The First Steps Toward Investing in a Photography Business

Digital photography has opened up a world of possibility and a slew of careers for creative minds. If photography seems like an intriguing career possibility, there are so many levels, niches, and avenues by which one could approach this vast community. But before investing in equipment, business tools, advertising, etc. it is worth it to hone in on these options and set personal goals.

Obviously, if you want to take pictures, you need a good camera. But how good depends on what you’ll be using it for. If your wish is to snap photos on the side for family and friends, personal use, and digital display, you probably don’t need to shell out cash for the top-notch models. Most quality is dependent on the lens and the skill of the operator, anyway! If your goal is ultimately to run a successful business with high-paying clientele and utilize advanced techniques, you will benefit from learning and using the best technology. Do your research to find the best fit for you and your needs. Start out with a simple, prime lens like a 50mm 1.4. They are quick and versatile for portrait photography, plus make the transition to a large DLSR and all that goes with it just a little simpler. You can add on with a zoom like the 70-200mm a little later when you’re practiced with what you already have, but until that point, stocking up on multiple lenses is unnecessary. Learn to use the equipment you have and learn it WELL before spending money on things that will just sit around for months.

I have found that the best way to learn about the variety, skills, and processes involved with the photography business is to shadow someone who is already well established. Do some searching online for photographers in your area of any kind that draw your attention. Don’t focus necessarily on the type of photography they do as much as their style and business format. Does their work inspire you? Do you want to know how they do it? ASK! Most photographers will be flattered by your interest and happy to have you come along on some shoots to hold reflectors, observe, whatever! The community of photographers, from what I’ve experienced, is very open-minded to one another as more of colleagues than competitors. They realize that just as each client has specific needs, interests, and visions, each photographer also has their own style, products, and approach; there is an understanding of “to each his own,” and an appreciation for all who want to express creatively! Pretty amazing. I’m just saying it’s an overall consensus, so if someone you contact rejects your request, don’t sweat it and keep trying; it will pay off with HUGE rewards.

Do anything you can to immerse yourself in as many sessions as possible because you will learn something new each time that will guide your personal direction. You may find that you love wedding photography but kids’ portraits drive you crazy! You may even find that being behind the lens isn’t right for you after all. That’s why it’s important to experiment!

If you want to be successful with photography as a full-time job, it takes lots of dedication, determination, education, practice, and risk! It will not happen overnight, but it’s also something that most can’t afford to do halfway. There are definitely markets for photographers of all skill level, investment, and genre. Just like most things, however, you will get out of it what you put into it. Once you’ve stepped in the puddle and waded around a bit, set your goals and determine if the puddle, the lake, or the ocean is right for you.