According to a survey by the Professional Photographers of America (PPA), the top three occasions when people use professional photographers are for family portraits, school portraits and to record a child's growth. Nearly half of the Atlanta-based organization's members are portrait photographers, and 2,000 specialize in children's portraits.
If it sounds like the market is already glutted, don't despair. "There's always room for one more good photographer," says Mark Bohland, 47, owner of Maranatha Photography in Mansfield, Ohio.
Bohland started his business part time in 1978 with one camera and $100 for business cards and letterhead. By 1981, he had gone full time, specializing in artistic portraits of children in their homes. Four years ago, though, market demands spurred him to switch gears and begin doing even more upscale, personalized sessions.
Rapidly changing technology is causing the price of photographic equipment to skyrocket; fortunately, photographers have come up with creative solutions. Unable to spend $30,000 on the latest digital cameras and printers, Bohland joined forces with a competitor to share equipment and staff, cutting both their costs in half. Now Bohland grosses between $120,000 and $150,000 per year.
Although it's ideal to have some formal photography training and at least $35,000 for the latest equipment, skilled amateurs can still break into the field with basic equipment and several types of lenses. With families, schools, churches, sports teams and other organizations lining up to have pictures taken, making money in this business is a snap.