How to Start a Photography Business (the right way!)

start a photography business

How To Start A Photography Business – The Right Way! [The 9 Areas of Mastery]


Last week we published a post on Complete Lightroom Automation and a lot of you guys loved it. Some of you even emailed me back telling how much you enjoyed the post. Thank you so much for all the lovely comments.

This week however, we will not be talking about lightroom…we shall continue that discussion next week. We have some really amazing stuff to share with you guys on Lightroom very soon 🙂

Today we will be discussing all about… How to start your photography business – the right way! You see, Photography is one of the most exciting fields that there is…but being in the business of photography is completely a whole new ball game!

If you shoot images for a living, you already know that the business of photography can be very challenging.

[su_note note_color=”#F3CFC5″]As an entrepreneur, if you wish to become successful in the business of Photography, then you must have a rock solid understanding & practical knowledge in the following 9 areas:

1. Equipment, Lighting & Posing
2. Software & Tools
3. Studio and Location
4. Website & Portfolio
5. Marketing & Design
6. Social Media, Connection & Networking
7. Price & Product
8. Sales & Selling
9. Leadership & Management[/su_note][clickToTweet tweet=”Master These 9 Business Areas of Photography & Become A Successful Professional Photographer!” quote=”Master These 9 Business Areas of Photography & Become A Successful Professional Photographer!”]

9 areas of mastery in photography business

Whether you are just starting out, or you are a seasoned professional, you need to have at least a decent understanding of all the above 9 areas. Mastering all the above 9 areas will almost certainly guarantee your success in the business of photography.

And today, we will be covering all these 9 areas in detail so that you know exactly which areas you are already good at and which areas you need to improve upon. Then in subsequent blog posts, we can deal with even more in depth information on the above 9 areas.

how to become a professional photographer

Infographic Credits: Petapixel – View Full Size here.

I’m really excited to share some really cool tips with you today.…

So let’s get started…

The 9 Areas of Mastery – For starting a photography business – the right way!

1. Equipment, Lighting and Posing:

The very 1st area you need to master is Equipment, Lighting and Posing. This is an absolute fundamental area to master and to tell you the truth, without a good understanding of this area, you really can’t even think of starting a Photography Business.

Now let us understand this area in greater detail…

When I say this area is all about Equipment, Lighting & Posing….what do I specifically mean?

Let’s get to the heart of the matter…

What I mean is… You need to have a rock solid technical knowledge & understanding of your Equipment & Gear, about lighting & posing your subjects (especially if you photograph weddings, fashion, glamour portraits etc)

Before you own great cameras, lenses & lighting equipment you got to have a solid knowledge and understanding of how they all work in tandem to create the imagery you wish to create. Just owning a Hasselblad or a Leica wouldn’t make you a great photographer!

Manual Photography Cheat Sheet

Infographic Credits: Fotografía Del Ecuador

Using fancy lighting equipment from say broncolor or profoto wouldn’t make you fashion photographer and similarly with all the above mentioned fancy equipment, you wouldn’t be able to move the needle in your business if you don’t know how to pose your subjects well.

portrait lighting setups

Infographic Credits: Digital Camera World

Calling yourself a candid, photojournalist, editorial or a documentary wedding photographer wouldn’t make up for the fact that you don’t know how to pose your subjects well. We all know that the best fashion & wedding photographers in the world know how to pose their subjects well. A good pose can even make or break an image…it can be that critical!

Posing 1

Credits: Susie Moore Photography

Many people think that if you don’t shoot using a full frame dslr, you aren’t really a professional. That is a huge myth & misconception. I know great photographers shooting amazing images even on their smartphones!

It’s not about the tools, but the person using the tools and his / her understanding of those tools. The tools do make a difference, but if you don’t know how to use them, they are no good for you. Really!

As you progress in your business & career of photography, you can slowly upgrade & better your equipment and gear over time, but what is critical from the get go, is to have a solid knowledge and understanding of Equipment, Lighting & Posing.

The fancy stuff with all the bells and whistles can be added later to your arsenal.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Start small & upgrade your equipment & lighting gear gradually over time as you get better!” quote=”Start small & upgrade your equipment & lighting gear gradually over time as you get better in photography!”]

How to Set Up A Photography Business

Infographic Credits: TheLawTog

Conclusion: Focus more on improving your technical skills with regards to your equipment, lighting & posing. Add the fancy stuff over time.

2. Software and Tools:

The 2nd area of mastery is your level of understanding of the softwares and tools that you use for your editing & post-production.

In the beginning, when you are just starting out in your photography business, you need to know have at least a decent understanding of how to edit & process your images. Adobe Lightroom is the best starting point.

Over time, you can improve your expertise, knowledge and skill set in Photoshop and other important tools & softwares. As you get better in your photography business, you can even hire expert editors and retouchers who can create artistic looks for you…but initially when you are just starting out, you need to know how to color correct, retouch & color grade an image at the very least. And that’s the main reason why we recommend starting out with Adobe Lightroom and later on adding Adobe Photoshop to your workflow.

Some of the most popular Editing & Post Processing Tools used by Professional Photographers are:

Photo Editing & Retouching Software

  1. Adobe Lightroom
  2. Adobe Photoshop
  3. Capture One Pro
  4. Photo Mechanic – Importing & Culling

Album Designing & Proofing Software:

  1. Fundy Software
  2. Smart Albums

So you may ask, with all the above softwares, where do I really start?

To keep things simple, Adobe Lightroom is a great starting option. Later you can add more tools & softwares to your arsenal! You can even hire master retouchers and editors to take your imagery to a whole new level.

3. Studio and Location:

The next area which you need to look at, is a studio / office which is situated at a good location.  Now don’t even think about renting out an office or studio in the beginning of your photography business. This is one of the biggest mistakes newbies and amateurs make! All it does is, it uses up a big chunk of your cash flow and income from your photography business.

There are huge running & operational costs attached to an office or a studio setup. And initially, you are a lot better off, if you rent out a studio or an office cubicle if you really need to. This will reduce your operating cost of business.

Photography Studio 01

Photography Studio 06

Credits: Hearts In Focus

Also, another advantage is, when you reach a stage where you absolutely must have an office or a studio, you would also be lot more experienced in choosing the right location for your market & will be able to plan and design your studio a lot better. You would be knowing exactly what you need in terms of camera gear and lighting equipment for the studio and also what makes for a good location.

You can then go and plan on either renting out a place or buying it outright whichever makes better sense to you and your logistics.

25 Ways To Build A Local Following And Market Your Business

Infographic Credits: DesignAGlow

4. Website and Portfolio:

Having a web site today is no longer a luxury…it’s become a necessity! You absolutely must have a well designed search engine friendly website so that people in your area / locale can easily find you and check out your work.


Infographic Credits: Alessia Tatulli

Here are some essentials of a good website:

  • Should be quick and easy to customize and design
  • You must have complete control over the look, feel, design and functionality of your website
  • It must be functional and SEO Friendly (Optimised for Google and other search engines)

[su_note note_color=”#F3CFC5″]Here are some recommendations we have for a Great Website & Portfolio:

Hosting: Bluehost (Super easy to set up and go live!)

Site / Blog Platform: WordPress (Use this link only and not

WordPress Theme: Divi by Elegant Themes (Design Custom Websites, Blogs & Landing Pages & Sales Funnels)

Portfolio: Smugmug (Best option for quickly creating gorgeous portfolios. Also the Smugmug’s integration with Lightroom using Publish Services is a huge time saver!)[/su_note]

The above recommendations are based on our research and what we use for our own sites! We would never recommend any stuff that we don’t use ourselves in our own business 🙂

5. Marketing & Design:

All the efforts you do to make your business successful rest on good marketing & design. Period.

Now what do I mean exactly by Marketing?

Marketing refers to all your branding and promotional activities that help your business connect with your target audience. Marketing therefore is your 1st point of contact. It refers to how good of an impression you are able to make with your niche audience.

[su_note note_color=”#F3CFC5″]Good Marketing is a combination of one or more of the below factors:

Promotional Activities
Good Branding & Design
Goodwill in the market & word of mouth publicity
Advertising etc.[/su_note]

Grow your photography Business

Infographic Credits: Petapixel – View High Res here.

6. Social Media, Connection & Networking:

In today’s day and age, networking is mission critical for any business. It is extremely important for every business these days to create, develop & maintain great professional relationships and partnerships.

There are many ways to network with your tribe…

Social Media for Photographers

Infographic Credits: Rising Tide Society

Networking can be done in the following ways:

  • Attending workshops & seminars
  • Participating in tradeshows, fairs, events, award shows and competitions
  • Networking through social media
  • Networking via e-mail
  • Referrals & recommendations etc.

7. Price & Product:

Based on your level of technical knowledge, skills & experience your pricing and product offering should vary.

Photobooks Products

Credits: Graphistudio

As you get better with your craft and gain more skills and experience, your pricing and product offerings should also change over time. You cannot just simply get into the business of photography and start charging a premium for your products and services.

The reverse applies too…you simply cannot charge the same rates to your future clients as you gain more expertise and experience in your photography business. As you get better and better you should revise your pricing and also your product offerings that are reflective of your reputation and goodwill in the market.


Design Credits: Design By Bitter Sweet

The quality of your work should dictate your pricing and product offerings at all times. It’s as simple as that 🙂

8. Sales & Selling:

Sales & selling is one of my most favorite subjects and also one of the most difficult areas of business to gain mastery over.

make people love your business

Design Credits: Olivia

So how does Sales / Selling differ from Marketing?

Well…the quality of your marketing will only determine how many people you are able to get in touch with as your 1st point of contact. But the quality of your selling will finally determine whether that person becomes your client or not. Not just that… it will also determine, how much money is the client willing to invest with you in your products and services.

Believe me, this is one of the most challenging areas to master…

If you want to master the art of sales, you must be able to convince your client about the following:

  • What products and services you really need and why? &
  • Why should you hire me?

The degree of your success at sales / selling depends on how well you are able to convince your clients in answering the above 2 questions!

Infographic 31 ways to make money as a photographer

Infographic Credits: Photography Concentrate

9. Leadership & Management:

And last but not the least…one of the most important areas you need to master to start your Photography Business is leadership and management.

If you want to really succeed at the business of photography, then you must be able to develop your leadership & management skills.

[su_note note_color=”#F3CFC5″]Remember: A good leader is only as good as his / her team and a good team is only as good as their leader!

It’s a mutual thing…you need to possess good leadership & managerial skills to hire, inspire, motivate and manage your team members. Only then can you succeed in your business of photography.

Management does not just mean, managing people…there is a lot more to it. Management involves money management, inventory management, project & systems management and a whole lot more![/su_note]


Infographic Credits: Colorvale Actions


So that wraps up our discussion on what it takes to start a photography business the right way! There is a lot more to photography than just knowing your camera and gear. The business of photography is challenging, exciting, fun and at the same time extremely gratifying if done well 🙂

The one thing that you need to understand is, the 1st 6 areas are relatively a lot easier to master than the last 3 areas. But the last 3 areas will ultimately determine whether you will just be a Professional Photographer or a Master Businessman & Artist in Photography!

[su_note note_color=”#F3CFC5″]Question: Is there anything else you wish to add to our discussion? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

If you liked this post, please don’t forget to share it with your friends & colleagues! Sharing is caring ?[/su_note]

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