What Needs to Be Done Before Starting a Photography Business?

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Professional wedding photography can require a lot of planning.
Professional wedding photography can require a lot of planning. (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Like almost any new business venture, starting a successful professional photography business requires some research and planning. Issues such as the type of subjects that fit your interest, necessary equipment, marketing and investment will need to be worked out to ensure a smooth business launch. Depending on the type of photography business you plan to start, other issues such as studio space and additional employees may also require some thought.

Identify

A professional photography business model can specialize in a wide variety of subjects. Examples include portrait, group, wedding, school, sport, concert, nature, landscape, commercial and architectural photography. Determining the type of photography business you plan to start will help identify the type of equipment you'll need, as well as many other issues. For example, wedding photographers will need to consider equipment for group shots, portraits and live action photography.

Evaluate

With a good understanding of your new business venture, evaluate your current situation. This should include type of equipment owned, knowledge or experience with your intended subject matter and other resources. This inventory of equipment and skills will help you identify potential startup expenses, what you'll need to get started, and gaps in education or knowledge that need to be addressed.

Equipment

Photography equipment can be expensive, complicated and manufactured for a single purpose. These factors can make starting a photography business an expensive venture. Understanding your business model will help you identify the types of equipment you'll need to purchase. For example, portrait photographers will need to have a variety of backgrounds on hand, as well as various photography props. Photography lighting can also differ between those designed for studio use and mobile lighting setups.

Studio

Starting a portrait, family or baby photography business may require a physical photo studio. The size of the studio will depend on your budget and availability, but doesn't need to be too large. For most portrait or family photo shoots, you'll only need a few hundred square feet of space. If you plan to take on commercial or large group work, you'll need to get as much space as you can afford. For example, a commercial client may want images that use an automobile, motorcycle or other large props.

Capital

As with any new business, startup capital should be carefully considered. In addition to expenses such as studio rent, utilities, employee salaries and insurance, other ancillary photography business costs should be considered. Some examples include computer equipment for editing digital images, editing software licenses, photo printers, professional print paper, printer ink and transportation cases. Even professional studio lighting bulbs can be expensive. Budgeting for known expenses and planning for the unexpected will help ensure the success of your new business.

Marketing

As a starting point, marketing plans for a new photography business should be focused close to home. This will allow you to use local relationships with people and businesses such as your kid's school, local dance schools, friends and relatives as an inexpensive marketing method. Word of mouth and referrals are important for professional photographers, so be sure to carry business cards to hand out to anyone who may be interested. Commercial advertising should be limited to local papers or magazines during the startup phase, then expanded as the business grows.

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