Taking the Leap: Thinking About Starting a Photography Business?

by Guest Contributor

If you have been following blogs for any amount of time, you may notice a common trend: many mom-bloggers are also photographers.

Jaimie Bowman

Jaimie Bowman

Have you ever wondered if you should “take the leap” and turn your hobby into into a profession?

With more mothers looking to work from home and unemployment rates soaring, it is a worthwhile question. Photography never seems to go out of style, and families always love pictures of their kids.

My own photography business started over six years ago, right around the time my son was born. I quit my job to stay home full time with him, and my brother (who is a full-time wedding photographer), asked if I would like to work for him from home editing his wedding photos. As I learned about exposure, composing a shot, shadows, etc… I began to take better photos with my own camera.

Soon friends saw pictures of my own children and asked me to take pictures of their kids. After building a portfolio, I went “live” and began my business.

Here are some DO’s and DON’Ts to starting your own photography business:

DO:

  1. Understand your camera. Just because someone has a nice camera doesn’t make them a professional. If you don’t yet understand exposure, lighting and your camera settings, it will soon become obvious to your clients, as well as other professionals who see your photos. Classes are available online, or through your local adult schools or community centers.
     
  2. Decide how many “free” shoots you will do to build your portfolio before charging your customers. I did approximately ten free shoots myself to have stock photos and gain experience.
     
  3. Go about it legally. Get a business license. Claim the income on your taxes. If you are making income from photography, you are self-employed. As much as you may not want to go through the trouble, it is the right thing to do, and you will avoid many fees than if you get caught practicing without a business license or not claiming your income on your taxes.
     
  4. Establish set work times at home. It is not easy running a business with small children running around. It is hard to focus and your children will probably feel neglected. Decide when you will work, and then stop when that time frame is over.

DON’T:

  1. Say “yes” to every photo opportunity that comes your way. If you are struggling to find the time for photo shoots and it’s becoming stressful, pull back. More opportunities will come your way. As much as the money is needed, it’s not worth your family having a stressed-out wife or mommy.
     
  2. Give your clients too many photos. Decide early on how much time your shoots will take, and how many proofs you will give them. I made the mistake of giving my clients too many options, which actually made them more picky and increased my work load.
     
  3. Pursue a photography business if you do not have the time. There may be a time in the future for you to pursue it, if you are bogged down with too many responsibilities now. It is better to have all of your focus on your business than be doing too many things at once.
     
  4. Start a business just because you have a nice camera. This may be one of the biggest mistakes people make. I’ll say it again: A nice camera does not make you a professional photographer; knowledge and experience does. If you have been taking great pictures for some time, and you regularly get requests from other people for you to take pictures of their family, then you may want to consider taking the leap. Ask your friends and family for their honest input.

Once you are ready to “take the leap,” consider contacting other photographers in your area for advice, and ask if you might be able to shadow them. Experience is the best teacher. Starting a photography business can be a great way to pursue your hobby and earn income at the same time. However, it is not for everyone. Competition is tough right now, so it important that you know what you’re doing and do it well.

There are many more tips out there to starting a photography business, but I hope this gave you a few tidbits of information to think about before you begin. Good luck!

Written by Jaimie Bowman, a fellow mom and professional photographer.

Bowman FamilyJaimie Bowman is a full-time mother of two sons (ages 3 and 5) and a part-time professional photographer. Jaimie and her husband are also pastors and she enjoys traveling and speaking on faith and family.

Visit her website at www.jbowmanphoto.com and her blog at http://wonderyearsof2.blogspot.com. Tweet with Jaimie at @jmebowman



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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Webly March 10, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Great blog on do’s and dont’s of photography. I really hope people take your advice to heart. They can make or break your reputation as a photographer. As a fitness model, the worst thing I run into and would add as a don’t is to not take forever to give your clients their pictures. Be specific on when they will ge it and stick to it. I migrated to more expensive and veteran photographers because of that.

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2 Susan March 10, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Webly, that is a great point… the time delay in getting photos back can be frustrating. I think photographers could use a quick turnaround time as a great unique selling position.

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3 Jessica Lynette March 10, 2011 at 10:23 pm

loooove!
And wish I could force a few people I know to read and heed this! :)

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4 Amy March 11, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Your does and don’ts are spot-on. I especially like what you said about getting a license, paying taxes, etc. — it’s important to live with integrity. Thanks for this great article! And, I bet you’re a fabulous photographer!

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5 Janet March 21, 2011 at 6:34 am

I enjoyed your Do’s and Don’ts list. I also agree that a photographer needs to give a timeframe for when the client can expect their photos, even if it’s simply putting low-res proofs up on a website for the client to view. I’ve always appreciated the photographers who have given me my photos within a decent timeframe. They earned my repeat business that way.

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6 Carmen Smith April 1, 2011 at 3:05 pm

I loved reading this..it’s a great article. I’m an aspiring photographer building my portfolio and trying to figure out as much as I can the business side of things so that I can get a business license in the future. I too have two boys the around the same age as Jamie’s kids and althought I love photography I never want to make them feel neglected because of what I love to do.

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7 online photography courses accredited March 22, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Hello! Would you mind if I share your blog with my facebook group?
There’s a lot of people that I think would realy appreciate your content.
Please let me know. Thanks

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