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20 Things to Consider to Start Your Photography Business

by Gerard Santiago 3 years ago in how to

A Quick List of What Photographers Need to Consider to Start Their Full-Time Career

  1. A real photographer can always use any camera. It does not matter if it is a full frame, mirrorless, analog (film), Polaroid, toy camera or even your smartphone. As long as it does the job (client's specification, size, usage, etc).
  2. You do not need to buy every equipment. You can always check if you can rent it before deciding if you really need to have it.
  3. You need to know how lighting benefits your work. Natural light or artificial (strobe or speedlight). Know what fill and bounce lights can do to your image. Photography is the process of capturing light after all.
  4. Photography is both a creative and a technical art. It is better to apply both. But if you are lacking in one, then try to collaborate or hire someone to fulfill that missing aspect.
  5. It is very beneficial to know basic business management, accounting, legal, and marketing. You can always hire people to do it for you, but as a business, it is already an expenditure. Having basic knowledge will make your business go a long way.
  6. Always edit your work. The RAW file contains a lot of information, but you may not like what it looks out of the camera. You can always enhance the sharpness, saturation, shadow details, or even the composition. Post-production is part of your style as a photographer.
  7. Consider making a portfolio. Try to be as cohesive as possible.

My commercial portfolio is made from customized aluminum casing showcasing my best 18 portraiture work printed in Canson Baryta.

9. Try to find someone to look at your work. It is better to get a different perspective from another pair of eyes. It is a good idea to attend some portfolio reviews. Join photography groups, and start critiquing each other's work.10. When you already have a portfolio, make a website too.11. When you have a website, it is better to get your own domain. Subdomain ( is OK, but it is better to have your own.

The Homepage of My Website–

12. When you have your domain website, then get your own email domain too. A client sending emails to *[email protected], Yahoo, or Gmail account looks a scam, or an amateur.

13. Make sure to keep your website updated. Add your new images from your latest shoot. Revise your curriculum vitae when you achieve something connected to your career. And at least, keep the copyright year current. Clients always want to see fresh work.

14. Social media can contribute a big part to your marketing. Dive on it, and keep being social. It is a social platform anyways.

15. Start familiarizing yourself with how to make estimates, invoices, and releases (model, property, etc). These documents will be your best friend in earning money.

A sample invoice layout

16. Make some efforts to meet with key individuals. Like models, stylists, hair and makeup artists, retouchers, producers, and builders. Photography is not a one-man-team kind of career.

17. Finding clients may sound hard but you can always start with your own neighborhood. You can check your small businesses down the street, flower shop, your dentist, or even the cafe where you spent so much time using their WiFi. Every business needs professional photographs for their marketing materials, window displays, food menus, or even on their walls. They also have patrons and clients who may be interested in your services.

18. There is nothing wrong working for free, or doing TFP (Trade for Prints). As long as every involved party is benefiting from each other's efforts on a fair basis. You know when you have to say no, and it should be a paid job.

19. Keep in touch with your professional network (your seasoned stylists, the model from your last photo shoot, new and occurring clients). You can send promo cards, newsletter, or simply say "hi," these are very helpful to your professional relationship. They are human beings after all.

20. If you have questions about running a photography business, there are always a lot of resources online. You can read photography websites and blogs, listen to experienced photographers' podcasts, watch their Youtube channels, attending photography courses, workshops, and seminars. Lastly, you can always Google your inquiry, and it will direct you to some answers.


I hope this list gives you helpful ideas if you going to start, or already have, your photography business.

So what is the most important consideration for you?

Send your comments, questions, or suggestions. I would love to hear from you!

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Gerard Santiago

Gerard Santiago is an image maker and artistic visionary. On the other hand, he is also an avid wanderer, heavy eater, and a die-hard workaholic.

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