Do you carry a camera with you everywhere you go?
Are you constantly taking photos for your Instagram feed?
Are you the go-to photographer for family gatherings?
If you enjoy taking photographs, you can turn your passion, talent, and hobby into a home-based photography business.
While you may be skilled at photography, before you dive in and begin charging for your services, conduct research and plan your business strategy for greater success.
Here’s a quick rundown of some advantages and disadvantages to think about as you consider starting your own photography business.
Here are the steps to get started if you’re ready to start getting paid to take pictures.
Photographers are required by businesses and individuals for a variety of reasons. Businesses require product images for brochures. Realtors require photographs of the homes they are selling. Magazines require photos that are relevant to the articles they publish. Alternatively, you can stick to non-business photography and photograph portraits or weddings.
The business plan outlines the specifics of your company, such as the services you provide, how you will differentiate yourself from the competition, financial projections, and marketing strategies. This is a good time to figure out your pricing strategy. For example, if you want to earn $50,000 per year and believe you can book 26 weddings per year, you’d have to charge nearly $2,000 per wedding. Pricing must account for the cost of equipment, supplies, and travel, as well as your time.
Sole proprietorship is the simplest and least expensive option. However, forming a limited liability company (LLC) will provide greater protection for your personal assets in the event of a legal problem.
The name you give your business will become the brand image, so choose a name that corresponds to the type of photography you want to do. You can have a whimsical name if you want to do child portraits, but if you want to do business photography or weddings, you’ll want something that sounds professional or elegant. If you do not use your given name in your business name, you will almost certainly be required to file a fictitious name statement with your county clerk’s office. You should also check with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to ensure that the name is not protected by trademark.
Once you’ve chosen a business name and established your business structure, you’ll need to obtain a business license or permit from your city or county. Although you can take photos with a digital camera, because you’ll be selling prints, you may need to collect sales tax if you live in a state that does. The necessary forms and information on how to collect and pay sales tax will be available from your state’s comptroller or tax office. You can open a business bank account once you have your business license.
If you enjoy photography as a hobby, you may already have a lot of the necessary equipment. You must, however, decide whether the quality is high enough to charge for services. You’ll also need lenses, flashes, batteries, photo editing software, high-quality photo paper, and packaging to deliver the photos to clients. You may also need lights and screens to control lighting.
Create a website in addition to business cards and brochures. Before posting your subjects’ photos online, get their permission. Create social media accounts on networks where your target market can be found. For example, if you photograph weddings, you should have a Pinterest page.
Marketing is the key to success in the photography business. You can’t take photos and get paid for them if no one hires you. Use your personal and professional networks, in addition to business cards, brochures, and a website, to spread the word about your company. Attend trade shows and events that are relevant to your market. Attend wedding shows, for example, if you want to do wedding photography. Attend dog shows if you want to take pet portraits.
Along with being paid to take professional photographs, you can also sell photographs that you have taken yourself (rather than those that have been paid to take). Many stock photo websites will buy or sell your photos.
Here are a few websites where you can sell your photos for stock images: