#6 Steps to Start Your Photography Business Every photographer needs to have a business plan in place.

By Tanya Gawdi

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Setting up your own business is no small feat. As an aspiring photographer, the number one question on one's mind is, How to setup a foolproof photography business? With almost everyone having a good camera setting up your own business may seem like a breeze. However in reality photography is an art as much as drawing, painting or music. Knowing the right techniques such as observation of light, balanced composition, color theory, rhythm, aesthetics and form is not enough. Here are some helpful tips for starting your very own photography business.

1. Learn to Shoot in Manual Mode

It is of utmost importance that you understand light by shooting in manual mode. This may seem very intimidating at first, but once you really grasp the way light is captured in your camera, you are ready to take full creative control over each frame. It also helps to deal with extremely tricky light situations which the auto mode cannot handle. Manual mode forces the photographer to understand what is going on in the camera.

2. Get to Know Yourself and Your Work

The next step is figuring out your style and creating a body of work which is aesthetically consistent. This can be your initial starting portfolio. It is important to remember that your portfolio will always evolve and change as time passes and your work matures. Yet you need to figure out what kind of photography resonates with you the most and what you always find yourself going back to. This step needs to be isolated and you cannot move on to anything else until you figure this out. Remember you are going to try to make a living out of this. Thus, it is important to first figure out the services you will be able to provide with complete confidence and knowledge. Gaining some real camera experience and lots and lots of research will help to increase your confidence.

3. Create a Business Plan

Creating a business plan is as simple as Googling a template that works for a photographer's business, downloading it and filling your own information in it. You can even choose to write it down on a piece of paper for beginners. Every photographer needs to have a business plan in place. Your pricing will determine your profits. Start with deciding the minimum income you will need to survive and a realistic number you want to make this year. Working backwards from there will help to determine your goals and help you set targets to achieve this. Every person will have a different approach to start up funds depending on their own financial background. Anchoring a minimum price is important to remain in business. Sometimes clients may not understand the amount of work that goes into creating images, but it is always good to educate them on this matter. You are in turn also empowering the whole photographic community. Photography isn't just a hobby.

4. Buying Gear

This step is one that shouldn't be overdone. You do not need to go overboard with photographic gear as a startup. However, investing in a good camera and a few lenses is always a good idea. The basic kit for a professional photographer would involve at least one camera body that is able to take high resolution photographs, 2-3 different focal length lenses, an external flash and a tripod. Remember lights and other studio equipment can always be rented. These days you can also rent out studio spaces. Unnecessary gear and equipment can be damaging to your business. As time goes by your gear will increase and you will also realize the kind of equipment that you like working with most.

5. Market or You're Out!

It's now time for marketing, marketing and marketing. Start with the basics such as building a website, social media pages and working towards creating your services and portfolio as well as creating your brand. Since you have a business plan in place, it will be easier to decide the content that goes on the website and the services you can offer. No one really cares about what kind of work you're doing unless you make them care. One cannot emphasize how amazing social media presence can be for a photography business. We are looking at thousands of images on our phones every single day. It has been made extremely easy for photographers to showcase their work and market themselves online. Other small things like creating your own logo and developing an elevator pitch are very helpful to create a brand. Understanding your target clients and maintaining a good network is what makes a businessman.

6. Be Patient and Professional

Now that you are ready to start your photography business, remember these two things- be patient and be professional. The photography profession is a tough and a competitive one. It may seem very easy and fun from the outside, but it requires a lot of hard work and talent. You may be a great photographer, but it takes time to get good at marketing and customer service. It also takes time for a business to catch on and become known. Patience and consistent hard work is the key to a successful business. You must also learn to be professional from the start. Create contracts and invoices and maintain a record of all your business dealings. A professional should handle his clients with respect and always consider their needs. You always want your clients to come back to you and refer you to their friends and family.

The journey towards becoming a successful photographer may be slow. But it's important that you don't lose hope and stick to your dream. Give your 100 percent no matter what and be prepared for a roller coaster of a ride. Create a niche for yourself and don't forget to keep a small amount aside as savings.

Tanya Gawdi

Visual Artist

Tanya Gawdi is an independent visual artist from Mumbai and is currently based in Los Angeles, California. Her work portrays her passion for colour  light and form, which inspires her to not just click photographs but also create sculptures and collages. She believes in being present in her artwork at all times. An alumnus of New York Film Academy in Los Angeles, Tanya started her artistic journey by pursuing diploma in photography from Mumbai.  She has been a part of several gallery shows at The Hive Gallery in downtown LA, Schomburg gallery, ArtShare LA and has worked on several posters for short films along with being a part of behind the scenes photography for various projects. Her love for dogs also comes through in her art,  she is currently working on a children’s book series with a little dog as the protagonist. 

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