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How to start a photography business

The full picture on how to turn your hobby into a profession

 

For many amateur photographers, running a professional photography business would be a dream come true. But now it can be a reality. The photography industry offers many opportunities for keen amateurs who want to make a living from it. If you’re thinking of becoming a professional photographer, this is what you need to know to succeed.

What is it?

Photography is often a business for one-man-bands. According to Skillset, the sector skills council for creative industries, almost 50% of the companies involved in the photographic industry are sole-traders or freelancers.

There are several different types of photography, but wedding photography is the most high-profile money-maker at the moment, as summer is the wedding season. The glamour and excitement of the Royal Wedding in April 2011 is likely to trigger a spate of engagements up and down the country, which can be only be good news for wedding photographers.

However, bear in mind that the job of snapping a wedding takes considerable expertise.

Wedding photography is generally recognised by most photographers as being a highly-skilled job – not only in terms of taking photographs, but handling all sorts of people at a potentially emotional time. And wedding photography tends to be seasonal too. May to September is the busiest time – accounting for 80-90% of the work – with the rest of the year being relatively quiet.

Many wedding photographers have to supplement their primary income with additional work such as passport pictures and portrait photography, especially during those quieter winter months. Some also diversify into other lines, such as PR work, commercial and industrial photography. They mix and match whatever is available to earn a living throughout the year.

What does a typical day involve?

As a local photographer, your bread and butter work is likely to be weddings. Well in advance of the big day, you should have visited the church and met the couple.

Most weddings are likely to be in the afternoon, so you can have a leisurely morning - but you will need to be on call from two hours before the wedding. This may involve photos of the bride and family getting ready. But you will also need to arrive at the church ahead of the guests so that you can get snaps of friends, family and the groom arriving. You will be hanging around while the service takes place in preparation for those all-important photos of the happy couple after the service.

Photos at the receptions are also a favourite, and it is likely to be 6pm at the earliest before you can knock off for the day.

Ready to get started? Find out everything you need to know about how to start your own business here.

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