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How to start a photography business with no experience: A Comprehensive Guide to Starting Your Journey

Blog posts How to start a photography business with no experience: A Comprehensive Guide to Starting Your Journey

Check out our products!: Wedding Photography Contract Template |  Equine Photography Contract Template |  Portrait Photography Contract TemplateCommercial or Stock Photography Contract Template

Starting a photography business doesn’t have to be challenging even if your passion for photography started as a hobby. While not having any prior experience as a pro photographer can feel daunting, you’ll find everything you need to know to start a successful photography business with no experience right here.

Start by Learning the Basics of Photography

Before you start your photography business, it's essential to learn the basics of photography, including technical skills related to camera, lens, and photo editing tools. Developing these skills and principles will provide you with a solid foundation for taking high-quality pictures and improving your craft over time. You can learn the basics of photography through a variety of means, including online courses, workshops, or by attending a photography school. By taking the time to improve your technical skills and develop a strong understanding of the fundamental principles of photography, you'll be better equipped to start and grow your photography business.

Learn Photo Editing

Learning photo editing is an awesome skill for photographers who want to create images that really stand out! There are photographers, like Laura Foote, whose work is instantly recognized on social media because of the signature look of their photos after editing.  While it's super important to get the camera shot just right when you're taking pictures, photo editing can really take your images to the next level. With editing, you can adjust things like color and exposure, get rid of distractions, and make all the details really pop. There are so many different photo editing programs out there, from free software like GIMP to professional tools like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. If you want to learn how to edit your photos, you can find tons of helpful tutorials and courses online. And as you start getting more comfortable with editing, you can try out different styles and techniques to find what works best for you. Photo editing can take a little while to get the hang of, but the results are totally worth it for creating amazing images that really show off your photography skills!

For those interested in photo editing, Adobe provides a free online photo editor accessible. The editor offers a simple and user-friendly interface, allowing you to make basic edits to your photos such as adjusting contrast and brightness, cropping and resizing, and adding filters and text. It's an excellent tool for beginners looking to try photo editing without investing in expensive software. Try it out and begin enhancing your photos today!

Photo Editing

Define Your Niches for Starting Your Business

We pride ourselves on our honesty, and we’d be lying if we said photography wasn’t a crowded market. Fortunately, we’ve worked with enough pros to know that there areways to stand out in the crowded photography market. Our #1 tip for you is to define your photography niches or specific area of focus within the broader field of photography. When you clearly display and identify your niche as a photographer, you establish yourself as an expert and attract clients who are interested in the specific type of photography that you specialize in. Whether it's wedding photography, boudoir photography, commercial photography, or another niche, focusing on a particular area of expertise can help you differentiate yourself in a competitive market and increase your chances of success.

Here are some photography niches that you can consider

  • Portrait photography focuses on capturing images of individuals or groups, usually with an emphasis on the person's face or facial features. It requires a strong sense of composition, lighting, and posing. The advantage of specializing in this niche is that there is a constant demand for portrait photography, whether it's for personal, professional, or commercial use. Additionally, by developing your skills in portrait photography, you can establish yourself as an expert in the field, attracting a loyal customer base. (Check out our Portrait Photography Contract Template)
  • Commercial photography refers to any photography that is used for business purposes, including advertising, marketing, and product photography. This niche requires specialized skills in lighting, composition, and image editing, and often involves working with a team of professionals, including art directors, stylists, and clients. The advantage of specializing in commercial photography is that it provides a wide range of opportunities to work with businesses in various industries, including fashion, food, and product photography. As businesses increasingly rely on visual content to market their products and services, commercial photography is becoming an increasingly in-demand niche. (Check out our Commercial or Stock Photography Contract Template)
  • Wedding photography is a niche that focuses on capturing the special moments and emotions of a couple's wedding day. Wedding photographers take pictures of the ceremony, reception, and portraits of the couple and their guests. They need to be skilled in capturing candid and posed shots, using the right lighting and composition, and working with the couple and their families to create a beautiful and memorable photo album.(Check out our Wedding Photography Contract Template)
  • Equine photography, as the name suggests, focuses on capturing images of horses. This niche requires specialized skills and knowledge of horses and their behavior. For those who love horses and enjoy capturing their beauty and grace, equine photography can be a fulfilling and rewarding niche to specialize in. The advantage of choosing this niche is that it allows you to work with horse owners, trainers, and riders, providing a range of services, including portraiture, events, and advertising. (Check out our Equine Photography Contract Template)

The Starting a photography business checklist


Creating a detailed business plan is a crucial first step to starting any business, but when you’re starting out in the world of photography, it can feel especially overwhelming to jump from hobbyist to photography business owner.. By including a comprehensive set up plan as part of your starting a photography business checklist, you can ensure that you cover all the necessary steps in the process. This plan will help you identify key actions that need to be taken, such as registering your business, purchasing equipment, creating a marketing plan, securing insurance, and more. Having a checklist that includes a detailed set up plan will help you stay organized and save time and money while improving your chances of success in the photography world.

Here is our recommended checklist:

  • Build a Photographer Portfolio
  • Establish a Photography Business Brand
  • Set Your Prices as a Startup
  • Create a Marketing plan
  • Create a Business Plan
  • Provide Excellent Customer Service

Photography Check List

Build a Photographer Portfolio

Having a portfolio is essential for capturing and showcasing your best work as a photographer, which can help you attract people to your business. To build your portfolio, you can start by capturing photos of friends and family, attending local events, or volunteering to take pictures for a non-profit organization. By capturing high-quality photos and showcasing them in your portfolio (and editing them to give them your distinct style), you can demonstrate your skills as a photographer and create a professional image that will help you stand out in a crowded market. Be sure to include your best work in your portfolio to capture the attention of potential clients and increase your chances of success in the competitive world of photography. Our biggest tip? Show off your photography niche! If you want to book more weddings, your website and social media should proudly display your wedding photography! A bride and groom won’t hire you for their big day if the only images they can find fall more under the umbrella of landscape photography than weddings.

Establish a Photography Business Brand

Creating a strong brand is key when you start a photography business. Your brand goes beyond just a logo; it encompasses the way your business is perceived.. To design a brand that accurately reflects your business's values, style, and niche, you need to invest time in developing your brand identity. Your brand should be consistent across all platforms, including your website, social media accounts, and marketing materials. By designing a brand that is cohesive and easily recognizable, you can build a strong online presence that will help you stand out in a competitive market and attract more clients. Remember what we were talking about earlier with using your photography editing skills to create a distinct style? That’s part of your photography brand, too! Are you more edgy? Dreamy? Sophisticated? You get to choose! Don’t forget, having a strong social media strategy can help you establish your brand identity and connect with the people who are most drawn to that style.

Create a Website

A website is essential for showcasing your work, services, and contact information. These days, you don't even need to be a web designer to create a website. (But we’re sure your photographer’s eye for detail will help you create a stunning one, nonetheless!) You can easily use a website builder such as Wix or Squarespace to create a professional-looking website in a weekend.

Make sure to optimize your website for search engines so your potential future clients can find you online. For photographers, that means including your geographical location in your content and meta tags and changing the file names to your images to be descriptive with relevant keywords (ex. “Dallas-texas-barn-wedding.png” rather than “IMG230698620.png”). If all of this feels like another language to you, check out our favorite beginner’s guide to SEO here

Create Social Media pages

We all know that creating social media pages is a crucial step in promoting and growing your business. In fact, for industries like photography, it is arguably more important than a website when you’re just starting out.  Having a presence on social media can help you reach a broader audience, showcase your work, and connect with potential clients. To get started, choose the social media platforms that align with your business goals and target audience—for example, if you’re a senior portrait photographer, you’d probably want to focus your efforts on Facebook, where parents of high school seniors spend their free time. You’ll also want to hop on TikTok to reach high school seniors themselves with tips and tricks for posing, outfits, and locations for their senior photography session. Then, optimize your profiles with high-quality images, up-to-date contact information, and a consistent brand message. Post high-quality content regularly, including behind-the-scenes shots, client testimonials, and promotions. Use relevant hashtags (true story, when we held a team retreat in Portland, Maine, we booked a photographer to capture the occasion by searching #MainePhotographer on Instagram!) and engage with your followers to build a community and increase your reach. Social media can be a powerful tool for growing your photography business, so make sure to invest time and effort into creating a strong and engaging social media presence.

Getting down to business: Set Your Prices as a Startup

Setting your prices as a photography business can be a challenging process, especially if you're in the “starting out” stage and have limited experience. It's important to research what other photographers in your niche and area are charging, but also to consider your level of experience, equipment, and services. While it's tempting to undercharge to attract more people, it's essential to price your services fairly and avoid undervaluing your work. At the same time, it's also important not to overcharge and price yourself out of the market. Finding the right balance takes time and experimentation, but as you gain more experience and build your reputation, you can gradually adjust your pricing to reflect your value and expertise as a photography business.

Start creating a marketing plan

To attract new people and grow your photography business, it's crucial to have a strong marketing plan in place. Social media platforms, online directories, and local advertising are excellent tools for promoting your business and building your brand online. However, in addition to utilizing these marketing channels, it's important to focus on building relationships and networking within your community. Attending local events, joining photography groups, and connecting with other photographers can help you establish a strong professional network that can help you grow your business through word-of-mouth referrals and collaborations. By investing time in both online and in-person marketing strategies, you can expand your reach and attract more clients to your photography business.

Start a Photography Business Plan

To start a successful photography business, you need more than just photography skills - you also need a well-crafted business plan that takes into account the legal and financial aspects of running a business. This may include developing an accounting system, registering your business with the appropriate authorities, and creating contracts. These tasks can be daunting, especially if you're just starting out, but with careful planning and dedication, you can develop the skills and knowledge necessary to run a successful photography business for years to come. By taking the time to develop a comprehensive business plan and continually updating and improving it over time, you can position yourself for long-term success in the photography industry.

If you're just starting out and feeling overwhelmed by the legal and financial aspects of starting a photography business, Lawless to Flawless™ is the perfect resource for you. This step-by-step guide to setting up a "legally legit"™ business provides all the tools and knowledge you need to create a comprehensive business plan that takes into account important legal and financial considerations. With the guidance of this course, you can confidently register your business, set up an accounting system, and create contracts that protect your interests and those of your clients. By following the Lawless to Flawless™ method, you can position yourself for long-term success in the photography industry and focus on what you do best - capturing stunning photographs.

(Optional)  Setting up a studio 

When starting a photography business, setting up a studio is not always necessary. It's possible to run a successful photography business without a physical studio by doing outdoor shoots or renting a studio when needed. However, having a studio can provide a professional space for indoor shoots, a place to meet with clients, and a base for storing equipment. If you do decide to set up a studio, consider factors like location, size, lighting, and equipment. Look for a space that suits your needs and budget, and invest in the necessary equipment, such as backdrops, lighting, and props. But remember, having a studio is optional, and you can still run a successful photography business without one.

Provide Excellent photography business Customer Service 

When it comes to providing excellent customer service in your photography business, it's important to remember that your clients are real people with specific needs and expectations. Take the time to listen to their concerns, respond to their inquiries in a timely manner, and show that you value their business. In addition to being professional and friendly, it's also essential to provide helpful tips and advice that can enhance their experience and help them achieve their goals. By focusing on the little things that make a big difference, you can build a loyal customer base that trusts and respects your professional expertise.

How to Create a Positive Client Experience

Ensuring that your clients have a positive experience is crucial for building a successful photography business. Here are some tips for making sure your clients feel happy and satisfied with your services:

  1. Communicate Clearly: Make sure to communicate with your clients regularly and clearly. Explain your process and expectations, answer their questions, and keep them informed throughout the entire photography process.
  2. Be Professional: It's essential to maintain a professional demeanor when interacting with clients. Dress appropriately, arrive on time, and be respectful and courteous at all times.
  3. Provide Excellent Service: Go above and beyond to provide excellent service to your clients. Offer suggestions, take the extra time to get the perfect shot, and be flexible to accommodate their needs.
  4. Be Attentive: Listen to your clients' feedback and concerns, and make adjustments accordingly. Pay attention to their preferences and requests, and strive to exceed their expectations.
  5. Deliver on Your Promises: Deliver your services and products on time and as promised. If there are any delays or issues, communicate with your clients to keep them informed.
  6. Checking back with the client after a project is over:  Simple but often overlooked step in building strong client relationships. It shows that you value their business and are committed to their satisfaction. A quick phone call, email, or message to ask how they are doing and if they need any further assistance can go a long way in creating a loyal client base.

By following these tips, you can create a positive experience for your clients and build a loyal customer base. Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool, and satisfied clients are likely to recommend your services to others, helping to grow your business over time.

Provide Excellent photography business Customer Service

Get a Photography Contract

When starting a photography business, it's important to protect yourself and your clients by having a photography contract. A photography contract is a legal document that outlines the terms and conditions of the photography work you'll be doing for your client. It should include important details such as the scope of the project, the deliverables, the payment terms, and the timeline. A good photography contract can help prevent misunderstandings and ensure that everyone is on the same page. Make sure to have a signed contract before starting any photography work to protect yourself and your photography business.

You can buy photography contracts here!: Wedding Photography Contract Template |  Equine Photography Contract Template |  Portrait Photography Contract Template | Commercial or Stock Photography Contract Template

Smile for the camera, That's a wrap!

Starting a photography business with no experience may seem daunting, but it is possible to achieve success with dedication and hard work. The key is to focus on your strengths, whether it's your eye for photography or your business acumen. One way to gain experience is to start by taking on photography work for friends and family, to build your portfolio and gain confidence. It's important to be patient and persistent in the early stages of starting a business, as it takes time to build a reputation and a client base. With good customer service and high-quality photography work, you can differentiate yourself in the market and become a professional photographer in no time.

By following the steps outlined in this article on how to start a photography business, you can turn your passion for photography into a successful career. It's important to remember that starting small, investing in quality equipment, defining your niche, and providing excellent customer service can help your business stand out in a crowded market. Whether you're an experienced photographer or just starting out, with the right plan, dedication, and effort, you can build a successful photography business that meets the needs of your customers and allows you to do what you love. Remember to buy the equipment you need, establish your brand, and create a checklist to ensure you cover all the necessary steps when starting a photography business. With these tools, you can begin the journey towards establishing yourself as a professional photographer and building a thriving small business in the photography industry.

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