Today, starting a photography business with no experience is a reasonable and achievable goal. There are many opportunities to find work, affordable equipment, and more people needing professional photography today than ever before.
You can start a photography business as a side hustle or look to make it your primary career. Your only limitation will be the time and effort you can put into the business.
This article will review some specific requirements that you'll need to start a photography business with no experience.
Starting A Photography Business Checklist
● Be Interested in Photography
● Research Your Local Market
● Pick a Photography Niche
● Build A Business Plan
● Build A Detailed Marketing Plan
● Set Your Pricing
● Decide on a Business Name
● Create a Logo and Website for your Business
● Buy Required Professional Equipment
● Find Photography Subjects
● Build A Professional Portfolio
● Improve Your Skills
Be Interested in Photography
You can start many businesses without a huge interest in the actual work. However, when it comes to artistic businesses, you need passion to show through in the quality of your work and your enthusiasm to improve your skills.
Clicking a camera is easy; making high-quality shots that people want to pay for is more complicated. Without an interest in photography, it will be hard to improve and build a successful business.
Before starting, your first question is, do you even have an interest in photography, or is this just an opportunity to make some easy money?
Research Your Local Market
Spend some time researching the market to see if your business could do well locally. Find out how many photographers are working in your area, what niches they operate in, and what kind of prices they are charging.
You may find your local market saturated with wedding photographers, so that may not be a niche you want to focus your new business on unless you plan to disrupt the market and take away everyone's customers, which is unlikely.
Decide What Niche You Want to Work in
You can undoubtedly start a general photography business that will provide photography for people's needs. However, setting a focus and niche will allow you to market towards that area and build skills for that specific type of photography.
Every niche in photography has slightly different skills required and even different equipment that may work better when taking that kind of photography.
You also get good free advertising when people talk about you as the "wedding photographer" in the area. People will come to you because you're known for that specific kind of work.
Build A Business Plan
Build a plan for your business. Many free templates available online will take you through the process. However, the basic idea is to write down your business, the steps required to start your photography business, and how you plan to make money.
The guide you're reading right now is an excellent start to filling out a business plan. We're taking you through the initial steps required, so ensure you're answering and writing down everything so that you can review and see whether this business will be feasible for you.
Build A Detailed Marketing Plan
Just starting a business and even putting up a website will not be enough to get customers to spend money with your new company. You'll need to review options in how you plan to market yourself and your offered unique services.
As a new photography business with no experience, we can assume that you won't have a large marketing budget. However, that doesn't mean you can't market yourself in many freeways.
Plan to build social media profiles
You'll want to have a place where you will showcase your skills. Instagram is 100% required as its foundation was based on photography and is luckily free. Make sure your marketing plan includes multiple posts of your photography every single day.
Don't just stop with Instagram.
Make sure you have a profile on all major social media platforms and constantly update them with your work, as that's a key place people will stumble upon your work and even share it with others.
Consider doing some free work.
Whether it be with your friends who might need a wedding photographer, pet photography, or even boudoir photography or a potential client, Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool in the photography industry.
Create a website
A website will do wonders to showcase your photography work, ensure that you have a blog, and set a focus on local search engine optimization (SEO). If people are searching in google, then you want to be appearing, and they should be able to see your portfolio.
Having a blog is an excellent way to showcase your work further and keep fresh content available for google to bring potential clients to you.
Set Your Pricing
Working for free can get you experience and hone your skills. However, this is your photography business, and you need to set what prices you will charge people for different services.
You should have found what prices people in your area charge for photography in your market research, so you need to decide how your prices will compare. You can take different approaches, but you need to consider how much work you want and how much money you make.
Set your prices lower than competitors to undercut and take customers who want the cheapest option. This can certainly work in the start, get you experience, and get you some money.
It's not a fantastic long-term approach, as you'll either be very busy and potentially burn out, or you're going to get the worst jobs that you don't enjoy.
Have comparable rates to your competitors so that prices aren't the deciding factor for potential customers. You'll need to focus more on your skills and marketing to bring customers in.
Set your prices high and market yourself as the premier photographer in the area. This may get you fewer clients, but it's a marketing strategy for customers that want the best photographer, as higher prices are often seen in this way.
Decide on a Business Name
You want a brand that people will recognize. You'll also need a name for your adverts, website, and anything else you plan to do with your business.
Use your name "Marc Jacob Photography," which is great, and many photographers do this. It gives a personal touch to your business as if you're an independent photographer (which is what you will be) and an easier connection for more personalized photographer niches such as wedding photography.
Pick a brand name such as "Optimal Photography," which may be a better choice if you want to work with businesses or even expand in the future to have other photographers work for you.
Create a Logo and Website for your Business
It's essential to have a website for your marketing and so that people have a way to find you and see your portfolio. If people can't see what you're offering quickly, then you're not going to have success.
Your logo is less important, but having a good clean design can help draw people's attention to you over your competitors.
Use an online service like Wix.com to build your website. Otherwise, you can get good quality and often cheap custom websites from places like Upwork.com or Fiverr.com.
Buy Required Professional Equipment
It's relatively far down the list, but an essential part of your photography business will be getting the equipment needed to do your work.
Exactly what equipment you'll need may depend on your niche and how you plan to do the work. Buy the minimum equipment you think you'll initially need, and as you build and get experience, you'll be able to add or upgrade your equipment.
Good quality digital camera. You'll need to research the features available in cameras that work best in the niche you've decided on. For example, some cameras may have better features for outdoor photography, while others work better inside.
You may be looking at $500 - $1000 for an entry-level camera for basic features to start.
Most cameras you buy will be high enough quality to start, as long as you're not buying a very old second-hand camera.
Photo Editing Software: Your photos won't be perfect, and a good photo editing package will help clean up images before you send them to customers.
This isn't specifically for retouching; you want to clean up lighting and other essential things in photos. Don't just take pictures and send everyone with no modifications to customers.
Your work will be shown to people, and poor-quality work will not get you any referrals.
Adobe offers photo and video editing software online; this could cost you $70 each month but is well worth it. You can get free options such as Pixlr if you prefer.
A tripod for still photos is a cheap item and extremely helpful for steady shots. You can buy one of Amazon for as little as $20.
Good To Have Equipment
Photo Lenses: Having a vast range of lenses can be helpful, especially if you're doing a variety of different types of photography. However, these can be costly, and you may not need them initially.
Lighting equipment can be necessary, especially when doing indoor photography or even still shots outside to help with glare.
Studio Space: You could convert a room in your home into a dedicated studio for customers to use, or you could rent space. It's not a critical requirement for a new photographer, especially if you're doing outside photography or going to customers.
High-Quality Photo Printer: Most customers will be happy with digital photos, but some may want their photos printer out to display, so a High-Quality Photo Printer will be helpful.
If you're stuck in a pinch, you can print photos out at places like Staples; however, the staples logo may not be as professional as you'd hoped.
Find Photography Subjects
It would help if you started practicing, so get your friends and family to let you photograph them and get some honest opinions on how well the photos turned out and even how professional your service was.
You can certainly go out into the world and start taking photos of scenery, urban areas and even ask strangers if they'd be interested in a photo.
Try to take photos in the same type of niche you want to work in, though any practice will be well worth your time.
Build A Professional Portfolio
It's crucial to build a professional portfolio of your work in the niches you want to work in.
You want high-quality photos in each niche so that you can display them on your website when people want to see what you can offer them. You will also be using them on social media to advertise your work.
This should be a regular part of your job to keep your portfolio updated with new images as your skills improve and you get more experience and more subjects to show.
Improve Your Skills
As you work, your skills will improve; however, you should still be actively working towards becoming a better photographer so that your business can improve and grow.
● Take in-person photography classes to practice different techniques and build skills you don't currently have. This will also open up new opportunities for work in more challenging areas.
● Take online classes to learn more about photography in general. Understand all the different aspects of photography that improve photos, as a better-taken photo will require less work in Adobe later on.
● Take online classes for photo editing, the software has become a lot easier to use, but it's still a challenging skill to be great at. In addition, some customers will want a large amount of editing done on their photos.
● If you can't do it, they may move on to other photographers, or you'll need to pay somebody else to do the work for you.