March 12, 2021
How to start a family photography business checklist
So you're ready to start your family photography business but don't know where to start. I understand I've been to this place. And at the time there weren't many online resources to help me, so I had to learn the hard way. It took years. But I hope you take this checklist and start your photography business much faster and smarter than me!
I'll start by saying that this guide isn't about becoming a better photographer. I assume you've already completed the filming part and are ready to start charging for your beautiful work.This is about the business side of things., which is pretty much ignored at times because we all just want to create amazing art, am I right?
Some of the links in this post may only contain affiliate links to products that I use and love. If you make a purchase after clicking one of these links, I'll earn you some coffee or tea money, which I promise to enjoy while I think of more useful content for you!
Checklist for starting a family photography business
Here's a quick overview of what I'll be covering in this post:
- decide your style
- Who is your ideal customer?
- How to evaluate yourself
- What equipment do you need
- What should you call your photo shop?
- the cool stuff
- Create a Google My Business account
- Best website for photographers
- name model
- Delivery of images to the customer
- customer tracking
- get a mentor
Decide your style and what makes you stand out
This can be the hardest part and will evolve and change as you grow. And that's okay! But before starting your business, it would be helpful for you to have an idea of what types of photography services you want to offer, which ones are yoursediting styleAppearance and what makes you different from other photographers around you.
Who is your ideal client for family photography?
Before you market your services, you need to know who you want to market to. They want to know their age, income, places they shop, things they are interested in, what type of photography they want, etc. Knowing these things can help you figure out what to say when you post on social media and how to use your messages to attract the right people.
How do you rate yourself when you are just starting out in your photography business?
A mistake that beginner photographers often make is to start with really low prices. They think because they don't have much experience, they can't charge as much as other photographers. But the reality is you still do all the work. You spend a lot of time communicating with your clients, preparing for the session, filming the session and editing photos. You deserve to be properly compensated for this time!
A great option is to show the target price that you want to charge but have a lower starting price. That way people know what your prices are going to be and aren't shocked when they go up.
There are countless cost of ownership (CODB) calculators you can use to figure out what you need to charge to be profitable. This number will be different for everyone as we all have different expenses and goals. There is also an amazing podcast episode of This Can't Be That Hard titledThe donkey, the workhorse and the unicornwhat I found particularly great in this thread. It's episode 38 if you want to hear it.
What equipment do I need to start a photography business?
If you're just starting a family photography business, don't strain your gear! Your gear checklist is pretty short! Make sure you have a DSLR or mirrorless camera that can produce a quality image (I suggest thoseCanon 6Dor the6DM2as they are entry level full frame DSLRs and I have owned both) and a decent lens. And by decent I mean you can start with a cheap one.Canon 50 mm 1,8and still take beautiful pictures! This is the lens I started with and as my business grew I slowly updated my gear. After that, you might consider getting one35mm 2.0or85 mm 1,8, as these are good mid-range lenses that are on the cheaper side. There are many photographers who are incredibly successful and usually only use one lens for the entire shoot (I personally could use itmein 35mm 1.4exclusive and look good!).
You should also choose gear based on the type of photography you will be doing. If you plan to do some lifestyle photography at home, you probably need a wide-angle lens like 35mm so you can work in tight spaces. If you plan to do more posed portraits, then an 85mm lens is the perfect portrait lens. And if you're shooting family outdoors, a 35mm or 50mm lens is great.
What name should you give your photo shop?
When deciding on the name of your photography business, there are a few things to consider. First you need to decide what kind of photography you want to offer. If you only want to take children's portraits, you can use a cute name that looks more childlike. But what if you later decide to offer headshots? Your company name will not work well in this market. So it is imperative that you take this into account before deciding on a name.
The easiest way is to name your business after yourself. This creates the best brand awareness as people don't have to try to remember your name and your company name. If your last name is harder to spell, you can also use your first and middle names (which I did because no one can say or spell Lueck correctly. P.S. rhymes with Buick).
Avoid a company name that might confuse your customers. I have a friend who named her business after her daughter and everyone always thinks her name is her daughter's name.
Whichever name you choose, you should check and make sure it hasn't already been used. Check Facebook, Instagram and the web first and make sure your name is available everywhere. Also check withUS Patent and Trademark Officeto ensure you choose a name you can legally use.
All the legal hassles you want to avoid but shouldn't
Okay, I know you don't want to see this on the checklist, but when you start a family photography business, you want to do it right. If you do charge fees, you need to check with your state about the requirements for incorporating a business. You will need itRegister your company, zpay taxesabout your merit.
You can start your photography business asSole proprietorship or an LLC🇧🇷 A sole proprietorship is cheaper and easier, but an LLC protects your assets, so do your research and choose the one that's right for you.
something that helped mekeep track of expensesit isFast books for yourself🇧🇷 It's great for organizing my income and expenses, and I can also log mileage when I go on shoots or business trips (like shopping or scouting locations). It's linked to my bank accounts and I just have to mark it as a business or personal transaction and choose a category.
Another thing you should do as soon as possible isget insurance🇧🇷 I remember feeling like this would be a big expense, but I contacted my insurance agent (the same one I use for our cars and house) and found out it was only a few hundred for a year were! It's super cheap and I'm covered if something happens.
Get a Google Business account
Configure oneGoogle business pageIt is aimportant stepand one that most new photographers don't know about. This will help you get found on Google searches and provide a place for customers to leave reviews, which will help you grow your business.
You'll need an address to set this up, but don't worry, you don't have to make that address public. When you set up your account, you'll have the option to choose a service area instead of showing your address. You'll have to wait for Google to send you a postcard in the mail to verify your address, and once it does, you're good to go!
Be sure to add your best work to the photo section and add as much information as possible to your profile. And remember to ask all your customers to leave reviews!
What is the best website for photographers?
the absolutebest website platformit's self-hosted WordPress (wordpress.org, not .com). But it's definitely not the easiest. If you are a beginner when it comes to websites I would suggest hiring someone to set it up for you or using another platform. I personally have oneWordPress theme by FloThemesand it's beautiful! I can customize it to my heart's content and they have fantastic customer service.
Another great option I think is Showit. They use the WordPress platform but they have their own website builder so it's much easier to use. People who have Showit are obsessed, so I think it's a great option. It's a monthly subscription, so it's a bit more expensive than buying a one-time fee theme.
There are plenty of other options that aren't quite as impressive but are still worth checking out. Some other website builders are Pixieset, Squarespace or if you need a free option, Adobe Portfolio comes with your Photoshop/Lightroom monthly subscription if you already have it. I wouldn't recommend Adobe Portfolio in the long run, but if you need something inexpensive until you start earning an income, it's a good option.
Build your family photo business with model calls
The best way to build your photo portfolio is through model calls. This way you have everything under control and get the kind of images you need. First, make sure you come prepared with a listcommandsand poses you want to use so you don't get stuck. I haveDigital map prompts and poses are available here.
How to run a successful model call?When I started making model calls, I got it all wrong. I would indicate on my business page if someone would like to have a free session with me as long as they agree that I use the images for promotional purposes. ok cool But then they showed up with all the wrong clothes and wanted these overlaid images that didn't represent my brand and I ended up getting images I didn't like. Don't make this mistake! Be very specific about what you want and make it clear to the models early on. I have a guide for you that explains how I make model calls and how to get pictures I love of them.Get my guide to successful model calls here!
What is the best way to deliver images to photo clients?
I'm sure the days of shipping floppy disks and USB drives are over. Also, it's a lot of work and I want to make things easier.
I know a lot of people who are just starting out will try to deliver their images via Dropbox or Google Drive because it's free. But did you know there are?free gallery services🇧🇷 You want to give your customers a really great experience, so gallery delivery software is a must. Pixieset is free up to 3GB but my favorite ispicture timewhich gives you 20 GB of storage space for free. You coulduse or code 4ZE3RNif you opt for a higher paying plan and youget an extra month for free.
How do I keep track of all the families I'm photographing?
When I started, I just wrote it down in a notebook. That was fine when I didn't have that many customers each month, and there are free downloads to help you keep up. But as you get busier, this system no longer works for you and you risk forgetting something important. so finallyYou want a CRMto help you keep everyone organized. This is a huge time saver as you can set up automatic emails to remind clients of their sessions and more. You can also send out invoices, contracts, questionnaires and even let clients book their sessions directly from your calendar. If you want minefree guideto CRMs and know what emails I send to my customers and when, you canGet this free guide to workflows and CRMs here.
The CRM I use is17 hatsand I love it because I have so much control and don't feel restricted, but there are so many out there and everyone has different opinions on what's best for them so do your research before you decide. Most have free trials so you can try and try first. Some other popular options are Dubsado, Honeybook, Tave, and IrisWorks.
And don't forget to make surewrite excellent emailswhen communicating with your customers!
Finally, consider finding a mentor!
Something I really wished for when I started out was to find a photography mentor. Without it, you learn everything at a snail's pace. Having a mentor is very valuable because you can learn so much in such a short amount of time. A mentor can analyze everything you're doing right now and help you figure out how they can help you exactly the way you need it. I offerOnline mentoring for family photographers, and I'd be happy to help you and your company get off to a flying start!
And if you're curious how I edit, you can buy my presets atMy shop(or get them for free if you buy more than onementoring sessionWith me).
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Best Canon Camera for Family Photography | Advice from a family photographer
Should a photographer be an LLC? ›
Photography industry experts and business attorneys recommend setting up a simple LLC, Limited Liability Company, for both protection and tax advantages early in your company formation.What beginner photographers should know? ›
- Learn to hold your camera properly.
- Start shooting in RAW.
- Understand the exposure triangle.
- Wide aperture is best for portraits.
- Narrow aperture is best for landscapes.
- Learn to use Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority modes.
- Don't be afraid to raise the ISO.
- Make a habit of checking the ISO before you start shooting.
- Write a photography business plan. ...
- Assess your photography business startup costs. ...
- Secure startup funds. ...
- Figure out your personal finances. ...
- Get professional experience. ...
- Buy camera gear. ...
- Come up with a pricing plan. ...
- Invest in a killer website.
Beginner wedding photographers may price their packages as low as $500. In general, many businesses charge up to $5,000. But rates can be as high as $20,000 for professional photographers. (These higher rates tend to be from renowned professional photographers.)How do photographers get first clients? ›
- Generate referrals through word of mouth. ...
- Build connections with clients. ...
- Partner with other photographers or related businesses. ...
- Donate to school or charity auctions. ...
- Be a guest speaker for local groups. ...
- Create a professional website.
- Cost: An LLC usually costs more to form and maintain than a sole proprietorship or general partnership. States charge an initial formation fee. ...
- Transferable ownership. Ownership in an LLC is often harder to transfer than with a corporation.
As a photographer, you know what looks good. And you might be tempted to think that you can choose the best logo for your business without a second thought. But, logos – like a photography business – are also half art and half business. Logos are an important part of your photography company's brand identity.What are the 3 most important things in photography? ›
The three variables that matter the most in photography are simple: light, subject, and composition.What does ISO mean in photography? ›
ISO is your camera's sensitivity to light as it pertains to either film or a digital sensor. A lower ISO value means less sensitivity to light, while a higher ISO means more sensitivity.What are the four basics of photography? ›
The scope of this article is to give an introduction to the basics of the four elements of photography: light, color, composition, and subject.
Do you pay taxes as a photographer? ›
Income tax, on the other hand, is paid on the income you earn as a professional. If you're a photographer, you'll have to pay a certain percentage of your income as income tax; the amount will depend on the state where you live.Which type of photography is most demanded? ›
Pictures Taken During Weddings
Among the many types of photography that are always in demand, wedding photography has to be at the top of the list.
- Purchase the Right Equipment. In order to set yourself up as a competitor in the photography industry, you'll need the best equipment possible. ...
- Consider Your Niche. ...
- Conduct Market Research. ...
- Establish an Online Presence.
There are many ways to decide on family portrait photography pricing, but there are some standard prices. The average portrait photographer charges $150-350 per hour. Packages usually start at between $200-$300 and increase with experience. In metropolitan areas, family portrait packages can range from $300+.How do I price my photos? ›
So how do you price your prints? We know the cost of goods model dictates that your prints should be 2x to 7x the amount it takes to produce the product. Since you will probably be selling with a gallery, they typically charge 20% – 50% of the total sale as a commission .How many photos should I give my client? ›
For portrait sessions, I find that clients expect more images the more they pay for the session. Therefore, if it's an expensive session they'll likely expect 70-100 images whereas if it's a shorter session they might expect 20-40.How do family photographers get clients? ›
- 1) Start an email list or work on growing it if you have one.
- 2) Be present and active on social media + use specific location-based hashtags on Instagram.
- 3) Blog every session and title your posts with the location first (SEO & social sharing – yay!)
Considered the easiest way to sell photos online for some, Shutterstock is a leading stock photography website for selling photos online. The platform has paid out over a billion dollars to its community in the past 15 years, and it can get your photos seen by millions of customers.How do I pay myself an LLC? ›
As an owner of a limited liability company, known as an LLC, you'll generally pay yourself through an owner's draw. This method of payment essentially transfers a portion of the business's cash reserves to you for personal use. For multi-member LLCs, these draws are divided among the partners.What can you write off with an LLC? ›
- Expenses of Starting a Business.
- Home Office Expenses.
- Business Use of Your Car.
- Business Meals.
- Travel Expenses.
- Education Expenses.
- Business Interest and Bank Fees.
- Medical Expenses.
What is better than a LLC? ›
Differences Between LLCs and Corporations
Both protect company owners from personal liability for business obligations. In general, corporations have a more standardized and rigid operating structure and more reporting and recordkeeping requirements than LLCs.
Getting them to think of you as a photographer is one important step, and getting them to know where to send people is a second important step. We believe naming your business after yourself helps simplify that for the people who are most likely to refer you.Do you need to copyright your photography? ›
While you don't need to register your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office to receive protection, registration does have important advantages, including creating a record of your ownership and allowing you to file a federal lawsuit for copyright infringement.What colors are best for photography logo? ›
Most photographers prefer the tried-and-true duo of black and white when it comes to selecting logo colors.How much will I pay in taxes as a photographer? ›
Self-employment tax includes Social Security tax at 12.4 percent and Medicare tax at 2.9 percent. The reason it's called self-employment tax is because employers usually pay half of those taxes for their employees. As a self-employed photographer, however, you'll have to pay the full 15.3 percent.What can a photographer write off? ›
- Upfront Expenses: Cameras, Stands, Lights, and Props.
- Studio and Venue Costs.
- Training, Education, and Licensing Costs.
Professional Photographers with experience - Professional, experienced photographers usually charge $75 - $250 per hour or per image.What are the 7 C's of photography? ›
Composition, contrast, cropping, candid, clarity, color and cutline - These are the seven "C's" of photojournalism, and it's important to understand them when taking shot for your publication.What are the 7 rules of photography? ›
The seven principles of design in photography—balance, rhythm, pattern, emphasis, contrast, unity, and movement—form the foundation of visual arts. Using the seven principles allows you to take greater control of your photographic practice. This will lead to better photos and more photographic opportunities.What is the golden rule in photography? ›
The golden ratio is a guide to where to place a subject (a tree, person, building, etc.) or element in a photo (like the horizon) where it will be most pleasing to the eye. That divine ratio is 1.618:1. The first recorded definition of the golden ratio came from Euclid in the 3rd Century BC.
What is rule of third in photography? ›
What is the rule of thirds? The rule of thirds is a composition guideline that places your subject in the left or right third of an image, leaving the other two thirds more open. While there are other forms of composition, the rule of thirds generally leads to compelling and well-composed shots.What shutter speed to use? ›
Generally speaking, using the standard rule of thumb is to make the shutter speed equal to your focal length when hand-holding your camera. For example, if you are shooting with a 200mm lens then you want to keep your shutter speed at 1/200 sec or above to avoid any blur occurring from camera shake.What should I set my camera ISO to? ›
Whenever image quality is of the utmost importance, always shoot with an ISO 100 setting. Now remember in low light situations, this will mean your camera will also shoot much slower than if you used a faster ISO 800 for example. Therefore you will need a tripod if using ISO 100 in low light.What are the 3 C's in photography? ›
Our “3 C's” are “Content, Concept, and Composition”. As a part of the creative photographic process, I believe mentally assessing the close interaction of how we are expressing all “3 C's” will lead us to making more successful photographs.What is rule of 6 photography? ›
Photography Composition Rule #6: Make Use of Leading Lines
Basically, it refers to using natural lines or shapes to guide the eye towards your main subject. The key to this photo composition tip is to take a big-picture view of the scene you are shooting, and to spot the elements that you can use as leading lines.
- Familiarize Yourself with Your Camera. ...
- Find Your Mentor. ...
- Take A Photography Course. ...
- Expand Your Network & Create A Portfolio. ...
- Check Your Lighting & Mind Your Composition. ...
- Pick The Perfect Background for Your Subject. ...
Photographers often get business by word-of-mouth marketing and displaying their work to others. Working out of your home can allow you to create your own studio or even allow you flexibility to go to the client's location for the photographs.What are the 7 tips for taking good photographs? ›
- How To Compose Great Photos. Great photos start with great composition: how you frame the shot and where you position different elements within the scene. ...
- Keep It Simple. ...
- Change Your Perspective. ...
- Add Depth To Your Images. ...
- Use The Sun To Create A Silhouette. ...
- Look For Reflections. ...
- Find Symmetry.
- Consistency is Key. One of the best ways of getting your photography noticed is to have a consistent, recognizable style. ...
- Display Your Work. ...
- Be Savvy with Social. ...
- Consider Competitions. ...
- Community Consideration. ...
- Barter Better. ...
- Perfect a Portfolio. ...
- Get Published.
Sell your photos on stock websites
These platforms gather millions of pictures and videos, and sell them to businesses, marketing agencies and media. In return, the photographers receive a commission every time their work is downloaded.