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How to Start a Photography Business

Advice for becoming a professional photographer and building a photography business plan

By Mark Fenwick

Do you ever wonder what is required to start a photography business? Perhaps it's an idea that really excites you, but you feel held back by nagging doubts and uncertainties.

"...What area of photography should I focus on? Will my images be good enough? How should I price my services? I'm not used to running a business! How do I market myself...?"

It's natural to feel intimdated by the prospect of turning a personal passion into a professional enterprise. But anyone with the right approach can make a big success of it!


The fundamentals of starting a photography business


In order to become an established professional photographer, you need to call upon three main strength areas:


start a photography business

Although there tends to be no shortage of talent and self-belief, what holds back many creative people is the lack of business skills. Some photographers bemoan the fact that they've been taking photographs for years but haven't sold many of their images.

Yet, these same people haven't done a great deal to market their work. A good percentage of photographers find that creativity and business don't easily mix.

Indeed, most creative people find the business of trying to sell
their work a frightening prospect. They have the creative talent but not the business acumen.

I'm sure that there are thousands of photographers who fade into obscurity with an amazing, yet sadly, undiscovered talent. Yet it needn't be the case!

In this media-rich internet age, there has never been a more important time to carefully define yourself as a professional photographer. In order to sell your photography and beat the competition, you need to ensure you take the following steps...


The Business of Photography, by Nick Stubbs

What could you learn from a successful pro of 25 years...?

He guides you through the whole process of starting a photography business in this down-to-earth, terrifically comprehensive book.


12 tips for how to start a photography business


  1. Focus on your strengths and passion. Build a solid portfolio of your best work. Consider what sets you aside and makes your images particularly striking or original.

  2. Have a professional-looking website. Make sure it is sleek, easy to navigate and shows the best of your work. Include a concise but informative bio and full contact details.

    It is best to view having a website as essential, rather than optional, if you want to start a photography business these days.

    A review of photography website templates from Squarespace

    A review of photography wesbite templates from Wix

    The ABC of how to start a website

  3. Have a well-designed, imaginative business card and letterhead. Remember, being able to sell is key to your success. You are selling yourself, your ideas and your photographic work.

    The best places to make photography business cards online.

  4. Quickly communicate to potential clients and customers what you do in ten words or less. Examples:

    I am a commercial photographer with over twenty years experience.

    I specialize in black and white fine art photography.

    I take colour lifestyle photos for magazines.

    I am a freelance photographer specialising in weddings and portraiture.

  5. Become known by lots of people for the work you do. If necessary have two different types of work to offer: One type popular, and one type for a more specialised market.

  6. Keep up-to-date with the latest technical and industry developments. Join a professional association. Take a course or workshop to learn new skills or improve your technique.

    Reviews of online courses in studio lighting, Photoshop, HDR processing and wedding photography

  7. Network! Market yourself as a pro photographer. Take the opportunity to speak about your work and become known for it. You need to plan a strategy for increasing your visibilty in as many ways as possible when you start a photography business.

    To network, use the Internet (social media sites such as Twitter, Google+, Facebook, in addition to blogging). Here's a guide to the basics of art marketing online.

    Exhibit your images. Attend business networking events. Connect with your target audience. Networking will help you build your business as a photographer.

  8. Experiment with your photography and creativity. Don't be afraid of making mistakes. Much is learned from those mistakes. You may even find a new style or way of working.

    Do not let the fact that you have decided to start a photography business stifle your passion for taking pictures and trying new things. On any given shoot, it's often worth getting the 'safe shots', and then having fun capturing the special, more original ones!

  9. Be business-like and professional in all your dealings. You may be a fantastic photographer but it won't amount to much unless you develop a keen sense of business and the right attitude to winning business.

  10. Charge a fair but high price for your work. Remember there are no laid down rules for prices. Sell yourself as a success.

  11. Although you're ultimately selling your images, your customers/clients will feel reassured if they are dealing with a photographer who provides the best possible service from start to finish. Ensure you deliver on every count.

  12. Finally, enjoy the work you do, and do the work you were born to do!

When you combine your talent with a professional, business-like approach, you set the stage for consistently gaining paying photography assignments and sales. So, do the work and believe in your success. Start a photography business today!start a photography business

For those of you who would like to read more advice and guidance on how to start a photography business, take a look at The Business of Photography, by Nick Stubbs.

(Clicking the link will take you to Nick Stubbs' website which features a full description of the book, as well as a Table of Contents, so you can decide if it's something you'd like to read)

Nick Stubbs has been a professional photographer for many years, and he shares his accumulated wisdom in this great little book. It is written in a down to earth style and packed with information that is useful in a practical sense. It can be purchased as an electronic download, so you can start reading it straight away!


Have Your Say and Share Your Photos

Have you decided to start a photography business? Perhaps you've been a pro for years? We'd love to hear your story! Share your trials and tribulations, and the reasons for your success.

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Building a solid photography business plan

Photography website templates reviewed

Make business cards online

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