How To Start A Photography Business Without Wasting Money

What made you decide to take your love of photography to the next level and start a business with it?

Perhaps you aren’t sure if your 9 to 5 job is secure; will it really be there for you in the near future to pay your bills?

Or maybe you’ve seen a program on television that inspired you to the lifestyle some photographers have. I’m always inspired when I watch Art Wolfe’s Travels To The Edge.

In any case, your new business venture can very quickly take on a life of it own. As you begin to learn more about the business side of things, you’ll find things that are hard to live without. Training programs. New equipment. And so much more.

If you’re not careful, you may end up working longer hours or taking on a second job – all to finance your new business venture. Photography can be expensive if you let it. Yet there are ways of moving into this new career without wasting money and going in debt.

Start With Basic Equipment

As a new studio, you can start out with basic equipment. Start by thinking about who your client is and what they expect. Do you need equipment to travel to weddings and events? Or will you remain stationary at your home studio?

Take a look at what you’ll need to get started. Then focus in on getting the basics. For example, if you’re photographing weddings, you’ll need a minimum of two camera bodies to take to every wedding. Don’t buy top of the line; start with something smaller and move up. You may even look to used equipment – we’ve had great luck on both eBay and Craigslist. Especially in a down economy, many people sell basically brand new equipment for the simple reason they need money.

Don’t Buy Without Trying First

Everyone raves about the newest lens – its perfect for portraits. But how do you know if its really for you? Would you use it every day, or stick it in your bag and only pull it out on the rarest of occasions?

When we wanted to try something new, our first stop was a rental company. You can try out virtually any piece of equipment for a low fee. They have everything – from camera bodies and lenses, to studio equipment and more. Rent it first and really put it to good use during your time period. If you love it, you’ll be able to tell immediately. And then put it on your wish list.

Create A Budget And Stick With It

Its easy to get caught up in the excitement and find new things you have to have. And with a credit card in hand, its easy to add hundreds or even thousands in debt to your bottom line. As you are starting out, create a realistic budget of what you anticipate spending each month over the course of the next year. Then stick with it.

In some cases, you may stick to your budgeted amount as you grow. And if your business takes off and you do better than expected, you can increase the amount you have to spend for the remaining months. Always consult your budget first before buying; it will help save you in the long run.

Invest In Training

My one “go for it” item is education. If you’ll be learning how to shorten the curve to success, its always worth penny pinching in other areas so you can take advantage of the training. Any class or training program that can teach you about what you need right now is completely worth the cost. However, do your due diligence first. Is the training coming from a reputable source? Will it give you the skills you need?

Sell Your Old Stuff

If you don’t use something any more, sell it. Just like you can buy great used equipment on Craigslist and eBay, use those same resources to sell the things you no longer use.

We’ve spoken with many photographers that held onto their old film cameras in case they found digital to not work the way they imagined. Years later they sold them for pennies on the dollar. Don’t fall into this trap. If you don’t use it, sell it and put the funds towards something you will use.

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About Virtual Photography

We're the co-founders of VirtualPhotographyStudio.com and have been writing on this blog since 2004. We started Virtual as a way to help photographers stretch beyond a part time income, and develop strategies to become a Five Figure Photographer or a Six Figure Photographer. Ultimately its all about lifestyle, and if your goal is to live as a photographer 24/7, we think you should have the knowledge and the tools to do so. Welcome!

Comments

  1. Great tips, using a few of these currently :)

  2. Hamish Niven says:

    There’s no mention of marketing or how to market, or how hard you will have to work or how long you will have to work or how well you MUST know your equipment or the fact you really should have back up cameras and lenses – embarrassing being on a shoot and camera breaks, especially if its a one off shoot.

    Its a nice little essay on a tiny aspect of how to start a photography business, but there is no indication of how very hard it is to still be in that industry after 1,2,5 or 10 years.