Finances & Business

How to Start a Photography Business in 45 Days or Less

How to Start a Photography Business in 45 Days or Less

Starting a photography business is a great way to work from home. Startup costs are fairly low, and you can become a professional photographer in 45 days or less! You love taking pictures, so why not make money for it? If you’re that person who get compliments on your photos all the time, go ahead and take the leap. I’ll show you how you can start a photography business in 45 days or less.

start a photography business

8 Steps to Start Your Own Photography Business

*This post contains affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission if you make any purchases through my links, at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products that I absolutely love. Thanks for your support!

Sure, you could just start charging your friends and family for photo shoots, and getting random referrals from people you know. But why stop there? Why not have a thriving photography business that can pay your bills, so you can move from hobby to profession? Here are 8 steps to get you started on the road to photography business success.

 

1) Research Your Market

This is one of the most important steps. If you don’t have a solid foundation, you won’t know where to start. Research other photographers in area that are within your niche. Find out what services they offer, how they deliver, and what their prices are. This will help you write your business plan.

For instance, if you want to do wedding photography, a lot more is involved. You may need a second photographer, more equipment, multiple shoots (such as an included engagement session), and extra hands. If you plan to do family photography, you probably only need an assistant and some basic gear to start.

 

2) Write a Business Plan

This is where the fun starts. You’ve done your research, and you now have a general idea of how you want to operate. It’s time to write your plan down on paper (or type it up). You need to address things such as:

  • Who am I/what is my business?
  • Who are my clients?
  • What will I offer them?
  • Why do they want it?
  • How will I deliver it?

You also need to include the financial and legal aspects of your business:

  • What will your structure be? (LLC, Partnership, S Corp?)
  • How will you handle client payments?
  • What will your startup costs be?
  • How will you finance your business expenses?
  • How will you protect yourself and your clients? (Compose a contract!)

 

3) Set up Your Business

Eek! Are you excited?! You are about to be official! Each state has its own set of laws surrounding small businesses, so make sure you find out the particulars. Generally, here’s what you do:

  • Choose a name (make sure it’s not already taken in your state)
  • Create a logo (you can have a professional do this, or wing it for free by using PicMonkey)
  • Form an LLC (or parnership, or S Corp…)
  • Apply for an EIN
  • Open a business banking account
  • Obtain a vendor’s license (if you plan to sell products, not just services)
  • Get insurance (not a must in most states, unless you are hiring employees)
  • Check your state’s laws for other steps (such as filing for unemployment compensation tax if you are hiring employees)
  • Compose a contract and model release form
  • Set up a price list

Check out my post The Cost to Start a Photography Business for more tips on getting started!

start a photography business

 

4) Purchase Your Gear

Many ascribing photographers already have some basic gear. If that’s you, don’t worry about upgrading before you start. You can get by with a basic DSLR camera like this one for less than $500, with lenses included. These aren’t the highest quality lenses, but they can certainly take great photos.

Upgrading to a 50 mm lens with an f-stop of 1.8 is a great investment. Check out this lens that retails for $125 and is perfect for getting amazing, crisp photos with a lovely boca (blurred background) like this:

 

 

Reflectors come in handy, allowing you to photograph people and scenery in most light settings. You can get a pack of 5 different reflectors for less than $20 HERE.

Depending on the type of photography you are doing, you may want to invest in some appropriate props, but they are not essential for beginners. If this post gets a few comments, I will expand on props and background ideas in future posts. 😉 

Updated: Check out my other post for some great prop ideas!

 

5) Create a Portfolio

Don’t worry – you can create a basic portfolio fairly quickly. Recruit your friends and family and offer them free shoots in return for using their photos in your portfolio. If you are doing landscape or scenery, you don’t have to recruit anyone; just get out there are practice, and then put together your best shots. If you are doing some type of corporate or event photography, use the same basic principal: offer free (or greatly discounted) shoots for organizations in your area.

In any case, make sure they sign the model release form.

Start a photography business

 

6) Start a Blog/Business Website

A website is pretty much essential to a small business’s growth and reputation these days. Clients need to be able to research your company to find reviews and other helpful information. It’s not as hard (or as expensive) as you might think. Let me break it down for you:

  • Set up web hosting for $3.95/month with SiteGround, and get a domain name, all for 60% off the regular price, using my special link!
  • Choose a professional theme (there are plenty of free ones that look great)
  • Compose an About page, describing yourself, your business, and what you can do for your clients
  • Upload your logo and portfolio

Your website should include a blog, which is where you will include updates and chat about your business with the world. If you need more tips, check out my step by step tutorial on starting a website for your business.

These AMAZING resources also offer simple instructions, along with lots of other helpful info on starting blogs and websites:

Blog By Number by Suzi Whitford

Building a Framework by Abby Lawson

 

7) Market Yourself and Get Clients

Marketing comes in many forms. Some of the best ways to market your services as a beginner are:

  • A Website/blog
  • Facebook account
  • Pinterest Account
  • Google + page
  • Google Business page.
  • WORD OF MOUTH (I can’t emphasize this one enough!)
  • Business cards

Leave a comment below and let me know if you want more marketing tips (in detail!) for your photography business!

 

8) Keep Them Coming

Once you start getting your first clients, you’re really in business! Make sure you deliver exactly what you promised, and provide the best quality of service. Keeping your clients happy will keep them coming. Here are some other ways to get your clients to come back for more:

  • Offer mini sessions
    • These are short sessions (about 1/3 of a regular shoot time) that you offer at a discounted price, and try to fill up a day’s schedule with. You deliver a smaller number of great quality photos, which makes your customers want to come back for a full shoot. 
  • Offer packages or timelines
    • Depending on the type of photography you’re in, you can offer a series of photo shoots over a period of time:
      • Wedding photographers can offer an engagement and wedding package.
      • Maternity photographers can do monthly mini belly shoots, or milestones throughout the pregnancy. They could also provide a newborn session to create a larger (and more expensive) package.
      • Newborn or family photographers could offer a baby timeline that includes milestones: newborn, 3 months (holding head up), 6-9 months (sitting up), and 9-12 months (standing up).

 

Get Started in 45 Days or Less

It sounds like a lot of work, but you can get it done in 45 days (or less) by using Monica Froese’s eBook, with step by step instructions. Busy Moms Building can be used by men and women alike, but was originally designed to help busy moms (hence the name!) start a home-based business in 45 days. She offers a 12 step plan in her eBook, and you can follow her 45 day blueprint.

The eBook alone is less than $30, and you can upgrade to include a workbook, video tutorials, and more for less than $60 in her additional packages. If you need some more guidance than I’ve offered here, I would highly recommend getting her book and going through the 12 steps, so you can be up and running in 6 weeks. 

Let me know what specific things you found helpful in this post, and what you would like to see more detail on. And don’t forget to subscribe to receive more great tips on photography and working from home.

If this excites you, take a peek at this other post about starting a photography business

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26 thoughts on “How to Start a Photography Business in 45 Days or Less

  1. Great article! Concise and practical. Very helpful. I would love to hear more of your ideas about props to start out with as well as more marketing details. Thanks!

    1. Hi Shanna! What type of photography are you interested in? I’ll be adding some posts over the next few weeks addressing props, backgrounds, and marketing strategies. If you let me know your photography niche interest, I can make sure to touch on that one specifically.

  2. Hi there!

    I am looking for ways to promote myself and stand out in a very busy/flooded photographer area. I just moved for my full time nursing job and want take my photography business to a new level here. I am pondering the idea of a groupon add, but found out they take 50%, which is a lot on an already discounted price. Any and all suggestions are great! 🙂

    1. Hi Dee! I haven’t heard a lot of positive feedback on Groupon ads from other photographers, and 50% is hefty! Have you tried doing a referral program with your current clients? Offering a discount on future sessions is a great way to get your current clients to bring you new ones. Also, you could try advertising at the hospital where you work; there should be some place where you can leave business cards or small flyers for parents to see. (I checked out your website and saw that you are working in a NY NICU…awesome!) Try advertising to your specific clients. You could make several different small flyers, geared towards different clients. Make some with maternity, baby, and family photos, and leave these around the NICU, stuff them in diaper bags at Walmart, and ask a local baby store if you can leave some at the register. Find a few romantic restaurants locally, where couples hang out, and leave some flyers there featuring couples portraits. If your hospital does charity events, offer to partner with them by giving away a free photo shoot in a raffle. These are some great ways to get your name out there quickly and start bringing in more clients. Best of luck to you in your photography ventures and your new career!

  3. How long did it take before your business was sustainable I’ve spoken to other photographers and they say this will take at least 3 years to get enough customers to provide a living and that you have to spend %80 of your time marketing

    1. Good question, Nick. It all depends on your marketing techniques and the products/services that you offer. A shoot & burn photographer will take much longer (possibly 3 years) to gain enough clients and make enough profit to survive on. On the other hand, photographers who do in person sales can easily make $1000 per photo session, and quickly gain enough clients to make a thriving business.

  4. I never considered this for a form of income! I love photography but have a ton of friends who do it as a business…. I dont know why it never occurred to me that I could do it to!

    1. That’s awesome, Renee! Your friends have he right idea, and you could easily join them and see what all the fuss is about! Having personal contacts is an even better opportunity, because you could learn a lot from them, hand-on.

    1. Thanks, Katrina! So true! A lot of these tips can be helpful for bloggers, especially if you want to grow your blog with Pinterest. High quality images are a must!

  5. Amazing informative post really. It is very useful for those who want to start business in photography. Even my friend has a deep passion in photography. I will recommend him to read this article. Thanks for sharing

    1. Thanks, Minakshi! Definitely share with your friend. He may be ready to take the leap and turn his passion into a thriving business!

  6. Great tips! I would love to start a family photography business one day, but until then, I will keep practicing on my own family.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Mar! Practice is the most important thing! Even if it is your own family – the more you work with your camera and editing software, the more natural it will become. 🙂

  7. You need to pick your camera out before you start your business and learn all about the best way to use it. Many brands and models have their own peculiarities, so the more you can familiarize yourself with the camera, the better off you will be to handle those peculiarities.

    1. It is definitely important to learn your particular camera’s settings, so you are able to shoot in manual mode. But, like everything, this comes with practice. You can learn a LOT from Facebook photography groups, YouTube, and practice with your own family and friends (or Lego figures, lol!). If you watch some tutorials and practice like crazy, it shouldn’t take long at all to get to know your new camera. 🙂

    1. That is definitely a tougher situation! I would suggest finding a local group to join, and asking for volunteers to do free photo shoots in exchange for their permission to use the photos for your marketing materials (i.e. website, social media, etc). You can also use FaceBook as a platform to get to know more people locally. If your neighborhood has a page on FaceBook, join it, and let your neighbors know that you are looking for volunteers to help you build your portfolio. Many people who want photos of their family will be willing to let you practice on them! Also, ask around at your workplace, get to know the workers at a local coffee shop, etc. It’s all about putting yourself out there. I wish you the best!

  8. Very informative ☺️ . Although it’s REALLY best to learn the functions of a camera and the basics of photography for at least a year before paying for a license and insurance. Also investing in business classes is where to put your money when learning.

    1. Kori, I agree that business and photography classes are definitely worth investing in. But for people who have had a decent camera for a year or more, and know the basic functions, it’s not absolutely necessary prior to starting your business. Also, during the portfolio phase, where I suggest doing photo sessions for friends and family, one can learn SO much about lighting, posing, composition, and editing, simply by comparing their final products to those of established professionals. But yes, if you have the funds available, absolutely take some classes to speed up the learning curve!

  9. I am looking to create my business this year. My husband and I did it as a partnership, but it was more of a hobby we didn’t make much money from, but I’m looking to get more involved and have it be a legitimate business this time. I was looking up setting up an LLC, and there are companies who offer to do the whole thing, LLC, EIN and such for around $400. Does this sound ridiculous? Is it possible to do it for less and still be compliant? If I follow what you said in this post should that be everything I need?

    1. Hi Emilee,
      Don’t let those companies scare you! You can do it yourself for much cheaper – usually about $100-$150 total, depending on your state’s fees. If you use the link in this post for the LLC, it will guide you step by step, and you should be completely legal. The companies that offer those services are charging you over $100/hr for their time to fill out online applications that you can do yourself, so that’s why it’s more expensive that way. I wish you guys the best in setting up a booming business! You should definitely check out the Ultimate Bundle too, if you’re ready to go for it. It includes tons of education, plus sample legal forms and such – you just add your company name and logo to them. Good luck!

  10. I loved reading this blog post and all the comments from others it was very informative. I am wanting to take my talents higher and make money for what I love to do. So far my children and family friend do children etc have been my prime source for all my work I do work for dirt cheap and they love it. I an wanting to invest more into backdrops, camera lighting, props etc. I am although self taught and wanting to take a class and or fallow a fellow photographer to get more ways of doing this business. lol I am not very good with the whole social media aspect.I despise social media as well as my husband it just makes me want to smack people when they flirt or say rude comments but hide behind a screen to do so. haha anyway I’m very interested in learning more I also need to learn how to work Photoshop as I have no idea yet it looks very intimidating. 😂 another big dream of mine is boudoir photography I am going to get mine done through a company that is call celebrate your sexy I have read reviews and unfortunately they are pretty pricey but if I experienced how to do I may get skills and info for me to able to do these! I know it requires slot of things to do it hair makeup outfit referring blah blah but I may actually be able to do this. Especially if my husband is 100% supportting my decision to be stay at home / photographer. Yay! Anywhoill shut up I talk slot when I’m excited.

    1. Haha, don’t apologize – your passion is super! It’s great that you’re so excited about it, and if your husband is supporting you in it, what more could you ask? There is nothing wrong with being self taught. If you want to brush up on your skills in any way, I would suggest you invest a bit in education. Cole’s Classroom is one of the best photograph resources, in my opinion. They have a private FaceBook group where you can ask other students and the admin questions, and get tons of responses and support. THey also have a rewards system, where you get “Cole’s Cash” every time you complete a course, and you can use it to purchase other stuff. They have video courses on Photoshop, lighting, beginner photography, etc. I totally agree about social media – I was completely against it until I read about how much it could help my business. I took the leap, and you may want to consider it too. Best wishes in your photography endeavors!

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