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How to Start a Photography Business in 2021: The Definitive Guide

As the price of high-quality cameras has continued to fall, the art and craft of photography have flourished.

For many people, photography isn’t just a way of capturing a memory.

Photography is a fulfilling way to express yourself. It’s a way to interpret the world and make the invisible visible.

And for many who have strong photography skills, it’s a way to make a living and make photography a career.

Navigating the transition between photography as a hobby and creating a photography career by starting a photography business (or growing your photography business) can be tricky.

When researching how to start a photography business, people often ask:

  • How much money does it take to start a photography business?
  • What do you need to do to start a photography business?
  • Is a photography business profitable?
  • How do professional photographers get clients?
  • Do I need a photography business license?

If you have strong photography skills and want to take the plunge and start your own photography business, there is a lot to consider.

With the right resources and strategies, starting a business as a photographer can be an inexpensive way to become an entrepreneur and become your own boss.

Step 1

Develop and refine your business idea

Before you dive into starting your photography business, you need to consider your strengths, weaknesses, and interests.

You probably have an idea of what kind of photography business you want to start. Maybe you want to start a wedding photography studio, or your heart is set on taking headshots and portraits.

No matter what angle you choose, it’s important to evaluate existing businesses around you to see how much competition you’ll face.

Photography is a competitive industry.

More than 12,458 businesses in the U.S. specialize in photography. They collectively earn more than $6.5 billion per year. The industry is growing 2.5% annually and is forecast to grow 1.8% annually by 2024.

Despite the competition, a photography business can be a fulfilling and rewarding business.

Think about how you can integrate your natural skillset into your photography business so you can stand apart from your competition. Ask yourself the following questions, and take time to reflect on the answers:

  • What skills set me apart?
  • What is the purpose of my photography business?
  • Who am I providing a service or product to?
  • What is the maximum figure I can safely spend on this business?
  • Do I need outside capital? How much?
  • What kind of work/life balance am I looking to achieve?
  • What are my expectations of being an entrepreneur?

Find a niche

You’ll also want to consider what specific niche is right for your photography business.

Is your photography geared toward a particular group or segment of the population?

Are you looking to attract a particular demographic?

You’ll have a better chance at success if you start with a specific target audience.


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Ensure you build your photography business to meet a specific niche’s needs to avoid overspending and underwhelming all of your potential customers.

You’re more likely to succeed if you start your photography business with a specific product or service designed for a particular group of people (for example, wedding photography or wedding photography for non-traditional weddings). And you’ll gain experience more quickly by concentrating on a specific area.

This is true for any business, not just a photography business. For example, in our definitive guide on how to start a successful clothing brand or clothing line, we suggest that aspiring apparel entrepreneurs choose their niche too. It’s too hard to compete, especially when you start when you don’t specialize.

Here are some niches to consider when you explore the type of photography business you should start:

  • Wedding photography business
  • Fashion photography business
  • Real estate photography business
  • Portrait photography business (people and/or animals)
  • Dog shows photography business
  • Sports photography business
  • Stock photography business
  • Contract work photography business (covering local events, for example)
  • Commercial photography business
  • Local news photography business
  • Image or video editing photography business (helping other photographers with edits)
  • Product image photography business
  • Food image photography business
  • Travel photography business
  • Fashion photography business

Whatever type of photography niche you choose, make sure you’re passionate about it. That passion will come through everything you do, and your customers will appreciate and embrace your brand’s authenticity when you deliver photography services.

Step 2

Write a photography business plan

Once you choose a niche for your photography company, it’s time to write a business plan.

Although a business plan isn’t mandatory when starting a photography business, it can help you crystallize your ideas.

A business plan is a document that outlines the financial and operational goals of your business. The business plan defines your company’s objectives and then provides specific information that shows how your company will reach those goals.

Your photography business plan doesn’t need to be 100 pages long. Numerous excellent templates can help you create a one-page business plan. Ultimately, keep your business plan short and concise and focus on the essential details. Think of your one-page business plan as a way to concisely summarize your business education about photography businesses.

Studies show that entrepreneurs who take the time to write a business plan are 2.5 times more likely to follow through and get their business off the ground. The work that goes into creating a business plan also helps new entrepreneurs build skills that will be invaluable later.

Traditional business plans have the following sections:

  • An executive summary. This section summaries the entire plan, so it is generally written last. Anyone reading your plan will read this first, so it’s an important element.
  • An industry overview. This section gives a brief overview of the industry sector your business will operate in. It includes key players, industry trends, and estimates of industry sales.
  • Market analysis. This looks at the target market for your product or service. It has a breakdown of your market segments, their geographic location, and what their needs are. This section shows anyone reading that you have a thorough understanding of the people you plan to sell to or serve.
  • Competitive analysis. Who are your direct and indirect competitors? How do they currently meet your target market’s needs, and how will you differentiate your product or services?
  • Sales and marketing plan. What is your unique selling proposition? How are you going to promote your business and persuade your target audience to buy? This section goes into detail on questions like these.
  • Management plan. This section outlines your legal and management structure. It shows who your leadership team is and what your staffing needs will be. If you plan to seek funding, you should describe your advisory board here, as well.
  • Operating plan. Your business location, facilities, equipment, and what kind of employees you’ll need are in this section. Any suppliers, manufacturing processes, and any other operating details also appear here.
  • Financial plan. This section is for all things financial. There are three key financial documents of any business that go here: an income statement, a balance sheet, and a cash flow statement.
  • Appendices and Exhibits. Any information that helps support your business idea goes here, including market studies, legal agreements, photos of your products, and more.

For insights and free downloadable business plan templates, read this definitive guide on how to write a business plan.

Do market research

Before you dive into your business plan, it’s important to know the market you’re entering.

Business planning and marketing research help you to build a more successful photography business. This is true whether you’re just getting started with your new photography business or growing your photography business.

For example, if you’re planning to focus on weddings, assess the following:

  • Who are your direct competitors? There may already be many wedding photographers in your area?
  • Who are the top professional wedding photographers working in your geographic market?
  • What makes the top wedding photographers in your area stand out from the rest of the competition? Sometimes, they stand out because they have strong photography skills. But some stand out because they have great business skills.

If you focus on real estate, your target audience might be real estate agents and professional home stagers. So, you’ll need to ask similar questions about that audience.

A lot of the work to come relies on information gleaned from market research. You mustn’t skip this stage, so you have the data you need to make informed decisions.

There are two major types of market research: primary and secondary.

Primary research answers some key questions, such as:

  • What factors do your potential customers consider when purchasing similar products or services?
  • What do they think is working, and what needs improvement in their current choices?
  • What do they like and dislike about the options currently available to them?
  • What price do they pay? Do they feel it’s reasonable and provides good value?

You answer these questions by talking to potential customers. Surveys, focus groups, one-on-one interviews, and questionnaires are the tools of choice for primary research.

Secondary research is information pulled from existing sources.

You can identify competitors and define your market segments or demographics using currently available data. Key attributes like age range, lifestyle, and behavioral patterns are data points used to divide your target customers into segments.

Once you have this information, you’ll refer back to it repeatedly as you build and launch your business. Make sure you spent a decent amount of time collecting data, so the decisions you make are based on solid research.

Plan for all of the necessary legal and logistical business considerations, and you’ll create a strong foundation for your photography business’s successful future.

Step 3

Hire an experienced business attorney

Most small business owners dread having to talk with and hire a business lawyer when starting a business. Some fear they’ll end up paying exorbitant legal fees or that they’ll receive bad advice that will destroy their business. Others agonize over how to find a reasonably priced, competent business lawyer.

Here’s what you need to know to hire a good lawyer for your new photography company.

Most guides on how to start a photography business, or any other small business type, won’t include insights on hiring a lawyer. We think that’s a big omission because many businesses run into legal troubles, and by starting on the right path from the very beginning, you can reduce your business risk.

We’ve met many lawyers who are deal-killers. Overzealous and often inexperienced, they focus on the wrong issues and forget that their client needs the deal to move forward. When you talk with lawyers you’re considering hiring, ask them about one or two complicated negotiations and how they overcame obstacles.

Don’t make price your main criteria for hiring a lawyer.

Often, the least expensive lawyers are also less experienced – especially in the areas where you may need help. Paying a cheaper hourly rate might feel good initially, but in the end, you may end up paying far more than if you hired an experienced (more expensive) business lawyer in the first place.

Ensure your lawyer is familiar with a photography business’s peculiarities, has experience with clients starting a photography business, and has represented other photography businesses and other small businesses.

Also – be clear about your budget and expectations. Your lawyer should understand that your budget is limited and that they should not waste that budget on irrelevant details.

Typically, the best time to start a relationship with a lawyer is before you start your photography company.

Too many people make the mistake of forming a company without consulting a lawyer. A good lawyer will help you find the right business structure for the business – and split ownership interests if you have co-owners – in ways that will protect everyone and give you flexibility going forward.

Step 4

Decide your legal business structure

Before starting your photography business, you need to decide on the type of entity you need to register.

Your legal business structure affects everything, from how you file your taxes to your personal liability and whether you need to comply with any special additional requirements at the local, state, or national levels.

There are many different types of legal structures for various business entities. For new business owners, choosing the best one for your photography business can feel overwhelming.

Here are some of the major business entities you should look into:

  • Sole proprietorship – this is the most basic business entity. A sole proprietorship means that one person is solely responsible for a business’s profits and debts.
  • Partnership – A partnership is a shared responsibility between two or more people who both hold personal liability for a business.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – a structure that permits owners, partners, or shareholders to limit personal liability but still includes tax and flexibility benefits associated with a partnership.
  • Corporation – this is an entity legally considered separate from its owners. That means that corporations are permitted to own property, be held liable, pay taxes, and enter contracts.

As a creative professional, chances are you’re starting small. Setting up a sole proprietorship or partnership may be the best fit if you’re going it solo, especially if your business will be home-based when you start.

It’s important to consider your future business goals, however. You want to choose a business structure that can accommodate the growth and expansion of your business.

For more information, the Small Business Administration is a great resource.

Once you decide on your legal business structure, be sure to register with the government (typically your state and sometimes your municipality) and the IRS.

Your business structure determines the forms you need and where you have to register.

You can find a full list of the forms for each type of entity on the SBA website. You can also find state-specific tax obligations on the same site.

You may need federal, state, or local business licenses and permits to operate in some cases. The SBA’s database lets you search for business licensing requirements by state and business types. And remember to contact your municipality to see if there are any local licensing or registration requirements. You’ll sometimes need to get a business license from your municipality too.

You may also need to get an employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS.

If you’re a sole owner and don’t have employees, this is not required. But you might want to get an EIN anyway to keep your personal and business taxes separate and to be sure that you can quickly hire when the time comes to expand your business.

The IRS has a useful checklist to help you decide whether you will need an EIN to run your business.

If you do need an EIN, you can register online for free.

Also, remember that most states require you to register your business if the trade name under which you operate your business differs from your business’s legal name.

For example, if your registered company is an LLC and the business name is Three Brothers, LLC, you cannot operate that business lawfully in most states if you’re selling products under the business name Three Tigers Photography. That’s because the registered name, and your trade name, are different.

Fortunately, this is not a difficult problem to overcome. You can simply register your actual trade name with your state (and or local government) by filing a “doing business as” (DBA) certificate. DBAs are also commonly called “assumed name,” “fictitious business name,” or “trade name.” Here’s a terrific resource that explains what a DBA is, the DBA state requirements, and how to file a DBA for your business in all 50 states and U.S. territories.

Step 5

Purchase business insurance

You’d be surprised how many new business owners forget to protect themselves and their business by purchasing insurance before starting their business.

It doesn’t help if you buy insurance after you start your business and incur claims.

Business insurance can cover property damage, theft, intellectual property lawsuits, and other incidents. Those can be very costly to small businesses, and you need to protect yourself and your new business. This is true even if your business is home-based, as your personal home insurance might not cover your business.

Depending on your photography business niche market, you may need insurance to bid for jobs or secure client work. Some companies require all of their vendors and contractors to have insurance.

And if you will employ people, you’ll need to have workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance. Coverage varies by location, and much general liability (GL) policies will cover workers’ compensation.

As a provider of photography services, you’ll want to have professional liability insurance, so you’re protected against possible claims. You probably also have lots of expensive photography equipment, and ensuring those against theft, damage, or worse will make sure if disaster strikes, you’re prepared.

Here’s a good read on the different types of insurance you should consider as a business owner.

Step 6

Set up business accounting and bookkeeping

To keep track of your finances when starting a photography company, you’ll need to set up a bookkeeping and accounting system. This is important so that you understand your business’s cash flow and will also be important for tax-filing purposes.

Here’s what you need to know about accounting and bookkeeping for your new photography business.

Business accounting is how your business records, organizes, interprets, and presents its financial information. Accountants analyze the financial condition of a business to help the business owner make better decisions.

Bookkeeping is the recording, organization, storage, and retrieval of financial information related to your business.

Accounting services and bookkeeping do overlap. The main difference between the two is that bookkeeping is how you record and categorize financial information, whereas accounting puts the information to use through analysis, strategy, and tax planning.

Start by hiring a bookkeeper

A great bookkeeper is not the same as an accountant. Many business owners hire a bookkeeper with some simple goals in mind: keep me organized, get my bills paid, and prepare to hand off all necessary financials to the accountant.

Typically, bookkeepers are less expensive than CPAs (certified public accountants) and can be trusted to record and organize your day-to-day business transactions, keep your bank accounts balanced, produce simple reports, and assist with keeping your financial records in order.

Many small businesses will use an outside bookkeeper, paid hourly to handle all entries, pay all the bills, and manage invoicing and receivables. Having help with this aspect of managing a small company can be indispensable, and the time it can free for a busy owner, invaluable. Plus, you generally won’t need to buy accounting software since the bookkeeper you hire likely already owns such software.

Review your accounting processes annually and make adjustments

Do not under-estimate the importance of a periodic review of your bookkeeping, accounting, and tax strategies. At your own peril, you neglect to take a hard look at the systems you have in place and the people managing those systems.

Are you doing your accounting most productively and cost-effectively? Does your CPA have the right level of industry knowledge to advise? Does your tax-preparer have the skills and expertise to keep you (and your investors) on the right side of the law? And finally (the big one), can you find ways to reduce your expenses while maintaining high-quality controls?

Take the time to reconsider your overall accounting strategy and find ways to strengthen and improve it.

Step 7

Assess your finances

When you start a photography company, assessing your finances and startup costs is crucial. These numbers include tracking your sales and profits – but a smart business will need to account for much more than sales alone.

Business finance uses your company’s financial information to help you manage your money and make your photography business operations profitable and sustainable.

You have many business financing options.

That’s important because you need to determine your startup costs, how you’re going to fund your new business, and how you’ll grow the business.

If you don’t understand the numbers, you’ll have a tough time building a sustainable, profitable business.

Be extra careful to conserve your startup funds when starting a photography business. Don’t overspend.

Some purchases (like a professional camera and a back-up camera, plus lenses, memory cards, and other equipment) will be necessary and make sense for your photography business. Still, others, like expensive and unnecessary equipment or a fancy car, will threaten your small business’s survivability.

To keep track of your finances, you’ll need to set up a bookkeeping and accounting system. We talked about this above. This is important so that you understand your business’s cash flow and will also be important for tax-filing purposes. Your accounting and bookkeeping system will include income, expenses, capital expenditures, profit, loss, EBITDA, etc.

Step 8

Crunch the numbers

When you start a small business, you must track your sales and profits – but a smart business will need to account for much more than sales alone.

For example, many photography businesses tend to work on a contract. That means you need to prepare for the ups and downs of inconsistent revenue. You need to know how much revenue you need to cover the times when things are leaner.

As you may be a company of one, you should also plan for health and life insurance and budget for vacations. Don’t be one of those entrepreneurs who never take time to step away for a while. Everyone needs a break at some point, and your budget should consider that.

Here’s a simple budget you can use as a reference point when starting your photography business. This budget doesn’t include a studio or office space. All prices are one-time purchases or annual estimates.

  • Two professional quality cameras: $2,000 to $5,000 each
  • Camera accessories (bags, batteries, grips, etc.): $1,000 to $1,500 total
  • Lenses: $1,000+ each
  • Flashes (at least two): $700 to $1,000 each
  • Lighting accessories (lights, tripods, reflectors): $1,000 to $2,500 total
  • Backdrops: $500 to $1,000 total
  • Props: $250 total
  • Equipment travel cases: $500 to $1,000
  • Multiple memory cards: $50+ each
  • Two external drives: $120 each (backups)
  • A computer: $1,500 to $2,000
  • Reliable car or van: $ varies
  • Website (Wix, Zenfolio, SmugMug, Squarespace): $60+ (annual)
  • Lightroom and Photoshop subscription from Adobe: $120 per year
  • Business name and company logo: $500 to $1,000 (one time)
  • Business licenses and permits: $150+ annual
  • Insurance: $600 (annual)
  • Accounting and taxes: $500 to $1,000 per year (annual)
  • Contracts: free to $1,000+ (annual)
  • Business cards: $50+ (annual)

Optional expenses (these are not essential but will help you to build a stronger photography business):

  • Video equipment if you will also shoot video
  • Business training ( classes, small business coach, photography business paid groups)
  • Assistant and other staff
  • Studio and office space
  • professional quality photography printer
  • Photography workshops and classes
  • Marketing materials

Once you know how much it will cost to get you started, compare that with the funds you have. Then plan how you’ll make up any difference.

Even if you start a home-based photography business, you’ll still incur costs, so pay careful attention to your budget.

Run calculations to determine how much it will cost to create your business will allow you to plan and think about pricing.

For example, if your goal is to make $75,000 per year after all expenses, and you plan to shoot weddings, you’ll need to figure out your expenses, how much you will charge per wedding (most professional photographers charge between $100 and $250 USD per hour (which typically works out as $25 to $100 per final edited photograph), and how many weddings you’ll need to shoot every year to reach your goal.

Step 9

Create a strong brand identity

Every photography business is different. Or better put: you must differentiate your photography business to stand out from competitors.

Crafting a memorable brand identity is a crucial element in any creative professional’s success. This identity is increasingly important as Instagram, and other social media blur the lines between a professional and a hobbyist.

As we’ve previously discussed,

…your brand is your company’s public identity. Ideally, your brand should embody the best (and most essential) attributes of your company.

A brand represents how people know you and your business. It affects how customers perceive your reputation or the reputation of your company.


people around a table discussing logo design concepts

In today’s competitive creative market, a strong brand is more important than it has ever been.

Ask yourself these important questions:

  • What identity/personality do I want my creative brand to project?
  • Who will want my products or services?
  • What can customers get from my products or services that they can’t get anywhere else?
  • What can customers get from working with me that they can’t get anywhere else?
  • What are my brand values?
  • What is the most important part of my customers’ experience?

Your answers to these questions (and others like them) will build the core of your brand. All of your future branding decisions should expand on these ideas. Your business name, company logo, and website design should all grow from the concepts you laid out here.

Remember that your business name plays a role in almost every aspect of your business.

Whenever you make personal appearances, carry business cards and brochures in case people want to learn more about your services and to give them your contact information. That’s a great way to find new clients.

In fact, happy clients who love your photography work will ask for extra business cards they can share with friends and colleagues.

Some small business owners delay building a strong brand identity because they worry that they might not have a huge budget. This delay can hurt you. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on building a strong brand identity. Here are a few pricing guides that can help you identify the sweet spot for pricing:

And if you’ve already started your photography business but are unhappy with your branding, this is the perfect time to rebrand your photography business.

Step 10

Build an online presence

A photographer’s calling card is their portfolio and work samples. Today that means having a professionally designed website.

Customers choose creative services based on the brand, the person behind the brand, and the quality of the work presented to them.

The most effective way for creatives to show off their skills and personality is through their web presence.

Don’t believe us? A recent study shows that 97% of consumers research their purchases online before they buy something.

Start by ensuring that your website design truly embodies your brand. Visitors should understand who you are, the services you offer, your style, and the quality of your work.

Your website’s design and marketing copy should project your brand’s voice and identity. Here are some suggestions:

  • Use your brand’s colors.
  • If you are the primary employee, include a photo and bio. Customers want to know the person behind the site.
  • Be authentic and avoid marketing “happy talk.” Speak the same language as your customers.
  • Include high-quality examples of your work.
  • Give site visitors an easy way to get in contact with you.

Aim to create a site that builds your brand, establishes your approach and style and communicates your business’ value proposition. As with other fields that are personality-driven (like real estate sales and other creative services), people are not just buying your services; they’re buying a relationship with you.

Self-hosted open-source portfolio apps allow you to combine your uniquely branded website with a gallery of your work.

Check out WordPress if you’re looking for a self-hosted solution.

When building a web presence, don’t use stock images or stock photography. After all, you’re trying to promote your unique photography business. Stock images will send the wrong image to your target clients.

Finally, a strong website design will lend credibility and legitimacy to your business. To learn more about great website design, check out Grow Your Small Business With These 7 Website Design Best Practices and 10 biggest web design trends for 2021.

Step 11

Create a sales plan

Never forget the power of good old-fashioned market research when you’re ready to open your photography business.

Not every option will be cost-effective or practical, and you should understand what choices will work best for your business.

Your photography business won’t succeed if you just take pictures. You can’t ignore the business side.

You need to create a photography business roadmap for your new business. As a starting point, ask yourself these questions:

  • How will you sell your products or services?
  • Will you work full-time or part-time as a professional photographer?
  • What photo editing software will you need to create memorable photos for your clients?
  • What will you choose as your pricing structure?
  • Will you accept credit cards?
  • Will you have a client referral program?
  • How will you book clients?
  • Do you need office space or studio space to meet with clients, or will you operate your business as a home-based photography business?
  • What customer expectations will you set when you offer your services?
  • How will you provide customer service for customers who have questions or problems?

Photography work can be a personal, intimate service, so a hands-on approach is often more effective and successful. Your website can help you generate leads, but your success is based just as much on the customers you say no to as the ones you say yes.

What does this mean? It means getting up from the computer and on the phone.

You can’t just take pictures and ignore sales and marketing.

A quick call with a prospective customer can establish whether you’re a good fit for their needs. It saves both you and your customer time and effort if it turns out there isn’t a good match.

All of this pre-work leads to the second part of your sales plan: the in-person consultation. You definitely want to meet with your client before you pick up your camera so that you can work out in advance their needs, expectations, and any critical factors.

The ultimate goal is for your client to buy your work. You may have your particular style or aesthetic, but you also want to capture your customer’s wants. The in-person meeting is when you can establish these criteria.

One other part of your sales plan is what happens after you’ve completed the work. Post-sales customer care can be a place where you differentiate yourself from your competitors.

Present your work to your customers personally, and walk them through some of your thoughts and comments about the project. Many professional photographers are content to send clients and potential clients a link to an online selection of photos. An online gallery may be efficient for both parties, but it may turn your work into a commodity.

Add a personal perspective when you share your work, so your clients and potential clients understand your thought process. By creating a great sales experience throughout the project, you can bolster work-of-mouth referrals.

Word-of-mouth is a powerful marketing tool, especially for professional photographers. As we wrote:

In fact, customers referred to a product are more valuable. A Wharton School of Business study found that referred customers have a 16% higher lifetime value and are more loyal.

Think about your sales plan ahead of time so you can capitalize on every opportunity to close the sale and generate more. And remember to build an email list to update your clients and prospective clients about your photography business.

Step 12

Build your team

There’s a time in almost every entrepreneur’s career when you feel like you’re going it alone.

When you first start your photography business, there’s a good chance that you will be.

For your business to scale and grow, however, you’ll need help.

Many photography businesses are started by sole entrepreneurs who hire experienced professionals to handle specific business parts.

Whether you hire employees or work with contractors depends on your particular business.

At first, you should only hire for positions that provide the most immediate benefit to your business.

There’s no one right answer for what those positions might be – every business is different. As you plan what positions to hire, consider what aspects of the company pose the most significant challenge. It’s also crucial to recognize your limitations.

Hire an employee who is an expert in areas your business lacks expertise. Build a robust and well-rounded team to create a stable foundation for your business.

With all of that in mind, where should you start?

You may want your first hire to be a part-time assistant. Look for someone who is a jack-of-all-trades, eager to learn new skills, with a strong work ethic. You’ll sleep better if you have someone in the trenches with you that you can rely on. And you’ll likely need someone to help you with photography equipment at photoshoots. And if you’re a great photographer but less skilled with photo editing, look for an expert with photo editing software.

If you’re new to marketing, a marketer can help you strategize your business.

One position you’ll need to fill is an accountant or bookkeeper. You need to ensure you’re tracking your expenses and revenue and keeping good records for tax season.

The Legal Stuff

Of course, hiring staff or consultants for your photography business means that you’ll have to deal with all sorts of legalities and paperwork. Hiring and signing contracts with professional service providers isn’t an area where you should “wing it.”

To help you with some of the legal issues to consider, we went straight to the source. The hiring experts at Indeed recommend that you:

  • Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) by applying on the IRS website (you’ll get your number immediately after applying!).
  • Register with your state’s labor department.
  • Fill out paperwork to withhold federal taxes from your employee’s wages.
  • Set up workers’ compensation insurance if it is required in your state.

You’ll also need to decide whether you’re hiring full or part-time employees.

Part-time employees cost less. These cost-savings can be an advantage when you first get started. As your business grows and you can afford it, you can expand their hours.

Full-time employees also require more paperwork to get set up. To gain complete insight into the hiring process, read Indeed’s step-by-step guide, “How to Hire Employees.”

Step 13

Grow your photography business

You have your business ready to go – your brand is a masterpiece of consistency and charm, your legal and business plans are all squared away, and you have a solid team standing behind your business.

Here comes the fun part – introducing your business to customers!

Look into newspapers and local magazines, trade shows, and public events where you can bring your brand and your work to the people. Any outlet that makes sense for your small business is one you should seek out.

Give your prospective customers an intimate view of your work and your business. You’ll want to develop a content marketing strategy to grow your business.

As a new, up-and-coming small business owner, social media is an inexpensive and easy outlet for all of the beautiful work you’ve created. As we previously explained,

Social media gives you the ability to easily keep customers up-to-date on new products, store policies or sales. It also enables you to build a social rapport with current customers, while building low-pressure relationships with future buyers.

Maintaining Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook presence are important to build a following and connect with your market niche on social media. With the advent of micro-influencers, the potential reach a new business now has, especially on social media, is truly massive.

Most of your new business will likely come from word-of-mouth referrals. And, as a result, your social media presence should be managed with intent.

Instagram is an obvious priority for photography businesses. You can post examples of your work to the platform, connect with customers, and use it to build your personal brand. But Instagram (and other platforms like Facebook) can also be where you post behind-the-scenes photos and videos to give prospective clients and potential clients an insider’s eye to your business.


There’s a lot to think about when starting a photography business.

But with this complete guide on how to start a photography business, you’ll have a competitive advantage to start on the right path to success.

Additional Resources for Photographers

If you want to sell your photos to stock image sites, here are the sites you should consider:

Interested in other types of businesses or how-to guides? Here are our comprehensive guides:

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The Definitive Guide to Successfully Rebranding in 2021
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The Definitive Guide to Creating a Compelling Visual Brand for Your Restaurant in 2021
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We regularly update this guide to keep it current. We most recently updated it on March 14, 2021.

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