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11 Tips for New Photographers

Starting a new photography business can be a daunting task. We've compiled 11 pieces of invaluable advice from seasoned photographers across the US. Find their tips below.

You can find all these photographers and more in our Nationwide Directory. And if you're a photographer, we'd love to have you join our directory!


1. Only advertise what you love

"Only show what you want to shoot more of. You may take sessions outside of your preferred genre and that's okay! But you don't have to share images from those sessions if they don't align with the direction you're trying to take your business. You'll attract more of what you do show so it's okay to be selective!"

-Christian from Christian Michelle Photography (Tennessee)


2. Set boundaries

"Create business policies and stick to them! They not only help set client expectations, but they will come in handy when potential problems arise. It can be as simple as having a late policy, for example, to deter clients from disrespecting your time. You'll build client trust and confidence if they can see that you treat your photography as a legitimate business."

-Julie from Julie Freitas Photography (Massachusetts)


3. Be yourself

"The one thing that sets you apart from every other photographer is YOU! My number one piece of advice is to infuse your personality into your business and your client experience. Your personality will help attract your ideal clients and help set you apart from every other photographer."

-Jasmine from Jasmine Norris Photography (Indiana)


4. Know the value of what you're giving up

"Although it is important to run your numbers and know your CODB (cost of doing business) you need to put a value on your time and your time away from family! I wish I had done this sooner when I started my business when I had babies and little ones! I missed out on so much for basically minimum wage. It was not worth it. Raising my prices and putting a higher value on my time was the best decision I could have ever made for myself, my family and my business."

-Mary Beth from Mary Beth Miller Photography (Pennsylvania)


5. Dot the I's and cross the T's

"Don't ignore the basics of starting a business just because you're getting started and/or doing it all on your own: Register your business with the state (if applicable), buy your domain name (do your research to ensure no other photography business already exists with your name; you'll make your marketing life MUCH easier down the road if you choose a unique name!), start paying taxes (and set yourself up to charge sales tax, if your state requires it), arrange to accept credit card payments, track expenses, open a business checking account and credit card, establish an LLC or sole proprietorship. There are costs of doing business you need to accept and an accountant is one of them, so get one and follow their guidance. You'll be glad you did."

-Lydia from Apollo & Ivy Photography (Iowa)


6. Get legal and financial foundations

"Setting a strong financial and legal foundation for your business is key. Financially, you should have dedicated bank accounts for your business, and a strong bookkeeping system. Legally, you have ongoing responsibilities related to compliance with local and state laws regarding taxes and business formation. You should also have legal contracts for your client work and be insured to cover both business assets and liability."

-Lindsey from Willow Grove Studios (Iowa)


7. Get OUT and market

"If you build it, they will come" does not apply. As a new photographer, you must get out there and meet people, sell yourself, and work HARD toward your goals of onboarding clients, filling mini session dates, etc. Go to as many local business networking events as you can, introduce yourself and what you do to everyone you meet, and get to know with other local photographers, too!"

-Jessica from Jessica Merithew Photography (North Carolina)


8. Practice, practice, practice

"Get plenty of experience working with other professional photographers before going out on your own. The worst comments I see on the groups are "I booked my first wedding, what equipment do I need and poses should I take" Weddings are a once in a lifetime event, treat them as such! Know what you are doing before taking on a wedding as the lead."

-Michelle from Masterworks Photography (Ohio)


9. Quality is king

"Invest in quality. Quality education, quality equipment, quality props (if you need props). At the beginning it's easy to think you can't afford to spend money on higher end things, but in the long run you'll spend a lot more replacing cheap if you start with cheap. Start small and invest in education first, then a smaller number of high quality products rather than lots of cheap stuff. Value yourself and value your business."

-Teale from Teale Brown Photography (New York)


10. Focus on the Business as much as the Art

"Even the most talented photographer cannot succeed in their business if they don't know how to run their business profitably. Photographers get so caught up in the art (it is what we LOVE, I know!), but if you want to make it a career then you must invest in the education and knowledge of the business side. Photography will be about 10% of the work you actually do."

-Chelsie from Chelsie Maurer Photography (Michigan)


11. Stop the comparison game

"You're a photographer because you love it. Your clients come to you because they love YOUR work. Eliminate the comparison of yourself to other photographers, and focus on only comparing yourself to where you were yesterday. Clients will see YOUR work, and book because that's what attracted them."

-Jennifer from Jennifer Brandes Photography (Minnesota)



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