This is probably one of the most asked questions I get as a full-time photographer. Where do I even start? There are so many different ways I could answer this, but I am just going to start by giving you a list of the simple steps I took and recommend to start a photography business.
ASK KWP: How do I start a photography business?
- Start small with gear.
I think one mistake that people make is investing thousands and thousands of dollars on the latest and greatest camera and every l-series lens but don’t have any idea how to use it and are starting out in piles of debt. We are big Dave Ramsey fans in our house, so I always encourage to start small and then re-invest in the business once you start making money. This is the camera I recommend for beginners:
- Invest in education
Just like any other job, you need to invest in education. When I say invest, I mean invest your money but more importantly invest your time. If you don’t have money for a coaching class or a course, then go to Youtube or to blogs or to podcasts. It is amazing how much information you can find online for FREE to get you started in learning manual mode and understanding your camera.
- Practice practice practice.
This might seem obvious, but taking the time to practice and understand light and your camera settings before you start charging clients will set you up for success and is the most important thing when wondering how to start a photography business.
- Cover your legal basics.
Business license, contracts, insurance. Do NOT skip this. If people are paying you $5, you need a contract to protect yourself. Don’t get yourself in trouble by not getting a business license to operate legally.
- Start for FREE.
You don’t have to work for free for a year. You don’t have to let people know you are working for free. In fact, I would encourage you not to let people know you are working for free. But start with just asking a couple of friends to model for you so that you get comfortable with using your camera in real life situations.
- Share, share, share!
The easiest way to start getting traction is to start just sharing everything you are doing. People love following along on the journey. So with your free practice sessions, share them on every platform you have! Share you prepping, you photographing the session, and then share the images and talk about it like it was a real session. Once you start sharing those and looking like you are in demand, you will start having people interested in hiring you pretty quickly!
If you need help knowing how to share your work on social media for free, make sure you download my personal marketing jumpstart guide!
- Don’t forget taxes.
It can be so easy to charge $50 for you first session (which I did) and be thrilled and immediately spend that money on more gear. But you should be setting aside 25% percent in a separate account for taxes. Whether you pay quarterly or yearly you do not want to be surprised and not have the money to cover those expenses.
- Charge your worth.
Make sure that you are figuring out your cost of doing business and your gas and your time and your taxes and all of the little things that go into charging. If you need help figuring out how to price for profitability, our one-on-one coaching sessions are great for this!
- Over-confidence. From the very first session, you need to believe in yourself and make others believe you are the expert and you are worth hiring. Honestly showing up and appearing like you know what you are doing is half the battle when starting!
- Remember why you started. Just enjoy the journey and keep pushing to grow and be the best!!
These are ten steps I would take to start a photography business, but I also want to remind you that there are so many steps to take to continue building in the right direction. Feel free to drop any questions you have in the comments!
Other helpful blog posts: How to Create an Intentional Client Experience