How to Start a Photography Business

You have thought it over and feel you are ready to start a photography business. You know how to take great photos but what about the business side of being a professional photographer?

Upfront Expenses to Start a Photography Business


Your camera is your most important part of your gear. Without it you can not call yourself a photographer. There is a lot of thought and research that goes into picking your first camera. Brand, functions and features, and price are all things you need to carefully consider while deciding what camera is the best fit for you. B&H and Amazon are both excellent places to shop for professional cameras. You can also shop directly with Canon, and Nikon. The Canon Rebel T5i and Nikon D5300 are excellent entry level cameras to consider. Consider buying a used camera from a lens rental website like Borrow Lenses.


What type of photography you will be doing dictates what sort of lighting kit you will need. Will you be shooting in a studio? out doors? or maybe as a photojournalist with all natural lighting. There are many things that go into lighting that can make a huge impact on your final shot.

Even if you plan on shooting outdoors with plenty of available light you will most likely want to use bounce boards to reflect the available natural light, and filters to better control how your camera process the light.

Editing Software

Once you have all your shots will you be editing? Even photographers who shoot natural unstaged photos need photo editing software for touching up photos. Maybe you want to adjust the lighting, or need to remove a sign in the background that you didn’t notice while on the shoot. The industry standards are Aperture and Lightroom

Business License

Then there is the legal stuff. You need a business license when starting your photography business. You can register your business name yourself or use a company like to help you with all the paperwork.

Photography Business Cards

The great debate. Do you need business cards when first starting out? On one side you have the augment that you can’t operate a business without them. Come on how are you supposed to get clients if they have no way of reaching you?

On the other side of the fence you have the opinion that they are a distraction when first getting started. A way for you to play business, and should be avoided until you are making money and absolutely need them.

No matter which side you find yourself on there will come a time when you will need them. Plus they are cool to have and it is kind of uncomfortable telling people who ask for them you don’t have any. Read more about photography business cards.

Email Address & Website

Obviously your potential photography customers are going to need a way for people to find you and to contact you. Now a days this means a website and email address. There are plenty of options for both.

Photography Websites

  • Hire a developer – If you have the cash you can outsource this to a professional developer. But it will more than likely be expensive and your starting funds could possibly be more valuable in other areas of your new business. On the other hand it can save you time and you know what they say about time and money. Check out odesk for freelance developers and designers.
  • Learn to build one – If you have the time and interest then you can learn how to build websites and create your own. The upside to this is learning new skills, which is always helpful, and it is nice not having to rely on someone else every time you need something updated. On the down side learning to design and program a website from scratch can take years. If this is the way you go trehouse is a great place to start.
  • WordPress – WordPress is a godsend to those who want to do it themselves but don’t have the time to decipher the difference between php, html, and css. It is fairly straight forward to set up and even easier to maintain.
  • Squarespace – another affordable option is SquareSpace, they’re an easy way for you to build your own website.


When it comes to email you want to stay away from using services like Hotmail, Yahoo, or any of the obscure’s. They look like personal accounts and show a lack of internet savviness. I once read about a CEO who said he would not read emails from people using these types of email accounts. To him it showed a lack of seriousness. In short they will be a turn off to potential clients.

We recommend Gmail as the IMAP client for your email account. Read More or this article

Marketing a Photography Business


Don’t expect people to start knocking down your door just because you set up a website and had some fancy business cards made. You have to make the world take notice.

Start with your customer. Who are they?

Are you going to shoot wedding photos? Senior yearbook photos, be a freelance photographer for outdoor sportsmen magazines?

Once you know who your customer is answer the following questions. What is their pain point? How can you solve this problem for them? Why you? What do you offer that is better? Faster? Cheaper?

Once you have a good answer to these questions it is time to find potential customers and start selling.

Check out this article on “how to find your first customers”.

Simple Photography Contract

In a perfect world everyone would be on the same page and there would never be any misunderstandings. In the real world, get a contract. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy. Just get the term of your agreement in writing and have all parties involved sign it. Better safe than sorry. To get you started here are free photography contracts from Docracy.

Accounting Software for Photographers

You need to handle your financials or they will surely handle you. This is an area the expression “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Sooner or later you will need the services of an accountant. Check out our article on bookkeeping tasks.

Well that about does it for this article. Of course there is much more to starting a photography business than we had space to cover here. Make sure you do your research and always do your best work. Also never stop learning. The day you stop learning is the day your business starts dying.

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