How To Start A Photography Business

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If you’re ready to turn your passion for photos into your career, then you should start a photography business. It’s time to get paid to do something you’re good at and that you love.

As a member of The Guild of Photographers and a dog photographer for the last 15 years, I can tell you that there’s more to starting your photography business than pointing and shooting your camera. Fantastic photography skills are only one part of the puzzle.

how to start a photography business

You can start your photography business and lay the foundation to your dream job by using these seven steps:

Decide what type of photographer you are

It’s important to reflect on your own passions and talents when starting your photography business.  Ask yourself:

how to start a photography business

Now look over your answers, and you’ll know what interests you most.  There are a number of types of photography you can choose from:

There is also less competition when you are a niche photographer vs a photographer who does everything trying to reach every potential customer.

Set up your business

Decide your business name

Your photography business needs a great name for branding, your domain, legal incorporation, etc.  Many photographers use their name or their name + photography.  Be sure that you check once you have chosen your business name that no one else is already using the name or that the name is not trademarked.

Register your business

When it comes to starting your photography business, there are options of how you should structure your business.  Here are your top three options:



Get your business licenses, permits, and insurance

Check with your local city hall and state to ensure you’re complying with any regulations there are.  You should also look into insurance to protect yourself from costly liability disputes if you have a disgruntled customer. Look into business insurance policies that will shield you from professional and general liability.

Obtain an EIN

An EIN is the business equivalent of a social security number.  You’ll need it when you open your business bank account and if you ever apply for a business loan.

Open a business bank account

You want to separate your business and personal finances.  Mixing your finances can compromise any legal protections you have.

Open a business credit card

Businesses have their own credit scores.  By using your business credit card, you’ll boost your business’s financial health which can help you to secure a business loan later.

Upgrade or buy your equipment

Here are a few expenses you can expect when you start your photography business:

If you are starting out on a budget, you can buy second hand camera gear from a reputable company.

Create a business and marketing plan

Creating your business

Set up your domain name and website

While you are thinking of a good business name check to see if there is domain name that matches your business name, because you will need a photography website for your new photography business.

You can do this on platforms like SmugMug or WordPress.  This creates a resource for your prospects to view your work and contact you. A website for your business also makes it look more professional.

Some platforms will also allow you to sell photos, so once you set up your website, you have another revenue stream. 

Grab your social media accounts

Grab your business name on Instagram, Facebook, and any other platform you’re going to be using.

Add your business location to Google Maps

If you have a studio or a physical location, you’ll want to create a business profile that appears on Google Maps.

Creating a business plan

Your business plan is a roadmap of what your business is, your goals, and how you plan to make money.  It will cover things like cash flow, expenses, competitors, and more.

Creating a marketing plan

Once your photography business is up and running, you’ll need ways to find clients.  Here are a few marketing strategies:


The most effective marketing is word-of-mouth referrals.  Think about how you can develop positive referrals.

Use social media

Social media is a great tool that can help you connect to your target customers.

Go where your target customers go. If you’re a wedding photographer, join Facebook groups for soon-to-be brides. They’ll be looking for wedding photographers and by becoming an expert in the group, you’ll gain their trust and you can promote your services.

Since Instagram is such a visual platform, it is a great way to build your portfolio. Creating an Instagram account with your best work can inspire a future business inquiry.

Build your portfolio and website

While your portfolio sometimes contains tens of thousands of images.  Your website is where you want to showcase your best work.

To build your portfolio, take lots of pictures.  You can reach out to events or charities and offer your services for free. Not only are you giving back to the community, but those contacts may refer you down the road. Make sure you are tagged in the photos and ask for some social media love!

Price your photography

When determining what to charge, your formula should include your time, plus labor, plus a fee for using your resources. Here are a few things to consider to help you set your prices:


There are many Facebook groups dedicated to photography and photographers.  Be sure to join them!

Find other businesses that work well with yours (like a newborn photographer working with a baby store) and help one another out by promoting each other.

Donate your time to local events to get your name out there.

Bonus Tips

Here are a few extra tips I learned along the way:

Photography isn’t just a hobby.  Tap into your skills and your creativity to set you apart and become a successful photography business using these 7 steps.

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