Starting a Photography Business

Successful photographers are often asked how to go about establishing a photography business. If you have some photography experience and are considering converting your passion for photography into a career, you likely have some questions related to this process. 

Making the decision to establish a photography company is a major step that will require expanding your skills well beyond photography to the financial side of running a business. This post will walk you through the process of starting a photography business, so you can turn your passion into a money-making career. 

Develop a Business Plan

All company owners — even solo photographers — should start by developing a business plan. This is a place to outline the services you will be offering, establishing your target audience, and determining your pricing structure. This document will serve as your blueprint for birthing your business and helping it grow in accordance with your vision. Your business plan doesn’t have to be long or exhaustive, but it should be clear and actionable.

Obtain an EIN and Business Account

Even if you operate a one-person photography business, you need to file for an employer identification number, or EIN, from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. If you decide to create a business bank account and apply for a business loan in the future, you will need your EIN. You will also need it to complete your business registration. Fortunately, the process is fast and free. 

Speaking of banking, it’s usually a good idea to keep your company and personal funds separate. Combining your personal and business money might jeopardize the legal safeguards afforded by creating an LLC. So, consider getting a business bank account to keep your business funds separate from your personal operating funds. 

Register Your Company

There are various business entity types, so consider what kind of entity is most advantageous for your business prior to registering your business. Many photographers set up shop as a sole proprietorship or a limited liability corporation (LLC). Each legal framework has its own set of advantages. The most common benefit of sole proprietorships is their flexibility. A sole proprietorship, however, does not shield you from personal liability. The business entity type you pick will have a significant influence on your business, from taxes to liability, so if you’re unsure which is right for you, speak with a business attorney or tax specialist.

Once you know how you’ll structure your business, registration can be typically done online via your state’s Department of Corporations. Alternately, online companies now offer streamlined assistance using online forms and consolidated fee payments.  

Obtain Necessary Permits, Licenses and Insurance

Different kinds of businesses may require different kinds of permits and licenses. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce if you’re unsure what permits or licenses you need for your photography business in your municipality. 

Business insurance is another essential to consider. There are various kinds of business insurance to consider, such as general liability insurance, commercial property insurance, and business income insurance. If you plan to have a helper or additional photographers, be sure to get a photographer workers’ comp insurance policy. This insurance type ensures that if an employee is hurt on the job, he has the financial resources necessary to recover while also protecting your company from costs related to lawsuits stemming from employee workplace injuries or illness. 

Describe Your Services Right

Many people feel lost when it comes to describing and pricing their photography services. Explain exactly what is offered, in terms of time, setting, props, and resulting product, for the pricing set. The length of each photographic project may have an impact on your cost. Also, consider your time after the photoshoot, including for processing, editing, publishing, and distributing your images, all of which take time and effort. Make sure to include these stages in your pricing so that you are not underpaid for your efforts, but also describe everything involved in creating the product your clients want, so they understand where their money is going. 

Get All The Necessary Equipment

Of course, in starting a photography business, you must be equipped with all the equipment you need. Cameras, lenses, lighting, batteries, lighting diffuser – name a few of the things you need in starting a photography business. You can rent these or buy your own if you have enough funds. You might also need some grip and electric tools for big photoshoots. You can rent some from an NYC Grip and Electric rental company and they can have it delivered to your location.

Be sure that you have all you need so that when the client comes in, the process will be smooth and any inconveniences will be prevented from happening.

Market Your Services

After you’ve established your photography business, the following step is to acquire clients so you can start making money. Referrals are the backbone of many businesses, including those in the photography industry. Positive word-of-mouth recommendations are the most successful kind of marketing. So, consider how you might get favorable references while establishing your photography company. Ask new clients to leave reviews of your work, and consider taking on select projects on a volunteer basis to build your portfolio and gain word-of-mouth referrals. 

Another excellent technique to expand your portfolio is by using social media. Instagram is a visual medium, and your amazing photo collage may spark a future business deal. Many couples use Facebook to find a good wedding photographer. Take advantage of your consumer base and be where they are to reach them digitally.

Keep Your Eye on the Prize

Photography is more than just a popular pastime; it can be a viable business that allows you to pursue your interest while also earning money. Starting a photography business requires the same commitment as starting any other business, but the payoff is well worth the effort. Remember, as with any business, patience, perseverance and innovation are critical to long-term success. 

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.