So you want to start a photography business…

Photo by Aaron Ang

It’s a tough industry. It really is.

The success rate among entrants is abyssmal.

There’s little to no payout in the first year or two. Or three…

But if you’re sure the whole starving artist thing is really for you, then read on and we’ll give you an insight into how to plan for a successful photography business.

What to do before taking the plunge?

Have an exit plan for your day job and set achievable financial goals for that.

Like a bear preparing to go into hibernation, you’ll need enough resources to stay alive in the coming months, so make sure of this.

Whether it’s cutting down on luxuries to save cash or waiting till your investments are ripe to harvest, make sure you’ve prepared enough to purchase equipment, eat healthily and pay for your mobile plan.

How much do I need to prepare?

This is the number one contributor to business failure that we’ve seen over the years.

Aspiring pros seldom have a clear idea on the costs of setting up and running a photography business. Especially hidden costs.

Luckily for you, we’ve created a business calculator for new and existing photography businesses. Simply key in your figures, find out what you’re monthly costs are then decide your revenue targets.

Make a vision and find your niche

Dream. See your future successful yourself. Build on it day by day.

A vision is exactly that. An example would be “I’m going to revolutionize corporate portraiture with my edgy hallucinogenic style”.

Having a vision helps to keep you “on course” in your journey and should be the focus when planning your business strategies and tactics. Plus, the hunger for that dream will keep you going in the tough times ahead.

Shoot where the money is.

Identify and plan your approach to the lowest hanging fruits.

Shoot anything and everything that pays fairly and is not exploitative.

Keep doing this until you find your footing.

Be realistic – you’re not likely to be getting many high paying jobs in the first months of your new career but you’ll need to pay for your mobile plan and eat. Okay, perhaps eating is optional for some, but data is surely not.

So keep sifting through social media and the internet to find opportunities for jobs. Get the word out to your friends and relatives and ask for referrals. Make this a daily thing.

Get savvy with the legal stuff.

This is the second most common area that new entrants trip up on and end up facing the consequences. Get savvy with the following and stay safe:

  • copyright law
  • loading fees
  • draw up your contract templates
  • quotation, invoice, terms and conditions, releases, etc. and make sure they meet industry standards.

Build a network.

The more people you know, the more opportunities you’ll find. It’s been this way since we came out of our caves and it’s still the same now – but we all know that.

But what about a network of peers? What if there exists a network of Professional Photographers where one could share best practices, buy group discounted products, discuss the latest and greatest and talk shop for days? *cough* (PPAS) *cough* shameless *cough* plug *cough*sorry*

Don’t be hasty. Be ready to wait.

The burning passion, the dry hopeless feeling at your day job every day, the urge to prove to the world that you CAN.

Believe me, I know what you’re going through. “Been there” and still wish I’d waited a bit and focused more on the stuff above before I “did that”.

TLDR – read and re-read this article then come for our Sharing Session.

Sharing Session? What? Who? Where?

Oh, did I mention that PPAS will be hosting a casual Talk & Sharing Session open to EVERYONE? We are, and its FREE!

Not only will I be covering the points from this article in more detail, but there’ll also be:

  1. Tips on buying equipment
  2. Five critical ingredients for success
  3. Strategies to survive your first year
  4. How to spot (and avoid) exploitation
  5. Q&A and Sharing by PPAS Panel

Join us as my fellow PPAS members and I share our experiences and answer YOUR questions about Photography as a Business in today’s context.

Venue: The Photographic Society of Singapore. Selegie Arts Centre,
30 Selegie Road, Singapore 188351
Date: 19 Oct 2019
Time: 2.30pm – 4.30pm
Click here to RSVP
Limited to 40 seats!

About the Author

Aaron Ang

  • Writer & Photographer at Loud Kitchen LLP
  • Fellow of the Master Photographers’ Association (MPA)
  • MPA Commercial Photographer Of The Year 2013/2014
  • Industrial, Commercial & Advertising Award – MPA Awards 2013/2014
  • MPA Overseas Commercial Photographer Of The Year – MPA Diamond Jubilee Awards 2012
  • dvertising Award – MPA Diamond Jubilee Awards 2012

He’s been shooting professionally for 15 years in the area of Advertising and Commercial Photography. He also wrote the PPAS Photographer’s Handbook 2010, and still writes regular articles for PPAS.

He left his office cubicle after a decade at marketing agencies, and started his photography career with nothing but his last paycheck, a Nikon D60 and a few lights and lenses. After struggling for 3 years, he was lucky enough to join other production houses, including the prestigious Shooting Gallery Asia in 2010. His love of photography and copywriting culminated in Loud Kitchen LLP, a content creation & marketing agency where he is co-founder.