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I want to start a photography business need suggestions and help?


Will Gray Willoughby, OH

Need tips or a good book on starting a photography business. I did this in the service and, really need some guidance??

8 July 2021 4 replies Small Business



Ming Lai Alhambra, CA

Hi Will!

It’s great that you did photography during your service.

I think the most important thing is building your portfolio, which will give potential clients an idea of your talent and expertise.

Think about what type of photography that you want to focus on—photojournalism, editorial, fashion, celebrity, corporate, sports, portraiture, architecture, real estate, product, etc.

Then you can tailor your portfolio to get this type of work.

For example, if you did combat photography in the Army, you would be well suited for photojournalism and even sports.

You would need to create a website to showcase your work.

Companies like offer a lot of photographer or more generally artist website templates, which are relatively easy to customize.

A unique and easy-to-remember domain name will help customers to find you (i.e.,

You can register your domain name through companies like

Eventually, you’ll need to start a small business to protect you from liability.

In Ohio, you can research launching a business here:

Insurance will also help safeguard you as well as your gear.

There are many companies that offer reasonable photographer insurance.

Then it will be about marketing yourself and your company.

Using the photojournalism example, you would need to reach out to the media that you want your photos to appear, from newspapers to magazines to websites, trying to connect with editors.

Research other photographers in the photography field that you want to pursue.

Check out their websites, work, and how they market themselves.

And then develop your own strategy.

I wish you much luck with your exciting career!

Best wishes,


Paul Tusting Salt Lake City, UT

Hi Will,

Good advice listed by others, but another (lighter) approach is to start your photography business as a side venture. Having started a number of companies, the one thing I can say is that things often take longer than expected. As a supplement to your "day job" a photography business can still be fun (vs. the pressure of it being your sole income). If things take off, then you can transition to full time.

This is particularly applicable if you are still figuring out why you want to do in photography (stock photos, events/weddings, portraits, etc.). This would also allow you acquire the equipment more slowly.

Photography equipment is expensive, no denying that. But, good digital photography equipment costs less now than in history. It's been a while since I have been in the industry, but there are good packages with Nikon or Canon + a couple lenses. Check out Amazon and B&H Photo. I can't think of any books off the top of my head, but youtube is amazing for thing kind of thing (and a great way to figure out what kind of gear you want), and I've taken photography courses from my local university's continued education program. It is getting harder to do, but there may be a good local photography shop you can go talk to, particularly if you are near a good sized city.

For example, here in SLC Utah, there are two local shops professional photographers use. They also both offer inexpensive classes. It is in their best interest to get you the right tools for your venture.

Good Luck!


James Watters Norman, OK

Sergeant Gray -

The following information comes from -

Consider your startup costs.
Starting a photography business isn’t cheap. Be sure to consider all the costs and how you’ll pay for them before taking the plunge.
These are some of the major costs involved when planning how to start a photography studio:
• Standard photo equipment like cameras, lenses, flashes, etc.
• Computer with high-end graphics capabilities
• Memory cards and external hard drives
• Photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom
• Website hosting
• Insurance
• Accounting software
• Studio or office space

Build a portfolio.
Nobody wants to hire a photographer without seeing their work first. Building a strong portfolio is essential when learning how to run a photography business.
Think about your audience while working on your portfolio. If you want to be a portrait photographer, for example, landscape pictures aren’t going to help. Make sure your portfolio showcases your talents in your desired niche.

Come up with a pricing plan.
How much are you going to charge for your services? Think about how much you want to earn per hour in order to come up with a pricing plan for photoshoots.
Remember, the shoot itself isn’t where you’ll spend most of your time. For every hour spent shooting, you’ll spend about three hours editing. If you want to earn $50 per hour, that means you need to charge $200 for a one-hour photoshoot.

Market yourself.
Clients won’t just come to you. You need to get your name out there. Invest in marketing materials to make sure people see how great you are:
• Website
• Business cards
• Social media
• Search ads
• Networking opportunities
The more people who see your work, the more potential clients you’ll have the opportunity to attract.

Want more helpful photography tips to make you a better photographer?
Learn how Lightroom and Photoshop can help you fill your portfolio with images ready to dazzle potential customers.

Also look for and an article “Photography Business Startup Guide.” Also they have a free photography business plan. Great resource

Good luck Army.


James Yaple Austin, TX

A good starting place is creating (or starting) a business plan. Lots of materials online. If you are starting from scratch, many online resources are available. Try to identify your market: Weddings? family? children? Real Estate? Art? What is your business radius? You are trying to identify the number of potential customers in that area. Visit a few photography businesses in your area to get an idea of market rates.

Sample business plan links:

Lots of potential market if you target your passion.

Thank you for your service.


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