The Business of Photography

What you need to know to start and run a photography business.

Professional photography is a field in which success can mean not only earning higher than average income, but also achieving deep personal job satisfaction. If you have been considering a career or part-time work in photography, this guide will help you to get off to a good start.

You may want to click here for information on photography careers before continuing on this page.


There are two basics needed for you to succeed as a professional photographer. You must be able (1) to take very good pictures and (2) to sell them. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It can be if you have the right aptitudes and the desire.


How do you stack up against someone who is making a good living from photography? Both photography and business skills are needed to do well as a professional photographer. Here are the essential capabilities that are common to many successful professional photographers.

Photography skills – the competence to take pictures of professional quality

  • Knowledge and experience;
  • An artistic flair (a sense of good composition and the ability to “see” when a scene will make a good picture);
  • Moderate to excellent technical skills in operating cameras, lighting and other photography equipment.

Business skills – the capability to run a business

  • Marketing abilities, including salesmanship, advertising and promotional skills;
  • Administrative capacity;
  • Record-keeping capability – essential for budgeting purposes, error-free billing, cost control, tax filing and accuracy when you determine how to handle your withholding allowances.


Successful entrepreneurs generally display more than business and photography skills when running an effective photography business. Personality plays a big part. Personal traits such as those listed below will increase your chances for success.

Personal skills that will give you an edge

  • Ability to communicate effectively
  • Service orientation
  • Listening and empathy
  • Awareness and Observation
  • Patience
  • Perseverance and the ability to follow up

If you feel you already possess these photography, business and personal attributes, you are probably ready for a career in professional photography. If you have the desire to make a career of photography but are missing some attributes, we encourage you to take steps to develop them.


Of all the above factors, business capability is the one that makes the difference between the successful professional photographer and the thousands of competent photographers who don’t make a living from their pictures. There are many good photographers who don’t possess the business acumen needed to turn their photography into money. If you feel you may be such a photographer, you can acquire the business capabilities that you need to turn professional.

The first step in properly addressing the business aspects of your professional photography career is to create a business plan.


Every good photography business starts with a plan. A business plan describes in words and numbers what you hope to accomplish, and sets out the steps you intend to take to meet your objectives.

Since obtaining adequate financing is often a problem with any new business, you will need a business plan if you are seeking financial assistance.

Click here or on the “Business plan” link below to learn how to create an effective plan for your own photography business.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *