How to Start a Photography Business on a Small Budget

Add upgraded equipment as your photography business grows.
Add upgraded equipment as your photography business grows. (Image: George Doyle & Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

If you have an eye for taking appealing photos and enjoy working with people, photography may be the business for you. The more money you spend, the better equipment you can purchase and more marketing you can do. However, there is no reason to spend more than $2,000 to get your photography business up and running. Beyond equipment, expenses may be minimal, as compared to other business start-ups. You will likely work from home and for yourself, eliminating the need to rent space or pay employees, at least initially.

Things You'll Need

  • Camera
  • Lenses
  • Lighting
  • Tripod
  • Photo-editing software

Buy a camera that is of professional quality. Most cameras come with a functional lens and flash that are suitable to take a wide variety of photographs including landscape and portrait. As your business sales progress, you can add different lenses to your collection. Expect to spend about $1,000 on a camera, $300 on a basic light kit and $100 on a tripod.

Purchase software to edit photos. Look for an older version of photo editing software, as it may be available less expensive than current versions. Search for downloadable software, which may be less expensive than off-the-shelf software. A basic editing program such as Photoshop Elements will cost about $100 to $200.

Take photos. Taking photos will not cost you anything. You will build your portfolio, get used to your camera and learn about lighting and how to get the best shots. Offer to take free photos of your friends and family to get portrait experience. Ask professional photographers if you can mentor with them or act as their apprentice.

Post your photos on a photo-sharing site where consumers can purchase your pictures. A photo-sharing website, such as SmugMug, will cost about $100 to $200 per year. You may prefer to set up your own website with a shopping cart, which may be more expensive to set up and maintain.

Market your photography business by posting fliers, newspaper advertisements, Yellow Page listings and participating in local fairs, festivals and bazaars. Smaller events charge smaller fees for vendors to set up a table to sell their products. Expect entrance fees to cost about $25 to $50. Use a printing company to print several of your photos in advance and frame the best to display and sell. Spend about $300 to $500 to print and frame your sellable photos.

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