How to start a photography business

How to start a photography business

Turning your hobby into a profitable business venture is a dream for many. Luckily, for those with a passion for photography, there’s an industry out there that provides a fantastic opportunity to go it alone and set up their own company.

Starting your own business will help you develop your photography skills and expand your creativity. But it also means you need to sharpen your business acumen in order to make your investment a success.

What you’ll need to start a photography business

Before you start your photography business, you’ll need to make sure your essential equipment, finances and admin are all in order. Here’s a checklist of what should be in place before you start work:

Camera equipment

It goes without saying that you’ll need quality equipment to establish your business. Any photography company worth its salt needs:

  • Professional cameras
  • Range of different lenses
  • Flash lights
  • Tripod stands

You’ll also have to think about what you’ll need for your studio space. Backdrops, studio lights and props are all crucial to reaching a professional standard. Finally, it’s a good idea to be prepared with backups, in case any of your equipment fails on the day of a shoot.

Editing software

Once you’ve taken your photographs, having the correct software to edit your images can help ensure a quality end-product for your customers. Search the market for the latest photo-editing programs and balance the cost of their purchase against what you can afford to pay as a startup company.

Remember, you’ll also need to invest in memory cards for your camera, and a hard drive to securely store all of your images.

Accounting

Bookkeeping and accountancy tasks are part and parcel of operating as a freelance photographer and can be quite intensive – especially with client deadlines to meet. Investing in your own online accounting software is one way to save time when invoicing and accessing financial reports. Some photographers choose to handle their own finances. Be aware, however, that this can be time consuming.

Another way to handle your financial admin is to hire an accountant to take care of your tax and VAT payments.

Office or studio space

Owning or renting a space for storing equipment is an essential for a photographer. It’s also handy if this is large enough to double as a makeshift studio. If you’re not in a financial position to rent your own space when you start your business, why not work from home? Converting a room in your home into an office space/studio is also another option that is often a much cheaper alternative than renting a new space.

Marketing, SEO & Social Media

To get your company off the ground and attract new clients, spreading the word about your services is crucial. One of the best ways to do this initially is using social media to advertise what you offer. It’s free to use and can be pivotal to drumming up new business. Using SEO to optimise your website will also help to promote your services and ensure your business appears in the search results.

Traditional marketing works too. For instance, you could produce flyers to hand out in the local community or distribute brochures at schools and wedding fairs to hit a range of different demographics who might be interested in your services.

Insurance

Accidents and mistakes happen in every business. It’s sensible business practice to protect yourself by insuring all your expensive equipment, in case of loss or theft, and you’re unable to work.

What kind of insurance does a photographer need?

There are two main types of insurance a photography business should consider taking:

  • Professional indemnity insurance – this is important to cover yourself against professional negligence, unintentional breaches of confidentiality, defamation and libel. This is different from taking out insurance to cover your equipment and covers you personally. 
  • Public liability insurance – this is especially important when you’re working on location or at a client’s premises. Cover protects you from any potential compensation claims, from slips or trips to fire or flood damage, which could have huge financial implications that heavily affect your business.

Branding your photography business

For some photographers, branding your business will be easy. For others, the design aspect may come as more of a challenge. Regardless, it’s important to establish your brand early on, so you can promote your business on websites, in brochures and on social media.

Deciding on a theme, logo and font style can be really helpful in the initial promotion stages. A good tip is to avoid mimicking any other big brands or other local business to ensure yours stands out from the crowd.

How much should I charge for photography?

Knowing how much to charge for your photography is one of the biggest hurdles photographers starting out have to overcome. Rather than deciding on a set price, it’s a good idea to consider how much of your time and effort will go into the shoot, before, during and afterwards.

Some projects will be bigger than others and require:

  • Meetings with the client prior to the shoot
  • Venue previews to assess the light, time on the day
  • Editing time afterwards

Other things to consider when setting a price for customer are:

  • Transport costs for getting to and from locations
  • How the client would like to receive the photographs
  • Timescales in which you’ll need to get photos edited or developed

Checking out the rates of similar photography businesses in your area is a good base to work from, to make sure your rates are comparable.

More information

Not only do you need to have a flair for photography, great people skills are also necessary for the role. Whether it’s trying to get the best out of wedding guests or having the patience to work with babies and children, you’ll need to impress your clients with your personality too, to attract new clients through word of mouth.

To find out more about starting a photography business, read our guide to photographers insurance.