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Setting up a Photography Business

All you need to know about starting and running your business

Business guides » Setting up a Photography Business

What is a Photography Business?

A professional photographer is a person who takes photographs as a record of an event or as a way of telling a story. A photographer usually makes money by selling their photography services and displaying or selling their photographs.

A photographer uses their creativity, technical abilities, experience and training to capture the perfect photograph.

Photographers usually take photos of people, places, animals, events and objects. The type of photographer you are and the categorisation of your photography business are often based on the subjects of your photography.

There are many different types of photographers.

For example, you could set up:

  • A landscaping photography business.
  • A wedding photography business.
  • A fashion photography business.
  • A sports photography business.
  • An events photography business.
  • A photojournalism business (also known as news photographers).
  • A portrait photography business.
  • A documentary photography business.
  • An advertising and lifestyle photography business (also known as commercial photography).
  • An art photography business.
  • An aerial photography business.
  • A wildlife photography business.

 

Finding your specialist photography genre allows you to create a tailored portfolio, determine your target market and develop your skills and knowledge of your chosen genre. As certain types of photography have different equipment requirements, determining the genre you will specialise in is essential.

Although your duties and responsibilities will vary depending on the type of photography business you set up.

Some of the daily tasks you can expect to be responsible for when running your photography business are:

  • Meeting with the client to determine their expectations and desires.
  • Planning the shoot or session ahead of time, including visiting venues or locations.
  • Setting up the location and the photography equipment.
  • Taking photographs as per the client’s specifications.
  • Using different photography techniques to create the desired effect.
  • Editing, adjusting and retouching the photographs and using photo manipulation software.
  • Reviewing your content and selecting the best photographs.
  • Creating printed and digital photographs.
  • Operating a variety of photography equipment.
  • Delivering your content.
  • Making contacts.
  • Advertising and promoting your business.
  • Creating and maintaining a portfolio.
  • Maintaining equipment.
  • Completing business and administrative tasks.

 

If you are considering starting up a photography business, you will need to ensure you have the relevant experience and the necessary photography skills. You will need to be able to use a wide range of photography and lighting equipment efficiently and effectively.

Depending on the type of photography business you set up and your target clients, a formal photography qualification may be required or preferred.

You will also need artistic ability and creativity skills, an excellent eye for detail and good communication and listening skills. Business skills are also essential such as the ability to advertise and promote your business and handle the business accounts.

Types of Customers

Your typical clients or target audience will vary depending on the type of photography you do. For example, a wedding photographer would target engaged couples and wedding venues, whereas a photojournalism photographer is more likely to target newspapers, online news sites and social media.

However, even once you have determined the type of photography you are going to do and the typical customers this is likely to attract, you will still need to conduct further research to determine your typical customers within your chosen speciality and how you should target them.

Some factors you should consider include:

Your pricing:

This will be one of the key factors that will affect your customer base. Clients often have a specific budget in mind when choosing their photographer. There are budget, mid-range and high-end clients, who will have a different idea of the type of products they want and the money they are willing to spend.

Your location:

Some clients prefer to hire local photographers, meaning that your location can impact your clientele. Certain types of photography, such as wildlife or landscape photography, will likely require you to travel but other types of photography, such as portrait and events photography, will likely have you working in your local area.

Your branding, marketing and advertising:

Your business name, website and the aesthetic and design of your business will impact the types of customers you attract. How you opt to advertise and market your business can impact the potential customers you reach. For example, you could reach different customers by advertising on social media, partnering with other professionals and attending relevant events and conventions.

Your portfolio and experience:

Most clients consider many photographers and make their final decision based on the photographers’ portfolios, experience and reputations. They may look at your previous work, your reviews and how well known you are in your industry.

Your ideas and creativity:

When choosing a photographer, clients will often meet with different photographers and discuss the job and their ideas. The photographer will then provide their own input and ideas, based on the client’s requirements. Your ideas and creativity during this meeting may impact whether you are chosen for the job.

 

Once you have determined who your typical customer base is, you can begin to determine how to target them. You will need to gather information and insights into your clients. You can do this via multiple sources, including social media.

Camera
Photographer
Photographer portfolio

Equipment You Will Need

The type of equipment needed for your photography business can vary depending on the type of photography you specialise in.

Consult the list below to help you decide what equipment your business requires:

A camera

This is the first and most important piece of equipment you will need to purchase. There are countless options available, depending on the type of photography you will be doing and your budget. Cameras with higher quality parts, additional features and the highest specifications will be more expensive. Most photographers opt for a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera or a mirrorless camera. A DSLR or mirrorless camera designed specifically for professional photographers typically costs between £2,000 and £15,000.

A prime lens

Although cameras usually come with standard lenses, a prime lens is also recommended. This is a fixed focal length lens that has wider apertures. Although they don’t allow you to zoom in or out or change the angle, they provide sharper image quality and are better in low light, as they allow more light to pass through the lens. A prime lens can give you better quality images. Prices can range significantly from £150 to £14,000, depending on the optical quality, the quality of the components and the manufacturer.

A zoom lens

Zoom lenses allow you to change the angle and adjust the focal length without the photographer needing to change their angle. You can reframe the scene or zoom in or out quickly while staying in the same position. They allow you to travel lighter, perfect for photographing in different locations. Prices can range from £200 to £4,000, depending on the manufacturer, the quality and the specification.

A telephoto lens

These are great for wildlife, landscape, travel and sports photography. They are similar to a zoom lens but are much bigger and heavier. A telephoto lens is recommended for taking photos from much further away. Telephoto lenses typically cost between £2,000 and £3,000.

A wide-angle lens

As the name suggests, these have a much wider focal field. They allow you to photograph more of the scenery, while still ensuring the photos are high quality, detailed and vivid. This type of lens typically has a focal length of between 16mm and 35mm. Prices start at £300, rising to £3,000.

A tripod

A tripod is a necessity for many different types of photography. It prevents the camera from moving and offers you stability. If you photograph using long exposure, then the slow shutter speeds mean it can take several minutes to capture your shot. A tripod also allows your camera to let in more light making them great in low-light settings, when using filters or when photographing landscapes. Tripods typically cost between £100 and £300. Consider the strength, size, stability and portability when choosing a tripod.

An on-camera flash

Also known as a Speedlight flash, an on-camera flash can provide you with additional light to achieve a more balanced exposure or allow you to photograph in low-light conditions. They are battery powered and are small and light, making them highly portable. They can be used both on and off camera and provide you with professional lighting, regardless of the environment. Prices range from £150 to £1,500.

External hard drives

Hard drives are essential to ensure all your photographs are backed up. External hard drives offer you plenty of space to save your work, fast access to your work and a backup in case your computer fails. Prices can vary, depending on the size of the hard drive, but you can expect to spend between £50 and £250 per hard drive.

Memory cards for your camera

A camera comes with extremely limited storage and without a memory card, you won’t be able to take any photographs. Certain cameras require a particular type of memory card, so check your camera’s specifications before making a purchase. Opt for a memory card with a large amount of storage as you will likely take hundreds or thousands of photographs during every shoot.

Reflectors

This is an essential piece of equipment. It allows you to reflect light in certain directions to create the perfect angle and the best possible lighting. It can be used in both artificial and natural light. Reflectors come in different shapes and sizes.

They also come in different colours, with each colour having a specific function:

  • Silver: This reflects the most light while not changing the colour of the light. They are used indoors, particularly in studios, and are often used in portrait photography.
  • Gold: This is an outdoor reflector as it best reflects natural sunlight. If you use it indoors, it will add a yellow tone to the lighting.
  • White: This reflects less light and can be used both indoors and outdoors.
  • Black: This absorbs rather than reflects light. It can cast shadows on certain areas of the photograph or absorb lighting, for example, if there is too much light shining on the subject’s face.

 

You can purchase collapsible reflectors that are easily transportable. Reflectors typically cost between £20 and £100.

A softbox

This is a type of light modifier that confines artificial lighting. It then releases the lighting via a layer of diffusion material. As the light leaves the softbox, it scatters creating more even and softer light with fewer harsh shadows. It is great for portraits, fashion photography and product photography. Softboxes retail for as little as £20.

A Neutral Density (ND) filter

This type of filter helps to control the image exposure. It reduces the amount of light that enters the camera without changing the colour of the light. ND filters allow you to have more control over the depth of field and the shutter speed. Prices usually range from £30 to £200.

A polarising filter

Polarising filters are similar to ND filters. The main difference is that they selectively allow light waves of a particular polarisation into the camera. This allows you to take photos with more vivid colours and to manage the amount of glare and reflection from water surfaces. This type of filter is necessary for landscape and travel photography. Polarising filters are priced similarly to ND filters.

A camera bag

If you take your camera out of your studio or home, you will need a camera bag to allow you to transport your camera, the lenses and any other accessories safely. Camera bags typically come with different compartments and should close securely. You can expect to pay between £100 and £500 for a camera bag.

A camera case

A camera case is necessary if you are travelling long distances with your camera, particularly if you will travel by aeroplane or train. They are strong and robust and will keep your camera securely locked down to prevent any damage. You can also get a case that comes with a handle and wheels so that you don’t have to carry it. Prices typically range from £200 to £600, depending on the size of the case and the materials.

A camera cleaning kit

You can buy an already prepared camera cleaning kit or make your own.

As part of your kit, you will likely need:

  • A lens cleaning brush.
  • Lens cleaning solution.
  • Microfibre cleaning cloths.
  • A hand blower (for blowing off any dust).

 

Rechargeable camera batteries

One of the worst things that could happen in the middle of a shoot is your camera running out of battery. Sometimes shoots can go on for much longer than you anticipated, so it is always recommended to carry spare batteries. The price will vary depending on the type of batteries that your camera accepts.

A colour checker

This is a colour chart that allows you to properly calibrate colours. It allows you to adjust the colours in a photograph until it matches the colour you were intending. Depending on your camera, a colour checker is usually a piece of software or an application. You can use it while you are taking photographs by checking the colours, adjusting the white balance and taking advantage of your light sources. A colour checker can cost less than £100.

Other equipment requirements:

  • A website.
  • Photo editing software.
  • A computer or laptop.
  • A large monitor that allows you to view photographs in sharper more focused quality.
  • Specialist photography printers.
  • Specialist printer ink.
  • Specialist photography paper.
  • Frames and/or photo books.
  • An online portfolio.
  • A physical portfolio.
  • Business cards.
  • An online payment platform.

 

If you operate out of a photography studio, some additional equipment you may require includes:

  • Studio lighting, including lights, light stands and light modifiers.
  • Backdrops and backdrop holders.
  • A variety of photography props.
  • A fully stocked first aid kit.
  • Cleaning materials and equipment.
  • A CCTV system.
Landscape photographer

Typical Pricing

Being aware of the typical costs associated with setting up and running a photography business can help you to better plan your business’s finances, estimate your monthly and annual costs and determine how much initial investment your business requires. It can also help you to calculate your profit forecasts.

Although different photography businesses have different typical costs depending on the type of photography they do.

Some of the typical costs you can expect are listed below:

Equipment

Your photography equipment is an essential part of your business. The higher the quality of your equipment, the better your photographs will be. Unfortunately, higher quality equipment is also more expensive. You can expect to spend between £5,000 and £50,000 on equipment.

A studio

If your photography business requires you to operate out of a studio, this will likely be your biggest expenditure. You will likely rent your studio on a monthly or annual basis. Rental prices will vary significantly, with city-centre locations typically having the highest prices. Prices will also vary depending on the size of the studio. Rental costs are often calculated per square metre. They can range significantly, from £500 to £15,000 per square metre annually.

Renovation and refurbishment

You will likely need to renovate or refurbish your premises to fit your business aesthetic and ensure your studio is fit for purpose. Your studio should be attractive to your customers, have appropriate lighting and photography areas and look professional. Renovation costs can vary, depending on the level and scale of work required.

Maintaining, repairing and replacing equipment

Repairs, maintenance and replacements are ongoing costs you will need to factor into your budget. Correctly cleaning and maintaining equipment and ensuring it is used correctly can extend its life, but repairs and replacements are still inevitable. Without your equipment, you will not be able to run your business. You will also need to update your equipment to keep up to date with new technology and software.

Replenishing stock

You will need to regularly order stock such as photography printer ink, photo paper and frames. You will also need to replenish your camera and studio cleaning materials regularly. You will likely need to make monthly orders to replenish your equipment.

Branding

Branding can help you to establish your photography business’s identity and help your business to stand out from any local competition. Branding could include creating your business’s visual identity, a logo, your business name, your business website and the design and aesthetic of your brand. Branding could also include designing your portfolio. You can hire a professional to help you with branding or do some of the work yourself. Branding can cost between £500 and £10,000, depending on the amount of branding you require.

Advertising and marketing

Advertising and marketing are essential ways to attract clients and grow your business. It is recommended that you spend between 1% and 3% of your annual turnover on marketing. For example, if your annual turnover is £80,000, it is recommended you spend between £800 and £2,400 per year on marketing. You may need to invest more money in advertising and marketing when you first set up your business, in order to ensure your business is well-known and potential clients are aware of you.

Overhead costs

Your overhead costs are the day-to-day costs associated with running your business. If you run a studio, your overhead costs could include electricity, water, gas and council tax. These costs are usually paid monthly, quarterly or annually.

Travel costs

Some of your travel expenses will be covered by the client or included in your pricing, whereas others will need to be funded by you. You may use a vehicle as your primary mode of transport, meaning you will need to factor in the cost of buying the vehicle and running costs including petrol, insurance, MOTs and services. Depending on the locations you shoot at, you may be required to fly or take the train. Consider this additional cost when considering jobs located further away.

Business insurance

There are several different types of insurance required by a photography business. The costs can vary, depending on your insurance provider, the type of insurance you purchase and your coverage levels.

Some business insurance you may opt for includes:

  • Equipment Insurance.
  • Public Liability Insurance.
  • Professional Indemnity Insurance.
  • Personal Accident Insurance.
  • Contents Insurance.
  • Employers’ Liability Insurance.

 

Once you have determined the typical costs associated with setting up and running your photography business, you can then determine your pricing strategy.

Your pricing will be based on several factors:

  • The type of photography you do.
  • Your qualifications and experience.
  • Your portfolio.
  • Your reputation.
  • Your location and/or the locations you are willing to travel to.
  • The amount of time that is required (including planning the shoot and editing).
  • The number of shots and/or photographs that are required.

 

You can choose to charge per hour, per day or per job. Typically, photographers charge between £100 and £800 per day, with additional costs for printed or digital photographs.

Safely Running a Photography Business

Safe practices are essential when running a photography business. Implementing safety procedures can help to protect you, your business and your clients.

Some ways you can safely run your photography business are:

Be aware of your legal rights regarding the copyright of your photographs

Under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (1988), any photographs you take are protected by copyright. This means that any person who wishes to use your photographs will need to seek your permission. Copyright lasts for your lifetime plus 70 years from the end of the calendar year of your death. To reduce the likelihood of your photographs being used illegally, you can use a copyright notice identifying your ownership and the year the photograph was taken.

Properly maintain and set up equipment

Ensuring equipment is properly maintained, correctly set up and stable and safe to use can help to protect your subjects from accidents or injuries. This is particularly important when using electrical equipment or heavy equipment, such as portable lighting. You should also perform regular equipment inspections to ensure your equipment’s safety and help to extend the lifespan of your equipment.

Be aware when using reflectors

If used incorrectly, reflectors can reflect bright light into your clients’ eyes. This can cause pain, discomfort and even temporary blindness. Be extremely careful of the angles of the light and where the light is reflecting at all times.

Carry out risk assessments

Although risk assessments are only a legal requirement for businesses with more than five employees, they can help to ensure the safety of you and your clients. Risk assessments can help you to identify any potential hazards and risks in your business and how these can be reduced or eliminated.

As part of your risk assessment, you should:

  • Identify hazards.
  • Determine who could be at risk.
  • Evaluate any potential risks.
  • Implement relevant safety measures.
  • Record the results of the risk assessment.
  • Review the risk assessment regularly.
Photography studio
Woman setting up new business

Implement security measures

Your photography equipment is very expensive and ensuring it is protected from theft is important. When travelling to other locations with your equipment, ensure it stays close to you at all times and is locked securely away when it is not being used. If you have a studio, implementing security measures such as a CCTV system and secure locks can help to protect you from potential break-ins.

Undergo first aid training

In the event of an accident or injury, first aid training will allow you to correctly administer the necessary first aid and reduce the seriousness of the injury. In serious circumstances, first aid can also be life-saving.

Obtain a criminal record check

If you photograph children or vulnerable adults, applying for a criminal record check can assure your clients of your suitability to work with vulnerable people.

The type of check you require depends on the country you live in:

  • England: Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
  • Wales: Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
  • Scotland: Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme.
  • Northern Ireland: AccessNI.

Legal Requirements

Being aware of all legal regulations and guidelines is essential.

There are several legal requirements you will need to comply with when setting up and running your photography business, including:

Comply with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act (DPA)

You must comply with both pieces of legislation when storing or sharing personal information, such as your customers’ contact details. You must also apply for a Notification to Process Personal Data Licence. If you use a CCTV system or process personal information such as your customers’ accounts and records, you will need to apply for a licence with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and renew your registration every year.

Apply for a music licence

If you play music in your studio, you will need to apply for a Licence to Play Background Music from the PPL PRS and pay an annual fee.

Be aware of copyright infringement laws

If you copy or use another artist or photographer’s design or images, you could be infringing on copyright laws. Ensure you do not knowingly copy anyone’s work and only use your own photographs on your website and in your portfolio. Consult the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) for more information or guidance.

Comply with child protection laws

You must ensure that you do not take or possess any indecent images of children below 16 years of age. If you are a portrait or event photographer who offers services such as newborn photo shoots or children’s portraits, ensure the photos you take fully comply with the law, regardless of parent requests.

Dispose of waste appropriately

Some of your business’s waste, such as specific inks and developing chemicals, will be classed as hazardous waste. This waste must be disposed of by a registered, authorised waste carrier. Contact your local environmental health department for more details.

Comply with the Electricity at Work Regulations (1989)

The Electricity at Work Regulations state that any workplace that uses electricals must construct electrical systems in a way that prevents danger. They must also maintain electrical systems to ensure they are safe, ensure electrical equipment is checked by a competent person annually and conduct Portable Appliance Tests (PAT). Electrical items could include your lighting system.

Comply with the Manual Handling Operations Regulations (1992)

Manual handling regulations can help to protect you from sustaining an injury or illness as a result of manual handling tasks. The regulations apply to the lifting or moving of any objects, bending down and reaching high and repetitive movements.

Comply with the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 2013

RIDDOR states that you must report all injuries, diseases and dangerous events that occur when your business is operating. Reports must be made to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) using an appropriate recording document.

Implement health and safety policies and fire safety procedures

All businesses should have health and safety policies that help to manage health and safety in your business. They protect the health and safety of you, your customers and your business. You are also responsible for fire safety on your premises (if relevant), which could include conducting fire risk assessments and implementing fire safety measures and emergency procedures. When operating in other locations or venues, be aware of any emergency procedures you may need to follow.

Register your business

You must register your business with HMRC before you begin operating. You can register as a sole trader or as a limited company. You will need to register your business name and any other relevant information.

Register for self-assessment tax

This allows you to calculate and pay your own taxes each year. You will need to track your finances every month and submit any expenses as part of your tax assessment.

Professional wildlife photographer travelling

Positives of Owning a Photography Business

Owning a photography business can be rewarding in many ways.

Some of the main pros associated with this type of business are:

You can be creative

If you consider yourself to be an artistic or creative person, then photography can be a great outlet for your creativity. You can come up with new creative and imaginative ideas and take photos of beautiful things and landscapes.

You can choose your speciality

You can choose to specialise in what you love or what will be the most lucrative. You could even choose not to focus initially and take photos in a variety of genres before choosing your niche.

Opportunities for travel

Regardless of the genre of photography you specialise in, photography can take you all over the world. Whether that’s taking photos of wild animals in Africa, fashion models in New York, football matches in Spain or landscapes in South America, your opportunities for travel are endless.

Make industry connections

You can make connections with venues, make-up artists, stylists, set designers and experts in your chosen genre. This will give you the opportunity to network and grow your business and create professional and personal relationships with people with similar interests to you.

Get paid to do what you love

Many people are hobby photographers who only dream about taking photos full time. You can do something you love on a daily basis, while still earning a great income.

Freedom and flexibility

You can choose how little or often you work, the jobs you accept, the amount of travel you do and how much time off you want. As the business owner, you will have complete control of your schedule.

Rewarding work

Seeing people’s reactions to your photographs can be extremely rewarding. You can capture the most important moments in people’s lives or capture inspiring or important images for the world to see. Seeing the reactions to your work can be extremely rewarding.

It can be lucrative

Photography can be an extremely financially rewarding career. You can sell your services as a photographer and sell your photographs. The more experienced you are and the better your portfolio is the higher prices you can charge. A photography business can result in big profit margins.

Choose your work

You can choose the type of photography you want to do, the clients you work with and the jobs you take on. You will have complete control over your photography, which can be very empowering.

Be part of a great community

The photography community can be a great community to be part of. You will likely create connections with other photographers, studios and artists. People within the photography community frequently inspire each other and share advice and experience on new equipment and photography styles.

Design your dream business

Regardless of what style of photography you do and the type of photography business you choose to open, you can design your perfect business. You can choose your equipment, how far you want to travel and your typical customers.

You can offer a personalised customer experience

You can offer customer consultations where you discuss what your customer wants and offer advice and insight. Your customer will receive a personalised experience, meaning they are more likely to be more satisfied with your service. It will also make your job much easier.

Constant opportunities for growth

The opportunities for learning and professional growth are constant. You can always be learning new skills and techniques and learning how to use new equipment. This allows your photography to be fluid and grow and change.

Gain exposure

You can gain exposure, grow your business and attract more customers easily as a photographer. You can post your photos online, attend photography exhibitions and even display your photography in galleries. This will enable you to gain exposure.

Photographer doing free work for friends

Negatives of Owning a Photography Business

However, there are some negative aspects of owning a photography business that you should be aware of:

Expectations of free work

Some of your friends and family may try to take advantage of your skills by expecting you to take free photographs of their events. Many people don’t realise the time that goes into photography, as well as the cost of your equipment, and won’t understand why you don’t want to offer free work.

Unrealistic expectations

Some of your clients may have unrealistic expectations of what they expect from you. This could include an unrealistic timeframe, unrealistic editing expectations and unrealistic pricing. This can tarnish your relationship with your clients and result in negative reviews.

Equipment can be expensive

Good equipment is a necessity and, unfortunately, the more expensive equipment usually results in the best photographs. Investing in all the equipment your photography business will need can be expensive and require a high initial investment. This makes your business higher risk and will mean it takes longer for you to begin turning a profit.

It can be lonely

Photographers usually work alone. Although you will meet with your clients, you will spend a lot of time operating alone, meaning that photography can be a lonely profession.

You’ll need to build a reputation

Before you can begin making good money, you will need to build your reputation, grow your portfolio and make a name for yourself. You may have to accept low paying jobs initially before you can begin making good money.

Your income isn’t guaranteed

As a photographer, you won’t have a fixed income. There may be times when you struggle financially or are out of work. Photography is an industry that is usually heavily affected by recessions and periods of financial difficulty, which can have a detrimental impact on your income.

It can be stressful

As the business owner, you will have a lot of responsibilities. You will also be solely responsible for making your business a success, which can be a lot of pressure. Factor in the stress of taking and editing the perfect photographs and making your clients happy and this can make photography a stressful career choice.

No job security

Your clients can cancel your jobs without much notice, or you may begin to lose bookings. There may also be certain times of the year when you receive less business, which can affect your profits.

Clients may withhold payment

If a client is not completely satisfied with your work, they may withhold payment. This can be frustrating because of the time you will have spent on the job, and you may feel disheartened that they are not happy with your work. Claiming the money back through the courts can also be stressful and time-consuming.

Work-life balance

Many photographers work evenings and weekends, and your job may also take you away from home. This can make it difficult to have a healthy work-life balance and you may find yourself missing out on social events.

Physical strain

Many people do not consider photography as a physically difficult career. However, during shoots, you’ll be on your feet for hours, bending down and holding heavy equipment for prolonged periods. You may also feel eye strain from the amount of time spent staring at a computer screen when editing your photos.

High time commitment

Every job you accept will require a large time commitment. From meeting with clients and setting up the shoot, to editing, retouching and adjusting, you will need to spend a lot of time on every client.

Planning Your Photography Business

If you are considering starting up a photography business, an effective and well-designed business plan is essential. A business plan can help you to focus on the specific steps that will help your business succeed and grow. It can also help you to plan your short-term and long-term business goals and create your financial forecasts.

When creating your business plan, ensure it contains information such as:

  • Your company information.
  • Your company description.
  • The services you will provide.
  • Your branding, marketing and advertising plan.
  • The structure of your business.
  • The operational plan for your business.
  • The financial plan for your business.

 

Some of the factors you need to consider when creating your photography business plan include:

What type of photography business will you run?

As we have already looked at, there are many different types of photography. The most successful photography businesses usually focus on a specific niche, such as wedding photography, fashion photography or photojournalism. This allows you to create a clear brand and build up a reputation. Consider your interests and your experience when determining the type of photography you will offer.

Who is your target market?

Several factors will influence your target market including your photography speciality, your pricing, your reputation and your location. Once you have determined your target market, consider how you can best access them and appeal to them.

How will you attract potential clients?

Your marketing and advertising strategies will vary depending on the type of photography business you set up. You could receive some clients through word of mouth recommendations, but you will also need an effective advertising plan. You could promote through social media, partner with other professionals in your industry and attend photography events or events relevant to your chosen niche (for example, wedding fairs).

What will you include in your portfolio?

Your portfolio will be one of your most successful forms of advertisement. You can have an online portfolio, usually on your website, and a physical portfolio that prospective clients can look at. Ensure your portfolio has a good selection of images in your chosen photography niche, is presented well, looks professional and is aesthetically pleasing. If you don’t have a large collection of photographs to include, you will need to work on this before operating your business.

What are your equipment requirements?

Consult the list above to determine your equipment requirements. The equipment you require will depend on the type of photography you specialise in and whether you require a studio. Once you have determined your equipment requirements, you can then calculate the initial costs of purchasing the equipment and the monthly replenishment costs.

What are your initial set-up costs and running costs?

You need to determine your approximate start-up costs and running costs to enable you to calculate your initial investment, determine how you will fund this investment and what your monthly or annual costs will be. Creating a budget is a key part of your business plan. It can also help you to determine whether you can finance the business yourself or whether you require outside investment or a business loan. Consult the list above to help you calculate the approximate costs associated with setting up and running your business.

What is your pricing strategy?

Once you have calculated your approximate costs, you can then determine your pricing strategy. You will need to decide whether to charge by the hour, by the day or per job. Your pricing will depend on multiple factors, such as your location, portfolio, experience and reputation.

What are your sales forecasts?

You will need to determine how many clients you can feasibly take on each month and what your weekly, monthly and annual sales forecasts will be. As your business grows, your sales forecast will change. Consider the time it will take you to prepare for each job and to edit the photos after the shoot.

How will you grow your client base?

An important consideration when planning your business is your strategy for growth. Creating a strategy for growth can help you to plan ahead and make it more likely that your business will succeed.

What local competition do you have?

You should consider other photography businesses that operate in your local area or in your chosen speciality. Analysing your local competition can be beneficial as it allows you to look at what your competitors do well and what you think they could improve.

What are your business objectives?

Determining your business objectives is an essential component when creating your business plan. Your business objectives highlight the targets and goals of your photography business and help you to create a one-year, three-year and five-year business plan.

Your business objectives should be SMART:

  • S = Specific
  • M = Measurable
  • A = Achievable
  • R = Realistic
  • T = Time-bound

 

Have you complied with all legal requirements?

Consult the list above and ensure you have complied with all legal requirements before opening your photography business. Failure to comply with the legal requirements could negatively affect your business and your profits.

 

 

Download our business plan

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