What do i need to start my own home based photography business?!

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by jacob bernier, Mar 25, 2008.

  1. I really need help. I LOVE photography, I love everything about this art. I
    work at Olan Mills photography studio, but want my own home based business. I'm
    tired of not being able to take photos of my own ideas. I'm dying to know what
    do i need to start it one by one please. I know how to use 3ds max, maya,
    photoshop cs3, illustrator, z brush, real flow 4, all the game design work, and
    sometimes i use the photos i take and make them 3d which is really cool. I know
    what i'm doing when i come to actually taking photos, and people tell me i NEED
    to start my own business. But i don't know what to do first. Do i need to buy
    the lighting, backgrounds, props, or what? It will be at a home business, but
    later would love to start my own studio, or freelance business. How can i start
    making money right away taking photos, while i'm saving to get the lighting and
    stuff FOR my business? Sorry so many questions, i just really love this art,
    and have a huge passion and just want to do something with it. Especially so i
    can take better care of my family. This paycheck crap isn't working!lol. Thank
  2. if you really want to make this work here's the way to do it, it is not the only way but it is the best and if you choose it, you will in time live to thank me. . .

    1. keep doing what youre doing, nothing better than working in the business and learning on somone else's dime. . .
    2. sign up for college
    3. keep your day job
    4. take a year of business
    5. take a year of computers - basic computer hardware and softeware managment, some web design.
    6. bone up on your English, marketing, and writing skills
    7. take an art class
    8. keep your day job shooting pictures. . . .

    There's likely not a person in the business, that started at the bottom, like you, and who now runs a photo business that would disagree with me, in fact, they will, i'm sure add to my list of non photographic study and tell you keep doing what youre doing, it pays, until you can answer those question you posted.
  3. Sales ability more than anything else.
  4. I agree with Bruce. To be able to survive you need to be able to sell your work. You'll also
    need basic business skills, these are more important than photographic or artistic talent.

    Start by taking business classes at a local community college or similar. There's an
    organization of retired CEOs and similar that offer mentoring for people wanting to start
    their own business, check that out.

    Think long and hard about what, specifically, you want to photograph. If shooting stock,
    you'll need to find a speciality, a niche where you can offer something unique. If shooting
    scenics and wildlife is your dream, I'm sad to say that's probably the hardest part of the
    photography industry to break into.

    Research. Read Dan Heller's books, read sell and Re-Sell your Photos by Rohn Engh if
    stock is your thing, read as much as you can about how to run a small business.

    You'll soon find out that running a photography business is more about marketing, sales,
    paperwork, accounting, etc than actual photography.

    Good luck though!
  5. I appreciate it guys, i really do. I went to college for game design, so i've done web design and all computer skills you ever need to learn for anything lol. But i probably will look into business, and things of that nature. Scenics and wild life isn't all i do, but it's all i can really do as of now, until i get a better camera. I do portraits and stuff but it's with a little kodak m835, and i have to photoshop the pictures most of the time. lol. thanks though, i really appreciate the answers.
  6. Take classes at your local community college. While in school you can get most software for 1/2 off!

    Read, shoot, edit, repeat.

    Remember its a business. Probably more then it is "taking pictures". A couple business class wont hurt either.
  7. It's 90% business and marketing skills, 10% photography and technical skills.

    Keep your day job at least until you are making just as much or more income from your side job.

    Work with what you've got as best you can, but aspire to get what you need to do your work.

    Define your specialty (or specialties) and then learn all you can about it (or them) and practice, practice, practice to become one of the best in the field.
  8. The speciality Alan Myers mentions is really critical. If you have a deep archive covering a
    specific topic, you'd be amazed at how often photobuyers will contact you with requests.

    Provided your specialty isn't something like seagulls at dusk or dawn or similar.
  9. You start with research. And the Small Business Administration's web site. A Google search of Photo Net will also give you some direction for what you will likely need.

    [You would basically need all the 'paperwork' that Olan Mills has in the office, but on a smaller scale since you are just starting out....]
  10. When you guys say " It's 90% business and marketing skills, 10% photography and technical
    skills" then would it be safe to assume that alot of mediocre or even average and poor
    photographers get more wotk then the really talented ones based solely upon their marketing
    and business skills and not their portfolio or talent ? In other words, they are better at selling
    themselves ?
  11. jon kobeck, what you need is a business plan, and you need to figure out the services you plan to offer.
    That will dictate the gear you need to purchase.

    Let me be a little blunt. You can be the greatest photographer this side of Herb Ritz but if you do not
    have people skills you will not get a chance to so off your photo skills. I will also say the better your
    people the better your portraits will get and the happier your clients will be. Understand what good
    people skills do is set your client at ease because they have faith in your abilities, and because they
    have faith in you they will accept your work easier. But if your clients do not have faith in you the
    photo session will be painful and clients will be expect issues with your work.

    Remember presentation is extremely important. If you are planning run a studio out of your home, the
    question is how good is your home. I might suggest running a mobile studio (location set up) and rent
    a cheap decent office to meet with clients.

    Let me ask a simple question which doctor would you feel more comfortable with the doctor is dressed
    with a tie with the clean immaculate office or the doctor in the tie-dyed shirt with a messy office? They
    both can have come out of the same medical school.

    Photography is the communication business, yet photographers are some of the worst communicators I
    know. What marketing is communicating, delivering your message to the public as why they need to
    hire you. You maybe the greatest photographer, but what good is it if nobody knows?
  12. "Shoot a lot of photos" is obvious, but as the rest of the talented people here who've responded point out, if you can't get people (clients) to see your work, no matter how good, you're stuck. If you want a home based studio but can't afford equipment yet, try offering your services in photographic fields where a studio setup is not essential, such as travel, nature, even fashion (get a good looking friend, learn how to pose her/him, and shoot in places of character, say, a sculpture garden or park. Many a famous photographer started out this way. Don't believe me? Try researching in-demand photographer Mario Testino's bio) The money you earn from this work can be put to gear purchases later on.
  13. wow guys, everyone has answered alot of my questions, and i truly appreciate it all. I figured i will be getting all my lighting off ebay, (is that a good idea?) and next will be my camera which i should have in a couple of days. I figured i'll shoot alot, of photos, professionally, i have about 3 people and their kids wanting photos done with me. Which IS good. I'll be keeping them as more poses for my portfolio, and will be taking even fun photos, whatever i can get. Then i'll start on my other things for the business, like paperwork, liability insurance, and etc... AFTER MY PORTFOLIO IS DONE. Won't be any good if i don't have some sort of portfolio to show off my photo shoots to people. lol. Am i going in the right direction now? thanx guys, Jacob.
  14. Jacob,

    Some good advice here. Before you spend any money on equipment, you need a business plan. Photography is a widely diversified discipline and every specialty requires special equipment. Lighting equipment, a good tripod and head are extremely important. ALL of your equipment must match your field of work. There are ways to cut costs but again the best way to save money is a VERY CLEAR business plan. I current own and operate a commercial photography studio (Brooks Grad) and am constantly running into people who have painted themselves into a bad corner when it comes to purchasing the wrong equipment.
  15. one of the best things that I ever did was join my local Professional Photographers Association. I am pretty sure there is one in every state. They are usually located in a central location in your state. They are affiliated with the Professional Photographers of America. They will have classes on every aspect of photography and there are different memberships like aspiring photographer, student etc. We have four meetings a year. Our dues are $200 a year I think but the meetings that we have are free of charge. It is also fun to be with other photographers from your state. If you are not sure where your local organization is just go to www.ppa.com
  16. I am also going to start a part-time photography business. I realize after putting together a quick financial
    assessment that I cannot just quit my job. I will work out of the home at first. I have a BS in Business
    Administration and have already done my first business plan outline,, not the actual business plan because I need
    to sort out my starting equipment. I already have my software and filing/cataloguing system ready. I am a graphic
    designer and working towards my Master's in Graphic Design. I am pretty disciplined and organized. Ok. I need to
    know what gear/equipment I need. I can take pretty good pictures and I want to get into shooting weddings, stock
    photos, designing holiday cards for people and other novelties. First... what do I need? I currently have a Sony
    a200 DSLR. While it isn't the flagship Canon 1DS Mark3, I believe that it is just fine for my purposes. I am not
    shooting high speed sports photography here. I plan on upgrading, but that is in the plan. I want to know the
    other equipment. If anyone out there could contact me or wants to help me out please contact me at
    wheatbob[at]hotmail.com. Here are the major questions:

    What kind of lighting equipment for enviromental shooting (portraits)?
    Tips for getting my first wedding shoot and an example of your process?
    Lenses and other gear I have overlooked other than the camera, memory, and batteries? What are two solid lenses
    for shooting portraits? Weddings?

    The biggest question... who to print photos with? Any good ones out there if I am not going to start out with my
    own printer?
    How do others go about printing?

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