The Lowdown: What Are the Setup Costs of a Photography Startup?

Are you really a professional photographer, or are you a passionate amateur – but one who’s ultimately pretending to be a pro? Often enough, the one differentiator between pros and amateurs is working up the courage to start a legal photography business. It’s not enough to have a camera, website, Facebook page, and a couple of gigs here and there (either for money, or for ‘exposure’). The one essential ingredient you need is to take your photography business seriously – because, until you do, no one else is going to take it seriously either. Now, of course, before you decide on the matter, it’s only normal to want to figure out the setup costs of a photography startup. That’s where we come in, with today’s blog post: a rundown of all the major costs you are likely to face, in your quest to open a new photo biz.

The gear setup costs of a photography startupsetup-costs-for-a-photography-startup01

·         Cameras

Make no mistake, you’re going to need at least two of them, in order to be prepared to deal with camera malfunctions. The pros’ best recommendation for wedding photographers is the Nikon D610 ($2,000 a piece) – you’re going to need two bodies, sans the lens included in the full kit.

·         Lenses

One of the most important investments, in terms of setup costs of a photography startup, is that into lenses. Here’s the kit that the pros recommend: Nikon 35mm f/2.0 ($350), Nikon 50mm f/1.8 ($299), Nikon 85mm f/1.8 ($499) and the Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 ($2,400). About that last lens: yes, it is expensive, but it’s absolutely essential for wedding photogs who often shoot in low light conditions, such as churches.

·         Other gear

A couple of flashes are mandatory and, if you go for the Nikon D610, you might want to opt for two Nikon SB-700 flashes ($329 a pop). Additionally, the rest of the accoutrements: camera bags, memory cards, stands for lights, flash triggers, reflectors, etc. Be prepared to spend at least $500 on them (though $1,000 sounds like a more realistic amount).

Business setup costs

setup-costs-for-a-photography-startup02Let’s get down to the pure business setup costs of a photography startup now. First off, you’re going to have to pay $125 for incorporating your business. Then, you’re going to want to have that business insured, for roughly $600. The services of an accountant will cost you about $300 per year, and a money and client manager to keep track of your finances will add an extra $130, let’s say, to the total tally. A showcase of product samples can cost anywhere between $200 and $1,000.

Then comes the issue of legal fees – you’re going to want your contracts to be completely in order. Ideally, you should seek out a lawyer with previous experience in the field of photography, or one who’s a photographer themselves. Hourly fees are about $400 to $2,000, but you can also purchase ready-made contracts online ($55 to $450) and have your lawyer review them.

Computer & online costs

As far as IT and tech setup costs for photography startups go, you know that there’s no way you can survive without an iMac, and that’s at least $1,299 right there. Then, you will want to invest in a color calibration tool for your screen, a couple of backup hard drives, and licenses to use Adobe’s Lightroom and Photoshop suites. All in all, these items are going to cost you an extra $450, with the amendment that software licenses need to be renewed each year. And since we’re on the topic of yearly costs, also add yearly hosting and domain name costs for your website (about $70/year), plus a website theme (a good one shouldn’t cost more than $50).

Of course, you might want to invest in some training and business streamlining tools, such as a pricing guide workbook ($150 to $250), a marketing course (about $800), a sales guide ($250). These are optional, but, chances are, they will help you make a lot more money faster, once you invest. So, once you draw the line, expect to put in about $15,000 in your wedding photography business right from the get-go. How does this amount sound for you?

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About Dave Hughes

Computer Science graduate, Dave Hughes is the pragmatic guy of our team. No wonder he likes to call himself a ‘cool nerd’. His brightness and attention to detail are reflected into his new tech-inspired articles and reviews. He loves writing about new tools and useful resources designed to ease your effort.