You need to tell your wife, spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, or significant other and get them committed to your photography business or just get them committed (Baker Act) and then make sure when she throws you out, your new one room apartment can handle all the gear and that there is ample space to get to the restroom.  In this design below, it could easily be saved and made into a two-seat Chateau Eau de Toilette. 


  • Plan, design and then partially set it up making nothing permanent as this will change 100 times
  • What space do you really need: Studios Do you need a studio for starters?
  • Office Space
  • Storage for props  
  • Waiting area for customers as well as a changing area 
  • Legally might need a restroom, doubles as changing area
  • Parking
  • What space do you really need: (Table top for small product photography)?
  • Converted garage or other unused space, allow ten weeks to clean out the garage.   
  • What space do you really need: (PORTRAITS) A studio, room with North light 
  • Most backdrops are about seven feet wide so you need about 8 feet wide and 10-12 feet depth to shoot in to get full length and a10t least eight feet on the ceiling. 
  • Many just close in their garage, finish the wood studs and joists with drywall, paint the whole thing white as snow, put in a wall air conditioner, if you can, make a good wind machine. Hang the lights from the rafters and eliminate light stands so you don’t trip. 

  • Be sure to get the proper PERMITS to change a garage. In our area one fellow took a five thousand dollar fine for 500 dollars' worth of work because of no permit. (10 times the amount in some states is the rule) then they got him for no business permits. 

Everyone in this business who has survived (It has a large failure rate) had something in common. The winners were good business people. To make a living in photography you need a little more than a good eye or talent you need business savvy. You need to know about financial, legal, management and marketing aspects of running a photography business. But first you must get it off the ground and we'll start with pencil and paper. 

Ask yourself What kind of photography do you want to do? This is the first question: Write it down and grab your local phone books and see how many in your area do that and is there a market for it.

Photography really has no borders, it's limitless but in some areas very specialized and some type of photography may be non-productive work. A gamut of players frequents certain areas of photography, some good, some horrible and some outright frauds. 

The constituents consist of part-timers working the wedding circuits or freelancing for the local paper to a few heavy hitters commanding big dollars. The photographer starting out operating as a home-based business can work on a broad range of subject area, from portraits, weddings, product photography, freelancing or stringing as a photojournalist or a publication photographer.

Professional photography can be broadly divided into two categories: I call it Working on Commission photography and the fill work called “stock photography". 

Products, Advertising, Fashion, Portraits, Weddings, School functions
, Events, Promotions, Grand Openings
Publications (In-house) and other images shot on assignment.  Most photographers spend their entire career shooting on either commission (asked to do the work) or for a set fee arrangement (retainer or quote fee agreed upon).

They also do Weddings and PR work, that puts the food on the table. Knowing you will get paid for performing after the contract has been satisfactorily completed is a nice feeling if you dealt with a reputable firm. See Lawsuits: 


For one thing if no one knows what you do, how will they know to come to you. So, you should market or sell yourself to the public; there is no business without marketing even if it is simply “Word of mouth". 
"Word of mouth" is when someone is marketing for you. Marketing is a business and there's more to it.  It is not just about placing an ad.  It's an understanding of where you are, where you want to be and what to do to make it happen. 

  1. You are building a reputation and following up with clients builds bonds
  2. Locating potential clients and potential competitors
  3. Getting the word out about your business in your area
  4. Sourcing your target market. 
  5. Who is your market, do I have the capacity, logistics, talent, potential, pricing and marketing practices to go heads up with the competition?


You'll need a portfolio of your work. Less good is better than lots of mediocre. It should demonstrate your skills and versatility. Your portfolio will be shown to prospective clients.

  1. Toot your horn if needed: Announce any significant achievement such as courses or seminars attended.
  2. Volunteerism is good. A topical subject like environmental, school, charity.
  3. Teach classes on a workshop basis for beginners. Even at your local camera store. Get your work out of the house or studio 
  4. Exhibit if you can in local galleries, museums, business establishments, bank lobby's. A OB/GYN waiting room is an excellent pace for Mom and child portraits. 
  5. Phone Books and the yellow Pages gets mixed reviews but like anything you can't be without them
  6. Direct mailing campaign; client lists may be bought off the web by different demographics
  7. Brochures: Make one about yourself

Social Internet Networking, (notice it spells SIN). It's the trend and it's exciting or is it. We'll do a whole new section on this and you'll be surprised how many people want to know what you are doing.  Or are they just curious, looking for friends and contacts, or have other agendas. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others. It can be and has ruined a few.

INVENTORY - Photographer's Checklist

  1.      Cameras and Lenses 
  2.      Tripods
  3.      Electronic flash units, studio lights and stands 
  4.      Seamless paper and Stands
  5.      Flash Cards and ancillary gear

INVENTORY - Business Person’s Checklist:

  1.      Office Equipment such as a desk, chairs, lighting
  2.      Computers and PRINTERS, both for business (laser) and prints (Ink jet or dye -sub)
  3.      Telephone system with outside call ins for recordings
  4.      Faxes and Scanner
  5.      Storage Areas and lockable are for equipment and privacy
  6.      File cabinets for client files
  7.      Stationary and business cards 
  8.       Flyers about yourself and business
  9.      Contracts and forms with Logo

There's an expression in business, set you're pricing too high and you might price yourself out of the market.  Set you're pricing too low and make an enemy of all your competitors. Neither is good for business.  The WPPI and the PPA have long forums on the subject and then you should determine what you are worth.  

  1. Determine how you wish to charge.
  2. Daily Fee
  3. Hourly Fee 
  4. Package fees  
  5. Overtime 
  6. Event Fees
  7. Expenses plus fees for props rentals, locations hair and makeup stylists.
  8. Models, wardrobe, optional transportation such as camels and donkeys.
  9. Hotels, motels and tents and the blessing of the local Witch Doctor.  This is also known as "cost plus billing".
  10. Travel Fees
  11. Assistant Fees

The key in determining your pricing strategy is to make sure that your prices meet your minimum profitability objectives. Here’s the catch “But still competitive in your local area".   It's a balance and many things enter into this arena including but not limited to yourself, it's worth and your ego.