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Small Business Tips

How to Start a Photography Business

Manasa Reddigari
4-panel collage: wedding photographer, city lights photographer, pet photography, food photography

The road from being a hobby selfie-taker to a self-employed shutterbug is long. But it’s far easier to navigate if you understand how to start and what to expect from the photography profession.

Click through to learn everything you need to know about how to start a photography business.

What are the benefits of starting a photography business?

Running a photography business comes with myriad perks:

  • You can work anywhere. Generally, this means you won't be chained to a cubicle as a freelance photographer because your base station will be wherever the subject of your photography resides, be that a studio, someone's home, a school, a corporate event or a wedding venue. Furthermore, you can then process your photographs from home, remotely from a coffee shop or remotely from a place of your choosing.
  • The hours are your own to manage. You can accept photography shoots on a part- or full-time basis. You can also select shoot times that are convenient for you if the event you are shooting is not time-dependent.
  • Choose photo subjects that fit your passion. Prefer to exclusively photograph food, residential or commercial real estate or the environment? You can pick a niche to specialise in and then accept clients only in that niche.
  • You will get to travel locally or even globally. If your photography subjects live in another location, you'll get to go to that destination. You may get to explore some pretty breathtaking locales during your downtime.
  • Pricey equipment isn't necessary to get started. Today's point-and-shoot cameras and smartphone cameras are of a high enough quality that any budding photographer can get started in the business. You can work your way up to more costly and powerful equipment as your expertise grows.
  • You can turn a hobby into a profession. If you're already a hobby photographer, you can leverage your skills into a paid career you love.

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What is the average salary of a photography business owner?

Self-employed photographers pull in an average of £20,667 annually, according to Payscale. On an hourly basis, the 25th percentile earned £7 per hour, the 50% percentile earned £11 per hour and the 75th percentile earned £30 hourly. Releveant to pay is your level of experience, your knowledge of photo manipulation tools such as Adobe Photoshop and the resources of your clientele. Generally, the more important your photos are to the brand image of a person or corporation, the more you'll get paid.

What steps are needed to start a photography business?

Once you decide you want to spend your career behind the camera, follow these steps on how to start a photography business.

  • Define your business goals. Turn that foggy idea of a photography business into a vivid picture of where and how to start a photography business by establishing your business location, budget, target audience, photography niche and list of services and prices, estimated revenue and business hours.
  • Create a business plan. Amalgamate all of the information you established in the first step into a formal business plan reviewable by investors. The strategy should also cover your marketing and sales plan, your financial outlook, and your management team.
  • Decide on a business structure. Whether you opt for a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC or corporation, be sure to consider the legal and tax implications of each business structure before choosing one.
  • Establish your business. Choose a name for your business that isn't already trademarked, and then register the business in your state. You'll also need to obtain a general business license and VAT permit, and any other licenses or permits mandated by your local government. When you shoot on private or public property or grounds for commercial purposes, also check with the property owner or groundskeeper if you need a photography permit at that location.
  • Safeguard yourself with insurance. It's wise to consider buying business insurance as a freelancer photographer to protect yourself from financial losses.
  • Buy equipment and insurance. Along with cameras, lenses and batteries, you'll need camera set-up equipment and photo editing software.
  • Promote and launch your business. Implement the marketing strategy you established in your business plan to attract your first client. You should always work on a formal contract and with model release forms if photographing real people. Upon completion of the paperwork, start shooting!

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