First Steps to Starting a Photography Business
My cousin called me the other day asking for advice. He is already a talented photographer and recently he decided he wanted to make his passion a business. I was more than willing to help.
I thought back on my journey so far and determined three things I believe you should do first when starting a photography business.
1. Make a website
Social media sites are wonderful, but they don’t allow you to control the layout and the information you share as a website does. You want all your information – your about page, your portfolio, your contact information – all in one convenient place. A website is absolutely necessary.
The functionality of your website is crucial. Everything should be intuitive and simple to use. The “contact” option should be especially accessible. I recommend having a friend/family member go through the site so you get an outsider’s opinion on the ease of use.
The aesthetic of your website is also important. I recommend thinking of who/what you want to shoot. Be specific. Then I would think of another company that has a similar ideal client to you and using that company’s website as inspiration for your own website branding/design. This company already has a fine-tuned knowledge of what kind of tone of voice, font, colors, imagery, etc. that resonant with this type of potential client.
2. Build Portfolio
A stranger that will potentially pay you for your service will want proof that you are capable of delivering. Building (and showcasing on your new website) portfolio is an absolute must.
When you’re starting out, be open to shooting for free! It’s a great way to practice with your equipment and develop your personal style without the stress of accepting someone’s hard-earned money. Additionally, when you shoot for free, you’re in charge of the shoot. The people you photograph are doing you a service, not the other way around. You get to be in control of the people you shoot, the location, the lighting, and the outfits. This allows you to build a portfolio of the stuff you want to shoot. This is an investment in the future because the best way to attract x, is to show that you have experience and skill at shooting x.
When shooting for free, I would not advertise it publicly that you’re shooting for free. You want to be in control of who you shoot and don’t want to get in any uncomfortable situations where you don’t want to shoot someone who reaches out. Privately contact people you want to shoot for free.
3. Get in habit of providing a dope experience for the people in front of the camera
Everything you’ll ever do is more fun when you do it with a friend. Treat the people in front of the camera well and they’ll treat you well in return. Everyone wins.
A few ways to treat someone else well:
1. Always smile
2. Don’t ghost people
3. Give them lots of guidance while shooting
4. Come through with all your commitments on time
5. Make the process of taking photos enjoyable
6. Get to know them on a personal level (genuinely caring about someone is sincerely fulfilling)
Of course, there are a million more things that go into starting a business. But these are the things that I sincerely believe any aspiring business owner should begin with!