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Digital photography tips, techniques, methods, reviews, strategies and photographer's resources.

30 Tips for a Successful Photography Business

If you have an inclination towards capturing interesting moments, be it natural or artificially fashioned through your camera, then you should give thought toward becoming a professional photographer. It is unnecessary to join an institution or a company for honing your photographic skills, all that you need to have is a passion and a creative interest in photography.

A good deal of money can be earned with photographs but you should have a plan. A photography business can be started from one of three levels, i.e. Hobby, Amateur and Professional. You must like or better still, Love photography and have a reasonable understanding of some fundamental techniques. If you would like to improve on your existing techniques this guide is worth having and is useful; digital photography secrets.

At whichever level you want to start your photography business, here are some of the guidelines that will help a long way toward building a successful photography business.

What are the sources for obtaining career information in building a photography business?

Guideline 1: It is always better to do some extensive research before starting out a career with your own photography business so that you understand the pros and cons involved. Some ideas include subscribing to a good magazine related to the photographic industry such as Professional Photographer, Camera Arts, Photo District News. Besides that, the internet is the biggest source of information and can provide you with a plethora of career opportunities or even more information on starting a photography business.

At which level do you want to start your photography business?

Guideline 2: This is the trickiest question that a person interested in starting a business encounters. It is very important to decide what kind of photography business you want so that the relevant requirements and (sometimes) finance can be muscled up.

When is the best time to start a fully-fledged photography business?

Guideline 3: After deciding on what you need and any extra necessary equipment that is needed to set up the basic infrastructure, you will need to consider carefully your main tool – the camera, be it digital or film. You must also consider carefully a reliable, high-quality PC and good relevant photo software to manipulate your photographs with special effects. If the business is being undertaken on a massive scale then maybe a developing lab needs to be planned and established.

What kind of venues will yield real income to your business?

Guideline 4: A newly established business in photography requires an assured location or a beat (working locally), as in journalism. For instance, wedding photography, sports related photography or developmental photography. Once established, business can also be diversified into many more fields. Start with the one you enjoy the most and diversify later. Even pet photography and doll photography have become popular and are worth looking into if they are of interest to you.

Building a photography portfolio

Guideline 5: It is always important to compile a good portfolio as far as photography is concerned. A portfolio must contain a collection of pertinent photographic work that you believe to be impressive. Make sure that photographs are unusual in character and are from diverse fields. Your portfolio must be able to impress the client in the very first meeting. There are rarely any second chance.

Guideline 6: Don’t keep all the photographs that you have in your possession. Only keep your best work in the folder so that you don’t embarrass yourself or find yourself having to explain photographs that aren’t relevant.

Guideline 7: Showcase spontaneous photos that you believe are of good quality. You’d be surprised how many people respond favorably to peoples expressions when they are good shots.

Basic apparatus required

Guideline 8: A canvas background of at minimum 7-9 foot and the background colors should be either navy or white as minimum requirements to start with; a well-branded studio lights system such as that of Norman & Speedtron; certified picture manipulation software such as Photoshop. Here’s a popular and affective Photoshop downloadable guide.

Is there a need for establishing a makeup studio as part of your photo studio?

Guideline 9: Makeup and photography often go hand in hand. Wherever makeup is involved it is often referred to as trick photography because makeup is capable of completely transforming an individual’s personality, and sometimes relevance to a product in the case of advertising photography for the final photo. If you want to have makeup knowledge for photography at your fingertips, try this downloadable makeup guide

What kind of photo-editing software available in the market?

Guideline 10: Photo-editing software through which special effects and complete changes to a photo are possible and can also often save the need for a re shoot. I’ve already highlighted my favorites above but here are some more below.

Guideline 11: Some of the photo-editing software that are popular includes Photoshop CS; Photoshop Light room, iPhoto, i View Multimedia, MediaPro, ACDSee, Corel and Picasa.

Why the storage and treatment of photographs crucial in building photography business?

Guideline 12: Never adopt laxity while handling or archiving photographs. You will regret it later. Storage and access efficiency will either improve or frustrate your working environment. Often older photos become more valuable with time.

How can be photographs be preserved easily apart from the conventional method?

Guideline 13: Today’s cameras are highly versatile and will allow downloads and transfers from highly surprising devices including your mobile but pictures can also be stored on a CD’s, USB’s and DVD’s too.

Choosing a Camera

Guideline 14: Stick to a well known brand. The level of mega pixels offered and quality of the zooming facility must be looked into carefully. I have my favorites but there are many equally as good as mine.

Guideline 15: Most of the cameras are compatible with computers and printers and moreover, because we now use memory sticks, we are truly free to operate unencumbered.

What kind of a website does a person need to have?

Guideline 16: Your collection of photographs must be properly classified under different categories. Visual appearance of your website will do wonders for your business so take consider setting up one with semi automation where the maintenance and hard work is done for you like photostockplus. Be sur eto read what they have to offer, it’s quite unique if you’re starting out.

Guideline 17: Remember to constantly upgrade and maintain your website so that each time people come across your website, they will find fine something new and interesting.

Copyright of your photographs

Guideline 18: Copyright is the right which protects the person who owns or who took the photographs. A wise exercise if you are looking to use some stock houses for commercial photography purposes.

Why is a business card helpful?

Guideline 19: In every business, visiting cards are helpful. It is extremely useful for people to contact you after your first meeting. It must contain all your contact details. If you’re a photographer, a clever impressive graphic or a picture of yourself with your equipment is best. Your contact number or email must be easy to read. I have seen cards that have large names and pictures and the phone numbers are so small they are difficult to read. Ridiculous! Make your phone number the largest thing on the card – that’s what most people will use it for.

Which things must be kept in mind while you plan to build a wedding photography business?

Guideline 20: Wedding Photography is almost another art unto itself. There are many things to remember for a truly successful wedding shoot. I have prepared another article to deal with this in more detail and it’s all about Wedding Photography.

Advantage of assignment photography

Guideline 21: Assignment photography is that branch of photography where a person is engaged or consigned to capture shots of something impressive and extraordinary, such as in the case of advertising or portrait photography; this can provide you a stable income after you’ve learned the ropes. A sound knowledge of posing is required when you are keen to start up a portrait photography business. Here’s my favorite downloadable guide on posing for the camera.

Advantage of stock photography

Guideline 22: Stock photography is that branch of photography where there is an accumulated stock of photographs which can be sold to interested buyers, designers, adverting agencies etc. This can be a long haul but if your pictures are well thought out, it can be the source of an ongoing income. One of my favorites is

However, this is a current and popular stock photography business guide download I think is pretty special and worth looking at closely – stock photography business guide

Other places where you can sell your photographic collection?

Guideline 23: Art shows are the perfect platform from where your creativity and work will be really appreciated because at such places you will find some niche customers that have a sharp eye for real talent. Such places have been known to bring instant fame. Here’s a really good niche market for making money with your camera; Camera Dollars.

Guideline 24: Winter Park Art Show at Orlando, Oklahoma City Festival of the Arts, Old Town Art Show; Chicago, Boston Mills Art Show; Peninsula, Ohio, Similar art shows are held in different parts of the world and they are easy to find on the net. Simply do a Google search for “photography art show” and the name of the country you are in after adding the plus sign like this; “photography art show”+ Sweden

Prices to be charged from the clients

Guideline 25: In the initial stages of your business, don’t try to charge exorbitant amounts otherwise it will give the wrong impression and you will perhaps lose a valuable long term customer. Tread slowly. Ring other photographers and research. Five phone calls should do it.

Marketing your photography business

Guideline 26: You must try to market your work at relevant places. Photographs can also be published over the internet. Publication over the internet will increase customer enquiry. Don’t forget to search for suitable local markets and get the snaps printed in a local journal or newspaper and always display your contact number prominently – always!

Guideline 27: Establishing and popularizing a business is a tough call but if you adopt a proper marketing strategy. Today, Advertising is one of the most popular mediums of promoting. Ads can be placed on websites ie Google adwords, Yahoo, etc., online telephone directories, newspapers and magazines, etc. Research the right mediums before you rush in. Sometimes good deals get in the way of recognizing the right advertising vehicle.

Guideline 28: You can develop a website of your own to effectively promote your photography business. Here’s one that’s popular and many of my subscribers use it too; Photostockplus. One thing that must be kept in mind is never forget to include a testimonial section and gauge the response of the people visiting your website. Let them make comments (if spam is not an issue).

Career prospects in photo journalism

Guideline 29: Individuals interested in setting up a photography business can begin their career by becoming a photo journalist. Appealing and unusual photographs can be supplied to newspapers, magazines, websites and while the photography business is booming to such an extent that even international media organizations will offer you good money in return for rare and high-quality photographs.

Guideline 30: Mainstream photographers are engaged in TV, publishing and copy services, newspapers, magazines and sketch photography. There are many more jobs also related to photography than there ever were previously and because of the diversity and flexibility of digital photography, more respect has been attached to this profession. Some of the avenues in photography apart from business are Journalism, Graphic arts, Advertising, DTP jobs, Publications and Motion Picture creation. Go and make yourself a hot beverage and a have a good think about where you’re going to start, that is, if you haven’t already.

Published by Roy Barker. Roy can guide you on starting a photography business. He places strong emphasis on profitability issues & guidelines. Remember, there is a downloadable guide on Photoshop here. If you are seeking portrait photography insights, help try this portrait photography guide – it’s my current favourite. For brief reviews on services or equipment (many free) see photography equipment

PS. It's one thing to learn a few tips from these articles I provide you for free but this link takes you to where you will learn how to get 'paying customers' to your photography business. Hey, but if you don't need customers, skip it!


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  1. Roy,
    Wonderful information and very insightful, indeed. The tips and
    the depth of your ‘supporting’ link pages is incredible. My son is
    assisting a wedding photo company with their digital editing, and
    the available digital work for one looking to get into the biz is
    fantastic. It has sure been great for him. This stuff is also great
    for the marketer… looking to gain further knowledge of how the
    photo biz works.
    Great Work Roy,
    Ron Greene

  2. Wow! I could not believe the detail in this article. I like the step by step process and can see it will help a lot of people.

    My husband enjoys taking photos and he will get great ideas here. Thanks for writing this.


  3. joe

    da bomb…………………. comprehensive stuffs…. You make me wanna resign my current job and take the plunge

  4. Steve N. Lee

    Good article, very indepth. Unfortunately I couldn’t get your Share button to work to bookmark it. Might just be me or could be some glitch somewhere in your blog. Thought I should warn you just in case.

  5. Thanks so much for this very clear, practical and realistic advice. I have embarked on part time photography this year and beginning to make more sales of my work as framed and canvas prints (see Flickr portfolio) even a sale to USA via e.mail contact and printing company there! I have done several local commissions, portraits, photo restoration etc. too, advertizing free on www Yellow Pages etc
    One thing not so sure about, the Camera Dollars, which seemed a bit hype to me IMHO.

    Best wishes!

  6. Hi Roy, Thanks for the fantastic advice, i am in the process of starting a photographic studio service and wondered if you could let me know what essential peices of equipment are needed. I will be focusing on portrait and product shots.

    Thanks very much!

  7. Thank you for the great insight here. Very informative. I am in the beginning stages of starting a photography business.

  8. Hhamayoon

    Thank you, I’m Art graduate from very popular institute(established since 1880) specialized in Graphics n Photography. I’m freelance designer n pro photographer in Lahore, Pakistan. But the scenario in Pakistan is so called professionalism is based Un-educated n un-qualified peoples, they have monopoly in the market due to low rate rather very insulting price of their non art practice. And majority people in private sector is unaware of their bogus practice. In this typical situation a qualification and further investment on essentials to updates the professional need always look waist of money or unable to spend due to small pocket. Otherwise one feels that these are very important for insight satisfaction to fulfill the complexes.A good photograph knows where to stand. A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.
    “Millions of men have lived to fight, build palaces and boundaries, shape destinies and societies; but the compelling force of all times has been the force of originality and creation profoundly affecting the roots of human spirit.” Ansel Adams
    Thank you for sharing wonderful articles………

  9. sanjay

    Great Article on photography,but one aspect left behind that is wildlife
    photography,I am clicking wildlife for about 3 years with my DSLR(Olympus-e300) and canon film SLR.have some remarkable view from Digital Photography
    School and want some useful tips for Wildlife Phography.
    Thanks for sharing wonderful info.

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