How to Start a Photography Business

Apr 26, 2021 | photography

Here’s the truth: When my husband and I launched our commercial photography biz, Lathala Creative Studios, we went into it blindly. All we knew was we wanted to turn our side hustle into a full-fledged business.

Little did we know that we inadvertently skipped several key steps to become a fully operational business. So we scrambled to get everything going in a short time, which was quite stressful to say the least. If you’re just about to start, you’re in luck.

Below are the 5 first steps on how to start a photography business:

Hello, everyone! By now, you already probably know about all the product photography we do in our studio. But we also do animated GIFs for social media all the time! We're currently expanding our portfolio, and here's a little BTS clip of our most recent 10-second animation project!  Most people don't know this, but animation was my first obsession (thanks to the Canadian TV show SPLAT!). Unfortunately, I was never good at drawing characters or doing graphics on the computer, so I didn't pursue it as a career. But I find it surprising that creating stop motion loops for brands would be part of my job decades later with my wife Daphne (who happens to be a great animator herself!).  We hope you enjoy the video!

5 Key Things To Do When Starting a Photography Business

1. Draw up a PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS PLAN.

It’s not enough to just think about your hopes and dreams for your photography business. Get it in writing!

In your business plan, be sure to specify:

  • what your business is about
  • who owns the business (if you have a partner, this business plan should clearly state how much % each of you owns)
  • how you intend to make profit
  • who you intend to serve as clients (your target market)
  • who are your “competition”
  • how much are your startup costs and expenses
  • what are your key metrics to determine your business success

Check out this link for a sample business plan.

2. Decide on your business structure.

Are you sole proprietor or do you have a partner? Are you an S-Corp or an LLC? These are decisions you need to make with your accountant but it’s important that you do before opening your business. Doing so will separate your business and personal assets, which will protect you in the long run.

Once you’ve determined your business structure, make it official by registering your business through your state website. If you’re in Florida, apply online thorugh sunbiz.org and you should get your documents in at least 2 weeks.

3. Sign up for an EIN (Employer Identification Number).

The EIN is your business’ Tax ID and incredibly important when filing your taxes and licenses, and applying for the next step. You can easily apply for an EIN online through the IRS website and get it the same day.

4. Apply for a business bank account.

To separate your personal assets from your business income and expenses, a business bank account is necessary. Depending on your banking partner, they usually require bringing your EIN and Articles of Organization when opening an account.

5. Apply for a state tax and city license.

If you intend to sell prints of your work or transfer files through any physical format, you need to apply for state tax. Conditions vary by state, so be sure to get in touch with your local state tax office to verify.

Starting your own photography business is an exciting time. But before anything else, be sure to get all your ducks in a row so your business operates without any hiccups.

Which of these steps have you accomplished?

Missed my previous post? Check it out here.