Starting a Photography Business
Starting a photography business can be a fun and fulfilling way to earn a living. It combines two appealing concepts; the freedom of running your own business and being your own boss, and the chance to earn money from something that you probably do as a hobby anyway.
Of course, running a photography business can be hard work, and you’ll have to cope with a lot of issues that you’ve never thought about when taking holiday snaps or messing around with that new digital SLR you bought on eBay.
Everyone Is a Photographer
The first challenge is persuading people to pay you money. Everyone thinks that they’re a photographer, just like everyone thinks they’re a web designer, a writer, a personal trainer, a nutritionist, and a graphic designer.
Photography is a fairly accessible skill, and modern digital cameras make it possible for almost anyone to take “decent” shots.
If you want to make money as a photographer, you will need to learn how to take amazing shots, otherwise, you won’t be able to compete with your prospective customer’s uncle that has an expensive camera, and will cover their wedding for free.
Professional Photographers Make a Good Shot Out of Anything
As a hobbyist, you probably have a good eye for what makes a nice scene, and take every chance you can get to snap nice photographs of sunsets, high tides, gardens in bloom, or whatever other nice scenes you see.
As a professional photographer, you will need to make good pictures happen when you want them to. This means you’ll need to learn how to work in less than optimal conditions, and learn a lot about fixing bad photographs.
Depending on the kind of photography you want to do, you’ll either need portable lights and backdrops, or a home studio.
If you’re doing wedding photography, you’ll need to be able to travel to the places where the weddings are being held, and you’ll need a strong portfolio, so that prospective customers know they can trust you with what will probably be the most important photos they’ve ever had taken.
If you’re doing photography for stock photo sites, then you’ll need a good lightbox, and a lot of patience. Most stock photography sites no longer accept photos of “flowers”, “trees” or “sunset”, because they’re such common subjects.
If you want your work to be accepted, it will need to be original, high quality, and well designed. Investing in good equipment will put a big strain on your finances during the early stages of your business, but it is the key to success.
Know The Law
One final thing you will need to think about is the legal side of running a business. You will need to tell the tax man that you are running a business, even if you aren’t making a lot of money from it.
You are required to keep detailed records of all business related income and expenditure. You may not need an accountant, especially if you’re not making a lot of money from the images you submit, but you should behave as if you have one nagging you every day. When your business takes off, you will be glad you had detailed records from day one.
You should pay someone to draw up a model release form for you, if you take photos of people to sell on stock photography sites, or as a form of art.
If you’re doing events photography, you should get a good agreement drawn up which outlines what you are required to provide, and what compensation the client can get from you if you fail to deliver. This agreement will protect you from clients that try to scam free photos out of you by complaining about subjective issues.