How to start a photography business

Do you like photography? Did you know you could make a career in photography? If you are adept at photography and want to pursue a career in this line, you can consider starting a photography business. Professional photographers are in great demand. Newspapers, magazines, and media houses need the services of photographers. If you have a photography business, you can contribute your photographs to publications, whether in print or online. Photographers are in demand to shoot events and functions, whether birthday party, wedding, or a conference.

Starting a photography business is easy. You can start a studio of your own to offer your services. You can even operate from your home and take orders from customers online. Unlike in the past, where photographers needed a dark room to develop photos, today all you need are a good quality camera and a printer.

This article walks you through the steps you’ll need to take if you are interested to start a photography business but didn’t know where to begin.

1) Decide on the services to offer

A photography business offers many services to customers. You can choose to offer all the services or offer few services that you specialize in. This depends on whether you are going to run the business solo or have other photographers working with you. The services that a photography business offer are:

  • Taking photographs of customers for passports, visa applications and other such documents.
  • Photography of models to help them create a portfolio.
  • Photography of homes and buildings for real estate clientele.
  • Photography of celebrities (paparazzi).
  • Product photography, where product photos are taken for use in marketing activities.
  • Event photography where photographs are taken at events that could be personal events like birthday parties, weddings, baby showers, etc. It could also be at official events like business meets, conferences, political events, film launches, etc.
  • Outdoor photography of wildlife, nature, and travel places, where photos are taken for publication in magazines and online journals.

Depending on your interest and specialization, you can choose one or more of these areas.

2) Make a business plan

Every business activity needs proper planning. You can plan for your photography business by preparing a business plan. The business plan should outline details like:

  • The name of your business.
  • Purpose of starting the business(goals)
  • Services offered
  • Customers whom your business will target
  • Investment amount needed to start the business
  • Ongoing expenses needed
  • Pricing for services
  • Marketing strategies planned to promote the business, and
  • Financials that explain when you will start making profits.

This business plan can be a guideline that will help you run your business efficiently. In case you need funds for your business, you can use the business plan to convince a bank to lend to you.

3) Decide the form of business and register it

You need to operate the business as a legal entity; this is referred to as the form of business. It could be as a sole proprietorship concern, a partnership entity, a private company, or an LLC. If you are planning to run a large-scale photography business and are planning to have many photographers working with you, you can start a company;else, a proprietorship concern would suffice. You can consult an accountant to help you complete the formalities of registration.

4) Complete all legal formalities

Apart from registration as a legal entity, you may need a license to run a photography business. This depends on where you start your business. Study local requirements and ensure compliance with all norms. You may also need to register with the tax authorities for income tax and service tax (if applicable). Obtain all the licenses and certificates beforehand. Open a bank account in the name of your business to collect payment from clients. If it is a solo business, you can use your personal bank account to collect money.

5) Get all resources you need

The most important requirement for a photographer is photographic equipment. A professional photographer would need different kinds of equipment. You need to budget for this in the business plan. The following equipment is a must for a professional photography business:

  1. A top-quality digital camera. You need to spend time researching the best models in the market before you make a purchase. If you are having a team of photographers, you need to buy more than one camera.
  2. Lenses for the camera.
  3. Tripod to setup the camera.
  4. Video equipment (in case, you plan to offer videography services too).
  5. A camera bag of good quality that can protect your camera while on the move.
  6. Lighting (would be required for indoor shoots).
  7. Studio space – if you are setting up a studio to take photos of customers at your premises. You need an office or space in your home, where you can have a studio that is suitable to take photos.
  8. Props and backdrops may be needed if you have a studio.
  9. A computer/laptop with good quality editing software. A photographer’s work is not complete until the photographs are beautified/enhanced before delivery.
  10. A photo printer to print photographs and stationery for the same. Customers may expect printed photos,so you need to have equipment for the same. This is expensive and you need to research before investing money.
  11. A website where you can market your business online.
  12. Visiting cards.
  13. Staff to work with you either to take photographs or to help you in office work.
  14. Storage devices to store photographs.
  15. Insurance for your cameras.

You need to prepare a portfolio with the best photographs you have taken. This can be shown to clients as well as displayed in your studio.

6) Market your services and launch

You need to market your services as per your plan. This calls for meeting potential customers and showing them your portfolio. Make sure the pricing is right, so you can start getting orders. Once you get the first few orders, work hard to impress clients. A satisfied client will recommend others and your photography business can take off.