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How To Start a Photography Business

By Madison Hess, J.D. on July 20, 2023

A photography business could be a great way for you to increase your income. If you've got the skills to do the job, all you need is a photography business plan. You can become an entrepreneur and start your own photography business by following this step-by-step guide.

1. Choose Your Services

Determine what photography services your business will offer. Consider what kind of photoshoots you want to do and what type of photography you like. A few photography business ideas include:

  • Family Photography
  • Graduation Portrait Photography
  • Engagement Photography
  • Wedding photography
  • Infant Photography
  • Headshot Photography
  • Stock Photography

2. Create a Business Name

Brainstorm an original business name, something memorable. Consider including a reference to photography in your name. Be creative and be clear about your purpose.

3. Set Your Prices

To set your prices, start by researching pricing for photographers in your area. Consider your skill and experience level in comparison to theirs. Establish prices that are competitive and fair.

4. Create a Marketing Strategy

You have marketing materials available to you right now, and you're surrounded by potential clients. Come up with a marketing strategy by determining who your target market is and consider how you will attract new clients. You can use social media apps to promote your business. You should also network within your community for word-of-mouth referrals.

5. Consider the Startup Costs of Professional Photography

Determine what startup costs are associated with your business. For your first few gigs, you may need to buy photography equipment, memory cards, and photo editing software such as Photoshop or Lightroom. Focus on what you need to create high-quality photos. Other purchases, such as accounting software subscriptions, business cards, website services through companies like Wix, and studio space, can wait until you have a steady cash flow.

6. Set Up Your Limited Liability Company

Now that you have a name and a plan, you are ready to set up your photography business as a limited liability company. There are huge benefits to forming an LLC, and the process is simple.

Benefits of a Limited Liability Company

Many people choose to make their new business an LLC because of the advantages this type of business structure can offer.

  • Show people you're serious: You aren't just putting up fliers and making a few Facebook posts about a service that you are offering – you have turned your service into a legitimate business. Whether you intend to work full-time or part-time as a professional photographer, you are officially a photography business owner. You have launched your photography career.
  • Limit your legal liability: As the owner of your LLC, you are not personally liable for your company's debts and obligations. If you are sued for something related to your business, without the protection of an LLC your personal assets, everything that you own, could be at risk. With an LLC, only your business's assets can be reached in a lawsuit.
  • Limit your tax liability: Unlike corporation owners, LLC owners can adopt pass-through status with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). With pass-through status, your company is not taxed. The income your LLC generates passes to you. As the owner of the LLC, you will include that income on your personal tax returns.

Requirements for Forming a Limited Liability Company

Before registering your new LLC in any state or jurisdiction, it's important to familiarize yourself with its formation requirements.

  • Name: Confirm that your business name is available and make sure it's a valid name under your state's laws.
  • Paperwork: Prepare and file paperwork, normally called the "Articles of Organization," with the appropriate office, usually the Secretary of State.
  • Operating agreement: Consider preparing an operating agreement for your LLC. This document may not be required in your state but is a helpful way to lay out how an LLC will operate.

7. Use Your Business Entity

Your business entity will have its own debts and assets. As a small business owner, consider what this means for your photography business. You may want to open a credit card in your business's name so you can track your business expenses. You should open a bank account for your new business so you can keep your business funds separate from your personal funds. You will need a bank account set up before your first gigs for invoicing your clients.

Ready to set up your photography business as an LLC? We've made starting your business simple. Learn about our DIY business forms here.

What Are Articles of Organization? (Law and Daily Life)

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Business Formation Made Simple (FindLaw Legal Forms and Services)

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