How to start a photography business and choose a niche

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 17 June 2022 | Published 3 January 2022

Updated 17 June 2022

Published 3 January 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you have an interest or passion in photography, you may have considered starting a photography business. As a flexible, creative and potentially profitable career, starting your own business in photography is a good alternative to a nine-to-five job. As a popular field with many different sub-sectors, photography has plenty of different options to suit your schedule or interests. In this article, we explore what it takes to start a photography business, from the steps to getting set up to the different niches available.

Related: How much does a photographer make?

How to start a photography business

If you love taking photos and are wondering how to start a photography business, then it's important to have a plan in place. By putting in the time upfront, you can reduce setbacks and challenges when you establish your business. Taking the time to sit down and think about your business can help you to achieve your goals. Some of the steps you can take to start a photography business include:

1. Decide on the service to offer

When you start to plan your photography business, the first thing you could think about is what kind of service you want to offer. We've covered some of the key types of photography businesses above, but you may want to consider what works best for your lifestyle. For example, travelling across the country for wedding photography may be less suited than a studio photography business if you have childcare responsibilities.

2. Create a business strategy

A strong strategy and plan for your business can help provide guidance and insight to make the right choices. Sit down and think about what you would like your business to do and what audience to target. With a solid idea of your direction for your business, you are better placed to make decisions to help your brand grow.

3. Invest in necessary equipment

A significant part of starting a photography business is investing in the kit required if you don't own it already. A photography business's typical investments could include cameras, lenses, lighting and other necessary technical equipment. If you plan to work out of a studio, you may also want to think about where that studio could be and the investment to rent or build it.

4. Name and register your company

As a business owner, the next step to take is naming and registering your business. Many photography businesses owned by a single person choose to use their own name for their company, while others prefer a catchy name or something they are passionate about. It could also be a good idea to ensure no competitors with a similar name are nearby to reduce the risk of confusion.

Related: Self-employed vs employed: the differences between the two options

5. Pick a location for your business

The location of your services depends on the type of photography business you would like to be. Wedding and event photographers often work on the road, while travel fashion photographers may hire studios near their clients. If you plan to work from home or to purchase a local studio, it is worth thinking about what your local audience could be like to help you design the ideal space.

6. Create a pricing structure for your services

Pricing is an integral part of any business plan. Photography businesses usually work on a specific payment scale or menu for their services, though the actual method of calculating that payment may be different. For example, a wedding photographer may charge a flat fee, while a family photographer could charge per picture.

7. Establish your brand

Establishing your brand is a good next step if you are ready to get your photography business visible to your audience. Creating a website or online portfolio provides a place for potential customers to learn more about you and the services you offer. You may also want to create a logo and branding for your marketing and sales materials to help establish your professionalism in your field.

8. Build your portfolio

The more comprehensive your portfolio, the more examples you have of the quality and standard of work you offer. Potential customers want to see the work you can do for themselves before they hire you in most cases, and a versatile and professional portfolio can give them a strong idea of your work. If possible, you can benefit from a portfolio that's stocked with quality images before you start marketing your services.

9. Market your photography business

The method you market your business in may vary depending on the field you choose. As a new business, you want to get your name out there in the right way to attract your specific type of audience. For a corporate photographer, this could mean networking on different social sites, while for a family photographer, advertising on local social media pages may be the most suitable way to attract an audience.

Related: Digital marketing skills: definition and examples

10. Expand your business through your customers

Whether your specialisation is corporate, fashion or family, word of mouth and testimonials can help you bring in new customers. Once you have an established customer base, using their stories and words can help to grow your business. Recommendations are an effective way for many photography businesses to grow, so providing a way to give feedback and connect with your customers can directly support expansion over time.

What is a photography business?

A photography business is a company that provides various services in the photography sector. Photography businesses can be a single, self-employed individual or a larger enterprise, depending on the demand and scale of service. The day-to-day work of a photography business may vary based on their specific niche, but key services involve taking and editing photographs for clients. Starting a photography business may be ideal for individuals with a creative background or an eye for photography.

Related: Photography skills: definition and examples

What kinds of photography businesses are there?

The photography industry is extensive and features many niches and sub-categories. Some photography businesses may choose to provide highly specialised services, while others offer generalised skills for various applications. The field you go into could depend on your personal preference or your individual skill set. Here are common types of photography sectors:

Fashion photography

Fashion photography involves taking photographs of clothes and models in a range of different settings. Some fashion photography work may include working in a professional studio, while other work could involve location-based shooting. Traditionally, fashion photographers work for publications and magazines. However, many modern fashion photography businesses shoot for bloggers and influencers too.

Wedding and event photography

As one of the best-known types of photography business, wedding and event photography is a popular option for photographers. Work for wedding and event photographers involves travelling to locations either in a set radius or across the country. Wedding photography, in particular, may include working over weekends and in evenings instead of during set working hours.

Product photography

Product photography is generally carried out in a controlled studio setting. Photographers that specialise in this line of work usually provide services to e-commerce businesses or brands trying to sell a product. Day-to-day work could include taking photographs and editing them for online listings plus food and product photography for local businesses to use in marketing.

Family photography

Family photography or portrait photography typically includes those requested by clients for special occasions involving family members. Family photographers either work from a specific studio or offer on-site services for posed, formal photographs of a person or group of people. Examples of family photography services could include seasonal photo studios in retail stores or a private studio available for newborn, couple and family photography.

Corporate photography

Corporate photography businesses work directly with industries and companies to provide formal portraits for work purposes. Corporate photography is common in a workplace setting, using portable lighting and backdrops to achieve a cohesive look. While the exact nature of the photographs may vary, corporate photographers often work within set office hours to provide a service that suits their customer base.

Editorial photography

One of the more artistic types of photography, editorial photography, involves taking photographs for use in magazines, articles, or other publications. Examples of editorial photography could include anything from landscape and wildlife photography to high-fashion and political imagery. Editorial photography fits a range of niches, and photographers may specialise in a specific area within the industry.

Stock image photography

As an increasingly popular option for photography businesses, stock imagery can provide a way to bring in long-term income instead of up-front payment. Stock photographers create a wide range of valuable images with no branding or affiliation, which businesses can buy. Instead of receiving direction from a client, stock image photographers often choose to shoot in bulk and earn their income from the images they have already uploaded online.

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