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Ditch the Office: Building a Thriving Photography Business

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starting a photography business

Many of us dream of making a living by pursuing our true passions. However, this often requires a significant amount of hard work and dedication.

While most individuals select a career based on financial stability and abilities, others turn their hobbies into successful businesses. The beauty is that you can decide what path to take, and transforming something you love into a career is gratifying!

Choose a Genre

Most business mentors will say you need a business plan before you start a business. However, how do you know you can make a business from what you want to do?

Start the process by doing research. If you want to earn money from taking photos – it’s a stricter gig now. Smartphones have cameras, and catching the perfect photo can give the photographer instant fame. However, to be defined as a professional photographer, you need to stand out among your peers. But how can you set yourself apart in the sea of photographers?

Here is a list of popular photography genres.

  • Portrait Photography: Focused on capturing the personality, expression, and mood of individuals or groups
  • Landscape Photography: Showcasing scenic views of natural environments, often emphasizing the beauty of the outdoors
  • Street Photography: Candid shots of people and life in public spaces, reflecting the essence of everyday life
  • Macro Photography: Extreme close-up shots revealing intricate details of small subjects like insects, flowers, or objects
  • Architectural Photography: Highlighting buildings, structures, and urban landscapes with an emphasis on design and composition
  • Fashion Photography: Featuring clothing, accessories, and models to showcase fashion trends and styles
  • Wildlife Photography: Capturing animals in their natural habitats, often requiring patience and specialized equipment
  • Event Photography: Documenting special occasions, such as weddings, parties, and corporate events
  • Product Photography: Showcasing products in a way that highlights their features and encourages consumer interest
  • Sports Photography: Capturing dynamic moments in sports events, showcasing athletes in action
  • Astrophotography: Photographing celestial objects, such as stars, planets, and galaxies
  • Documentary Photography: Telling a story or documenting real-life events and social issues through images
  • Food Photography: Showcasing food in an appealing and appetizing way, often used in advertising and culinary publications
  • Travel Photography: Capturing the essence of different cultures, landscapes, and landmarks from around the world
  • Abstract Photography: Emphasizing shapes, colors, and patterns to create images that are not necessarily tied to a specific subject

Rather than trying to do it all, focus on a specific niche. By specializing in a particular genre of photography, you can truly shine and become a highly sought-after artist.

Choose your passion and dive deep into it, whether it’s landscapes, food, portraits, or something else. Many famous photographers are doing what they love, including Annie Leibovitz and Steve McCurry (remember the Afghan girl?).

Hone your skills in that area and strive to be the best, undoubtedly attracting more clients and opportunities.

Create a Business Plan

When you know there is a market for your photography, create a business plan.

The basics of a business plan include your goals, offering, how you plan to fund the start-up, and your sales and marketing plan.

Setting long-term and short-term objectives and determining what to focus on is essential. Don’t hesitate to write all of this down, as it’ll help you stay disciplined and make it easier to recognize any possible pitfalls in your plan.

Furthermore, if you plan to investors, it’s always good to present them with a written business plan. They’ll want to learn about your vision and the strategies you’ll follow to conquer the world of photography. To entice them, you must prove you have a market for your service and invested some money into your business.

Business Name and Structure

Try to come up with a name that will best reflect the genre of photography you want to do. Go for something that’s memorable and that people will easily recognize you by. Make sure to check if the name is trademarked, though, to avoid possible legal issues.

One of the things you need to decide on is the legal structure of your business. There are several types to select from, such as the sole proprietorship, the limited liability company (LLC), etc. Choose wisely, as this further determines how your company will be taxed and how it will operate. Furthermore, you’ll need to obtain business licenses and permits, so consider getting legal guidance through this process to make the best possible decisions.

Create a Portfolio

To secure more work, don’t forget to build a compelling portfolio! Showcase your photography skillset, achievements, and the projects you’ve worked on. If you’re not experienced and haven’t had many clients before, reach out to your friends and family to shoot portraits of them in the environs they enjoy, like being at the beach or in their garden.

Alternatively, take photos of still life or nature. You want to take as many pics as possible to gain confidence in your camera and equipment. Plus, a portfolio will accentuate what you’re best at and help you demonstrate to others that you’re fully qualified for the campaign.

If you build your website using WordPress, you’ll find many themes in the Qode Interactive market. You can use them to showcase what you’re best at and effortlessly make a photography website to help you stand out.

Set a Pricing Strategy

Before you kick things off, deciding how much you’ll charge for your services is essential. It’d be helpful to analyze the market, i.e., your competitors and potential customers, and determine the right price for your business.

Consider all the time you’ll spend shooting and editing your photos. Also, ensure the price with achievable sales will cover your business overheads and provide profit.

Be wary of pricing your services too low; it may attract the customers that take up your time for little reward.

Find the optimal price range and stick to it!  You can always run promotions to get an uptick in sales.

Invest in Your Gear

Photography equipment is expensive, and that’s why it’s essential to decide what you really need when starting your business.  Is it just your smartphone?  Or do you need a medium-format camera?

There’s no need to immediately go overboard and get every size of camera, lens, or gadget available. However, invest in high-quality lenses, as that will improve the quality of your photos. Make sure to get enough memory cards, and bring higher-capacity ones.

Also, if you’re into studio, sports, or nature photography, don’t forget to get yourself a tripod. This extra kit is helpful in all sorts of situations, such as shooting in low light or windy weather, for long exposure photography, etc.

Market Your Services

Marketing will be where you invest your time. Use social media to reach your target audience. Regularly post content that engages your followers. Having your own website and picking the theme for your photography business is also a good idea.

Also, blog about cameras, taking photos, and your subjects. For example, how to take pictures of dogs playing.

When you’re genuinely thrilled about your work, that also reflects how you communicate with your audience. How to edit images to create varying moods.

Ask your customers to provide a review on Google reviews. If they’re happy with the photographs you took and the professional relationship you’ve established, they’ll likely recommend you to others. And there’s no better way to grow your business than through word of mouth.

To Wrap Thing Up

Turning yourself from a shutterbug to an earner takes a lot of commitment and obstinacy to keep going. It may take some time to get your fledgling business up and running, and you may struggle with income initially but build your reputation slowly.

Connect with various organizations, offer free services to charities, sell your pictures online… The most important (often most challenging) step is putting yourself out there!

Don’t be afraid to contact other professional photographers who could share helpful advice. Hone your style and be self-disciplined. Building a thriving home-based photography business is not easy, but it’ll finally enable you to live your dream!