Photography is an art. Photographs have the ability to tell stories, record events and memorialize precious memories. Successful photographers balance the expression of their art with creativity to tell a story through images. You know this because you are a photographer, or at least are highly interested in photography. Maybe you have thought about turning your lifelong passion into your own home based business. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, in 2014 about three in five photographers were self-employed  and employment for self-employed photographers is projected to grow nine percent from 2014 to 2024 .
Why now is a good time to consider starting a home based photography business.
- Flexibility. Although it depends on your specialty, hours can be flexible based on when you meet with your clients. You also have considerable control over when you want to work to meet your deadlines. Photography also lends itself to being a part-time business.
- Companies hire freelance photographers. More companies in today’s environment prefer to hire photographers on a freelance basis rather than have a full-time employee. Aside from potential financial savings, hiring freelance photographers allows companies to pick and choose based on the project and amount of work.
- You can be your own boss. Having your own business gives you control over everything from marketing strategy and client development to hours and pay structure.
- Continuous professional development. Photography is ever-changing with the advent of digital methods and design technology to produce and enhance photographs and images. In order to be on the cutting edge, skills like photo editing and digital video production are more important now than ever. An increase in professional skills and continuous learning are non-monetary rewards that many budding entrepreneurs are finding more attractive than the corporate environment.
Tips on Starting a Photography Business
Starting a home business of any kind takes patience, time and organization. Often, it may seem as if all of your hard work to start your business might not lead you anywhere at first. Here’s a checklist to follow to help ensure you do all the legwork to get your home photography business up and running:
- Evaluate your costs for everything. Start by pricing cameras, lenses, tripods, lights, backdrops and photography software for your laptop or computer. Pricing the supplies that you need early on will help you budget the money you’ll need to start your business. What will it cost to set up your in-home studio? Understanding the upfront costs lets you know if it’s feasible to invest your own money or if taking out a small business loan is a better option.
- Determine pricing for your services. How much will you charge for your photography services? A good place to start is by researching what other photographers in your area are charging for similar services that you plan to provide. Think about how you want to position your pricing. Will you be lower than your competition? Maybe you have an angle or an edge over your competitors that allows you to charge a premium for your services. Either way, it is good business to be confident in what you think people should pay for your services.
- Register your business and get licensed. Not all business structures require registration, but it may be a good idea to register a name for your business to make sure others cannot use the name without your permission. Also, you want to be sure the name has not already been taken. You also want to find out if licensing your business is required before you start up.
- Have a written contract for your services. A written contract allows you to spell out the ground rules, expectations and responsibilities of each party in the agreement. Be sure to include a detailed outline of the services you will provide.
- Set up a records system. Having an organized records system set up in advance allows you to keep track of clients, contracts and key business documents, all right at your fingertips. You’ll also want to have an efficient accounting and bookkeeping system in place for invoicing, payments and expenses.
- Purchase insurance for your home business. Insurance for your home business is designed to cover your property, equipment and even business-related liability. If anything were to happen while you’re photographing, such as an accident at one of your clients’ sites involving injury, you could be responsible. Also, insurance will cover the property and equipment you’ve invested money in, which will give you peace of mind.
When you’ve set up your photography business, follow this checklist to guide you through promoting it.
- Build your portfolio. By building a portfolio you can show your potential clients your past work as well as showcase your photography style. Update your portfolio every so often to show your range of specializations.
- Build your client list. Building a client list early on will assist you in gaining a reputation among other photographers. Listening is a valuable skill; really hear what your clients want. Be aware of falling into the trap of imposing your style onto them; clients who get what they want are satisfied clients. Word of mouth advertising is most important when you first start out, but as your clientele grows, establishing good, lifelong relationships with your clients is crucial to keep your business thriving.
- Get outside inspiration. You may be specializing in one particular type of photography, such as portraiture or wedding photography, but don’t be afraid to dip your toe in areas outside of your specialization. Look at other photographers’ work, pictures in magazines, lighting in movies and even paintings. You may find helpful hints and tips on the types of photographs you might want to take in the future. Inspiration for your next photo shoot can come from anywhere and everywhere.
- Market, market, market. Advertise your business however you can. Create a website, make flyers and post on social media. Marketing is one of the best ways to get your business known to potential customers who are looking for your services.
- Learn to accept criticism. Genuinely valuing your clients’ opinions on your work will help you learn more about their expectations of you. Also, this shows that you’re not just brushing aside their opinions on your work, but taking them into consideration and making any necessary improvements.
Even though it may seem as if starting your home based photography business is a daunting task, it can be extremely satisfying and potentially profitable. Following the tips above will help you build a framework for hopefully a successful entrepreneurial career as a professional photographer.
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: Photographers — Work Environment
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: Photographers — Job Outlook
- Registering with State Agencies
- How to Start a Home-Based Photography Business
- 26 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Starting My Photography Business
- Life through a lens: how to start a successful photography business
DISCLAIMER: This post provides general information related to starting a photography business from home. Lindbergh is not a law firm. This information is not intended as a substitute for, and should not be relied upon as, legal advice. It is provided for general educational and informational purposes only. Although Lindbergh strives to ensure that its content is accurate, it makes no guarantees. All legal inquiries should be directed to intellectual property counsel in your State or jurisdiction. Lindbergh is not responsible for any errors or omissions in the content of this post or damages arising from the use of this information under any circumstances.