How To Start A Photography Business

Everyone loves to save their memories with great photographs. Thanks to the technology attached to smartphones, that is cameras. People capture photos and save them, but not everyone has got that to start a photography business.

There is a difference between capturing a selfie and capturing a perfect moment, being a professional photographer. Starting a photography business requires an investment of time and money.


You can learn how to start a photography business step by step as soon as today;

1. Write A Photography Business Plan

Whether you are starting as a solo or as a team, you need to write a business plan. All types of business owners should write a business plan for their business. Entrepreneurs put their thoughts in the form of a written document.

A business plan is very important part of the business. It outlines what you are offering, who is your target audience and what will be your pricing plans. Business plan helps you in starting and scaling your business.

Business plan is a clear roadmap of your plan and consists of;

  • Who are you?
  • What is your plan to do?
  • How you are going to do it?

Read More: How To Write A Business Plan

2. Estimate Startup Costs

As a part of your business plan, you will need to estimate your startup costs. Firstly, identify the necessary equipments and materials you need to start your photography business.

Photography equipments are quite expensive. But you need to bare the minimum cost to start. Buying expensive equipments doesn’t make sense if you are starting a new photography business and yet aren’t making profits.

Organic growth of your business is important in funding your business for improvements and diversification. 

Make a list of all the costs and expenses you need to start your own photography business. Start small and slowly and eventually grow your business.

If you are planning to have a dedicated studio or an office, then you need to explore possible options available. Like rental properties and their monthly costs and expected utility expenses.

3. Register Your Business

To legally establish and launch your photography business, you will need to register it. For that purpose you need to do two things;

Choose Your Photography Business Name

Spare some to think and research your photography business names. Business name will be the first thing your customers will read and make sure it makes a good impression. After deciding the business name, make sure it is available from secretary of state business. If it is available you can use it.

Choose A Legal Business Entity

Now, you need to choose your legal business entity, either a sole proprietorship or a limited liability company (LLC).

Each entity you choose has their impacts and pros and cons on your business. In LLC you enjoy benefits like reduced liabilities and it enhances your professional appearance.

If you are going to be the only employee in the start, then sole proprietorship is right entity for you. The benefit of sole proprietorship is it is free to form.

If you are going to operate as a sole proprietorship, then you need to file a Doing Business As (DBA), when registering your business. DBA varies from state to state, so be sure to do proper research.

4. Secure Business Licenses, Permits and Insurance

Your business is now legal, but to operate legally, you need business licenses, permits, and insurance.

Business Licenses and Permits

Make sure to check for state or local licenses and permits and make sure you are obeying all the regulations.

Business Insurance

Business insurance adds up another protection layer to your business from any damages and legal disputes. Make sure to have proper research on this, to protect your business from any liability.

5. Obtain EIN, and Bank Account

To do business, you need to separate your personal account and business account. That is where EIN and bank accounts comes.

Even if you are running a sole proprietorship and you are the only employee, still you need an Employer Identification Number (EIN). It will be issued by Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

It is always a professional and wise idea to separate your personal and business bank account. One bank account might compromise your legal protections gained by LLC. In sole proprietorship, it is also beneficial to maintain your accounting books record.

6. Purchase Your Equipments

Professional photographers use top-notch and expensive equipments. But if you are starting a new photography business, you don’t need expensive and new equipments. You can upgrade your equipments as your income start rising.

Professionals say, initially you need two cameras, two flashlights, and two lenses. With these, you need Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom to edit pictures. Why two? Because of a backup, even new equipments can break down.

You can also buy used equipments, but make sure they work properly. You can start off small, increase customer base and eventually you will be able to upgrade everything in your business.

Firstly, make sure you create your own list of things and equipments you need and research their prices. We have prepared a list of recommended tools and equipments;

  • Cameras
  • Lenses
  • Flash Lights
  • Memory Cards
  • External Drives
  • Laptop or Computer
  • Backdrops and lighting
  • Editing Software Subscriptions
  • Tripod
  • Camera bags
  • Accounting Software
  • Business Cards
  • Business Licenses
  • Insurance Policy
  • Contracts

You may have some items already available at home from this list and that can reduce your startup cost.

7. Set Up A Pricing Plan

When initiating a business where you provide services, pricing those services is where people find it difficult to do. Your pricing should involve your time, labor cost, expenses, and resource utilization cost.

Against every one hour spent on photography, you will have to spend three hours editing those photographs. Keep in mind all the factors while pricing your photography services. Come up with your own pricing structure.

Photography services will depend upon;

Your Niche

Your chosen niche will have an impact on prices of your photography services. Because, there are different for each of photography services such as, weddings, family, pets, travel, portraits and many others.

Your Competition

To get an idea of how to price your photography services, look at your competitors, their offerings and pricing strategies. You can charge similar, or lower in comparison to them and it’s up to you.

Your Time Duration

Keep in mind the time duration of each photography session takes and afterwards, it’s processing, editing, uploading and delivering, are time-bound. Make sure to add these factors in your prices and other expenses too.

8. Set Up A Marketing Plan

Your photography business is on the go, and it is time to market your photography business and grow your audience. Here are some strategies to market your photography business;

Social Media Marketing

Social media is the biggest tool to connect with your current and potential customers. You can join various local groups where people are looking for photographers. You can update your profile and post your best shots on it.


Positive word of mouth is like a fresh blood a most effective marketing technique for many businesses. You can develop your positive referrals by staying positive, being polite, and being cooperative with your customers.

Email Marketing

You can generate your newsletter and flyers and send them to your current and potential customers. You can generate a list of emails of your customers and communicate with them.

Read more: How To Write A Marketing Plan

Read more: How To Do Email Marketing

9. Start Selling Your Photographs

Don’t limit your photography business to bricks-and-mortar rather also start selling creative photographs online. Many websites demand stock photos for their content and brandings, and they will pay you against it.

Some stock photography market places are;

  • Adobe Stock
  • iStockPhoto
  • Alamy
  • Getty Images
  • 123RF
  • BigStockPhoto
  • DepositPhotos
  • Shutterstock
  • EyeEM
  • Unsplash
  • Twenty20

The Bottom Line

Photography is a popular hobby. You can turn it into a legal business entity. But, it requires passion and dedication to capture beautiful memories of people.

Photography business is easy to start small and scale up your business with time and efforts. It is better to have photography as a full-time business. So, better learn, gain experience, and get started.

How To Start A Photography Business FAQ

1. Which type of photography is most profitable?

Commercial photography is the most profitable photography. Professionals do earn around $10,000 per year.

2. How do you start out as a photographer?

You can start out as a photographer by following these steps;

  • Write A Photography Business Plan
  • Estimate Startup Costs
  • Register Your Business
  • Secure Business Licenses, Permits, and Insurance
  • Obtain EIN, and Bank Account
  • Purchase Your Equipments
  • Set Up A Pricing Plan
  • Set Up A Marketing Plan
  • Start Selling Your Photographs

3. How do photographers get clients for beginner?

The best is to start with your family, friends, family friends, and people you know. You can communicate with your neighbors, locals, coworkers, and other people in your social group. Tell them about your business and offer them discounted prices of photo sessions.

4. Do I need an LLC for my photography business?

It depends on which scale you want to launch your business but it is always a good idea to form a limited liability company (LLC). Because it prevents clients from suing you against personal assets. You can claim all of your equipments for photography as business expenses on your taxes.

5. How much does it cost to start a photography business?

There are various costs like business registration, equipments, laptop or computer, camera, lenses, flashlights, backdrops, and much more. They add up quickly, and your budget will vary from others but you should expect $10,000 as a startup cost.

6. Is photography a good way to make money?

Yes, if you put in the effort and hard work. Like other professions, depends upon motivation and willingness to put effort and invest time.

7. What type of photography is most profitable?

After establishing your client base, earnings from wedding photography, commercial photography, and portrait photography are the highest one.