How to Start a Photography Business in 8 Simple Steps in 2023

Being a photographer allows you to be creative and get paid for it, but setting up the business can be confusing. Read our expert guide for step-by-step directions.

Having your own photography business allows you to earn a good income while pursuing a passion, a unique chance not many people get.

Still, there’s lots of competition within the photography industry, so it’s important to set your business up correctly from the start. By creating a strong foundation, you can spend your energy serving your clients and setting yourself apart.

If you have a creative mindset, establishing a business can be challenging, especially when it comes to legal matters. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be difficult or even expensive, as startup costs for photography businesses are relatively low. In fact, you can set up your own photography business in just 8 easy steps. 


8 Steps to Start a Photography Business

1. Find a Niche

What kind of photographer are you? You may specialize in event, wedding, portrait, or commercial photography. Or maybe photojournalism or product photography is your thing. 

It might be tempting to offer all kinds of photography, but niching down actually allows you to become known as the expert in one field. This can boost your business and earn you loyal customers. Plus, you can charge more as a specialist. 

2. Build Your Portfolio

Now that you know what your specialty is, it's time to show off your work! A portfolio is a great way to do that. It can include pictures from projects you've already finished or you can even take new ones specifically for your portfolio. Either way, make sure to include images that demonstrate your strongest skills and are related to your area of expertise. If you don't have a lot of experience yet, you may need to spend more time on this step and practice taking pictures with your camera to get the best results.

It’s generally best to keep your portfolio short. It should showcase your skills in the most concise way - each photo should be unique and eye-catching. Remove duplicates or less-than-interesting photos to keep the portfolio minimal.

Having a personal portfolio website is currently the most convenient way to showcase your work and attract potential clients. On your website, you can create multiple galleries, such as separate ones for weddings and events. Wix, Squarespace, and Zenfolio are popular website builders but it's a good idea to explore all your options to find the best choice for you.

If you already have a portfolio started, spend some time reviewing it. Are you displaying your best work? Does every photo relate to your niche? Does each photo pop? Is there any overlap in the subject matter? What can you remove or edit to improve the overall appearance?

3. Create a Business Plan

Every business needs a business plan. This is where you map out your vision, processes, services, prices, and more. To prepare for this step, you’ll need to decide on your packages and pricing. This will vary depending on your experience level, niche, and location. It’s generally a good idea to have three packages with a low, medium, and high price point.

To determine your pricing, you can look at what photographers with similar experience charge. You can also reach out to your ideal clients and do market research, asking them what their price range is for photography services.

With packaging done, you can write your business plan, which you’ll use to guide your future business decisions. If you apply for a business loan, your lender will also ask to see your business plan, so make it look official.

A business plan should include:

  • Business name
  • Executive summary
  • Company overview 
  • Packages and pricing
  • Competitor analysis
  • Target market
  • Startup costs and projections of earnings
  • Marketing strategy

4. Take Care of Legalities

There are local, state, and federal regulations you’ll need to be aware of. The state you live in may require that you register your business. To do that, you’ll need to choose a business structure. The most common options for a one-person photography business are.

  • Sole Proprietorship: This is the easiest and cheapest way to start, as most states don’t require you to register unless you have employees. However, your business and personal assets will not be separate, which puts more risk on your shoulders.
  • LLC (Limited Liability Company): An LLC is fairly easy to form and usually costs about $125. This structure separates your business from your personal assets, which provides you with more protection in the event of a lawsuit.

You may also need licenses and permits from your state and local governments. You can check with your state licensing board and county clerk’s office to get information. 

You should also get a federal EIN (Employer Identification Number). This acts as your business Social Security number and will be useful when you do your taxes or get a bank account.

It's also a good idea to get insurance for your business. A general liability policy can help cover legal fees if someone takes legal action against your business. While it may not seem likely, having this type of insurance can save you a lot of money if a customer or bystander decides to sue you.

5. Create Financial Accounts

Separating your business finances from your personal ones can be helpful for both legal protection and taxes. You can deposit cash payments or send payments from invoices to your business bank account, then pay yourself from there to your personal accounts.

You can easily open a business bank account online. The process is very similar to opening a personal account, just make sure you have your business name and EIN. 

While you’re at it, you might also open a business credit card to cover smaller expenses. This will boost your business credit score, which is separate from your personal credit score. Doing so can help improve your chances of getting a loan, should you need more capital in the future. 

Finally, you’ll need some accounting software to send invoices, track expenses, and manage your income. Quickbooks Self-Employed and Honeybook are popular options, but it’s important to do your own research and choose the software that you’re most comfortable with.

6. Get Funding 

As a professional photographer, you probably already have the equipment you need to take great photos. But if you want to take your photography to the next level, you may want to think about upgrading some of your gear or getting some new pieces. Some items to consider:

  • Camera
  • Camera lens
  • Memory cards
  • Laptop
  • External hard drives
  • Editing software
  • Tripod
  • Camera bag
  • Lighting
  • Backdrops
  • Website hosting
  • Accounting software

Decide what you need and shop around to create an estimate of startup costs. This should make it easier to figure out what type of funding you need. You may be able to pay for all costs out of pocket, using your savings or current income. You can also ask your friends and family for an informal loan.

Another option is to take out a small business loan through a bank or online lender. You will need to pay back the loan amount, plus interest. It's important to compare rates from different lenders to find the one with the lowest annual percentage rate (APR) to save on interest costs.

7. Choose a Payment System

Your payment system needs to be easy to use and secure so your customers feel safe and comfortable paying you. That’s why has Level 1 PCI DSS compliance - the highest security level possible. not only offers great security, but it's also very easy to use. Even if you don't have any coding experience, you can quickly set up your payment system with just a few clicks. It comes with everything you need for a complete payment infrastructure, including a payment gateway, payment processing services, and merchant account. lets you can add payment methods to your website. If you don’t have a website, you can send direct Pay Links to your clients via email or text message. You can even take a payment in person or over the phone by manually entering your client’s information into your Virtual Terminal.

The Pay Dashboard provides additional tools for you as a business owner. You can review in-depth reports and analytics and track the status of all your payments. Update customer details, issue refunds, and update your website’s payment methods - all in one convenient dashboard.

Click here to sign up for now!

8. Sell Your Service

With your business fully set up, all that’s left is to sell your packages to your dream clients. Your network of family and friends is a great place to get started. Chances are, your contacts know people who need photography services for an event or project. 

Once you have a few jobs done, you can ask your previous clients for referrals. Sweeten the deal by offering a small discount or incentive. You can also post your photographs on social media, which doubles as free advertising.

You can also make money with your photography by selling your work online on platforms such as Fiverr, Upwork, Unsplash, and Adobe Stock. However, as a freelancer, you may need to charge lower prices and give a percentage of your earnings to the website. Still, this can be a good way to earn income while building a customer base.

The Pros and Cons of Starting Your Own Photography Business


  • Make money by being creative.
  • Enjoy meaningful work, taking photos of big life events and noteworthy moments.
  • Choose when and how much you work.
  • Take time off when you want and enjoy flexibility in your schedule.
  • Travel for work.


  • Need to update equipment often, which can be expensive.
  • Determine hours based on other people’s events, often on nights and weekends.
  • Deal with occasionally rude or picky clients.
  • Doing creative work may degrade your passion for photography over time.
  • Fluctuating income can make budgeting difficult.

The Bottom Line: Is Starting a Photography Business Right for You?

Starting a photography business is an exciting opportunity. You'll be able to pursue your passion while making a living- it doesn't get much better than that! Whether you photograph elopements, animals, or headshots, you’re doing work that will inspire others. As long as you spend time creating a solid portfolio and get your legal foundations in order, there’s no limit to your potential.

Of course, you’ll need to make sure your clients have an easy way to pay you. makes payments convenient and fast. This leaves you more time to focus on what you love – taking amazing photos. Click here to create your account now!


How can a photography business accept credit card payments?

Your photography business can accept credit card payments online or over the phone using Through the Pay Dashboard, you can send direct Pay Links over email or text. You can also add payment methods to your website, request payments, or manually enter your client’s payment information. Click here to get started now.

How much does it cost to start a freelance photography business?

The cost of starting a freelance photography business depends on what equipment you already have. If you only need to register your business as an LLC, you’ll pay about $125. You may also spend up to $150 each year to host a website. If you need to purchase all new equipment, you could spend about $5,000.

What type of photography is most profitable?

You determine your profits based on a wide range of factors, including your experience level and reputation, as well as the difficulty of the shoot. Event, wedding, and fashion photography tend to make the most, though, with earnings in the thousands per day or session.

How do I get paid as a photographer?

You can get paid as a photographer by sending your clients invoices, which then leads them to a payment system like, where they’ll find their own personalized checkout page. With, you can accept a variety of payment methods. You can also take client payments over the phone – however your client wants to pay.

Meet the author
Ginny Dorn
Ginny Dorn is a finance and business copywriter specializing in credit card processing and fintech. She graduated from Western Illinois University with a bachelor's degree in family and consumer sciences.
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