How to Start a Photography Business

Written by Dave Lavinsky

How to Start a Photography Business


How to Start a Photography Business

If you’re looking to start a photography business, you’ve come to the right place. Since we’re going to show you exactly how to do it.

We’ll start with key photography industry fundamentals like how big the market is, what the key segments are, and how revenues and profits are generated.

Then we’ll discuss keys to not only starting a photography business, but succeeding in it!

And don’t forget to look at our photography business plan template if you need a plan to start or grow your photography company.

How Big is the Photography Industry?

According to IbisWorld, there are 185,075 photography businesses in the US, and the photography industry generated $10.5 billion in revenue in the United States alone last year. This represents an annual growth rate of 2.6% over the past 5 years.

What are the Key Segments of the Photography Industry?

The photography industry derives a significant portion of its revenue from personal and group portraits, wedding photography services and school photography services. Corporations make up the other large buyer of industry services, primarily in the form of marketing and advertising services and other organizations or groups account for the remaining

What External Factors affect the Photography Industry?

A number of factors affect the performance of the photography industry. These drivers include:

Per capita disposable income – This industry is particularly sensitive to fluctuations in disposable income because its services are discretionary rather than necessary. Therefore, a dip in disposable income limits the number of people who purchase professional photography services.

Total advertising expenditure – Revenue from commercial photography comes from photo shoots for advertisements or other marketing materials. Commercial photographs appear on billboards; corporate websites; and in magazines, textbooks and other print media.
Consequently, increased spending on advertising raises demand for commercial photographers, which generate over one-fifth of industry revenue.

Number of K-12 students – School photographs are a major market for portrait photographers. Changes in enrollment trends, including retention rates, influence demand for industry services.
In general, the more students enrolled in school, the more revenue photographers can expect to earn from school portraits.

Marriage rate – Wedding photography and video services are expected to account for a significant portion of industry revenue. Therefore, a rise in the marriage rate is beneficial to the industry as demand for wedding photography services increases.

Finish Your Business Plan Today!

If you’d like to quickly and easily complete your business plan, download Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template and complete your plan and financial model in hours.

What are the Key Customer Segments in the Photography Industry?

The largest customer segment in the photography industry are households, followed by businesses and schools

What are the Key Costs in the Photography Industry?

Wages – In the last five years, total wages have decreased at an annualized rate of 1.4%.

Purchases – In the past five years, purchase costs to have declined to 19.4% due to the increased prevalence of digital photography equipment.

Rent and utilities – Rent and utility costs vary considerably according to studio location.

Other costs – The industry incurs a range of other expenses that make up another 2.4% of revenue.

What are the keys to launching a new photography business?

Have a (Business) Plan
A business plan is the essence of your business, and a poor and unrealistic business plan will not earn you any profits. A good photography business plan will also attract potential investors or banks for financing.

Define your Product & Service
Choose an area of photography to distinguish yourself in a crowded market. Having a clear identity helps you define a niche and reach your target market.

Do your Research
Make sure you know your market:

  • Who is your competition? What are their strengths? Weaknesses?
  • Who is your target market?
  • How much do you think you can sell your services for?

Buy in the right equipment
Equipment will be your major investment. Do not cut corners here as the right equipment and high quality equipment is essential to your success. You will need at least two cameras, lenses and flashes, as well as a computer with excellent photo programs.

Determine Price Structure
You need to determine a profitable pricing structure that takes into account your shooting and editing time. Figure out how much one hour of your time costs. For every hour you spend shooting, you’ll spend about 3 hours editing and you need to make sure that you factor that into your pricing.

Build a website
You want it to be extraordinary, so it’s best to have a website professionally built. Your website should showcase your work, but it should also be used as a sales and marketing tool. Utilize the site as a way to capture client contact information so you can convert these into paying customers. Include your background experience and contact information. It is also helpful to include pricing- this helps manage customer expectations and keeps people from trying to negotiate for a lower price.

Market Online
A strong social media presence can translate into real exposure for your brand. Social media is a great advertising tool and platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest are good options to build your market. These platforms are a great channels to showcase work and keep customers interested.

If you’d like to quickly and easily complete your business plan, download Growthink’s Ultimate Photography Business Plan Template and complete your business plan and financial model in hours.

What are the Typical Startup Costs for a New Photography Business?

The total costs of starting a Portrait Photography Business is around $9,500 – $13,500 while Wedding Photography business usually costs $14,000 – $18,000.

How to Start a Photography Business from Home

Helpful Videos

5 Reasons Photography Businesses Fail

20 Tips for Boosting Your Photography Brand

15 Tips for Starting a Successful Photography Business

Additional resources in the Photography Industry

For additional information on the photography market, consider these industry resources:


How to Finish Your Photography Business Plan in 1 Day!

Don’t you wish there was a faster, easier way to finish your business plan?

With Growthink’s Ultimate Photography Business Plan Template you can finish your plan in just 8 hours or less!

Click here to finish your business plan today.


OR, Let Us Develop Your Plan For You

Since 1999, Growthink has developed business plans for thousands of companies who have gone on to achieve tremendous success.

Click here to see how Growthink’s professional business plan writers can create your business plan for you.