How To Start A Photography Business

How To Start A Photography Business

Photography is far more than a hobby in today's tech world; it has become part of our lifestyle. Yet, with a photo-ready smartphone in everyone's hand, it does not make them a photographer. 

Although taking quality photos requires camera lenses and equipment, that is not all. Composition rules exist in the photography world. Photo-taker uses these rules to capture the perfect image. 

Professional photographers do not rely on Facebook or Instagram filters. They use composition rules to make their photos look good. Some basic photography methods are the golden ratio, leading lines, and the rule of thirds.

Whether the owner is a photographer who specializes in portrait shoots or wedding photography, composition rules matter. 

Thus, not everyone can take a unique, high-quality photo. Nor can turning on a smartphone immediately start a professional photography business. 

What It Takes To Start A Professional Photography Business

Like the composition rules in photography, there are rules in business. Forming a new company involves getting permits, a business license, sales tax, and an EIN.

Small business owners need a budget for startup costs, gear, and editing software. Starting a photography business is not as simple as opening a phone app or clicking a camera button. 

It takes drive, passion, and skill to get a profitable photography business up and running. Business owners must consider photo services, advertisements, search engine optimization (SEO), and more.

New photography business owners have a lot to cover before they can begin taking photos. It can be hard to know where to start, as it may feel overwhelming. 

Below are a few essential items to focus on when starting a new photography business.

10 Steps on How To Form a Business for Photographers

1. Choose photography business type and its services

The type of photography business will determine the photography services it offers.

Here are some photography business ideas:

  • Portrait photography business

  • Wedding photography business

  • Sports photography business

  • Maternity photography business

  • Nature photography business

Once owners know the type of photography business they want, they can choose what to offer.

Here are some photography services to offer:

  • Graduation photos

  • Prom photos

  • Photograph weddings - ceremonies and receptions

  • Pregnancy photos and baby portraits

  • Family photos

  • Landscape photos

  • Holiday photos

2. Find a business name

Before an owner can consider the business obligations, they need to choose a company name. The name should be unique and resonate with their audience. No matter the niche, finding a memorable business name that is not already in use is challenging. 

Here are a few ways to come up with a business name:

  • Brainstorm and make a list of name ideas. 

  • Mix and match words or short phrases.

  • Use photography-related puns or rhyming words.

  • Try using the business owner's name.

  • Look at other photography business names.

  • Incorporate the location of the business. (i.e., town or city name).

  • Ask friends and family for help or their opinion.

  • Conduct online research to help find available catchy business names.

  • Use online sites that help with business name searches, including domain names.

Although you want the business name to be creative, avoid making it hard to pronounce, hear, or spell. 

3. Choose a business entity

Owners who realize the type of business and services they want need to choose an entity. This knowledge gives owners insight into which business entity is best for them.

The four business entities:

  1. Sole proprietorship

  2. General partnership

  3. Limited Liability Company (LLC)

  4. Corporation

Each business entity has its own advantages, disadvantages, regulations, policies, and rules. It is best to conduct research or contact a lawyer to get more details about business entities.

4. Locate a business structure

Photography business owners want a business structure in a quality location. It should be easy for customers to find and meet all their photography needs. 

The space needs to be big enough for a photo studio, storage for photo backgrounds, and equipment. Some might consider having room for a waiting area with a receptionist. 

Other owners may prefer to run their photography business straight out of their home (i.e., garage, basement, etc.). This decision often depends on the space available and the size of the company. When the business grows, owners can always switch to another location.

5. Develop a photography business plan

Having a formal photography business plan is crucial to forming a successful company. Make sure to keep each section of the business plan short and to the point.

The business plan should include:

Executive summary

Create a 50 to 250 words section that summarizes the company's big-picture goals and outcomes.

Business description

Provide a clear and specific description of the business entity (LLC, Corporation, etc.). Use the appropriate terms associated with them. Also, include an outline of the business history and a mission statement.

Product or service portfolio

Describe the types of photography services the business will offer. Include information about any future expansion plans for the company. 

Provide a comprehensive pricing model that covers the fees for:

  • Services

  • Sessions

  • Editing

  • Formatting 

Focus on the various products or services that will bring in the most income.

6. Target market

Determine the business's target market and focus on reaching them through marketing efforts.

7. Competitive landscape

Conduct competitive analysis and assess the competition in different areas. Find what they are good at and are lacking. Gain a competitive advantage by filling in the gaps with what the business offers.

8. Marketing approach

Provide details of the marketing strategy. Create methods of how to gain and keep customers that ensure long-term success. Describe the marketing efforts and steps to get online and offline exposure. (i.e., social media platforms, paid marketing campaigns, etc.).

9. Operations and logistics

Provide day-to-day logistics and expenses of operating a photography business. 

Include information on the business structure, working environment, overhead costs, and operational needs. Share details about the company's financial plans and cash flow. 

List the gear (hardware and software) the business needs to invest in to function with success. Also, outline any company, equipment, and employee insurance policy costs. (i.e., limited liability protection).

10. Timeline

Develop a viable timeline to keep business goals on track. Include marketing objectives, investments, finances, and operations. Provide calendar dates and set reminders not to miss any deadlines.


Forming a "picture-perfect" photography business is possible. All a photo company needs is the right people, skills, equipment, and a sound business plan.

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