Being in the photography industry for several years now, I get this question a lot regarding whether it is possible to start a photography business without any experience. If you would have asked me the same question a couple of years ago, I might have said no. But times are changing today, and photographers are in huge demand. And it’s not just their experience that is being appreciated; it is more about their skills and creativity.
And a lot of credit officer goes to social media platforms. It has become a lot easier to showcase your talent as a photographer and reach out to your target audience. And while many professional photographers go for full-time jobs for companies, many others want to start their own photography businesses.
But what if you want to start your photography business without any prior experience? What are the factors you need to consider? Is it possible to get clients when you are a newbie in the industry? What are the things you need to take care of before setting it up?
And that is precisely what I am going to discuss in this article. I will answer the question- ‘ how to start a photography business with no experience?’ with as much detail as I can. Please keep reading to the end if you want to know all about it.
- 1 Can you start a photography business with no experience?
- 2 What problems can you face while starting a photography business?
- 3 How to start a photography business with no experience?
- 3.1 Are you genuinely interested in photography?
- 3.2 Pick your niche
- 3.3 Research the market
- 3.4 Get your equipment ready
- 3.5 Build a proper business plan with pricing
- 3.6 Come up with a name, logo, and website for your business
- 3.7 Take care of the legal steps.
- 3.8 Work on building your portfolio
- 3.9 Take up free online courses to improve your skills.
- 3.10 Do not forget about social media.
- 3.11 Work towards attracting potential clients
- 4 Conclusion
Can you start a photography business with no experience?
Before moving on to how to start a photography business with no experience, let me cover a little bit about whether it is possible to start a photography business without any prior experience. If you have the same doubt, the short answer is ‘Yes.’ You can 100% go ahead with it as a newbie, but I will have to say that having experience definitely gives you an edge.
When you approach any client, it is natural that they might want to know about your previous work and experience when they are paying for a job. But does that mean experience cannot be gained? It most definitely can.
Even if you are just starting photography from scratch, you can still gain experience by doing some vocational free work or charging less. Plus, there are multiple courses available online which can help you get tips to improve your photography skills.
What problems can you face while starting a photography business?
It is never a bad idea to pursue your dreams. But it is also important to be realistic and do your research beforehand. I made some serious mistakes while starting out too, but those mistakes added to my experience, and I consider them lessons. However, having a look at the downsides will prepare you better for the journey so you know what to expect.
Firstly, you might already have an idea about the expenses related to camera equipment. They are definitely not cheap, and it is better to analyze the startup costs before you invest in the camera and other gear you will require.
It might feel that you are spending a major chunk of money before even earning anything, but you’ll still need a camera to kick-start your photography business.
Another point is that when you start your photography business journey, you might not be able to hire a proper team to work with initially. Hence, focusing on the camera and how the photographs will turn out is not sufficient. You have to learn and build a proper idea about a lot of other factors, like marketing strategies, accounting, and pricing, and also keep up with the industry trends.
Another factor that I went through personally is the insecurity this process comes with. It is natural to feel you are not good enough while starting photography and setting up your business.
You may feel you are not making smart decisions, not making as much money as you thought you had, or not doing better than your competitors, etc. But you will soon get the hang of it once you figure things out, one at a time.
How to start a photography business with no experience?
Now we come to the most awaited section of the article about how to start a photography business with no experience. These tips will help you get better clarity about what you need to pay attention to before and while starting a photography business.
Are you genuinely interested in photography?
I know you might be thinking, “duh, obviously!” but dig a little deeper. I say this from my personal experience and also from the examples I have seen over the years that it is impossible to start a business without being deeply interested in it. Even if you have the money to get it started, you won’t be able to run it successfully if you are not passionate about it.
Figure out why you decided to start your own photography business. Is it because you are not satisfied with your current job? Or maybe you want to travel more and take stunning photos along the way? Or maybe your current income is not enough, and you want to start a side hustle.
Whatever your reason is, knowing the “why” will help you understand your goals and stay focused on the entire journey. Photography is an art, and you can do your best work if you are enthusiastic and passionate about it. You must be willing to keep up with the trends and improve your skills as much as you can.
If you just see it as an opportunity to earn more money, I will be honest with you; it might not work in the long run. A photography business needs time, dedication, and effort. And you have to give in your 100%, especially when you are a newbie without prior photography or business experience.
Pick your niche
Now I cannot say that this is a mandatory step, but picking a particular genre of photography will help you establish your brand better and will give you a direction to work towards. Moreover, it will be easier to improve your skills in a particular department and reach out to a specific audience segment.
Even if someone wants to recommend your business, it would be easier if you specialize in a particular area. For example, a client might be looking for the best wedding photographer or maybe the best newborn photographer. In that way, gaining expertise in a specific department can be useful.
There are a lot of genres to explore, like wedding photography, newborn photography, food photography, event photography, sports photography, fashion photography, etc.
It is completely okay if you are unsure about the genre you want to follow and want to go on the general route. Once you start working, you can also figure out your interest on the way.
Research the market
When you enter a specific area of business, I always recommend researching the market to get an approximate idea about how your business will perform locally or otherwise. Find out which photographers are doing well at present, their pricing, and the niche they cover.
Studying their journey will give you a better idea about how to start a photography business with no experience and the target audience you want to reach. For example, let us suppose your local market is already filled with wedding photographers who have established a solid name. So if you want to set up your business on the local level, you might not want to cover the same niche.
The other option is to go for that genre and do something completely mind-blowing, which will help you take away the customers of the existing photographers. However, this is not a common scenario, but you can still go for it if you are confident.
Apart from picking the genre, researching the market will also give you valuable information about developing a business structure and promoting your brand.
Get your equipment ready
This is one step I might have to go a little bit in-depth with. When you are going to start a photography business, having to purchase a camera is a given if you do not have one already.
However, you want to choose a camera that is versatile yet does not drain your wallet completely. But purchasing a camera body is not enough; the lenses are the main heroes. In fact, many photographers choose the camera body based on the lenses they want to use.
Canon and Sony are some of the best brands to try out for photography today, and you’ll get tons of options from these brands. And while you may feel overwhelmed when you come across so many technical specifications, it is not necessary to pay attention to each and every detail when you are just starting out. Go for a decent and good-quality digital camera, and you should be good to go.
I would ask you to focus on the lenses more since they are a lifetime investment and can be a game changer. You can also get some lighting equipment that will be especially useful during indoor shoots.
The equipment that you need to purchase depends on your requirements and how much you are willing to spend. The one thing I want you to remember is that buying expensive equipment does not guarantee that you will get good photos. You can even use an old DSLR with a suitable lens to get those perfect shots.
Build a proper business plan with pricing
You need to write down your photography business plan that will help you visualize your goals better. It does not have to be perfect; I recommend going for a draft copy. I have always followed this tip, and it has helped me keep things organized and have a clear idea about the goals I want to achieve.
There is no specific length to follow; you can write 1 page or 20 pages. It can contain the motive behind your business, the audience you want to reach, market research you have done, steps to handle your income and expenses, and much more. Apart from being your own guide, it will also act as a reference document that another agency or brand might want to check out when they collaborate with you.
Pricing is also a crucial aspect to consider. You need to find that sweet spot where the pricing is not too high, where people are skeptical towards working with you, or too low, where you are not earning enough as per your talent. It is okay to be confused at first, but what I learned is that having an idea about what your competitors are charging can give you better clarity.
While setting your pricing, so consider the duration of a photoshoot, editing work, creating prints if needed, travel expenses, etc too. If they do not want physical copies, you might have to include the price of discs and overall packaging.
Come up with a name, logo, and website for your business
Well, you have an idea for building a successful photography business. But is it possible to market it without a name? Not at all! You will need a name and logo for your business. While you can go with your own name, you can also go for something creative to build a brand identity in the minds of your audience.
The name is essential because it will help you stand out and imprint your brand in the minds of whoever comes across it. If you are unable to come up with an exciting name, there are multiple free business name generators available online.
The same goes for your logo. It is an essential component for establishing the identity of your brand. You can take the help of a graphic designer if required to do the job. The website will help you showcase your photography skills and reach out to more people. However, you have to spend a little money on buying a domain.
The website should mention who you are and the story behind your business. It will help build a better relationship with the visitors. You can also mention your prices on it to maintain transparency and even add a testimonial section where you can ask your clients to provide their feedback.
Do not forget to add a contacts section where people will be able to reach out easily via messages or email.
Take care of the legal steps.
This is one area I had to do significant research on since I did not have a clear idea initially. Getting into legal matters may seem tedious, but it is necessary when you want to set up a business, irrespective of the type.
And when you set up a legal business, it is important to register with the state and the IRS. The aspect of paying also comes into the picture, and you have to choose the route you want to go ahead with, like being a sole proprietor, LLC, S-corps/C-corps. If you are confused about the terms, you need to do some proper research and possibly reach out to an accountant for advice.
You will also need a business permit and get an employer identification number set up. The EIN is only needed if you are an LLC or S-corp. Once you start growing your business, building a proper client contract is also necessary for the protection of both parties.
And, of course, insurance is also a mandatory aspect to protect yourself and your clients from unpredictable situations.
Work on building your portfolio
I cannot stress enough how important a portfolio is for your business. It is okay if you do not have clarity on how to start a photography business with no experience, but it’s never too late to start adding your work to your professional portfolio.
This is a terrific way to showcase your work to clients, and you can also publish them on a website to reach more people. Clicking and adding photos to the portfolio should be a regular thing, and we also show how your skills are improving with time.
Take up free online courses to improve your skills.
The internet has the solution to almost anything you want to know and learn. And this includes improving your photography skills. There are multiple free resources online to help you understand the essential technical skills required while using a camera to start photography and the techniques for editing photos. A professional photo editor tool can be handy here.
Once you take up classes and courses, your skills will keep improving, and you will also be aware of the latest trends in the industry.
In today’s times, you are seriously missing out if you are not taking advantage of this powerful tool known as social media. If you want to promote your business and be discoverable, there is nothing better than being present on several social media platforms.
You don’t have to be present on every social media platform, but being available on the most popular ones, like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, can also help to a significant extent.
Geotagging your photos is another thing you can use to your advantage. For example, if you’re at a particular photo along with the location where it was clicked, your shots will come up in the results if someone is searching for pictures in a certain location. Implement Search Engine Optimization to attract organic traffic to your business and upscale your business.
I prefer Instagram because not only is it popular, but it is a great platform to upload your photos and attract clients. I would also suggest making use of hashtags and maintaining consistency to increase the reach of your content and make the audience aware of your business.
Work towards attracting potential clients
Once you have set up your photography business, you will need clients to work with. And you cannot expect to get them by just sitting in your office without putting in any effort. The photography industry is about networking and reaching clients. And you can try that in any way you find convenient.
If you feel awkward meeting new clients face-to-face, you can network using social media platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms.
And once you find some clients and work with them, you can further reach out to more people by asking them for referrals. To make the deal even sweeter, you can offer a small bonus or a discount to your existing client who helps you secure new business.
I hope this article has been helpful in answering the question- ‘how to start a photography business with no experience?’ The entire process can feel very overwhelming initially, but it is gratifying, too, especially when you are passionate about this field.
It will need a lot of hard work to run your business, but the tips can help you kick-start the journey and give an idea about the areas you need to focus your attention on. Yes, it is a risky adventure, but you will not regret it because you are pursuing something you love doing.