Are you intrigued by the idea of using photography to make time stand still, and creating keepsakes that will be treasured for generations? Maybe you love being a part of the excitement that comes with the glorious moments in human life: weddings, comings of age, and celebrations. You want to be there to record it forever.
Professional photography has been around for decades, yet it continues to be one of the most innovative and creative art forms in the world today. Being your own boss and determining your own schedule are just a few of the perks. Earning a living creating unique and creative images of people's cherished moments makes the decision to start a photography business a great one.
The family and wedding photography industry is booming right now in the United States. The real emphasis placed on the importance of family has seen a surge in portrait photography, and couples in love are spending thousands of dollars on their wedding photography. Add in the fact that professionals of all types need headshots for business use, and there is no shortage of work for the aspiring professional photographer.
It's not difficult to start a photography business - all you really need are a good camera with the necessary lenses and equipment, and an eye for composition. But in order to attract clients and create a thriving business that you can call a true career, there are a few other things you'll want to do.
1. Plan and prepare
Before setting up studio space, buying equipment, or looking for clients, you'll need to plan what type of photography business you'll be running. Will it be wedding photography, portrait photography, pictures of young children or high school graduates, or some combination of these? Think about the type of photography you're most passionate about, the services you'll offer and the type of image you want to present.
To build your photo-taking skills, you can take photography classes at a local art school or community college, buy some good how-to books, and most importantly, practice by taking pictures of friends and family. Getting feedback on your work from other professionals will also go a long way to helping your build your skills to the professional level.
2. The right tools for the job
As mentioned, professional quality digital photography equipment is a must. This includes at least one digital camera with a few interchangeable lenses, and digital memory for file storage. Additional lighting and backdrops are a great addition if you plan to shoot portrait work inside. If you need to shoot onsite (at weddings, for example), a durable-but-lightweight camera bag will help you protect and transport photography equipment.
Many photographers find it difficult to work without the help of a computer editing program, and a website to attract customers is important too. A good training book and some business planning will help you start a photography business knowing exactly what tools and equipment you'll need for the services you have in mind.
3. Setting up your studio or office
Starting a photography business requires a studio or an office where you will be able to greet prospective customers, review prints, fill out forms, and conduct other in-person business. When you set up your space to start a photography business, keep in mind the services you're planning on offering. The reception area of someone who plans to work primarily with weddings will be very different for someone doing headshots for aspiring models and actors, for example.
When deciding whether or not to invest in things like studio space, consider the advice of Mike Copeland, an official photographer for the Salt Lake City Olympics: "If you have the space, it's great to run this kind of business from home. We have our living room set up to meet with wedding clients, and a workspace in the basement." If you don't have the funds to equip a studio, you can still shoot outside or on location.
4. Finding customers
When you are ready to start your photography business, you'll want to let the public know you are available for their photography needs. You can pay to advertise your services, although display ads may be too expensive when you first start a photography business. Instead, consider press releases and other low-cost marketing strategies such as referrals.
When your market your photography business, show how your work is unique, without moving too far away from the traditional expectations of your target market. Online directories and a website for your photography business will also help generate and increase sales.