If you have a creative inclination and an eye for detail, starting a photography business can be a very lucrative way to be self-employed.
Many people with an eye for beauty, judgment of light, and ability to capture the moment undertake photography business. Those who have made a name for themselves in this field are earning extremely well today. This is because there are three things which matter the most for the success of this business: right composition of elements in the photograph, right opportunity, and right networking.
Undertake Professional Courses
Even if people say you are a ‘pro’ at photography, it is highly advisable that you undertake professional courses to hone your talent. Getting a certification in photography or attending courses will give your work a professional perspective. Needless to say, your work will be taken more seriously on competitive platforms. It will also teach you to work with many photography software, the knowledge of which has become indispensable today.
Is there a photographer whose work you look up to or appreciate? You may be in awe of how he has carved a niche for himself in the field of photography. You may even be a pure admirer of his art. Meet that person and speak to him about your aspirations. Request him to teach you ‘tricks of this trade’ and guide you in your work. Having a mentor can not only help ameliorate your work, but it can also get you good business contacts.
Merely spending a few hours in photography classes is not going to make you an ace photographer. Apart from continuously clicking photos of various objects, models, monuments, nature, etc., you will have to do an internship with an able photographer. This will actually help get a preview of how your business will operate. Learn as much as you can about camera, equipment, posing, makeup, models, objects, light, etc. Even if you earn only a few dollars for this work, take it, as you will learn a lot.
Be an Expert
In the initial days, you can try your hand at different kinds of photography. However, it is advisable that you specialize in a particular field later, like wedding photography, fashion photography, industrial photography, travel photography, object photography, wildlife photography, food photography, portraits, etc. This will help in establishing yourself as a capable and creative photographer.
Build a Portfolio
Build a creative portfolio of your photographs which will help showcase your talent in front of clients. They will get an idea about your work and give you more business. They may even refer you to their family and friends. Having a good e-portfolio will enable you to send your work to prospective clients in a matter of minutes.
Finances and Taxes
During the inception stage of your business, you may not have the necessary funds. Hence, it advisable to take a loan for the same. You can get an SBA loan easily, without much hassles. It is recommended that you carry your portfolio with you when you go to your lender to make a favorable impression. Also, hire professional services to look after your financial records and taxes. Maintain a record of all paperwork as it will be useful later on.
Sourcing the right equipment is essential for your business. The quality of your photos will be highly dependent on the quality of camera and allied instruments you use. Hence, do not compromise on it. You will require a variety of instruments like camera, lenses, flash, flash cards, tripod, etc.
Speak to a senior photographer before going ahead and buying these things. Try to utilize online deals to get them at best bargains. However, buying secondhand equipment is not advisable, as they will cause you to spend a lot on repairs.
Hire a Studio
In the initial days, when you might have cost constraints, you may choose to shoot at locations decided by the client which may include their houses, lawns, convention halls, parks, etc. Some even create a temporary studio space in their home. However, renting a studio is also an option, if you have some extra money to spare. You may need to allot a place for a professional lab in your studio. Slowly, as your business will pick up, you can go ahead and buy a studio of your own.
As your business will expand, you will find it difficult to keep up with its growing demands on your own. Hence, it is advisable that you hire photography enthusiasts or students as interns to assist you with your work. This way, you will be able to get employees at a very lesser cost. In turn, the interns will also get hands-on experience.
The right kind of networking is essential for being successful in this business. Attend photography conventions and visit galleries to meet other photographers. Mingle with other photographers so that you may get opportunities through their contacts.
Promote Your Work
It is important that you promote your work on a large scale. Start with having a website which will feature your work along with the price list. It’s great to have your (business) presence on all the social media forums. Print calendars with your photos and send them to your clients as New Year gifts.
Try to put your branding on your cards, envelopes, invoices, and album covers. You can even put stickers on your car. Enroll your entries in photography contests, and try to get your work printed in a magazine. This will help bring recognition and more business.
may have to register your business as ‘doing business as.’ Apart from this, you will need the necessary licenses and permits from your local and state authorities to start your business.
You may also need to avail the Employee Identification Number. Understand the prevalent copyright issues, and don’t do anything that will cause a legal offense. You may have to get a ‘model release’. This is a liability waiver which is signed by the subject of the photograph allowing the photographer to legally release the photo. It is also advisable that you get a Professional Photographers of America (PPA) membership.
Use Social Media
Nothing works well for promotion of photography business quite like social media. It is perhaps the best word-of-mouth source. You can blog about your work and communicate about it to the world. Utilize social media platforms, like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Flickr, etc., for marketing your work. You will be surprised to find so many people connecting with you through these platforms.
Keep Up with the Industry
Professional photography is perhaps one of the most dynamic of all the creative industries. You should also keep an eye on the developments in the photo editing software industry. There is a technological innovation after every few days, and clients will expect you to be abreast with it. Hence, you should take some time out for training and brushing up your talent.
Undertaking insurance for the safety of your premises and equipment is a must. The last thing you would want is something to damage your costly camera. Accidents can happen anywhere, so insurance coverage is a must. For more information about insurance coverage, you can log on to the PPA website.
Offer various discounts and promotional schemes to your loyal customers so that they will spread the word about your services. Try to create a favorable reputation in the market by clicking stunning images. Do not leave a single opportunity to promote your work.