pricing structure and surpass customer expectations.

Absolutely, photography is an excellent means to monetize your passion. It is an excellent and easy way to earn money given that you have refined photography skills. You can set up accounts with several stock photo sites and every time someone downloads your pictures, you make money.

Conclusion

We hope this gave you clarity on how to start a photography business. Becoming a professional photographer is easy. It doesn’t take much to get started, and if you have a passion for capturing timeless memories, there’s no denying that it could be a great way to bring in some extra income.

Remember that besides photography and business skills, you’d also need to reach your customers on time to mark an excellent reputation. That is where Upper comes in with its route planning and optimization capabilities to make sure you’re always on time and fulfill more photography services using the same resources.

You can easily sign up for a of Upper to explore its features.

Author Bio
Rakesh Patel
Rakesh Patel

Rakesh Patel is the founder and CEO of Upper Route Planner. A subject matter expert in building simple solutions for day-to-day problems, Rakesh has been involved in technology for 30+ years. Looking to help delivery businesses eliminate on-field delivery challenges, Rakesh started Upper Route Planner with the ultimate goal of simplistic operations in mind.

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