How To Start Your Photography Business: 7 Steps to Success

Turning your passion for photography into a brilliant career with a solid income is much easier said than done. Numerous colleges and universities promote master's programs related to photography and students send dozens of personal statements hoping to get into the faculty of their dreams, but the greatest teacher is still a practice. Every second, business owners all over the world buy pictures to promote their services and products. Moreover, individuals also require wedding, anniversary, and memorable event photos.

If you have photography skills and understand picture post-processing basics, starting your own business in the creative field is a good choice. After all, you can work for yourself on a convenient schedule and make good money by running photoshoots and selling visuals on stock photography platforms at the same time. In this article, get detailed instructions on how to start your photography business and make it successful.

How to start up a photography business

To launch a photography business, a novice entrepreneur should take a few consecutive steps:

1.    Find your niche

First of all, choose the type of photography you like: wedding, urban, landscape, or something else. The portfolio solution provider Format conducted research to investigate the most popular business niches for photographers in 2022:

  1. photographic portraits — 19.3%;
  2. landscapes — 11.4%;
  3. weddings and other celebrations — 8.7%;
  4. visual art — 7.6%;
  5. sports, movies, and advertising events — 6.3%–6.5% each;
  6. family — 4.5%;
  7. travel — 3.7%.

Based on the data, portrait photography is the most popular.

2. Research the photography market in detail

After defining your niche, you should find competitors and study their portfolios, terms of cooperation, and technical methods in as much detail as possible. Pay attention to the weaknesses and strengths of other photographers working in your niche.

The Format’s research shows that over 83% of the interviewed photographers reported that they work with 2–3 types of clients, and 37%—with only one type of customer. The majority of customers are individuals or small and medium-sized businesses.

3. Make a detailed business plan

First, find examples of business plans for your chosen niche on the internet. Then, define the structure of your business. Clearly identify your target audience and describe your customer profile. Make a list of necessary equipment and materials. Write down the approximate budget required to start a photography business and its promotion. Specify the time frame for each point of your plan. The more detailed these instructions are, the easier it will be for you to act.

4. Register your business and create a personal brand

In order to not be afraid of tax authorities and run an honest business, make sure everything is legal. It is better for photographers to choose an individual type of entrepreneurship. It implies a cost-saving approach: you do not have to pay salaries to hired employees, and your taxes are lower. However, you will be responsible for all the results of your business. A personal brand will help you become noticeable among competitors and be remembered by the audience.

5. Buy equipment and create a high-quality product

To start up a photography business, it is necessary to invest in quality equipment that will allow you to create HD pictures. In addition, you will need professional post-processing software, which also costs money. Modern photo editing programs only work on powerful computers. You can also find free online AI-powered tools like Depositphotos Image Upscaler (, Background Remover, or others. They allow creators to edit and enhance the quality of their visuals automatically and in a few minutes. 

6. Find channels for attracting customers and buyers

First, create and show your portfolio to friends and acquaintances, and publish your works on social media and stock content marketplaces. After finding your first clients and establishing workflow, you can also create your business website. Join photographer groups in your country and all over the world. Participate in competitions and charity events. Present yourself to the world!

7. Promote yourself all the time

Social media rules the photography market. Your Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok accounts can help you attract new clients and get more exposure at no cost. Tell people about your services in as much detail as possible. Give discounts and special offers to build your name through word-of-mouth marketing. At first, you’ll have to invest some time, but it will pay you off later.

Basic equipment for starting a photography business

Before you start a photography business, you need to plan and buy all the necessary equipment. 


Cameras are divided into models with interchangeable and non-interchangeable lenses. To begin with, an aspiring photographer is recommended to buy a non-interchangeable camera. It’s a lightweight, simple model that is convenient to carry around and practice. More experienced photographers often use professional cameras with interchangeable lenses that allow them to experiment with different styles and techniques, and take panoramic or macro shots. After getting essential photography experience using a non-interchangeable camera, purchase one where you can change the lenses. Moreover, having two or more cameras for work is safer, as you have backup equipment in case of emergency or a flat battery. 

Generally, a photographer’s camera must have the following:

  • an autofocus system;
  • fast lens;
  • a wide ISO range (light sensitivity);
  • sensor resolution—16 megapixels;
  • good autonomy;
  • presence of optical zoom;
  • optical image stabilizer.

It is also good to have a camera with a flip screen and a battery capacity of about 2,000 mAh. Photo equipment should fit comfortably in your hand and not be too heavy. 


You also need to choose several lenses for your interchangeable camera and understand how to read camera lens specifications to understand what the different letters and numbers on it mean. They can be useful in different situations and niches, e.g., portrait, landscape, macro, or other photography. In most cases, it is better to buy an inexpensive camera, but to spend money on high-quality optics than vice versa. After all, the lens forms the image by transmitting light to a sensor through a complex optics system. Manufacturers always specify the characteristics of lenses, since their material and shape affect the quality of photography. These can be simple models (macro lenses) and complex attachments with variable magnification (up to 6x).


In order to take professional photos with good stabilization and long exposure, like portraits, landscapes, and night views, you need a tripod. Modern telescopic tripods are lightweight, compact, and very easy to use.


Lighting is another important factor that affects the quality of photos. There are different lamps and types of lighting. For example, ring lamps are suitable for shooting large portraits. They evenly illuminate the face from all sides, so there are almost no shadows in the photographs. Another light source — a flashlight — gives a narrow directional beam, so the light turns out to be hard and contrasting. It allows you to place accents on the background, and highlight the model as a whole. By experimenting with the lights, a photographer can create eye-catching, vivid images.


Creating themed photoshoots requires appropriate props. For example, you need a Christmas tree, presents, cozy plaids, sleighs, and reindeer for a Christmas or New Year's Eve photoshoot. To organize a rustic-style photoshoot, you should prepare hay, figures of geese, chickens, and pigs, as well as a straw hat and a basket.

Hard drive

To store the photos, you should buy a hard drive or even more than one with a capacity of at least 1TB. A client can accidentally delete their photos and then contact the photographer again.

What are the best-selling photos?

There are millions of images on the internet, generally sold on stock content marketplaces. You can depict different scenes and objects in your photos, but the most demanded visuals are the following. 

1. Product images

When shooting a product for advertising, you shouldn't aim for highly artistic effects. This is a very demanding direction where you can't do without product retouching services, especially if you have hundreds of shots for an online showcase. Photos must be aesthetic and demonstrate the strengths of the product or service. For example, you can take a macro shot of sushi rolls to emphasize their freshness and quality. If you want to promote a bouquet delivery service, take pictures of flowers in dewdrops.

2. Authentic photos of people

It's hard to take natural pictures of people. A photographer's main job is to capture emotion, not make a dead shot of one pose. Your model should be sincere, real, and relaxed. Don’t make them smile with the "cheese" word or put them in awkward, strange poses.

3. Integral style photo shoots

Professional photographers strive to take many photos to choose the most successful ones afterward. A set of pictures of the same object or person in a singular style will be the best suggestion for a client. This way, they can use them in their marketing campaigns and better promote the product or service by choosing the most appropriate visual.

4. HD-quality visuals

Even the highest-quality photos need editing. Often a minor retouching is enough. Photographers sometimes use background blur and add sparks as visual effects. Such techniques are particularly popular in portrait photography, but landscape pictures can also be processed in such a way.


If you have a good eye for detail, know how to choose the best angles, are not afraid to experiment with composition, and can spend hours editing your photos with passion, the photography business is your way to go! Find your niche, develop a business plan, buy equipment, and start promoting your services.