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How To Start a Photography Business

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By Devon Higgins

It all started with a passion to capture verdant landscapes, candid emotions, interesting scenes, and special moments in photographs. Passion turned into art, and you began to refine your knowledge, skills, perceptions of the industry, and tools of the trade. Your collection of camera gear, lenses, and accessories is growing. You have developed a thorough understanding of the interplay between light and shadow and a creative approach in snapping photos. It’s now time to reap the rewards of your efforts by turning your passion into an income generator.

Starting a photography business can be a daunting but rewarding endeavor. What you need is a solid foundation which you can build your success. Here are some things to consider when planning out your very own photography business.

1. Choose a niche that you’re passionate about.

At first, it might be tempting to offer all types of photography services in the hopes that the more services you offer—the more likely it will be for you to get hired. But being a successful photographer often means finding a niche and pursuing clients in that niche. Having a speciality will help prospective clients better identify what you do and why they might want to hire you. This will also help you in terms of identifying your “target market” and how best to promote your services to this audience (see tip #3).

2 . Develop a unique style.

Establish your own distinctive style—it might be your keen eye for unique angles, a signature post-processing look, or a creative lighting technique. Whatever it is, your unique style is what will set you apart from your competitors.

3. Identify your target market.

Remember the old adage “you can’t please everyone?” That also applies in photography. Figure out who your target market is and go after those people. Should you approach hoteliers or real estate developers? How about fashion designers or store owners? Perhaps your wedding photography is better suited to thirty-something professionals than new grads? Once you’ve identified your niche and developed your style, you’ll want to identify who might be attracted to your services and market yourselves to them.

4. Save up and invest in professional-grade gear.

Photography equipment

Successful professional photography relies on taking excellent images that appeal to a client’s senses. You can deliver exemplary photos and services without using the best tools, but professional equipment helps a lot. As soon as you can, think about investing in a professional-quality camera, some great lenses and a comprehensive website to show off your work.

5. Participate in photography workshops and mentorship programs.

Portrait photography

As an photography entrepreneur it’s important to continue to learn more about your craft and how to run your business. Build on your knowledge by joining workshops, asking advice from experienced photographers, and practicing your craft constantly. Find helpful tips on photography blogs and websites, be knowledgeable about the latest photography equipment , confer with other professionals in the industry, and join photography seminars and events as often as you can.

6. Develop an online presence.

Wait, what does social media have to do with photography? A whole lot! Social media platforms are your 24/7 salespersons. When used effectively, platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and others can market your business while you are out shooting. You can start establishing your social media presence by choosing an attractive template for your photography website. After you have set up your very own photography website, you can share your site, photos, and services with friends/family, potential customers and on your business’s social media accounts.

7. Learn to run your business. Don’t let your business run you.

Customer service and marketing can be just as important to the success of your photography business as your ability to take great photographs. They will define your reputation as a service provider and, if done well, will lead to word-of-mouth referrals. These are a critical, and often overlooked, part of becoming a successful photography entrepreneur.

However, be weary of spending too much time in/on your business and losing sight of what truly matters. Whether it be spending time with friends and family or just taking a night off, make sure to find a healthy balance when running your own business. The entrepreneur inside you will drive you to burn the midnight oil many many times and making sure that you don’t burn out will be critically important for the long term success of your business.

8. Be patient.

Professional photographer
In photography, there is no recipe for overnight success. While the first six to eighteen months might be tough, there is also an amazing community of photographers around the world who are willing to help you succeed. The hurdles you’ll meet such as sleepless nights, criticisms, editing backlogs, and even rejections are just steps toward success. Remember that good things come to those who wait.

Creativity, drive, innovation, and determination are the pillars of a thriving photography business. The road to success is long, but you need to take the first step in order to start the journey. With the support from friends and family, taking into account the eight tips mentioned above, and some good fortune, you’ll be on your way to launching your photography career in no time. Don’t wait for the right time to start your photography business because the right time is now!

Devon Higgins

Devon came to FolioWebsites with a background in digital marketing and communications. With a BA in Marketing from Michigan State University and previous experience working with both big business and non-profits, Devon brings a well-rounded perspective to the team. Outside of FolioWebsites, you can find Devon coaching and playing soccer, socializing in downtown Grand Rapids, or going on adventures throughout the great state of Michigan.

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