Ask James – Starting a Photography Business

Hello, James. My name is Isaac. I’m passionate about photography but still just an amateur. I’d love to be able to make a business out of my passion like you did, but I’ve never had the “guts” I guess.

In order to start a business, is there any photography branch you would recommend? Or that doesn’t really matter?
Is it a good idea to sell prints too, or better leave that when I can invest in better equipment?

Hopefully I made myself clear.

Thanks in advance!Isaac

I think you have things a bit backwards here to be perfectly honest, Isaac. Photography is your passion. Great! Well, the last thing you want to do is go out and pursue whatever branch of photography will make you money.

I’m speaking from experience here, by the way….

If you’re passionate about photographing families, the worst thing you can do to keep your passion for photography alive is to go and start photographing properties for a realtor. Likewise, if you’re an introvert and really love photographing properties for realtors, you’ll lose that passion for photography in the blink of an eye if you start shooting weddings because they’re “easy money.”

And for the record, weddings are not easy money. The actual wedding itself is a lot of fun, but there are client meetings beforehand where you have to sell yourself, engagement shoots, rehearsals, a month or two of processing and preparing images, creating print orders, fielding questions from relatives, dealing with the occasional bride or family member who is just impossible to please…yeah…it adds up.

What I’m trying to say here is that you need to decide what you’re passionate about photographing. Then start from there. If you can figure out a way to earn money from it, great. Once you start earning income from it, grow it. And if you’re diligent and creative and work your @$& off, you might just find yourself quitting your day job before you know it.

You also asked about prints and whether or not you should wait until you can upgrade your equipment. The answer isn’t easy. By all means, start where you are. The best camera is the one that you have, and you shouldn’t get sucked into a mindset that you can’t print images until you dump another few grand into a pro grade setup. I made prints from my 10MP Canon 40D for clients when I started and they turned out just fine. If you’re wondering about the reality of selling prints for landscape photographers, you might want to take a look at Ask James – Income From Print Sales. There are plenty of folks out there who bring in a good portion of their income from prints, but I’m not one of them. It’s not something I’ve ever pushed or advertised and I don’t plan on starting any time soon. Just not my business model.

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  • Isaac

    James,
    thanks a lot for taking the time for going thru my post and providing your comments.

    And thanks for the advice. It all makes a lot of sense. Shouldn’t be looking at photography as a mean for something else. Business will probably pop-up by itself as a consequence, if I’m really doing it with ‘serious’ fun/passion.

    Thanks!