From Amateur to Pro – Tips for Starting a Photography Business

Starting your own photography business might be your calling if you have an eye for a great pic.

And right now, photography is in high demand.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is everyone with a smartphone, or an affordable camera wants your job!

But while the market’s competitive, if you choose the right niche and run your photography business like an actual business, you’ll have an advantage.

Because many aspiring photographers don’t, their lack of professionalism is soon exposed, and their dreams fall out of focus. 

So, before you leap from part-time passion to full-on livelihood, check out our tips for starting a photography business.

Pros of Starting a Photography Business


If leading a flexible lifestyle’s high on your priority list, photography’s a great choice. You can choose your gigs and not live by a nine to five, freeing you up to spend more time with the family or on another side hustle!


Most of us love to travel, now imagine getting paid to do it!

For many photographers, state and out-of-state travel is part of the routine. But if travel photography is your niche, the world is your studio. 


As the saying goes, “Choose a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” But there’s more to it with photography as you’re capturing and sharing your client’s precious moments. 

Starting a Photography Business equipment

Cons of Starting a Photography Business


Most start-ups require some investment, and photography’s no exception. If you’re starting from scratch, your initial setup costs can be expensive. But there are ways to bring the price down, such as second-hand equipment. Remember, your gear doesn’t have to be new, but it has to be quality. 


Ah, the life of a freelancer. Choosing your hours, calling your shots, and no boss. Sounds great, right?

If you’ve never run a business before, you could be in for a surprise. The reason bosses take the larger slice of the pie is because they work the longest hours. Be prepared for the sacrifices you’ll have to make.


Most small businesses, and especially freelance ones, have to prepare for an inconsistent income. It takes time to find the right clients and fill out your work calendar. Ensure you have enough funding to stay afloat and keep your outgoings to a minimum. 

Pros and cons out of the way let’s zone in on starting your photography business:

1. Focus on a specific photography business niche 

Photography can go a million ways, but it’s best to focus on one if you want to become an authority.

It’s why the most successful photography business owners specialize in a specific type of photography. And it makes sense as most clients want the best in the business to capture their life memories, not a jack of all trades. 

It pays to pick a niche you enjoy or have a potential customer base with, as that way, you’ll never run out of passion or work. 

Seven photography business niche ideas:

  1. Wedding Photography Business
  2. Event Photography Business
  3. Travel Photography Business
  4. Real Estate Photography Business
  5. Portrait Photography Business
  6. Food Photography Business
  7. Product Photography Business

2. Understand the equipment you need 

Your equipment needs are primarily determined by your niche, as each one has its unique equipment requirements. 

So, before choosing your niche, you should outline the entrance fee, because we all know that professional photography equipment isn’t cheap!

A ballpark figure for equipment is $5000; however, you’ll also have other costs such as branding, website setup, and legal, such as licenses and permits.

A recent survey showed: 

  • The total costs of starting a portrait photography business averaged $8,524 – $12,319.
  • And a wedding photography business came to $13,182 – $16,977!

The key is to earn quickly, then invest in yourself. Check out refurbished photography equipment stores and reselling marketplaces to find an affordable deal. As the sooner you’re snapping, the quicker you’re earning. 

3. Work out the pricing model

Pricing your services for the first time is daunting; it’s why so many of us sell ourselves short. Your pricing depends on two things, what your competitors are charging and your experience. And if you’re new, that’s not of much help!

It’s ok to start cheap to land your first clients, gain experience, and build out your portfolio; most of us did. 

But when it’s time to raise your price, you’ve got to know the rates. 

Some niche ballpark photography prices:

  • Event photography: Hourly rates – $150 to $500
  • Wedding photography: Hourly rates – $150 to $250 or Packages from $2,000 to $5,000
  • Portrait photography: Hourly rates – $150 to $300 or packages from $250 to $1,500
  • Product photography: Per photo – $30 to $50 or packages from $300 to $5000

And according to Fash (a photography pricing website), professional photographers charge anywhere from $100 and $250 per hour. Working out at around $25 to $100 per final edited photograph.

4. Start branding your photography business

To market your business successfully, you need a professional-looking brand created using eye-catching visuals.

Start by choosing your visual style; this includes imagery, color palette, fonts, and graphics. Together they’ll form a brand style guide that you can use to create consistency, building recognition and trust throughout your marketing channels. 

As a photographer, your branding visuals must be professional-looking, versatile, and crystal clear. Especially your logo. 

You create a professional logo using colors (two or less), fonts (two or less), and shapes that suit your niche. Using a logo design brief can help you get the visual idea of how it’s going to look, Visually communicating your service to your target audience. 

Once you’ve got your logo, you can build your brand identity, infusing it with the same colors and fonts. Your brand identity is what engages your audience, showing them your values, style, and your UVP (unique value proposition).

5. Work on your portfolio (with your branding elements)

Your portfolio is your leading marketing tool for landing clients and the first place they’ll look when deciding whether to hire you. 

It’s here you showcase your achievements, unique style, and experience. And most importantly, convert them from an interested prospect into a paying client.

A photographer’s website is their portfolio. It’s a sales funnel that uses your photos to inspire visitors to take action. You should also have your portfolio on your social media platforms, especially Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. With pictures and posts linking back to your website.

Also, ensure your portfolio is easy to navigate and tells a story so clients get the picture.

6. Think of your marketing model

If you’re new to marketing, it can appear overwhelming.

The trick to successful marketing is focusing on your target audience and putting it everywhere they are. To do that, you’ll need a website and carefully selected social media channels, let’s start with your site.


Numerous website-building platforms make it incredibly easy for you to create a professional-looking site, even without any prior website building experience. Squarespace and Wix are regularly mentioned as the photographer’s preferred choices.


Building a presence on social media is a crucial part of your marketing model, as it’s where the world goes to look at pictures.

Pinterest and Instagram are the visual giants of social media; publish your portfolio photos and bio, along with relative hashtags for your niche. And create a Facebook page that has your biography, portfolio, and website link. Then locate and engage with Facebook groups you have an interest in your niche. 


You can use social media to ask for referrals and recommendations. WOMM (word of mouth marketing) is a powerful strategy for landing your first clients. People trust recommendations from family and friends over advertisements. 

Also, network locally. Get your name out there by advertising in local print media, join local business groups, and always have your business card available. 

7. Check your legal requirements (after deciding on your model)

Don’t let the legal side hold you back from fulfilling your potential.

Your first step is choosing which business entity/model to register as. A sole proprietorship is your cheapest option as you don’t have to file for registration. And if you trade using your legal name, you can start your business once you’ve applied for and received any necessary licenses, permits, and insurance cover. 

Check out your state’s website for further information.


You might be legally required to register and apply for a business license with your local or state government. Find out more on your state’s website and the gov SBA’s site.


If you trade as a sole proprietorship, ensure you have adequate insurance as you’re 100% liable if anything should go wrong. But also get insurance for your equipment; accidents, theft, and lost luggage do happen.


You can become a member of the Professional Photographers of America. It’s an organization that provides education, resources, and advice to professional photographers. 

CONCLUSION for Starting a Photography Business

There’s never been a better time to start your photography business.

Demand is growing by the day, driven by our love for images and social media.

And if you set your business up as you would a photo shoot, using our advice and leaving nothing to chance.

You could be full-time in no time.

Photo editor and expert for Online & Print media. Author of the photo editing eBook 5 simple steps to create stunning images for LARGE PRINTS

Learn 5 crucial steps in image editing.
Do you know them?

ebook free photo editing cover

This free ebook will help you

  • to analyze
  • to prepare
  • to edit
  • to finish
  • export images

Add a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your personal data will only be used for the purpose of processing this comment. Privacy Policy