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How To Start Your Own Digital Photography Business

Updated on August 31, 2012

Make Your Dream A Reality And Start Your Own Digital Photography Business

If you love photography, and the idea of opening your own business sounds exciting, now is your time to to make that dream a reality and start your own digital photography business and turn your passion into a part time or full time job. It is now easier than ever to turn your dream into reality and create a worthwhile business out of an engrossing hobby.

Making a good income from starting a photography business may seem daunting initially, however, it is very easy and quick to setup a digital photography business with a little bit of planning and some basic equipment.

Ways To Make Money As A Photographer

Once you have decided to start a digital photography business, you need to decide whether you are going to exclusively shoot photos on assignment or as stock photography, or like many photographers, combine the two.

There are basically two ways for a photographer to make money. The first one is assignment photography in which a client commissions a photographer to take a set of photos of a particular subject related to fashion, portraits, underwater, weddings, sports events, product photography and others. The other option is selling your photos as stock photography which is photography shot in advance of being sold. These photos are used in many ways, some of which are newspapers, brochures, websites, magazines, articles, and calendars. This is a much cheaper option for companies to purchase single photos rather than commissioning a photographer.

There are some basic steps that you need to follow to start a digital photography business beginning with creating a business plan.

Create A Business Plan

The most important step to starting a digital photography business is to create a business plan.  Writing a business plan will identify your goals and help map out the strategies that are needed to attain these goals.  A business plan will help you identify your expenses and potential revenue, establish a work schedule,  create a reasonable fee and pricing plan which takes your expenses and time into account, create a marketing plan to attract customers.  A business plan is a useful guide that allows you to evaluate how well your digital photography business is performing and to constantly make small changes to keep improving upon your business.

Legalities Of A Digital Photography Business

The legal requirements for starting a digital photography business varies in different countries, states, cities, and municipalities. Check with your local city office or chamber of commerce for the requirements in your area. You may be required to obtain a business license, purchase insurance, and establish legal sole propietorship. I also recommend that you open a bank account that is kept separate from your personal bank accounts. This makes it much easier at tax time for both you and the government. I am not going to go into details of all the legalities of starting your business as there is a wealth of information available on the internet and within your own city offices.

Establish An Online Portfolio

In the age of computers, technology and internet, it is very important that businesses have their own websites and establish an online presence.

Once you have a live website, you can start building your online presence and portfolio. A website is an opportunity for you to display your work to potential clients. You can also upload your commissioned photos which give your clients the opportunity to review and choose which pictures to purchase at their own leisure. It is also very simple to set up a payment processor on your website, such as PayPal, which handles credit cards, debit cards, and electronic cheques.

Setting Up Your Camera Equipment And Photo Software

With modern technology, all you need is a SLR digital camera, a computer or laptop, and photo editing software. The standard and most widely used photo editing software is Adobe Photoshop, but basically any photo editing software will do.

Make your photos look extraordinary, and share them in unique print creations and web experiences.

Create incredible home movies with professional-quality effects and sound, and share them on disc, the web, and virtually anywhere else.

Manage and protect all your photos and video clips from one convenient place. Enjoy automatic online backup with 2GB of free storage, and access your photos and videos anywhere you are.

Establish Photo Printing Arrangements

Select a reliable photo lab, if you will not be developing your photos yourself. Most photo labs offer very inexpensive services in comparison to the cost of a printer, photo paper, and ink. Choose the option that is best for your needs. Also, pick up a bulk spindle of CD's to store your clients photos on as many clients like to purchase CD's of all the commissioned photos at a sitting for them to print themselves at their convenience.

Live Your Passion And Make Money

Once you have everything in place to start your digital photography business, it is time to find clients using the marketing strategies you outlined in your business plan, have tons of fun and make some money.


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    • Photoshark317 profile image

      Leroy Brown 

      6 years ago from Lafayette Orgon

      I've got a huge portfolio. I've been shooting for oh say thirty years. One can barely make money as a photographic stringer anymore. Newspapers and TV don't even hire photographers anymore. All they have to do is ask and people send the stuff in for free. The people I know making it in photography anymore were well established before digital came on the scene

    • Diana Grant profile image

      Diana Grant 

      6 years ago from London

      You have to have the right subject matter and specifications as well as quite a large portfolio of Good photographs - I was turned down out of hand by Getty Images, and this is what I learned from the experience

    • Photoshark317 profile image

      Leroy Brown 

      6 years ago from Lafayette Orgon

      I'd like to throw in a few points. First of all if you didn't have a film business you're going to find that digital photography is extremely competitive. Everybody and his brother and sister is out there shooting with every thing from cell phones and basic point an shoots. And I'm not going to attack those people either. But the fact of the matter is that a lot of these digital photographers were never photographers when it was film because film was expensive. Nor does having a digital camera and Photoshop make one a photographer. It's craft one has to learn. Hope I didn't come off as a snob :)


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