Photography is all about capturing stories in still frames. It is an art of converting moments into memories.
If you’re passionate about snapping photos, you should consider turning your hobby into a business. But how do you start a photography business?
To help you get started, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide that will take you through the entire process.
We will be covering the nitty-gritty, the common misconceptions, and tell you exactly how you can establish your business online.
Table of Contents
Starting a photography business
There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to building a successful photography business.
You should consider the operational costs, business legalities, the market share, and your value proposition before getting started.
If you have already done your work, here are a few tips that might just help you out.
Find your niche
It doesn’t matter whether you’re from a metropolitan city or a small town. Having a specific niche to work within is vital for you when you’re starting your photography business.
A professional photographer understands that not all types of photography are equal. Each follows a unique style and pattern, so knowing your niche will help you identify your target audience.
If you’re having a hard time figuring out your niche, here are a few tips that will help:
- Try out different photography styles. Finding an ideal niche for your business means trying various types of photography and sticking to the one that feels right.
- Analyze your market. Knowing what you’re passionate about is just a start. Ask yourself, can you expect enough clients? Will you be able to receive enough job offers to sustain your business? Understanding your market share and client base is vital for establishing a successful photography business.
- Find a mentor. If you find the whole process overwhelming, consider consulting a successful brand or a photographer. Ask them how they found their niche, and see if they can help you find yours.
- Stay consistent and take risks. Whether you decide to take on wildlife photography or portrait shots, you’re bound to encounter challenges. They will teach you the most important lessons. Learn all that you can, and don’t be afraid to take risks along the way.
Build a portfolio
An impressive portfolio goes a long way when attracting new clients. It showcases your style, skill set, and artistry.
Building a portfolio is a process. Every photo in there should justify its existence. So how to start a photography business portfolio?
Here are a few tips that will make the process easier:
- Keep your portfolio limited to your best work. No one would want to go through hundreds of images to decide whether to work with you or not.
- Don’t add similar images. As a photographer, you want to showcase the different styles in which you can take photos.
- Consider your audience. Understand what your potential customers would like to see. More importantly, what message do you want your portfolio to communicate? Organize things accordingly.
- Have multiple formats. While the printed format is a great way of showcasing your portfolio, you should also have a website.
An extensive portfolio will not only serve as a marketing tool, but also help you evaluate your work.
Take time to reflect back on your work. It will help you get better at what you do best. Also, don’t forget to update your portfolio as your skillset improves.
Identify your target clients
Once you have discovered your niche, the very next step is to identify your client base.
Knowing your customers and where they come from will help you promote your services efficiently. It will also help you determine the best means of promoting and starting your photography business.
For instance, when you know that wildlife enthusiasts often visit your local exhibition center, why not put your best work there? Connecting with your customers will get easier when you know what platform they are using.
Understanding your customers is also important because it will help you serve them well. Great service is often rewarded by positive word-of-mouth recommendations and other leads.
However, there are a few points you should keep in mind while choosing your customers:
- Pick clients who will allow you to do your best work. From time to time, try to work with clients who will offer you more than just money. Seek out people who are open to fresh and innovative ideas. Clients like these will help you evolve as a photographer and unleash your creativity.
- Work with people who value and respect your art. Choose clients who understand what you do and why you do it. Collaborating with like-minded people is always fun, and it often leads to a lasting relationship that’s mutually rewarding.
Know that client satisfaction is the building block for your business. If you find a way to effectively fulfill their requirements, they will become your loyal customers.
Create a pricing plan
Pricing determines the value of your services. Having a balanced pricing plan is important if you’re seeking to sustainably grow your photography business in today’s fiercely competitive scene.
A well-defined pricing plan will not only reward your services, but will attract clients from all walks of life.
While pricing your services, you must consider everything from the cost of travel to the time you invested in the project.
Here are a few types of costs you should consider while creating your pricing plan:
- Direct costs. These are expenses that contribute to running your business. For example, the camera and lighting equipment, the software you use for editing, are all considered direct expenses.
- Indirect costs. These help you to run your business, but are not directly associated with the project. For example, the rent you pay for your office, marketing, and advertising expenses or the insurance for your equipment are all indirect expenses.
- Personal expenses. The value of your artistry, creativity and the time you have invested in honing your craft can be considered as personal expenses. This also includes the time spent on a particular project and the expenses related to it, such as traveling, hotels, and food.
When it comes to pricing, there is no single option that works for everyone.
Since it’s you who will be deciding how much your services are worth. Maintain a good balance between the value you deliver and your price. Customers will be happy to pay a fair price for exceptional service.
You can be the most technically advanced photographer in the world, but if people don’t know you, it will amount to nothing.
Networking is an art that every business owner needs to master if they want to sustainably grow their business.
As a photographer, you should constantly seek ways to expand your network. Reach out to people who might be interested in your services.
You can also connect with other professional photographers who can help you enhance your skill set:
- Attend photography workshops or meetups in your town. Photography events are a great means to meet with like-minded people. Such events are held frequently and you can easily learn about these events through Facebook or websites like Meetup, Eventbrite, 10times and Eventful.
- Join photography forums and communities online. Apart from attending photography events, you can also connect with like-minded photographers and your potential customers through various online forums. A few of the most popular photography forums include Flickr, Behance, EyeEm, OneEyeland, and 500px. You can join these forums for free and start building your network today.
How to create a photography business website
A website is the cornerstone of your photography business. Having a digital presence means new customers and more engagement. Through a website, you can showcase your best work, gain traction and credibility.
If you’re ready to take your business online, here’s a quick guide that will help show you how to start a photography business website.
Choose a domain name
It is important to choose a name that resonates with your photography business and niche.
However, there are a few points you should keep in mind while looking for a domain name:
- Keep it simple. Your domain name should be easy to remember. Avoid using slang in the domain name. For instance, you can use yourphotographer.com and not ur-photographer.com. Keeping your domain name simple will help your customers easily find your website and prevent misspells.
- Be creative. A unique domain name can help your business stand out. Share your domain name with your close friends and see if they find it interesting. With millions of domain names online, your business must have a catchy and memorable name.
- Use keywords. Having a keyword in your domain name can help you gain online visibility. When you’re working in a photography business, you would really want to have the word “photography” itself or something related to it in your domain name.
- Don’t wait too long. If you have already chosen your domain name, you should act fast. Because once gone, a domain name is hard to retrieve. Through Zyro, you can easily check whether the domain you seek is available or not.
Pick a website builder
Once you have chosen a domain name, it’s time to start your photography business website. But how do you get started? You neither know code, nor web development and hiring a professional agency can be expensive. Can you build a website without any technical expertise? With website builders, it’s possible.
With Zyro, we’ve got you covered. Powered by AI-driven features, Zyro is an intuitive website builder that can help you build a stunning website in a matter of minutes. What’s more, Zyro comes with hundreds of pre-built responsive templates that you can use right away for creating your website.
It’s free to use with no strings attached. Additionally, you can upgrade to a premium plan as your business expands.
Design your website
Building a website is not difficult, especially when you’re using a website builder. You can start with a ready-made template that looks both attractive and is fully responsive.
While it is tempting to pick the most unique template for your website, you should see if the theme resonates with your business niche or not. Also, consider the functionalities that your website will need.
As an example, when starting your photography business website, it cannot be complete without a gallery showcasing your best work, a service page for representing your services, a contact form that allows your clients to connect with you and a blog too, for sharing valuable insights.
Finding an ideal template for your business can be overwhelming, but we’ve done all the work for you. Zyro website builder comes with professional templates that are tailored for photography sites. Once you have taken your pick, you will be able to get your professional photography website online in no time.
Add relevant content
Once you’ve picked a perfect template for your website, it’s time to add content to it. Content means everything from your portfolio to services and contact information. You want to leave a lasting impression for your visitors on their first visit.
While adding content to your website, you must ensure it is positioned correctly. The last thing you want is cluttering your website with too much content and very little space. Allow the content (and your visitors’ eyes) room to breathe.
Keep in mind, no visitor is going to read your website from the first header to the copyright notice. Often times, visitors just skim through the pages and read anything that catches their attention. This is why content placement is important on your photography website.
That is why the Zyro website builder takes care of everything for you by implementing a grid system that will help you efficiently manage content placement.
Promote your website
Website promotion will take your photography business a level further. There are several means to promote your website – online and offline. One is more expensive than the other, but each one has its own benefits. Here are a few of the most effective means of promoting your website:
- Social media marketing. Getting your social media accounts in place is the first thing you want after creating your website. They can serve as a supportive framework for your website. Make use of as many platforms as you can. Add compelling Instagram stories, create interesting boards on Pinterest, grow your community through Facebook and list your business on Google My Business.
- SEO. Optimizing your website for search engines is crucial if you’re seeking to reach your ideal customers. Allow search engines to know that your website exists. Make use of the Google Keyword Planner to find keywords that fit your business niche. If required, you can also consult an SEO professional for promoting your website.
- Guest blogging. By writing for prominent websites under your business niche, you can easily establish the trust and credibility of your brand. If your readers end up liking your content, they will be looking for more.
- Merchandise marketing. Branded merchandise is a great way of promoting your website offline. Starting from t-shirts to carry bags, you can have your website, and logo printed on almost anything that can get people’s attention. Moreover, you can also send your branded merchandise to your clients as a token of gratitude upon the successful completion of a project.
Promoting your website is important if you’re seeking to gain traction and new clients. However, don’t limit yourself with the above-mentioned strategies. Try different ways of promoting yourself, and keep refining your approach along the way.
Common misconceptions about photography
Like every other business, there are misconceptions revolving around photography, too. Here are a few wrong impressions that might stop you from doing your best work.
A photographer can only take pictures
Being a professional photographer means mastering a myriad of skills starting from marketing to managing finances and everything in between. You don’t have to be a pro at all these secondary skills, but you should at least know the basics.
With deliberate practice, you can hone any skill of your choosing. There are courses, and books that can help you along your way. Moreover, you can also attend various networking events and seek help from other professional photographers.
You need fancy equipment to produce great photos
Pricey equipment doesn’t always mean exceptional photos. A lot of starting photographers tend to invest a hefty amount of money into buying equipment they may never need. After all, that’s nothing but a wasted investment. Instead, you can spend that money on promoting your business.
Your niche determines which equipment you will need. For example, if you’re a wildlife photographer, you may need a telephoto lens, teleconverter, and a wide-angle lens. But you absolutely don’t need speed lights or green screens. You can also consider investing a little extra on add-ons such as batteries, tripods, or a durable camera bag.
Clients will come to you
Photography is a fiercely competitive business. This means, if you’re not actively engaging with your customers, your competitors will be rewarded with new clients. Marketing your services is extremely important if you’re seeking to expand your business.
Offer irresistible offers and exceptional services for your business. Look for ways you can add value to every project you receive. If you succeed at making your clients pleased with your services, they will certainly recommend you anywhere they possibly can.
How to become a professional photographer?
Nowadays, photography is not just limited to high-end DSLR cameras. The evolution of smartphone cameras has transformed the way we used to think about “photography”. Most phones today come with better sensors, smarter image processing, hybrid zoom capabilities and whatnot. The trend of multiple cameras has taken smartphone photography a level further.
Having a phone with an exceptional camera is great. But that’s just the tip of an iceberg. How the photos turn out largely depends on the person holding the camera. You should also know that photographers are not only responsible for capturing a great shot, but also for everything that follows after that – retouching, editing, and polishing.
To be a professional photographer, there are a few skills you need to hone. Let’s look through them one by one:
- Technical photography skills. How proficient are you with your equipment? The more control you have over your camera, the better images you will capture. There are a few basic aspects you should consider before snapping a photo. For instance, the light, exposure, composition, angle and the subject itself. Understanding how these aspects work together will help you snap exceptional photos. After all, photography is less about what you shoot and more about how you shoot it.
- Photo editing software. The only difference between a good photo and a professional-looking one is the editing that goes behind it. Every professional photographer does it. However, how your photo turns out depends greatly on the software you use for editing. A few of the most popular photo editing software options include Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, Corel Paintshop, and Skylum Luminar. They will allow you to edit everything from colors to contrast, making your photos even more captivating.
- Aesthetics. Understanding the role of aesthetics in photography is really important. This is where your creativity comes into play. Aesthetics is simply the measure of how appealing your photo looks. The orientation of your subject, overall composition, colors, and focus are a few aspects that influence the aesthetics of any photo. Not every photo will be perfect, but adhering to aesthetic principles will help you click attention-grabbing images.
- Communication. Finding out a mutual area of interest is a great way of building relationships with your clients. Listen to them. Talk with them and be empathetic. Share and discuss interesting ideas. You would be surprised how this will help you build a lasting relationship with your clients.
- Networking skills. Professional photographers have excellent networking skills. Building mutually rewarding relationships can accelerate your success significantly. Networking is about collaborating with like-minded professionals, learning and exchanging insights that foster mutual growth. Networking is a great opportunity to build your client base, too.
Benefits of a Photography Business
Smartphone cameras can only go so far in capturing attention-grabbing images. Thus, there will always be a need for professional photographers. They are still needed for such events as weddings, birthdays or for showcasing a product on an eCommerce platform. This means you will never run out of opportunities.
Establishing a photography business can be fun and highly rewarding. Here are a few reasons why you should start one:
Flexible working hours and workplace. The first reason why you would enjoy running a photography business is the freedom that comes with it. You can work according to your schedule and from a place, you feel most comfortable.
Freedom to choose your clients. You can decide what kind of projects and clients you will be taking on. For instance, if you like being in quiet places or enjoy spending time around nature, you can accept landscape, wildlife or aerial photography projects.
It will take you to places. The most interesting part about being a photographer is the diverse places and events you get to visit. You may be invited to destination weddings, tranquil natural places, or to a few of the most extravagant events in town.
Good salary. Professional photographers make a huge sum of money by doing what they are passionate about.
Be part of other people’s special moments. Photography is not only about traveling to the best destinations and earning handsome paychecks. It allows you to witness special occasions of your clients and turn them into treasurable memories.
So, is it worth starting a photography business?
Starting a photography business website from scratch is a stride worth signing up for. You may have to learn a number of different skills, build your network to promote and expand your business.
Keep sharpening your photography skills along the way. Embrace fresh, innovative ideas, take risks, and capture photos that both inspire you and your customers. Being unique is the best way to succeed in photography.
Use all the strategies we discussed here, but don’t limit yourself to these tactics. Be creative, think out of the box, and capture the magic of the world through your own lens.