Starting a business can be incredibly daunting! Not only the investments and paper work, but just the overall decision to start! It’s a big one!
I wanted to walk you guys through briefly how I started and what you can do too to 1. Decide if you want to start a photography business and 2. What your first steps should be!
1. Buy a camera.
This is the first step! You can’t learn photography until you have a camera! Depending on your level of skill, the type of camera you buy will vary. A crop sensor camera is a great place to start! The cameras are less expensive, but give you the flexibility of learning manual settings and using different lenses!
2. Learn the manual settings.
Once you’ve got that camera, start learning the manual settings! From the moment I opened my first DSLR, I took that bad boy off of auto and learned how to manipulate the settings and what they did to the image. I never took a formal class. I just did A LOT of blog reading, Google searching, and good old practicing!
3. Ask someone if you can assist them, UNPAID.
This is the scary step! Once you have your camera and feel comfortable shooting, it’s time to jump into the game. Are you interested in wedding photography? Newborns? Lifestyle? Whatever your interest, find someone who does what you want to do. Then ask if you can join them. It can be super scary, and you might be turned down. But most people in the community are incredibly generous and love to help! If you go into it with the right attitude and express LOTS of gratitude and respect, photographers are much more likely to help.
What this looks like will vary depending on the photographer. Some will let you shoot. Some won’t. Regardless, this is just to get your feet wet so you can decide if you like that particular type of photography and to gain experience.
4. Buy more equipment.
Once you decide what type of photography you want to do, you need to start accumulating the proper equipment. For wedding photography, this probably means getting a full frame camera if you don’t already have one. Is this absolutely necessary? No. But I personally only hire second shooters who have a full frame camera. Then get [at least] one really awesome lens. My recommendation is the 50mm f/1.4. It’s a great and versatile lens that isn’t too expensive! And you should probably also have an external flash for receptions.
Be willing to rent lenses too! I’ve been in situations where I needed to rent equipment to be able to truly be a good second shooter. So if you need to, do it! Doing a good job is much more important that
5. Make it legal.
As with any business, there are certain steps you need to take to make your business a legitimate entity in the state you live. This means filing for a business license, zoning permit (if needed), taxes, and other state mandated licenses and permits.
6. Second shoot.
After you get basic equipment and are an official business, now is the time to start second shooting! This can be with either the photographers you’ve been assisting or with someone else. There are lots of online Facebook group communities for people to find second shooters. It’s also great to network with local photographers through community events, workshops, or just by reaching out personally.
7. Build your portfolio/online presence.
Second shooting (depending on what the main photographer has allowed you to keep) can be a huge help in this department! But there are other ways to build your portfolio too.
Workshops are a great way to add images to your portfolio. Usually there is a styled shoot involved with a model couple. These images are usually very stylized and pretty! And that looks great online!
Friends and family can help build your portfolio as well. When I was first starting out, I asked some of my friends if they would be my models for a shoot. Most were thrilled to help me out! They were flattered that I wanted to photograph them AND they got a new, pretty Facebook profile pic out of it!
And be sure to share (with permission!) your images online. Create a Facebook page. Build a free website/blog. Just having a place for potential clients to see your work and contact you is crucial in getting your business going.
8. Start booking clients!
Once you’ve mastered your camera, bought the proper equipment, built an online presence, and made your business legal, start booking clients! It’s so satisfying to watch all your hard work pay off!
This list is definitely not exhaustive, but it’s the bare bones of how I started my business!
Learn, learn, learn and network, network, network!
Happy photographing, friends!