One of the most common questions I get is, “how to start a photography business”, so I thought a quick-start guide would be useful for anyone wanting to get started as a professional photographer.
Making the decision to become a professional photographer in the first place is the easy part…
So easy in fact that no barriers whatsoever can prevent anyone with a camera and at least one eye from choosing professional photography as a business opportunity.
Indeed, it’s so easy and simple that many people find themselves asking the question, “how to start a photography business” after they’ve already started and then found the reality wasn’t anywhere near as straightforward as they expected!
If you’re new to the photography business, or you’re thinking about becoming a professional photographer, here are a few thoughts to save you a lot of heartache later on when you encounter the many hidden challenges involved!
How To Start A Photography Business: Legal Stuff
This is not a guide to the practicalities or legal requirements of starting your own photography business, as there’s already plenty of information readily available on that topic, and the requirements can be heavily dependent on where you plan to operate.
However, the key word here is “business”, so you should first make sure that you create an actual company or business under which to conduct your professional photography endeavors.
As I already mentioned, the legalities of creating a photography business vary tremendously from country to country, and can even vary from state to state here in the USA, so it’s highly advisable to seek legal advice from a business attorney or your local small business advice center.
Having created the business entity, you’ll also need to acquire the necessary licenses, as well as appropriate liability and equipment insurance to keep yourself covered in the unlikely event that someone decides to sue you following a mishap of some kind.
You may also need to register with the local tax authorities for the collection and management of sales tax etc.
Obviously, it’s important to make sure you do your research into how to start a photography business legally in the location you plan to operate in.
Building A Solid Foundation
If you want to make money as a professional photographer, you must treat this like a REAL business.
For a lot of people this means making some big changes in attitude, approach, and mindset.
For example, it’s no longer just about the photography!
From now on, you’re a marketer and seller of photography!
The main problem faced by people starting out is knowing how to assemble the elements needed to make their photography business work for them, instead of the other way round.
I also know from my own personal experience that things can sometimes get overwhelming, especially in the beginning. It’s also not uncommon to hit something called the plateau effect, where you suddenly feel like you’re putting in more and more effort, but not really getting any further.
To help overcome these challenges and to put everything in the right perspective, I’d like to outline a very simple but strong foundational approach you can use to build your photography business.
This structure brings many of the elements needed for a profitable photography studio into sharper focus, and provides you with a clearer sense of direction as a professional photographer.
The Six Pillars Of Success
There are basically six elements to this approach. When brought together, they form six distinct pillars that will support everything you do from the moment you start your photography business.
Here are the six pillars, which you can take each in turn to see how they figure into answering the question “how to start a photography business”…