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Starting a Photography Business: A Step-by-Step Guide

Starting a photography business comes with its own set of challenges, and thriving in a crowded market necessitates extra effort. However, with adequate planning and preparation, you can get your photography business off to a good start and thrive in a competitive market.

Here’s how to start a photography business, including what to do and what not to do.

How to Start a Photography Business

Determine your specification

It’s tempting to offer a general service when starting a photography business to accommodate any clients who come your way. In reality, this would make everything more difficult for you, from research to strategic planning.

Start with the area you want to specialize in, whether it’s wedding photography, commercial photography, or something else. Having a specification will greatly assist you in focusing your time and energy on improving your situation.

Research the market and your competitors

When starting a photography business, one of the first things you should do is research the market and your local competitors. You want to be competitive in terms of price, but you also want to be a step ahead in terms of service to ensure that people choose you.

So, what exactly are you hoping to learn from your research?

  • What your competitors offer, and what they don’t offer – it’s good to have an idea of what’s the standard offer out there and to make sure that you at least match that. But equally important is to find out what they don’t offer, as this could be your unique selling point. Suryakant Raut from Clickbaby offers a cake smash session for babies who are turning 1, something that not many kids photographers do. This unique session easily sets him apart from the others, and in addition, it also gives him a good chance to capture pure fun and joy in the babies’ faces.
  • The price range of the service similar to what you offer – this will help hugely when it comes to pricing your service. While you don’t need to offer the exact figure, it’s helpful to know the range as a baseline, so you don’t undersell or oversell your service
  • The marketing strategies – before you start your marketing, it’s good to learn from the others. Take notes of the ideas, what works well, and what attracts the most attention. Is it the big discount, the seasonal promo, or creative campaigns? Learn from your competitors to get the ideas running, but come up with your own unique strategy.

Find your style

Every photographer has a distinct style. It can be sleek and modern, vintage and romantic, whimsical and fun, or something entirely different. There isn’t a single style that is superior to the others; each has its own personality and target audience. The styles of Annie Leibovitz and Terry Richardson are diametrically opposed – one is soft and dreamy, while the other is clean and sharp – but both are excellent in their own right.

Define your style and stick to it, as it will become your trademark and the overall look of your company.

Avoid: Copying the style of other photographers. It’s fine to look up to other photographers for ideas and inspiration, but you should develop your own style that sets you apart from the competition. The sleek and vibrant style of Rahul de Cunha Pictures, for example, can be seen in each and every one of their images, which helps to establish their trademark and brand.

Note: If you want to make some adjustments to the photo just let me know. I can do it for you at a very low cost. You can hire me to edit your photos.

Create a strong and consistent brand

When you’re first starting out, branding is critical because it’s how you present your company to customers. The term “branding” refers to more than just your company’s logo. Your branding should be consistent across your imagery, website design, social media, and other marketing tools. This guide to branding your photography business will be extremely useful in assisting you with your branding efforts.

One thing to keep in mind is to develop a brand that reflects your personal style. Make sure your brand reflects your personality, for example, if your style is vibrant and colorful. Ashok Arsh, a wedding photographer based in Chennai, manages to keep his photography style and brand consistent throughout his work, website, and social media channels. It doesn’t take long to realize that his work is full of color, whimsy, and creativity. Only a strong brand can accomplish this.

Although the logo is not the only aspect of branding, it is essential to have a distinct and memorable logo. If a design isn’t your strong suit, consider hiring a professional to create a custom logo for you.

Build a strong portfolio

Your portfolio will be the first impression your clients have of you, so make it one that piques their interest and makes them want to learn more. It’s difficult to build a portfolio when you’re just starting out because your collection may not be large enough. Don’t be afraid to offer your friends and family discounted sessions.

If your work involves events such as weddings, charge a lower fee for the documentation. Keep your portfolio up to date as you receive more photos from various assignments.

How to choose which images to put on the portfolio? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Only choose your best photos, and don’t compromise. If you hesitate about some photos, they’re probably not good enough
  • Keep your portfolio flowing – while the images you use won’t be from the same event or session (and they shouldn’t be), arrange them so they’re coherent and flowing
  • Include ‘emotional’ photos – it’s no secret that people tend to remember things that evoke emotions, so make sure you include these in your portfolio. If you’re a wedding photographer, a photo of the emotional groom would likely to be more memorable than a closeup of the flower arrangement.

Keep in mind the 3 things your portfolio should show: your skills, your experience, and your style.

Create a website

Some people believe that social media (particularly Instagram) is sufficient to serve as a portfolio, but this is not entirely correct. A website is similar to a digital business card in that it is used to introduce your brand and showcase your work. Because many people use websites to determine a company’s credibility, it’s critical to create a website that serves as a one-stop-shop for your clients to learn everything they need to know about you.

What should be on your website?

  • ‘About’ page – explaining what’s unique about your business, your photography style, etc.
  • Portfolio – your selection of the best images from projects you’ve taken in the past
  • Clients’ testimonials
  • Links to your social media accounts – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
  • Contact details – email, phone number
  • Blog (this is optional, but highly recommended) – while the portfolio displays a selection of your best photos from various projects, you can use the blog to post photos per event, or per session. Sometimes, it helps the clients to see continuous photos from an event to see your workflow and documentation approach as a whole.

Aside from giving your company a professional appearance, a website will be useful for future marketing efforts such as blogging to share useful content and updates with your customers, getting people to sign up for your newsletter, and increasing your discoverability with SEO.

Be confident in your pricing

When you’re a new player, it’s easy to undercharge your clients because you don’t have enough experience in the field. While you may need to start low and gradually raise your prices as you gain more experience, you should never undercharge for your service.

Offering a price that is too low will only cause clients to doubt your abilities and skills. Make certain that your price is within the range, even if it is on the low end. You can also make it more appealing by offering a significant discount.

Consider the editing process when calculating the prices. As a general rule, 3 hours of editing are required for every hour of shooting. If you have a 2-hour maternity session, your estimated working hours are as follows: 2 hours (shooting) + 6 hours (editing) = 8 hours.

Don’t forget to account for travel expenses, studio rent (if you use one), printed images and other goods you provide to clients (if any), and any other ongoing costs in your business.

Market consistently

Set aside a certain amount of time each day to market your company. Updating your social media, reaching out to potential clients, writing useful articles for clients to post on your blog, or attending photography events and gatherings are all good ways to spend your time. Make it a point to market your company on a regular basis.

To get the ball rolling, here’s where you can start with marketing:

  1. Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) – post at least once a day on each channel to grow it and keep your followers updated
  2. Blog – write about useful tips for your clients, for example: what to prepare for maternity photography, tips for beautiful engagement shots, or even amazing locations in your area that are interesting for a photoshoot. A good example of this is Arjun Kartha Photography, which specialises in wedding and engagement photography. Their blog is updated not only with recent weddings and engagement shoots, but also useful tips for couples and fellow photographers, from getting beautiful couple shots to wedding decor and outfit inspiration.
  3. Newsletter
  4. Offline marketing – despite what most people think, offline marketing is not dead. More about this in the next point.

Network, network, network

Networking is an important part of your marketing strategy, and it is as relevant today as it was years ago. Networking does not only refer to potential clients, but also to other photographers in your field and other business owners.

Building relationships with other photographers will allow them to pass on projects to you if they are fully booked while networking with other business owners will open doors to opportunities for collaborations and other projects.

What places do you go to network? To begin, you can attend local events such as photography meetups, bridal fairs, and other gatherings where you can introduce yourself and your business. Explain what you do and express your desire to collaborate with the people you meet.

To get your name out there, offer collaborations with local businesses. If you’re a wedding photographer, for example, connect with the wedding planner, caterers, and florists. If you’re a commercial photographer, you can work with local clothing stores, restaurants, or e-commerce ventures.

Have backups for everything

Every photographer’s worst nightmare is losing all of their hard work in a blip, and this is a risk you cannot take because it would jeopardize your reputation. Make certain that you take precautionary measures in each assignment. Use more than one memory card for each session, have backup equipment if possible, and backup the images as soon as possible after shooting.

Do creative projects in your free time

In your spare time, it’s good to have a personal project that can showcase your talent and creativity.

Hope this guide helps you get ready to start your own business!

Note: If you want to make some adjustments to the photo just let me know. I can do it for you at a very low cost. You can hire me to edit your photo.

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