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How to write a successful photography business plan.

How to Write a Successful Photography Business Plan

Whether you want to know how to start a photography business or take your existing one to the next level, the best place to start is with a plan. A photography business plan is a document that outlines what you hope to accomplish with your business. 

As your business comes to life or goes through change, you can use a business plan to measure your progress and re-calibrate your professional goals. In addition, if you are planning to pitch your business to potential investors for brand partnership opportunities, a business plan is one of the documents you can use to help bring credibility to your business.

However, learning how to start a photography business the right way doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Taking the right steps to showcase your photography services beyond your online portfolio website can set you off on the right foot and continuously help you attract the caliber of clients you want.

Why you need to make a photography business plan. 

Running a small business is hard. You may have heard the lifespan statistic that 20% of small businesses fail in their first 2 years, 30% fail in their first 3 years, and 50% fail after operating for 5 years. While this number is discouraging, the number one reason for the small business mortality rate is the lack of financial planning.

This is why using available tools is essential to your business’s long-term success and to your ability to grow your business. A business plan is critical in keeping you on track with your business goals and identifying where your business is lagging before, during, and after growth.

The main components of a photography business plan.

While you can customize the components of a photography business plan to suit your needs, the standard components are:

  • Executive summary
  • Business description
  • Product or service portfolio
  • Target market
  • Competitive landscape 
  • Marketing approach
  • Operations & logistics

These elements work together to provide you and your possible stakeholders with a fulsome portrait of your business and its potential. We will go into further detail about these individual components in the following sections.

Write an executive summary.

The executive summary is a 50-250 word section at the start of your photography business plan that focuses on big-picture goals and outcomes of your company. This section summarizes the entirety of the document and should serve as the “elevator pitch” for your company, and its unique position to succeed. A good question to ask when compiling your executive summary is, “What are 3-5 things I want my clients to remember me by?”

Some of the elements to include in your executive summary are your experience, your specialties (ex. commercial photography , landscape , or wedding photography ), and key components of your business that contribute to your success, such as your marketing efforts or a unique angle you bring to the industry.

Explain your company in a business description.

While you may have a clear vision for your business inside your head, being able to succinctly express it to clients and stakeholders is key to your professional success. When compiling your description, it’s important to be as specific as possible.

First, learn about different organizational structures and the associated terms that come with the territory. Are you running a sole proprietorship, partnership, an incorporated company, or another type of business?

Second, your business description should also outline additional details including the history of your business. It gives possible stakeholders an idea of what your business is about and how it began.

In addition, you want to share your business’ mission statement. Because you will go into more details about the offerings and other aspects of your business, it’s best to keep your company description simple and provide only a high-level overview.

Describe your product and services.

This is the place to talk about the types of photography services and products you offer, and the ones you plan on expanding into in the near future. 

As part of your product and services description, provide a comprehensive pricing model. Your pricing model should cover the types of sessions, services (shooting, editing, formatting) you offer, and their associated fees. For example, do you offer mini photography sessions or 2-hour shoots? Is there a sliding scale for editing services, color correction, or airbrushing? Do you handle the physical production of photos, or is the handoff done digitally?

A competent photography business relies on the client’s clear understanding of your “menu” of skills and services.

Lastly, detail the types of services you offer and the types of products you want to focus on that bring you the most income.

Determine your target market.

Targeting your customers is no simple task, as small business owners want to serve everyone. Nevertheless, it helps you to focus on your customers who need your products. You’ll end up wasting money marketing your product to people who don’t need it or have any interest in it.

Understanding your target audience means researching your local market to identify where demand exists. You can search forums and Facebook groups to see what kinds of photographers people are hiring and how much they’re willing to pay. 

For example, a professional wedding photographer should join relevant local event planning and vendor groups on social media to build connections and promote their wedding photography services. Keep in mind that a wedding photographer often has to travel to a location to shoot the wedding, and make sure to factor it into your project estimates. 

While a target audience looks different for everyone, it’s important for your photography business to have a few areas of specialty that help build up credibility and steadily bring in clients.

Conduct a competitive analysis.

As you conduct research on your local market, you will start to discover there are a number of different photographers that offer similar services as you. To create a thorough competitive analysis, take the list of competitors, and evaluate them in different areas. Conducting this analysis will help you determine what sets yours apart.

When looking at your competitors, consider the following questions:

  • Are my product offering and pricing model as straightforward as theirs?
  • What is their tone of voice (ex. humorous/expert/familial)?
  • Who is their target audience?
  • What do they bring to the table that I do not, and vice versa?
  • How can I differentiate myself from them?

To help you understand how your business is perceived, you can seek the help of a brand marketing professional. To take a more DIY approach, you can send your portfolio website to a roundtable of friends and colleagues and ask them how they would describe your business. Collecting these adjectives and looking for common threads can help you understand how your business is perceived and use these findings to your advantage in your marketing efforts.

Conducting a thorough competitive analysis can help you determine your own competitive edge and stay abreast of the competition. As a best practice, get into the habit of conducting a competitive analysis on an annual basis to stay informed about how your industry and your local market evolve over time.

Detail your marketing strategies.

In marketing, there is a saying that goes, “hope is not a strategy.” Yet many organizations allow an “if you build it, they will come” mentality to drive clients toward their marketing efforts.

In reality, a continuous funnel of new and repeat customers is what ensures their long-term success. This is why continuous marketing efforts are the number one way to ensure a consistent workload. Your marketing should work in tandem with a greater marketing plan that aligns all your efforts.

Because stakeholders and investors know the importance of marketing, they will look for a comprehensive and proactive marketing strategy when evaluating your business plan. This is why it’s important to outline the various marketing mechanisms you plan to use in your marketing plan.

Your marketing strategies encompass your marketing programs and your photography portfolio. 

Marketing programs.

Marketing programs mean any platforms, channels, or mechanisms you use to promote your company and attract customers. These may include email marketing campaigns, direct mail initiatives, local photography directory memberships, trade shows, your social media presence, and any paid social media advertising campaigns.

Photography portfolio.

Your online photography portfolio is an essential part of your marketing toolkit. After you make your potential customers aware of your business with your marketing programs, they will seek out a digital presence to explore your abilities as a photographer and to see if there is a fit. A portfolio experience can make or break a client lead, which is why it’s important to invest in a portfolio website that represents the unique offering your photography brings to the world. You can learn how to build a portfolio website the right way with our helpful guide.

Think about operations. 

While service businesses like photographers traditionally have fewer logistics than brick-and-mortar ones, it’s still important to consider the day-to-day logistics and expenses when compiling your business plan.

The operations portion of your photography business can include details like information about where you conduct work.  Many photographers choose to conduct business out of a home studio or office, holding a majority of their sessions at outdoor locations, client homes, and occasionally utilizing a professional studio. Meanwhile, commercial photographers almost always rely on a professional studio to conduct their business. 

Because different types of photographers have different operational needs, stakeholders will look for this information in your business plan to help assess the overhead cost of the operations. Understanding your operations also helps you to plan for potential opportunities in the future.

Draft your financial plans. 

This portion of your photography business plan is important to understanding the overall factors in the cash flow of your venture. Cash flow refers to the amount of money going in and out of your business. 

While compiling this section of your business plan may take the most time, it’s important to get it right to have an accurate understanding of the amount of money it takes to run your photography business, and which investments (ex. new lenses or editing software) are feasible within your business profits.

If you are a new business owner getting into photography, this section of the plan is where you outline the equipment you hope to invest in and what types of services it will be used for. Consider that as a professional photographer, you may need to invest in two copies of every item in case of malfunction. Some photographers, who may be just starting out, may use rental equipment to help them offset the costs of duplicates. However, the cost of renting can add up, which is why purchasing may be the cheaper option in the long run.

As a photographer, you are investing in hardware and software that is imperative to your job. To protect yourself, consider insuring your photography equipment and professional computer in case of theft. You can outline your insurance policy coverage and its cost in the financial portion of your plan. 

Create a timeline.

For photographers, a timeline is a management tool that helps you keep your business goals on track. Some of the key activities to include in your timeline are marketing, financial, investing, and operational in nature. 

In your timeline, consider setting goals for when you expect to pay back for the items listed in the financial portion of your plan. Calculating how many completed photography sessions it would take to cover the cost of the item can help you calculate this date.

It’s important to remember that timelines don’t need to be complicated. You can simply write down the task and the date by which you hope to complete it in sequential order. To help you stay on track, you can put reminders in your email calendar that notify you when you are nearing the anticipated completion of a task, as well as your personal deadline for its completion.

Putting your photography business plan together.

Compiling a photography business plan is an important step in starting your business and in evolving an existing one. While our photography business plan outline contains all the elements to run a successful photography business, there is nothing like drawing inspiration from what’s out there. A tried and tested photography business plan sample can give you the guidance you need to brainstorm the ins and outs of your business.

While all photography business plans are slightly different, most professional photography business plans are clear about their vision and how they want to get there. We’ve collected sample photography business plans from some of the best and most successful photographers in the industry and made readily editable templates for a fast and comprehensive photography business plan.

If you are just starting with your venture and feel a little lost, be sure to check out startup costs for your photography business and three business questions new photographers often ask . These guides give you the important information you need to get started on turning your photography dream into a viable business.

Photography business plan examples.

A sound business plan will set you on the path to success as a photographer. Whether you are a studio photographer, wedding photographer, or anything in between, these industry-specific photography business plan examples will help you kickstart your career.

Photography studio business plan.

If you run a photography studio, the most important element of your business plan is the photography business description. This segment in your photography studio business plan consists of a thorough description of all of the activities you engage in and the services you offer.

By keeping a detailed checklist, you can be clearer with your clients about the studio photography services you offer and market your business accordingly. Our guide to photography marketing shows you how to attract new clients the right way, without spending a dime.

Wedding photography business plan.

Creating a wedding photography business plan is a crucial step in better understanding your market and the opportunities you can leverage with your skills and experience. If there are any specific photography services you offer that other wedding competitors don’t, make sure to include them in your business plan.

If you are looking for a place to start, a simple Google search will provide you with a range of wedding photography business plan samples to work from, which can be tailored specifically to your business.

Now that you are armed with your photography business plan, you can attract better clients and be prepared for the future with a firm grasp of your competitive edge and industry shifts. Don’t forget that along with a solid business plan you need a beautiful website portfolio to show off your work and start getting clients.

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Cheryl Dell'Osso

Cheryl is the Director of Content Strategy at Zenfolio and the Owner/Photographer at Portraits by Cheryl and Seniors by Cheryl in Raleigh, NC. Cheryl has mentored countless new photographers looking to build successful photography businesses.

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How to write a strong photography business plan:  step-by-step

plan business photography

This article was updated on December 2, 2022

Starting a successful photography business involves more than having a camera and a keen eye for beauty. As a business owner, you must also have a solid business plan.

Without one, your professional photography business may have no legs (or tripods) to stand on. 

Creating a photography business plan is simple. This complete guide will cover all you need to know about writing a comprehensive business plan—from executive summaries to competitive analyses. 

What to include in a photography business plan:

  • Write an executive summary
  • Describe your photography business
  • Outline your products and services
  • Analyze your finances and list out business expenses
  • Understand your competition and the photography industry
  • Devise a sales and marketing strategy
  • Set operations logistics and management structure
  • Perform customer and market analysis
  • Establish a timeline and exit strategy
  • Round out your business plan with Nextdoor

1. Write an executive summary

Perhaps you’ve been dreaming of running your own photography business since the day you picked up your first disposable camera, or maybe you just started outlining your vision in recent months. Whatever the case may be, you’ll need to match those dreams with quantifiable business goals and a clear course of action. 

Defining your mission is one of the most important aspects of a strong business plan and almost always comprises the first section. In the executive summary, you will explain your business details such as your business name, and a summary of your business plan in a few sentences.

When defining your business as a professional photographer, it’s crucial to cover two key components: the executive summary and the business description.

2. Describe your photography business

Following the executive summary, the business description section is the place where you'll describe the ins and outs of your business.

Effective photography business descriptions usually contain the following information:

  • A history of your business
  • An overview of your business structure

Let's break down these two essential components further.

As a professional photographer, your business's history is more than just a summary of facts. It's your unique story . Your passion for what you do should come through in every line.

Include life and color into your business plan by detailing the following:

  • Your personal relationship with photography
  • Your professional work experience
  • The origins of your business and the values you intend to uphold

Describing your history with photography not only gives potential stakeholders an inside look at your motivations but also gives you an outline for an "About" section on your future website.

REAL BUSINESS EXAMPLE: Johnson City, Tennessee's Hunter Kittrell Photography is a business that knows the power of storytelling. Their website's "About" section mentions how the business's founder, Hunter Kittrell, got his start in photography after college and how his love of adventure inspires his work. Look to this small business as a model for your own and add in all of your business's unique details to compel potential clients to work with you.

Business structure

Few business descriptions are complete without an outline of the business structure. To define your business structure, consider the following:

  • Type - Is your business a sole proprietorship or an LLC? A partnership or corporation? If you're just starting out, there's a good chance your photography business will be a sole proprietorship. However, if you're thinking of future growth (and outside funding), it may be wise to consider an LLC. Whichever business type you choose, providing this information in your business plan will help you think through the management and other logistical structures.
  • Management and business operations - Most U.S. photography businesses have less than two employees . However, if you're planning on employing more people and/or having a detailed managerial structure, it may be wise to include this in your business description. Furthermore, it may be helpful to include details about business hours and studio location(s).

While businesses, especially startups, can experience a number of operational changes during the first couple of years, outlining your initial business structure is a smart way to set up your photography business for continued success.

3. Outline your products and services

The best business plans clearly specify the business's products and photography services. As you draft your plan include the following details:

  • Photography type - Will your business specialize in commercial photography, marketing photography, landscape photography, portrait photography, pet photography, or wedding photography? Will you mainly shoot individual portraits or family portraits? Identifying your niche in the photography industry in your business plan will allow you to structure other elements of your business model around that particular focus.
  • Pricing model - When it comes to the financial aspects of your business, few details are more important than your business's pricing model. Will you charge by the hour or by the photoshoot (regardless of time)? Is photo editing included in the package or is there an additional cos t ? Look at other photographers for example pricing; likely event photography pricing is structured differently than landscape photography. You would also need to consider your business expenses and budget when setting your rates. Being as specific as possible about your pricing model will help you estimate your income and also p rovide a clear outline of your rates for potential clients.

REAL BUSINESS EXAMPLE: Based in Manchester, New Hampshire, Image of Home Real Estate Photography is a small business with a big-time, three-tier pricing model. Their website states that they charge by the square foot and offer the additional benefit of same-day image delivery. This pricing model was, more than likely, hashed out in the business plan. Settle on the pricing specifics for your business and be sure to share them on your online platforms so that they are clearly visible to the public.

4. Analyze your finances

When it comes to financial planning, the more you can foresee, the better. This will keep you from overextending your budget in terms of expenses or overestimating your revenue in your first year. 

To adequately plan for finances, detail the following in your business plan:

  • Expenses – Expenses include everything from ordering business cards to the cost of equipment to your studio space. Make a list of everything you’ll need to pay for to get your business up and running. Doing so will also help you budget for the unknown, such as buying an extra lens in case one breaks or hiring an assistant to lend a hand on a particular photo shoot.
  • Projected revenue – To stay afloat in the long run, you’ll need to bring in more revenue than you’re spending. As a result, it’s wise to calculate your projected revenue alongside your expenses in your business plan—especially in the first year. These calculations will allow you to budget properly and change your strategy should your financial situation change.
  • Set up bank accounts and EIN - Most professional photographers tend to work independently or work by case. Therefore, it is better to separate your work bank accounts and credit cards from your personal accounts to manage your finances. Further, even if this is a small business, you still need to apply for an EIN (employee identification number) from the IRS for legal purposes.

In addition, figuring out where you stand financially will enable you to find room in your budget for marketing strategies and competitive analysis metrics.

5.  Understand your competition

An often overlooked, yet highly important, section of most business plans is the competitive analysis section. 

Researching your competition is beneficial for many reasons. Not only will you better understand your competition’s pricing models and services, but you’ll also learn how you can set yourself apart from competitors. Given the fact that there are more than 40,000 professional photographers in the U.S. , knowing how to stand out in the industry will make sure your one-of-a-kind business doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. 

When writing your competitive analysis section, it’s helpful to answer the following questions:

  • How many photographers are located in my area?
  • Am I fulfilling a specific niche (i.e. landscape, portrait, etc.)?
  • What are my competitor’s pricing models?
  • What are their marketing strategies?
  • What are my competitors doing well? What could they improve upon?
  • Who are my potential client pods and are they overlapping other existing photography businesses?
  • How will I provide a necessary and unique photography service?

Of course, there are many more questions you could ask when thinking about your competition, but these should help you get started.

6. Devise a sales and marketing strategy

Good business plans almost always focus on business growth. But to grow your business and attract new clientele, you need to market yourself. 

Detailing your marketing strategy is, therefore, a crucial component of a strong business plan. If you’re wondering how to get photography clients, you’ll want to employ a number of different marketing tactics.

When writing the marketing section, it’s helpful to think of the following strategies:

  • Social media marketing – Given that social media is a major conduit of ideas and information, it’s important to develop a social media strategy for your photography business. As a photographer, your portfolio and past works are the best marketing materials. Image-sharing platforms make the most sense, but you’ll want to consider the potential of other platforms, too. For example, if you want to attract local clientele , the best way to connect with your neighborhood is on Nextdoor. This community-minded platform allows you to set up custom business ads or create a Business Page where you can showcase important aspects of your business—from operating hours to services.
  • Email marketing – In your business plan, detail how you intend to use email to market yourself. Will you send around a quarterly email discussing new trends in the photography world? Will you deliver special holiday emails urging your target audience to take advantage of discounted holiday shoots? Generating an email list is an effective way to keep clients in the loop about what’s happening with your business.
  • SEO marketing – SEO, or search engine optimization, is a critical strategy that will help drive potential customers to your website. To improve the quality of your site, you’ll want to decide which type of keywords are important to your business and build content around them to make your website more discoverable by Google and other search engines. You can do this by adding informational content to different pages on your website, as well as creating a photography blog with helpful tips and information for users. For example, if you are a portrait photographer, you can add keywords such as family pictures or graduation portfolio photos.

7. Set operation logistics and management structure

This section gives you the opportunity to first think through the details of your business workflow then define how you will manage the logistics of your day to day operations. A major part of your photography business will likely be post processing and photo editing before final delivery. Spend time defining how long editing will take after a shoot. How many days afte r a shoot will you promise delivery to your customers? What methods of payment are you planning to accept? Other topics to address in this section may include:

  • Primary and backup suppliers
  • Equipment inventory
  • Transportation expenses
  • Management and staff structure if applicable

8. Perform customer and market analysis

C ustomer and market analysis is a critical part of your photography business plan; it helps define the size of the market needing your service as well as your ideal client. Here you will justify your target market and specify niche segments within that market. To do this answer the following:

  • What is your dream client - age range, gender, location, demographics, and style of photo shoot. Will you specialize in high end weddings, aerial photography, sports photography, or something else? 
  • What are the needs of these customers
  • how your services address these needs. 
  • What is the growth potential of your market segment? Including considerations such as the number of potential customers, their annual income, frequency of photography style needs

9. Establish a timeline and exit strategy

This later section describes your timeline for the goals and objectives outlined earlier in the business plan. Describe how soon you plan to become profitable, within what timeframe do you plan to meet your revenue objectives, or even when you might plan to hire employees to help grow your business. While it may seem far off, planning how you may want to exit your business years down the road may open up questions and considerations that can have a big impact near term. For some, selling their business to a larger investor is the end goal, for others, keeping photography as a small side gig to pass to their children is the exit strategy - no matter your desired path, document it here. 

10. Round out your business plan with Nextdoor

Developing a strong photography business plan is often the first step in running a successful business. Now that you’re equipped with all the tools to execute it like a pro, you’ll be well-prepared for a promising future ahead. 

But no plan is truly complete without Nextdoor — the neighborhood hub that connects you with your local community so that your photography business can flourish.

Claim a Nextdoor Business Page today to simplify the process of building your brand. That way, you can get back to what truly matters—working your magic behind the camera.

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10 Key Steps for Writing Your Photography Business Plan

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A surprising number of photographers never write a photography business plan. If you plan to embark on a career as a freelancer, you need a plan.

A business plan is a road map to success . It outlines your business-related goals and how you intend to achieve them.

There is no need to have a very formal business plan. But the components of a traditional business plan can help you be more specific about your goals. This way, you are more likely to achieve them.

The Components of a Photography Business Plan

Create an executive summary.

The Executive Summary is where you define your photography business . What will be the legal structure of your business? Will you be operating as a sole proprietor?

This is an overview of your business. It lays out how your business will meet the needs of your target clients.

It’s helpful to write out a mission statement for your photography business. You should have tangible objectives and the keys to success.

Write a Product and Service Description

You need to create a detailed description of your photography services and products.

What is the focus of your business? What stage are you at in terms of developing your business?

Overhead shot of a person making an illustrative photography business plan on a white desk

Consider Your Target Market

Start with some research about the photography industry and photography businesses in general, as well as in your area. This will help you narrow down your target market.

Who are you going to serve? Come up with some examples of your ideal clients. Find out as much as you can about them so you can market to the right people. It’s helpful to create a client profile and marketing plan so you can understand your potential audience.

Before I wrote my food photography business plan, I thought everyone was my client. Food is such a broad niche . I reasoned I could shoot for all types of clients, from restaurants to stock agencies .

Overhead shot of a busy cafe

When researching your target market, look at the size and present status of the market. Identify any trends for the future. Ask yourself if this market is accessible, affordable, and achievable.

If I had focused all my attention on high-end restaurants, I would have failed. There are not enough in my area to keep me busy. Nor does restaurant photography pay as well as commercial photography . So, I had to include other kinds of food photography clients in my target market.

Assess the Competition

You should find out who your main competitors are in your target market and demographic area. Research them and determine how your photography services will compete and differ from them.

There is something unique that will set you apart from your competition. It can be difficult to pinpoint, but you need to determine what it is. This difference will affect your branding and marketing strategies for your business.

Overhead shot of a person holding a coffee cup at a table with plants, camera, lenses and other photography equipment

Develop Key Marketing Strategies

Once you have worked out who you will market to, you need to come up with some strategies. What activities will you undertake to get your name out there?

I often send a PDF of my recent work to advertising agencies and publishers. A commercial photographer may want to include external promotion in photography business marketing.

Many successful commercial photographers no longer use agents who charge hefty commission rates. Instead, they pay to be included in high-profile directories.

There are also production service companies that promote your work and connect you with clients. They help ad agencies, brands and publications to produce photoshoots. They also provide photographers with marketing support.

A barista pouring coffee into a v60 filter at a busy cafe

Consider Your Operations Strategy

In this section, you can break down where you will be operating your business in more detail.

Many portrait and product photographers have home-based studios. If you’re a commercial photographer with clients and creative directors, you need to rent a studio.

Depending on what kind of photography you do, you might not need to rent a studio on a monthly basis.

As a food photographer , I often shoot on location at restaurants. When I do commercial and packaging work, I rent a local studio for the day. I am not shooting jobs as often as a portrait photographer might. There is no point in my spending thousands of dollars on a studio space every month. That would absorb a lot of my profit.

A laptop, film and camera set up on a wooden desk to prepare a photography business plan

Plan the Financials

This part of your photography business plan is where you will focus a lot of your energy. You should spend considerable time determining what equipment you will need and how much it will cost.

Most likely, you will need to spend quite a bit more in this area in your first year of business.

When you are shooting professionally , you need to have two of everything in case of technical issues. You even need two cameras.

A photo studio set up as part of photography business plan

You might need an assistant on your shoots. How much will you pay them? How much money will you need to get started and survive until you have a positive cash flow is reached? Where will the money come from?

Finally, set up your pricing structure, depending on the type of photography you do.

If you shoot portrait photography , you may want to offer packages. If you shoot commercial photography , you may opt to have a day rate and charge for image usage .

Behind the scenes of a fashion photography shoot

SWOT Analysis

SWOT stands for strengths-weaknesses-opportunities-threats. This component of your photography business plan will take some analysis on your part.

When you compared yourself to the competition, you thought of what made you unique and different. Most likely, you came up with several strengths.

You may also have advantages that you can make work for you.

When I first started my business, I got a lot of work through a relative who owned a branding agency. The work was not related to my niche , but it gave me experience in professional shoots. And I was able to start earning money right away.

Another strength I identified was that I had hundreds of images to license through stock agencies . This came from years of practising my food photography. I was able to start earning passive income in my business with very little extra work.

Think of what gives you an advantage in your business right now.

An overhead shot of three small bowls of nuts and dried fruit on a metal surface

Your weaknesses are areas for improvement. Perhaps areas where you need to build up your skills. A weakness can be a lack of experience or technical knowledge. It is important to be aware of this so you can make these weaknesses part of your goal setting. This way, you can make strides to improve in the future.

Opportunities mean chances for developing your photography business. Are there trends you might take advantage of, such as changes in technology or social factors?

Threats are the challenges that can undermine your business or be serious obstacles on your path. It could be that most of your competitors are already well established. They have their own studios and twenty years of experience under their belts, as was my case.

A dark and moody food photography shot of three pink ice cream lollys in a pile on a wooden surface with berries and leaves

Make a Timeline

A timeline is a management tool. You can use it to hold yourself accountable for your actions and change it as required.

I strongly suggest writing a timeline for your business. The key to knowing which challenges are next for your business is to map them out in a timeline. Then, you can add it to your action plan. It helps to do a rough timeline on a monthly basis and then refine it as time passes.

Your timeline can consist of marketing and financial, legal, and operational activities. You don’t need to get complicated. You can simply write down a task you need to complete and the date you aim to complete it by. Start by writing a timeline for the first three months of your business.

A photography business plan checklist

Preparation and goal setting are crucial to success in any business. A plan for your photography business can make all the difference.

Start today by working on your photography business plan. If you can set aside 30 to 60 minutes a day, you’ll finish before you know it. And then you’ll be far ahead of most photographers, who have no plan whatsoever!

Now you’ve worked out how to make your business plan, check out our posts on how to price your photography services or use social media marketing next!

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How to Start a Successful Photography Business

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Lisa Furgison

11 min. read

Updated November 13, 2023

Free Download:  Sample Photography Business Plan Templates

If you have some creative photography chops, you might want to  open your own business . You’re not alone in wanting to turn your creative outlet into a money-making venture. Photography is a popular profession and hobby right now—and that’s the problem. As camera gear has become more affordable and consumer-friendly, and almost every smartphone now features a great camera, everyone’s a photographer. 

But, that doesn’t mean you should toss your dreams of owning a photography business aside. It just means you may have to work a little harder to set yourself apart from the flock of amateur shooters.

To help you find your photography foothold, we asked three professional photographers who started their own businesses to share their tips for success.

  • 1. Write a photography business plan

For starters, wedding and event  photographer Peggy Farren  says  you need a business plan . Any serious entrepreneur will tell you that you need to organize your thoughts on paper. This detailed document serves as your roadmap, describing what your business is and how it will be profitable. It breaks down things like  cash flow , expenses, ownership, and competition.

“Photography is one of the most competitive businesses out there,” Farren says. “You need to be a very good business person to make a decent living. You’ll get there much more quickly if you start out right.”

Creating a business plan may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be if you have the right tools. Check out this free, downloadable  sample photography business plan . 

  • 2. Assess your photography business startup costs

As part of your business planning process, you’ll need to  assess your startup costs . What are the essentials that you’ll need before you can really launch your business?

Camera equipment alone can cost upwards of $10,000, Farren says. You’ll also need  business licenses ,  insurance , a website, and accounting software like  QuickBooks  or  Xero .

What about a studio? 

Do you plan to start with a dedicated studio space or work out of your home? If you need office space, you’ll need to investigate commercial rental properties and figure that monthly cost, along with the cost of utilities, into  your financial plan .

  • 3. Secure startup funds

If you have enough money in your bank account to start your business you may not need to borrow money, but many entrepreneurs need assistance. Many people who are starting a business for the first time end up asking family or friends for help, or keeping their day job until their business is self-sustaining. 

Whether you  ask friends and family for financial assistance  or  apply for a bank loan , you’ll need a business plan in place that lays out how you’ll spend the funds and when or how you’ll pay your lenders back. 

  • 4. Figure out your personal finances

If you’re just starting out, realize that your business probably isn’t going to be profitable overnight. It took 18 months for Farren’s business to  break even  and make enough money to pay the bills. Like Farren, you might have to work another job to make ends meet until your business is generating enough money.

  • 5. Get professional photography experience

You’ll need to show your prospective clients what you can do, and working alongside a professional photographer is a great way to get some experience and start to build a portfolio. Farren worked as a photographer’s assistant while starting her own business. 

Equally important is using that experience to put together a  photography portfolio  that demonstrates your skill. Consider your audience and build the portfolio around what they want to see. Keep it updated, so new potential clients can see current and relevant work.

  • 6. Buy camera gear

When it comes to camera gear, Farren says you’ll need two cameras, two high-quality lenses, two flashes, and Photoshop and Lightroom to edit the images. Why two cameras? You need backup equipment. Even new equipment breaks, Farren says.

If you buy used gear, you can get everything for about $5,000, but Farren says $10,000 is more realistic. Of course, you can always upgrade gear as you go.

  • 7. Determine your photography business pricing plan

How  much will you charge for your services ? It’s a tough question for every photographer, especially when you’re just starting out. Figure out what one hour of your time is worth. Let’s say your time is worth $50/hour. 

For every hour you spend shooting, you’ll spend about three hours editing. You need to factor that into your pricing. So, in this equation, you would charge $200 for a one-hour photo session. Of course, your pricing structure is your own, this is just a way to come up with a starting point.

  • 8. Create a website for your photography business

Once you’ve  come up with a name  for your photography business,  you’ll need a website . There are free website templates out there, but your website is like your storefront. You want it to be impressive, so think about whether it’s better to have your website professionally created.

Your website should, of course, showcase your work. That’s what your clients will want to see. Keep your site organized by breaking your galleries up by category. Include a picture of yourself and a page that describes your background and experience. 

Contact information is also a must. It’s a good idea to list at least some of your prices. This helps manage customer expectations and keeps people from trying to negotiate for a lower price. Here’s what Farren uses as a pricing guide on her website.

Ok, you’ve got everything in place and you’re ready to start shooting pictures. Now, how do you get customers?

  • 9. Create your own photography business brand

Jason and JoAnne Marino have a unique brand for their photography business.

You need to set yourself apart from others, according to husband and wife photography duo Jason and Joanne Marino. The pair own  Imagine Photography , a company that attracts couples who are interested in unique wedding pictures, not the conventional altar photos.

“You can’t be everything to everybody or you’ll fail miserably,” Jason Marino says. “To attract customers you must carve out a brand and style.”

Start by identifying your  target market . Do you prefer to do maternity shots? Newborns? Senior portraits for high schoolers? 

Figure out what makes you unique as a photographer and use it to brand your business.

  • 10. Network for your photography business

As a photographer and a new business owner, you need to network your heart out, Marino says.

“You can be the greatest photographer in the world, but unless people know about you, it won’t do you any good,” he says. “Join groups, forums, clubs, collectives, whatever you can. Make sure these people know about you and respect you, and you’ll get referrals.”

  • 11. Be an approachable photographer

As a photographer, you don’t just need mad composition skills, you need people skills too, Marino says. You want to make sure the client has a great experience. Not only will your client trust you, which results in great shots, but a good experience also means your client will refer you to others.

If appropriate, meet with your clients before the shoot. Wedding photographers set up engagement photo sessions as a way to get to know their clients before the big day. If you’re not offering wedding photography, make sure you sit down and talk with the client before you start snapping pictures. 

Make a little small talk and chat about expectations. Remember, you’re not just selling great pictures—you’re selling an experience.

  • 12. Have a friends and family rule

Your friends and family will probably be some of your first customers, which is great. You’ll be extremely grateful for the opportunity and probably feel inclined to give them a discount. There’s nothing wrong with that, but remember, you’re trying to make a living. You should come up with a standard friends and family plan and stick to it.

  • 13. Promote your photography business on social media

Social media is a great promotion tool, but it’s best to start out with one or two sites and use them consistently. Facebook might be a good option, but you might want to lean towards one of the more visual social media channels like Instagram. One of the most important pieces of keeping whatever channel you choose to use active and updated.

When the Marinos are working on a shoot, they share teaser pictures on their Facebook page like the example below. It’s a great way to showcase work and keep customers interested.

Grow your photography business

Now that you’ve got the wheels in motion, let’s talk about how to pick up the pace.

  • 14. Market your photography business

Jane Goodrich , a New York-based children’s photographer, says one of the best ways to grow your business is to invest more in marketing.

Google ads for your photography business

Goodrich swears by  Google ads.  She uses some of her marketing budget to buy keywords that generate more website traffic. 

Team up with charities

Farren uses other unique techniques to grow her business. For instance, she teams up with charities that run high-end silent auctions.

“Not only are you getting your name in front of wealthy people, but in most cases, the clients will purchase much more than the free prints that come with the package they bought at the auction,” she says.

Generate an email list and add to it constantly

Through the years, Farren has also generated an impressive email list. She uses that list to send clients a monthly newsletter, which she says is her best marketing tool. She credits a lot of her repeat business to the newsletter as it keeps her business top of mind to her customers.

Whenever you’re at an event, set out an email sign-up form for people to opt into your newsletters.

Maintain a blog for your business

A blog is a great way to establish authority in your field. It’s an open platform to showcase your talent, tips, and opinions. Write about your experiences, your work process, your equipment, how you plan the shots, etc. The topics are endless!

  • 15. Manage your photography business’ financials

It takes time to draw profits from your business, and it takes even longer to put a few bucks in the savings account. But saving money should be a priority as you grow your business. No matter what kind of photography you do, you will sooner or later hit a slow month, Goodrich says. Save money when you’re busy so the lean months are easier to handle. This is about paying attention to your  cash flow , or when cash comes into and out of your business. 

On that note, make your payment terms clear. Many photographers will require a deposit upfront and the balance before releasing photos to the client. Whatever your payment terms, make sure your clients know what they are. 

If you do invoice clients after you’ve already done a shoot, make sure you invoice immediately and that you’ve clearly articulated when payment is due. Waiting for clients to pay you can create a cash flow problem, even if you have plenty of business, and on paper, your business is bringing in lots of revenue. Until you have cash in hand, you can’t pay your own bills. 

  • 16. Reinvest in your photography business

Once you have at least three months’ worth of income socked away, then you can start thinking about reinvesting it. From new lenses to better editing software, new pieces of technology can improve your product. To make wise decisions, make a list of the items you want. Prioritize the list and shop around for good prices before you spend your hard-earned money.

  • 17. Diversify your photography business’ offerings

In time you’ll be able to add certain elements to the business that will help you diversify your revenue stream. Goodrich, for example, added maternity and newborn photos to her list of services. Rather than generating all of her income from children’s shoots alone, she was able to generate more money by branching out.

  • 18. Improve your photography business

One of the best tips Farren says she can offer prospective photographers is to continue improving their skills. Take classes, watch educational videos, or schedule time to go take pictures of something completely unrelated to your career track—anything to keep your skills sharp.

  • 19. Hiring help for your photography business

In the beginning, you’ll  wear all the hats . You’ll set up shoots, take the shots, edit the pictures, and place the orders for prints. When you’re just starting out, you can’t afford to multitask. However, once your business is established, it’s not a bad idea to delegate responsibilities, even if it’s on an as-needed basis.

To do this, Joanne Marino says you need to recognize your strengths and weaknesses. Maybe you’re great at taking pictures but not so hot at editing, or you simply don’t enjoy it. If that’s the case, find a freelancer to help in that area. If you don’t know any freelancers, ask a colleague for suggestions or use freelance sites like  Elance  to post an ad.

As with any new business, you’ll have ups and downs, but if you’re committed to your craft and work to give each customer a great experience, you’ll earn a solid reputation as a go-to photographer.

Next steps for your photography business

If you’re ready to take the next step towards starting your own photography business, you can check out our free photography sample business  plan.  Best of luck with your new business!

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Content Author: Lisa Furgison

Lisa Furgison is a multimedia journalist with a passion for writing. She holds a graduate degree in mass communications and spent eight years as a television reporter before moving into the freelance world, where she focuses mainly on content creation and social media strategies. Furgison has crisscrossed the U.S. as a reporter, but now calls Key West, Florida home. When she's not conducting interviews or typing away on her laptop, she loves to travel.

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Photography Business Plan Template

Written by Dave Lavinsky Photography Business Plan Template

Over the past 20+ years, we have helped over 10,000 entrepreneurs and business owners create business plans to start and grow their photography businesses. On this page, we will first give you some background information with regards to the importance of business planning. We will then go through a photography business plan template step-by-step so you can create your plan today. It can be used to create a photography studio business plan, or a commercial photography business plan or a plan for any other type of photography business.

Download our Ultimate Photography Business Plan Template here >

What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan provides a snapshot of your photography business as it stands today, and lays out your growth plan for the next five years. It explains your business goals and your strategy for reaching them. It also includes market research to support your plans.

Why You Need a Business Plan

photography plan session

Source of Funding for Photography Businesses

With regards to funding, the main sources of funding for a photography business are personal savings, credit cards, bank loans and angel investors. With regards to bank loans, banks will want to review your business plan and gain confidence that you will be able to repay your loan and interest. To acquire this confidence, the loan officer will not only want to confirm that your financials are reasonable. But they will want to see a professional plan. Such a plan will give them the confidence that you can successfully and professionally operate a business.

The second most common form of funding for a photography business is angel investors. Angel investors are wealthy individuals who will write you a check. They will either take equity in return for their funding, or, like a bank, they will give you a loan.

Finish Your Business Plan Today!

Below are the 10 sections of an example photography business plan:

Executive Summary


The goal of your Executive Summary is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the type of photography business you are operating and the status; for example, are you a startup or do you have a photography business that you would like to grow.

Next, provide an overview of each of the subsequent sections of your plan. For example, give a brief overview of the photography industry. Discuss the type of photography business you are operating. Detail your direct competitors. Give an overview of your target customers. Provide a snapshot of your marketing plan. Identify the key members of your team. And offer an overview of your financial plan.

Company Analysis

In your company analysis, you will detail the type of photography business you are operating.

For example, you might operate one of the following types:

  • Portrait photography : this type of photography business photographs people ranging from models to famous personalities on red carpets or at magazine shoots to graduation pictures, family portraits, and professional headshots for business people, aspiring models and actors.
  • Product photography : this type of photography business typically requires both artistic and technical expertise to adequately showcase consumer products.
  • Wedding and event photography : this type of photography business usually involves photographing everything from posed portraits to people and their candid moments to the venue and the food at weddings and other events.
  • Commercial photography : this type of photography business creates images for commercial purposes, such as advertising, marketing or instructional brochures or publications.

In addition to explaining the type of photography business you operate, the Company Analysis section of your business plan needs to provide background on the business.

Include answers to question such as:

  • When and why did you start the business?
  • What milestones have you achieved to date? Milestones could include sales goals you’ve reached, prestigious clients, etc.
  • Your legal structure. Are you incorporated as an S-Corp? An LLC? A sole proprietorship? Explain your legal structure here.

Industry Analysis

Female photographer business plan

While this may seem unnecessary, it serves multiple purposes.

First, researching the photography industry educates you. It helps you understand the market in which you are operating.

Secondly, market research can improve your strategy particularly if your research identifies market trends. For example, if there was a trend towards documentary-style event photography, it would be helpful to ensure your plan calls for instant cameras for guest contributions, or a drone, etc.

The third reason for market research is to prove to readers that you are an expert in your industry. By conducting the research and presenting it in your plan, you achieve just that.

The following questions should be answered in the industry analysis section of your photographer business plan:

  • How big is the photography business (in dollars)?
  • Is the market declining or increasing?
  • Who are the key competitors in the market?
  • Who are the key suppliers in the market?
  • What trends are affecting the industry?
  • What is the industry’s growth forecast over the next 5 – 10 years?
  • What is the relevant market size? That is, how big is the potential market for your photography business. You can extrapolate such a figure by assessing the size of the market in the entire country and then applying that figure to your local population.

Customer Analysis

The customer analysis section of your photographer business plan must detail the customers you serve and/or expect to serve.

The following are examples of customer segments: celebrities, expectant and/or new moms, engaged couples, schools, online retailers, etc.

As you can imagine, the customer segment(s) you choose will have a great impact on the type of photography business you operate. Clearly schools would want different backdrops, pricing and product options, and would respond to different marketing promotions than engaged couples.

Try to break out your target customers in terms of their demographic and psychographic profiles. With regards to demographics, include a discussion of the ages, genders, locations and income levels of the customers you seek to serve. Because most photography businesses primarily serve customers living in their same city or town, such demographic information is easy to find on government websites.

Psychographic profiles explain the wants and needs of your target customers. The more you can understand and define these needs, the better you will do in attracting and retaining your customers.

Finish Your Photography Business Plan in 1 Day!

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Competitive Analysis


Direct competitors are other photography businesses.

Indirect competitors are other options that customers have to purchase from you that aren’t direct competitors. This includes amateur photographers and DIY-ers with smartphones. You need to mention such competition to show you understand that not everyone who needs photography uses a professional photographer.

With regards to direct competition, you want to detail the other photography businesses with which you compete. Most likely, your direct competitors will be photography businesses offering similar services in a nearby location.

For each such competitor, provide an overview of their businesses and document their strengths and weaknesses. Unless you once worked at your competitors’ businesses, it will be impossible to know everything about them. But you should be able to find out key things about them such as:

  • What types of customers do they serve?
  • What services do they offer?
  • What is their pricing (premium, low, etc.)?
  • What are they good at?
  • What are their weaknesses?

With regards to the last two questions, think about your answers from the customers’ perspective.

The final part of your competitive analysis section is to document your areas of competitive advantage. For example:

  • Will you provide superior photography services?
  • Will you provide products or services that your competitors don’t offer?
  • Will you make it easier or faster for customers to book your services?
  • Will you provide better customer service?
  • Will you offer better pricing?

Think about ways you will outperform your competition and document them in this section of your plan.

Marketing Plan

Traditionally, a marketing plan includes the four P’s: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. For a photography business plan, your marketing plan should include the following:

Product : in the product section you should reiterate the type of photography business that you documented in your Company Analysis. Then, detail the specific products and services you will be offering. For example, in addition to portraits, will you offer a documentary video of the shoot?

Price : Document the prices you will offer and how they compare to your competitors. Essentially in the product and price sub-sections of your marketing plan, you are presenting the menu services and packages you offer and their prices.

Place : Place refers to the location of your photography business. Document your location and mention how the location will impact your success. For example, is your photography studio located next to a high-traffic retail development, or inside a mall, etc. Discuss how your location might provide a steady stream of customers.

Promotions : the final part of your photography business marketing plan is the promotions section. Here you will document how you will drive customers to your location(s). The following are some promotional methods you might consider:

  • Making your photography studio’s storefront (if applicable) extra appealing to attract passing customers
  • Advertising in local papers and magazines
  • Social media marketing
  • Reaching out to local bloggers and websites
  • Partnerships with local organizations (e.g., package discount when booked through partner wedding planner)
  • Local radio advertising
  • Banner ads at local venues

Operations Plan

stylist planning

Everyday short-term processes include all of the tasks involved in running your photography business such as serving customers, procuring supplies, scouting new photoshoot locations, etc.

Long-term goals are the milestones you hope to achieve. These could include the dates when you expect to serve your 100th customer, or when you hope to reach $X in sales. It could also be when you expect to hire your Xth employee or launch a new location.

How to Finish Your Photography Business Plan in 1 Day!

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Management Team

To demonstrate your photography business’s ability to succeed as a business, a strong management team is essential. Highlight your key players’ backgrounds, emphasizing those skills and experiences that prove their ability to grow a company.

Ideally you and/or your team members have direct experience in the photography business. If so, highlight this experience and expertise. But also highlight any experience that you think will help your business succeed.

Financial Plan

Your financial plan should include your 5-year financial statement broken out both monthly or quarterly for the first year and then annually. Your financial statements include your income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statements.

Income Statement : an income statement is more commonly called a Profit and Loss statement or P&L. It shows your revenues and then subtracts your costs to show whether you turned a profit or not.

In developing your income statement, you need to devise assumptions. For example, will you serve 10 customers per month or 50? And will sales grow by 2% or 10% per year? As you can imagine, your choice of assumptions will greatly impact the financial forecasts for your business. As much as possible, conduct research to try to root your assumptions in reality.

Balance Sheets : While balance sheets include much information, to simplify them to the key items you need to know about, balance sheets show your assets and liabilities. For instance, if you spend $100,000 on building out your photography business, that will not give you immediate profits. Rather it is an asset that will hopefully help you generate profits for years to come. Likewise, if a bank writes you a check for $100.000, you don’t need to pay it back immediately. Rather, that is a liability you will pay back over time.

Cash Flow Statement : Your cash flow statement will help determine how much money you need to start or grow your business, and make sure you never run out of money. What most entrepreneurs and business owners don’t realize is that you can turn a profit but run out of money and go bankrupt. For example, let’s say a company approached you with a massive $100,000 product photography contract, that would cost you $50,000 to fulfill. Well, in most cases, you would have to pay that $50,000 now for supplies, equipment rentals, employee salaries, etc. But let’s say the company didn’t pay you for 180 days. During that 180 day period, you could run out of money.

In developing your Income Statement and Balance Sheets be sure to include several of the key costs needed in starting or growing a photography business:

  • Location build-out including design fees, construction, etc.
  • Cost of equipment like cameras, lights, film, backdrops and props, software, etc.
  • Cost of ingredients and maintaining an adequate amount of supplies
  • Payroll or salaries paid to staff
  • Business insurance
  • Taxes and permits
  • Legal expenses

Senior photographer planning

Photography Business Plan Summary

Putting together a business plan for your photography business is a worthwhile endeavor. If you follow the template above, by the time you are done, you will truly be an expert. You will really understand the photography business, your competition and your customers. You will have developed a marketing plan and will really understand what it takes to launch and grow a successful photography business.

Download Our Photography Business Plan PDF

You can download our photography business plan PDF here . This is a business plan template you can use in PDF format.  

Photography Business Plan FAQs

What is the easiest way to complete my photography business plan.

Growthink's Ultimate Photography Business Plan Template allows you to quickly and easily complete your Photography Business Plan.

Where Can I Download a Photography Business Plan PDF?

You can download our photography business plan PDF template here . This is a business plan template you can use in PDF format.

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Photography Business Plan

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Believe it or not—anyone can take a few pictures, but it takes true skill and talent to get the perfect shot.

And If you’re the guy, everyone’s after asking to click pictures at every party or event, starting a photography business could be incredibly lucrative and satisfying.

However, making your photography business successful is more than just clicking good pictures. You need a solid business plan to ensure success.

Need help writing a business plan for your photography business? You’re at the right place. Our photography business plan template will help you get started.

Download the template and follow step-by-step instructions to draft your business plan in no time!

→ Download Now: Free Photography Business Plan

And though photography lets you fulfill your passion, it attracts a lot of competition due to its ease of entry.

Also, having a successful photography business takes a little more than skill. A photography business plan helps you deal with that, while you shutter away your masterpiece.

Industry Overview

According to the IBIS World industry report , the US photography market is expected to decline at a CAGR of 1.3 to reach 12.9 billion dollars in 2023.

With 7-8% profit margins, individual consumers and households make up the main customer base for the industry. Despite a minor recent decline, the photography industry is projected to experience consistent growth in the coming years.

Here are a few key industry highlights to consider:

  • Number of businesses: There are 258,450 operational photography businesses in the US in 2023.
  • Industry employment: 293,339+
  • Key players: Shutterfly Inc., Alamy Ltd.

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Things to Consider Before Writing a Photography Business Plan

You’ll need to focus on both the artistic and business sides of your trade.

Though having an excellent eye for proportion, dimensions, and light is great it isn’t enough to have a profitable business. You bring your skills to the table, but you’ll have to work as hard as any other business owner on your marketing, finance, and operations to have a profitable business.

Get the Pricing Right

Develop your soft skills.

Good photography isn’t just about your skills with the camera, especially if you are dealing with people. You’ll need to make your customers feel at ease and have a friendly way of communicating.

This helps you become the person’s go-to photographer. As pictures aren’t just products you pay for, but memories that are cherished for years.

Get the Right Equipment, but Don’t Go Overboard

The right camera, technical equipment, etc, are important to help you work effectively. But it doesn’t do to go over budget for it. Especially, if you are just starting out.

Why Do You Need a Photography Business Plan?

Product photoshot

As you are ready to enter the industry, it brings us to the above question, why does one need a photography business plan?

Aren’t you just supposed to dive right in if you are passionate enough?

The answer is, NO.

Though diving headfirst might sound appealing, it can lead to a series of roadblocks in the future. Also, a business plan isn’t as time-consuming as it may seem to you.

It increases the efficiency of your business and acts as a guide on your road to success. Moreover, writing a business plan helps you get a clear idea of your goals and the opportunities and threats that stand in your way of achieving them.

Also, a well-researched and innovative plan can help you get funded. An investor’s confidence in you is directly proportional to the clarity of your business idea. A business plan can help you achieve just that.

How to Write a Photography Business Plan?

Writing a business plan is not as intimidating as it seems. A well-rounded business plan requires thorough research of the industry, a clear set of goals, well-observed and carefully designed strategies to achieve them, and a clear list of milestones and timelines for all the departments of the business.

A business plan should include strategies for all departments from marketing to finance. There are several resources like online software, business consultants, and predesigned templates that can help you in writing the perfect business plan .

Writing a business plan has become a cakewalk through online business planning tools which can craft an ideal business plan for you at the snap of your fingers.

Chalking out Your Business Plan

Though anyone can click pictures with devices as simple as a smartphone, it takes skills, a sense of proportion, and creativity to make people stop scrolling.

In today’s world of photo-sharing apps where people grapple for attention, the demand for excellent photographers continues to rise.

Hence, with the advent of Instagram, the photography industry is growing leaps and bounds.

Photography Business Plan Outline

This is a standard photography business plan outline that will cover all important sections that you should include in your business plan.

  • Introduction
  • Products and Services
  • Financial Path To Success
  • Keys to Success
  • Company History
  • Market Segmentation
  • Target Market Segment Strategy
  • Competition and Buying Patterns
  • Web Plan Summary
  • Website Marketing Strategy
  • Development Requirements
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Competitive Edge
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Sales Forecast
  • Year 1 – Digital Media Production
  • Year 2 – Digital Media Production
  • Year 3 – Digital Media Production
  • Important Assumptions
  • Projected Profit and Loss
  • Projected Cash Flow
  • Projected Balance Sheet
  • Ratio Analysis

As you sit down to write your business plan, it brings us to the question, what all things you will need to include in your business plan? Read on to find out.

1. Write an Executive Summary

The executive summary section of a business plan works as an overview of your business and acts as a highlight of its aims and goals. It should be brief and precise and sum up everything your business stands for.

It serves as a pitch of your business ideas to potential investors and should have the following points.

  • The kind of services your business offers (Eg. Commercial Photography, Travel Photography, etc.)
  • Your target audience (Eg. Models, travel bloggers, influencers, etc.)
  • Your strengths and past experiences
  • Your goals for the company.

2. Business Overview

Overview Image

In the business overview section, you’ll jot down all of the business ideas you have and analyze how to bring them to life.

This section would consist of an overview of the functioning of your business. as well as your mission statement.

While writing this section it is important to be as precise as possible It helps the stakeholders of your business to know it better.

3. Describe the Services You’ll Offer

In this section of your business plan, you have to list the services you are going to offer. This helps you get a clearer idea of how to advertise your services and how to reach out to your target audiences.

For example, if you are a landscape photographer all of your marketing strategy and the list of resources and services you’ll need will be built around that.

Also, your target audience would be travel websites and tourism companies. And the ways of reaching out to them would be different than reaching out to influencers or celebrities.

4. Market Analysis

The market analysis section is a crucial part of your business plan.

In this section, you’ll write down everything you can find about the photography market as well as resources that can help you stay updated about the recent trends in the market.

For example, as a photographer, it is essential to know the trending photography techniques.

You can also include the size of the market, your competitors, areas that have the highest growth potential, etc Know the right market value of services and identify the existing market gaps that you can fill.

Let’s consider there is no food photographer in your locality and the restaurants around you need one, you can specialize in food photography to capture that market.

5. Create a Website Strategy

Screenshot of Website

The Internet is the first place where people look for any product or service, hence your business must have a website to be discovered by clients.

A well-optimized website can help you in meeting a lot of potential customers.

Including a website strategy in your business plan is crucial.

6. Plan Your Finances

Your financial planning is one of the major deciding factors of whether your business will stay afloat or not.

In this section keep track of your company’s finances, jot down ways of making it more cost-effective. List down resources that can help you understand and manage your finances better.

Download a sample photography business plan

Need help getting started writing a business plan? Here you go; download our free photography business plan pdf to start.

It’s a modern business plan template designed for your photography center. Refer to the example business plan and follow step-by-step instructions to start writing your plan.

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A business planning tool like Upmetrics is the best way to draft your business plan. This incredible tool comes with step-by-step instructions, customizable templates, AI assistance, and business plan examples to help you get started.

You may also explore our library of Entertainment and media business plan examples before you start writing your plan.

So, whether you are starting a photography business or planning to grow an existing one, Upmetrics is the tool you need to create a business plan.

So, what are you waiting for? Start planning now!

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Frequently asked questions, what are some common mistakes to avoid when drafting a photography business plan.

Following are some of the common mistakes to avoid when writing a photography business plan:

  • Inadequate and inaccurate financial projections.
  • Poor market research and ignoring industry trends.
  • Undefined goals and lack of details.
  • Not proofreading the document for typos and grammatical errors.
  • Including outdated and irrelevant information.
  • Not regularly updating your business plan.

What are some key financial metrics to include in a photography business plan?

Following are some of the key financial metrics to include in your photography business plan:

  • Balance sheet
  • Cash flow statement
  • Income statement
  • Break-even statement
  • Projected business ratios
  • Sales and revenue projections
  • Projected expenses

How can a photography business plan help in securing funding or investment?

A well-crafted photography business plan will help your investors better understand your business domain, market trends, strategies, business financials, and growth potential—helping you secure investment.

Where to find business plan writers for your photography business?

There are many business plan writers available, but no one knows your business and ideas better than you, so we recommend you write your photography business plan and outline your vision as you have in mind.

About the Author

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Upmetrics Team

Upmetrics is the #1 business planning software that helps entrepreneurs and business owners create investment-ready business plans using AI. We regularly share business planning insights on our blog. Check out the Upmetrics blog for such interesting reads. Read more

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How to Write a Photography Business Plan

  • Growth Strategies
  • Starting Your Business
  • Professional Services

Whether you’re starting a photography business or taking your current one to the next level, you need to know how to write a photography business plan. This will become your roadmap — stating your goals and outlining your plan to achieve and measure them. You can use it to monitor your professional progress, decide if changes need to be made to your setup and evaluate which new projects you want to take on. At the point you look for investors or business partners it will also play a key role in those discussions.

If you’re not sure how to write a photography business plan or you’re looking to improve how you’ve done it previously, we’ve broken the process down here into six key elements.

1. Executive summary

The executive summary serves as a business overview for your reader. Make it direct and succinct to draw the reader further into the business plan. It should be enticing but not over emotional. You’ll dive deeper into the fine detail later on, so use this space to talk big-picture about your photography business, focusing on the things you want people to really know about.

Things to include:

  • Your business’s name and location
  • A concise description of what it is and what it does
  • A short introduction to its management team
  • A punchy mission statement

2. Company description

You might have a clear vision for your business but you need to be able to communicate that to others — not only clients, financial backers too. A company description highlights the most important characteristics of your photography business. You can write emotively here as it’s a little more like an elevator pitch than a dry summary. As always though, stick to the most compelling information.

  • A brief summation of the points in your executive summary
  • Your company history — how the business came to be
  • A deep dive into your photography services — what you offer
  • Your objectives — where you’re trying to get to
  • Your vision — what things will look like when you get there

3. Market analysis

The market analysis uncovers specific nuances of the local industry and identifies trends vital to your success.

  • An overview of the market as a whole
  • A description of your photography specialism and where you fit into the wider industry
  • An overview of your target market , including their demographic and psychographic groups
  • A competitor analysis that identifies other photography businesses in your region

Competitor analysis

Your business plan should detail what other professional photographers work looks like within the market you want to serve. Look at both the geographical area you want to cover and the niche type of photography you’ll offer, such as wedding photography, studio shoots, commercial or Press. Professional photographers often travel widely for work.

Your business plan should evidence either:

  • enough customers and work to allow you to break into the market despite an established competitor already being there
  • how you’ll win customers from your competitors.

For each competitor, list what they offer, what they’re missing and how you’ll compete.

Operating area (what geographic area they serve) – is the town or city you want to serve already saturated with similar businesses or is there a gap in the market?

Pricing – how does yours compare? If your prices are a lot higher, will customers be willing to pay? If yours are much lower, can you still be profitable? Show how and why.

Services – do your competitors offer everything you plan to? Do you have a unique selling point in terms of a service you offer, such as drone aerial pictures or instant prints? Have your competitors thought of something you haven’t and could you add that to your business plan?

SWOT analysis

From this section, create a SWOT analysis of your photography business:

Strengths. Outline your unique experience, knowledge, skills and professional network. You may also find strengths in things such as your location, if for example there are few competitors locally.

Weaknesses. What are your areas of vulnerability? This could include a lack of necessary equipment and staff support or a hard-to-shift price point that isn’t benefiting your business.

Opportunities. Identify your business goals and the industry opportunities within your area. Where is there a gap in the industry and do you have the skills and means to fill it?

Threats. Determine threats to your business, such as existing in a saturated market, competing with well-established businesses and dealing with various economic factors that affect your clients’ spending power. All of the available work being concentrated into a short period of time could be a threat too if you don’t have the staff to get around to it all, such as in the case of wedding photography where Saturdays may be very busy, for example, but weekdays generally quiet.

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4. Photography services

Here’s where to expand the description of your service offering. What experience do you have in certain niches and what impact do your location and facilities have on the services you can provide? Determine the photography equipment you have and the items you need, whether rented or owned.

5. Marketing plan

This section of the business plan outlines how you intend to promote and sell your services and products. Start by writing a positioning statement explaining how your business fulfills your target markets’ needs better than your competitors do.

Then consider how you’ll let customers know about you and make them want to buy or commission your photos.

You can pay for advertising via traditional media such as posters, leaflets and mailshots. Online, there’s a lot you can do for free with your own website and social media, for example.

Then you should cover:

Portfolio. Every photographer needs a hub of previous work for potential clients to see. One of the most professional and eye-catching ways to do this is through your own website . If you don’t have the coding skills, don’t worry — there are plenty of drag and drop e-commerce solutions that can yield beautiful results. Creating an online store could be an additional revenue stream to sell your photos more widely if the copyright remains with you and they’re not commissioned pictures that the customer holds the copyright to. You can create a free online store with Square. This may be particularly relevant for photographers who take artistic or landscape shots, though even wedding photographers may find that by making prints easily available to guests as well as the couple, sales can be enhanced.

Marketing programmes. Detail the ways you can develop your customer base and boost engagement with your brand. This might include building out an email marketing , referral or loyalty programme . As an expert selling their skills and knowledge, content marketing is an area you can make use of by starting a vlog, blog or podcast. You might also invest funds into paid ads across social media or Google. Clearly define who the audience is for each program, what your goal is, how you’ll measure the program’s success and what assets or budgets you need to get started.

Organic social media. Since so much on social media is visual, it should be one of the marketing channels you use. Build a social media strategy focusing on the platforms that make the most sense for your business, that is those that your target audience are using most.

Over time, you’ll need to build a strong following and create a network with other local vendors who can help boost awareness of your business. If you’re a wedding photographer for example, link up with local event planners, venues and florists.

And don’t forget that you can advertise on social networks too. Most provide sufficiently advanced targeting tools to ensure your message gets in front of the right people in the right locations.

6. Financial plan

Within the financial plan, a great deal of focus should be placed on startup costs. These costs represent everything you need to get your photography business off the ground, such as legal advice, website design, photography equipment and payment systems. You should project the total and timeline of these costs as accurately as you can before exploring funding options. Such options could include small business loans, grants and crowdfunding.

Next, complete a break-even analysis to determine how much revenue will be required to create a viable, long-term venture.

This will all help to inform your pricing strategy. The pricing strategy should address what makes your business viable and competitive in the market. Will you provide packages or will all pricing be à la carte? Will you charge by the day, per shot or by print and download? You also need to address how you plan to take payments from clients. Invoices are a common payment method for high value items in the photography industry, but you could also set yourself up to take payments in person and over the phone as well.

You should include any existing financial statements in this section as well, such as a balance sheet or business account statements. You may only have a few of these to begin with, but you should keep adding them over time. Long-term, they will help you create a cash flow analysis and monitor the financial wellbeing of your business.

The financial aspects of the business plan are some of the most important and also sometimes the trickiest. If you’re less familiar or simply not comfortable with the world of finances and accounting, it’s a great idea to reach out to a professional for advice. With your skills, you might be able to get discounted services in return for some free headshots.

Writing a business plan is a crucial step when you’re starting up. At the same time, try and see it as a working document that grows with you. As your photography business changes over time, as well as the space you work in, the business plan can be used to guide your growth.

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How to Start a Business in the UK: A Guide for New Business Owners How to Start a Photography Business The 6 Benefits of Creating a Website for Your Photography Business

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Photography Business Plan Template [Updated 2023]


Photography Business Plan Template

If you want to start a Photography business or expand your current Photography business, you need a business plan.

The following Photography business plan template gives you the key elements to include in a winning Photography business plan. It can be used to create a photographer business plan, a commercial photography business plan, or a photography studio business plan.

You can download the Photography business plan template (including a full, customizable financial model) to your computer here.

Photography Business Plan Example

Below are links to each of the key sections of a sample business plan template for a photography business: I. Executive Summary II. Company Overview III. Industry Analysis IV. Customer Analysis V. Competitive Analysis VI. Marketing Plan VII. Operations Plan VIII. Management Team IX. Financial Plan

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Photography Business Plan Outline

photography business plan template

plan business photography


Table of contents, 1. summarise your services and products, 2. describe your target market, 3. analyse your competitors, 4. conduct a swot analysis, 5. outline your marketing plan, 6. outline your operations plan, 7. work out your finances, 8. set goals and create systems, 9. write an executive summary.

Photography business plan template for services and products section

What is your main photography service?

List any other photography services your offer, how do your photography services complement each other, describe the products you provide to clients.

Photography business plan template - target market section

Sum up your ideal client in one sentence

What are the top 3 desires you can help with, what are the top 3 pain points you can help with, what will connect you and your ideal client, 3. analyse your competitors.

Photography business plan template - competitor analysis section

List 2 or 3 of your closest competitors

Describe their services and products, who are they appealing to, what is their price point and position, what are they doing well, what could they be doing better, write 3-5 adjective to describe their brand, 4. conduct a swot analysis.

Photography business plan - SWOT analysis section

Make a list of your strengths

Acknowledge your weaknesses, where are the opportunities, are there any potential threats, 5. outline your marketing plan.

Photography business plan template - marketing plan section

What makes your business stand out?

Write your elevator pitch, write your big, bold statement (tagline), define your brand personality and tone of voice, what content are you going to create, which social media platform will you use and how, will you do any face-to-face marketing, will you seek publicity for your business, how will you generate and nurture leads, how will you create loyalty and encourage referrals, 6. outline your operations plan.

Photography business plan template - operations plan section

Describe the enquiry and conversion process

Describe the booking and onboarding process, describe the shoot or wedding process, describe the post-shoot/wedding process, describe the product sales process, describe the order fulfilment process, describe the process beyond order fulfilment, 7. work out the finances.

Photography business plan template - finance plan section

Summarise your CODB and salary aims

Where are you positioned in terms of price, which pricing model is right for you, 8. set goals and create systems.

Photography business plan template - goal setting and action plan section

Decide on your financial goal

Map out your systems, what needs to happen for your systems to work, 9. create an executive summary.

Photography business plan template - executive summary section

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Photography Business Plan Template

Photography Business Plan Outline

  • Photography Business Plan Home
  • 1. Executive Summary
  • 2. Company Overview
  • 3. Industry Analysis
  • 4. Customer Analysis
  • 5. Competitive Analysis
  • 6. Marketing Plan
  • 7. Operations Plan
  • 8. Management Team
  • 9. Financial Plan

Start Your Photography Plan Here

Photography Business Plan

You’ve come to the right place to create your Photography business plan.

We have helped over 1,000 entrepreneurs and business owners create business plans and many have used them to start or grow their Photography business.

Below are links to each section of a sample photography business plan. It can be used to create a wedding photography business plan, a commercial photography business plan, a portrait photography studio business plan or any other type of photography business plan.

1. Executive Summary 2. Company Overview 3. Industry Analysis 4. Customer Analysis 5. Competitive Analysis 6. Marketing Plan 7. Operations Plan 8. Management Team 9. Financial Plan

Next Section: Executive Summary >

Photography Business Plan FAQs

What is a photography business plan.

A photography business plan is a plan to start and/or grow your photography business. Among other things, it outlines your business concept, identifies your target customers, presents your marketing plan and details your financial projections.

You can  easily complete your photography business plan using our Photography Business Plan Template here .

What Are the Main Types of Photography Businesses?

There are many types of photography businesses depending on the style of photography and target market. The most common and profitable type is event photography. Other types are stock photography, family/baby photography, travel, school, photojournalism and social media photography.

No matter what type of photography business you plan to start, you need a solid photography business plan. You can quickly complete your photography business plan using our Photography Business Plan Template here .

What Are the Main Sources of Revenues and Expenses for a Photography Business?

The primary source of revenue for photography businesses are service fees for photoshoots and video, licensing fees and photo editing. Other revenues are also generated from product sales like prints, albums, cards, wall prints and canvas.

The key expenses for photography businesses are equipment expense, advertising, transportation, and labor or professional fees.

How Do You Get Funding for Your Photography Studio Business Plan?

Photography businesses are typically funded through small business loans, personal savings and credit card financing.

This is true for a wedding photographer, pet photography business, commercial photography business, a portrait photography business or any other type of photography services.

Download your plan in word or PDF to share with investors.

What are the Steps To Start a Photography Business?

Starting a photography business can be an exciting endeavor. Having a clear roadmap of the steps to start a business will help you stay focused on your goals and get started faster.

1. Develop A Photography Business Plan - The first step in starting a business is to create a detailed business plan for a photography business that outlines all aspects of the venture. This should include potential market size and target customers, data on the photography industry, the services or products you will offer, pricing strategies and a detailed financial forecast.  You can quickly complete your photography business plan using our Photography Business Plan Template here .

2. Choose Your Legal Structure - It's important to select an appropriate legal entity for your photography business. This could be a limited liability company (LLC), corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship. Each type has its own benefits and drawbacks so it’s important to do research and choose wisely so that your photography business is in compliance with local laws.

3. Register Your Photography Business - Once you have chosen a legal structure, the next step is to register your photography business with the government or state where you’re operating from. This includes obtaining licenses and permits as required by federal, state, and local laws. 

4. Identify Financing Options - It’s likely that you’ll need some capital to start your photography business, so take some time to identify what financing options are available such as bank loans, investor funding, grants, or crowdfunding platforms. 

5. Choose a Location - Whether you plan on operating out of a physical location or not, you should always have an idea of where you’ll be based should it become necessary in the future as well as what kind of space would be suitable for your operations. 

6. Hire Employees - There are several ways to find qualified employees including job boards like LinkedIn or Indeed as well as hiring agencies if needed – depending on what type of employees you need it might also be more effective to reach out directly through networking events. 

7. Acquire Necessary Photography Equipment & Supplies - In order to start your photography business, you'll need to purchase all of the necessary equipment and supplies to run a successful operation. 

8. Market & Promote Your Business - Once you have all the necessary pieces in place, it’s time to start promoting and marketing your photography business. This includes creating a website, utilizing social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter, and having an effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy. You should also consider traditional marketing techniques such as radio or print advertising. 

Learn more about how to start a successful photography business and photography business planning:

  • How to Start a Photography Business

Where Can I Get a Photography Business Plan PDF?

You can download our free photography business plan template PDF here . This is a sample photography business plan template you can use in PDF format.

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The Importance of a Strong Business Plan for Photographers

Jovana Smoljanovic Tucakov

  • April 28, 2023
  • For Service Businesses

a professional photographer taking a photo of a couple posing

Are you a photographer looking to turn your passion into a profitable business? Crafting a solid business plan is the first step to realizing that dream. A business plan for photographers will help you measure your progress, recalibrate your goals, and provide credibility when pitching to potential investors for brand partnerships.

Make sure to leave the idea of creating a business plan manageable—with the proper guidance, you can showcase your photography services and attract the caliber of clients you want.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the purpose and components of a business plan and show you how to tailor it to the unique needs of your photography business. Plus, we’ll provide examples of successful photography business plans to inspire and motivate you.

Understanding a Business Plan

Definition and reasons for a business plan.

A business plan is an essential tool for any organization. It outlines the details critical to your photography business’s success, from its products or services to its financial projections and staffing.

Creating a business plan can seem overwhelming, but ensuring that all aspects of the business have been considered is necessary.

Creating a comprehensive business plan for photographers helps entrepreneurs like you understand what you need to do to make your vision a reality. It enables you to identify potential obstacles and opportunities, set specific goals and objectives for your business, and develop strategies for achieving those goals.

Through this process, entrepreneurs can gain greater clarity about the functions required to successfully run their businesses and build the needed skills and resources.

Ultimately, a well-crafted business plan is a roadmap that guides companies toward achieving their objectives while attracting investors or securing funding to support their growth.

Components of a business plan for photographers

Here are some of the main components that build a business plan:

  • The business description provides an overview of the company’s mission statement, goals, and objectives. It defines what products or services will be offered and how they will be created, marketed, promoted, and sold to clients.
  • A detailed product or service portfolio is crucial, as it describes various photographic services for things like weddings, events, portraits, and commercial assignments.
  • The target market analysis segments identify who your ideal customers are and where they can be found. It also outlines specific characteristics of these markets, such as demographics and psychographics, which helps you tailor your marketing efforts toward
  • Lastly, analyzing the competitive landscape assists in identifying who your competition is and their strengths and weaknesses so you can position yourself effectively in the marketplace.
  • Marketing is any business’s lifeline, requiring a detailed and strategic approach.

A successful marketing strategy involves more than just throwing out random ads or discounts in the hope of attracting customers. Instead, it requires a thorough understanding of your target audience’s needs and preferences, as well as the best channels to communicate with them.

Using a marketing plan

Every organization should have a comprehensive marketing plan that aligns all their efforts toward achieving their objectives.

When running a photography business, many people often focus solely on the creative aspects of the job. However, it’s important to remember that there are also numerous operational

These include where you conduct your work, what equipment you need, and how you manage expenses. By considering these factors when compiling a business plan, you can ensure that your operations run smoothly and efficiently.

Drafting your financial plans

The same holds true for photography businesses, where it is essential to have an accurate understanding of cash flow. It involves meticulous planning that can take time, but it will result in valuable insights into factors like pricing, investment decisions, and operating costs.

This process will help you track your overall profits while assessing which investments are viable and feasible within your business model.

Using a timeline

A timeline is essential for a photographer, especially if you want to keep your business goals on track. It could be the first step in keeping your business running smoothly.

By completing tasks on your timeline and setting milestones, you can make sure everything gets done on time and according to plan. One of the key benefits of creating a timeline is that it can help you keep track of your finances.

For example, you should track when you expect to make payments on loans or investments. Once you know how much money you need to borrow or put into assets, calculating when that will happen becomes much more manageable.

Examples of photography business plans to inspire you

Photography business plans vary in structure, but they all share a common goal: outlining a clear vision for the business and a strategy for achieving it. Here are some successful photography business plans to inspire you:

Photography studio business plan

The critical element of a photography studio business plan is the business description, which should provide a comprehensive overview of the studio’s activities and services.

Maintaining a detailed checklist can help you communicate your studio photography services to clients and effectively market your business.

You can use this one as an example and/or starting point.

Wedding photography business plan

Social media marketing is a powerful tool for building a successful wedding photography business.

Your business plan should focus on creating a strong brand, producing engaging content, and cultivating client relationships.

Take this wedding photography business plan and start building from it.

Architectural photographer business plan

An architectural photographer’s business plan can showcase prominent clients and highlight a specific niche, unique style, and impressive portfolio.

Portrait photographer business plan

For portrait photographers, a successful business plan should emphasize delivering exceptional customer service, providing a unique client experience, and building a referral-based business.

Try this portrait photography business plan as a starting point.

Why Is a Business Plan Essential for Photographers

Photography is an art form, but for photographers who want to make a living from their craft, it is also a business.

Like any other business, a solid business plan is essential for success.

Here, we will discuss the benefits of having a strong business plan, the challenges faced by photographers who do not have one, and the importance of regularly revisiting and updating it.

Benefits of having a strong business plan

It provides direction.  A business plan helps you define your goals, target market, and unique selling proposition. It guides your decision-making process and ensures that your efforts align with your business objectives.

It helps secure funding.  A business plan is a must-have if you are seeking funding from investors or financial institutions. It shows that you clearly understand your business, its market potential, and how you plan to make a profit.

I t i mproves marketing efforts .  A business plan helps you identify your target market and develop marketing strategies to reach potential clients. By understanding your ideal client’s needs and preferences, you can tailor your messaging and services to meet their expectations better.

I t i ncreases profitability .  A well-crafted business plan helps you forecast expenses and revenue streams. You can maximize your profitability by identifying potential areas of revenue growth and cost-saving measures.

It establishes credibility .  A professional photographer with a solid business plan demonstrates to potential clients that they are serious about their craft and committed to delivering high-quality services. It also helps you stand out from competitors who may not have a clear plan for their business.

Challenges faced by photographers who lack a business plan

Some photographers succeed without a business plan, but they would need even more hard work and dedication.

Creating a business plan can offer guidance and help you reach your objectives.

Photographers who do not have a business plan may find it challenging to achieve their goals and grow their business.

Without a plan, they may struggle to identify their target market, differentiate themselves from competitors, and make informed business decisions.

They may also have difficulty securing funding, which can limit their ability to invest in equipment, marketing, and other essential resources.

Why it is important to periodically update your business plan

A business plan is not a static document. As your business grows and changes, so should your plan.

Regularly revisiting and updating your plan ensures that you stay on track and adjust your strategies to address new opportunities and challenges.

It also helps you identify areas of your business that may need improvement and develop solutions to manage them.

By creating and regularly revisiting a solid business plan, photographers can overcome challenges and achieve their business goals while providing high-quality services to their clients.

To keep your business plan current, it is essential to evaluate progress, measure the effectiveness of strategies, and make necessary changes.

Secrets to Creating a Strong Business Plan for a Photography Business

As a photographer, creating a solid business plan is essential for success.

It helps you establish clear goals, determine the strategies necessary to achieve them and identify potential challenges before they arise.

In this section, we’ll go through the steps you must take when creating a business plan for your photography business.

Creating a business plan for a photography business—required steps!

Step 1: conduct market research.

Research the photography market in your area to understand the competition and opportunities available. During analysis, write down the following:

  • Two or three competitors
  • What are their services and products?
  • Who are their target clients?
  • What makes them appealing?
  • What are their downsides?
  • Price comparison with your business

This analysis will help you to identify areas where you can differentiate yourself and provide a unique value proposition to your customers.

Dive into the photography realm of your community to uncover the type of photographic content people are eager for and how much they’re ready to spend! Explore forums, Facebook Groups, and more for all the information needed.

Step 2: Identify your target market and set goals

Determine who your ideal customer is. What demographics do they belong to? What are their interests and needs? Understanding your target market will help you create effective marketing plans and tailor your services to meet their needs.

Once your target is clear, it is time to set goals. Goals can be divided into long-term goals and short-term goals. Work your way up from short-term goals and check them off as you achieve them. That will help you reach your long-term goals in no time.

Step 3: Define your photography services

Start by defining the services you want to offer. Will you specialize in wedding photography, portrait photography, or product photography? Knowing your niche will help you to target your marketing efforts and stand out in a crowded market.

To start, choose one service that you enjoy and can focus on. You can continually assess your business plan and adjust accordingly.

Step 4: Develop a marketing plan

Once you have identified your target market and unique selling proposition, create a marketing plan outlining how to reach and engage with potential customers. This plan should include tactics like the use of social media, networking, and advertising .

Stakeholders and investors recognize the importance of marketing, and they will assess your business plan based on a comprehensive and proactive marketing strategy. Therefore, it’s crucial to outline your planned marketing strategy clearly.

Step 5: Develop a financial plan

Photographers who want to succeed in their businesses must develop a comprehensive financial plan that includes all aspects of their operations. This includes budgeting, forecasting, and managing cash flow. A solid financial plan will ensure that photographers have the necessary funds to purchase equipment and supplies, hire staff, market their business, and pay taxes.

Having a basic understanding of the financials behind your photography business, such as startup costs, helps you make more effective plans and manage the business more efficiently, reducing any confusion or uncertainty.

Step 6: Create a plan for growth

Once you have established your business, create a growth plan. This could include expanding your service offerings, entering new markets, or developing new products.

A growth plan will help you to stay focused and ensure that your business is constantly evolving to meet the changing needs of your customers.

The benefit of a SWOT analysis

swot analysis illustration

A SWOT analysis is a valuable business planning exercise that examines your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. By evaluating these four elements, you can better understand your business’s current state and develop strategies for improving its performance.

When conducting a SWOT analysis, it’s essential to identify the unique strengths that set your business apart from the competition. Additionally, it’s helpful to consider any advantages you have that you can leverage.

On the other hand, weaknesses represent areas for improvement, which could be areas where you need to develop your skills or knowledge. By setting goals to address these weaknesses, you can make progress toward improving your business’s overall performance.

Opportunities are potential areas for growth and development. For example, you can expand your business by using emerging trends or new technologies.

Finally, threats could undermine your business or significantly hinder your success. For instance, if your competitors have well-established studios and years of experience, you’ll need to develop strategies to differentiate your business and attract customers.

Overall, a SWOT analysis is a powerful tool for any business owner looking to improve their business’s performance and stay ahead of the competition.

How to write an effective executive summary

When seeking funding, the executive summary of your business plan is a crucial element to entice potential investors. This concise 50–250 word section should showcase your company’s big-picture goals and outcomes.

To craft an effective executive summary, keep these tips in mind:

  • Focus on the most critical information. Provide a clear overview of your photography business, target market, and unique selling proposition. Include financial projections and funding requirements.
  • Avoid overwhelming detail. The executive summary should highlight the most critical points without getting bogged down in too much information.
  • Highlight your achievements. If you have achieved significant milestones or have considerable experience in the photography industry, be sure to include this information.
  • Use persuasive language. Engage the reader with a clear tone that showcases your passion and confidence in your business’s success.
  • Support your claims with data and statistics: Use hard data and statistics to support your claims and demonstrate the potential for success.

By following these tips, you can craft an effective executive summary that will leave a lasting impression on potential investors.

Avoid these common mistakes as you create your business plan

Creating a business plan for your photography business is crucial to success, and it takes time, patience, and ongoing revision to get it right.

Your plan can be addressed when rushing to get your funding in place and launch your business. To help you know what to focus on, we have highlighted ten common mistakes you should avoid:

Lack of market research

Without proper market research, your financial projections may be unrealistic, and you may have an incomplete understanding of your target market. Take the time to thoroughly research your market and competitors to ensure that you have a realistic understanding of the landscape.

Being unrealistic

Your business plan must grapple with the reality of the marketplace, financial truths, and the entrepreneurial landscape. It cannot simply represent the best-case scenario or your ideal outcome.

Poor executive summary

The executive summary is one of the most critical sections of your business plan. It should be clear and concise and make the case that your business is viable. Someone without a deep business background should be able to understand it.

Ignoring the competition

Ignoring the competition is a common mistake that can lead to missed opportunities and ineffective marketing strategies. Thoroughly researching and analyzing your competitors can provide valuable insights and help you differentiate your business from others in the market.

Hiding your weaknesses

Every business has weaknesses. However, you can put off potential investors by either hiding them or highlighting them too much. Acknowledging your weaknesses and focusing on your strengths and how you plan to overcome any challenges is essential.

Overcomplicating the plan

Overcomplicating your business plan can make it difficult to understand and follow. This can be a turn-off to potential investors or lenders. Keep your plan concise, focused, and easy to understand.

Being inconsistent

Sections of your plan are often written on different days or by other people and then pasted together into one document, resulting in inconsistency. Review each section of your business plan and ensure that they are consistent in tone, style, and format.

Failing to update the plan

Failing to update your plan can lead to missed opportunities and outdated strategies. Regularly review and update your business plan to ensure it remains relevant and aligned with your goals and objectives.

Lack of clarity

Your business plan should be concise and clearly communicate your vision, mission, and values. Avoid jargon or technical terms that may be unfamiliar to your readers.

Lack of focus

A common mistake is to try to do too much or target too many markets. Focus on your core offerings and target a specific market niche to start. You can always expand your offerings and target new markets as your business grows.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can create a solid business plan that effectively communicates your vision and goals, helps you secure funding, and launches a successful photography business.

As you create your plan, remember that it’s not set in stone, and your plan should evolve and adapt as your business grows and changes.

Please review and update your plan regularly to ensure it remains relevant and effective. With a strong business plan, you’ll be well on your way to building a successful photography business.

A Photographer’s Friends: Business and Work Automation Tools

Automation is a valuable resource for busy product photographers. Automations are processes that can operate independently, reducing manual work and creating time efficiencies. They can be applied in various contexts, such as image editing and inventory management.

What can it do for you? Automation can help save time and ensure accuracy by reducing the chances of human error since they are executed consistently once established. It will

allow you to step away from mundane tasks—think of the freedom you’ll have to focus on more meaningful activities!

Overview of various automation tools

What is one of the most time-consuming aspects of running a photography business ? Managing appointments and client bookings. Fortunately, there are numerous scheduling and booking tools available that can automate this process.

One such tool is Trafft , which allows photographers to schedule appointments, send reminders, and avoid double bookings. With Trafft, photographers can manage their appointments more efficiently and focus more on their craft.

In addition to appointment scheduling, automation tools can help with client management. Trafft does that too .

Marketing automation tools are also an essential component of any photography business. Tools like Sprout Social and Flodesk can help photographers automate their social media and email marketing campaigns , ensuring that they reach their target audience effectively.

Can automation tools improve customer experience and increase revenue?

Automation tools can optimize the customer experience in photography businesses. They may enhance the booking and communication process, bolster operational efficiency, and provide personalization for customers. Below are examples of different automation tools and how they can support this effort.

  • Online booking system . An online booking system for your photography business is vital to a strong business plan. It helps streamline booking, scheduling, and paying for services, and it makes it easier for you and your clients. This can increase revenue, as customers will be more likely to book when they have a stress-free and easy booking experience.
  • Automated reminders . Clients can receive reminders via email or text message for the date, time, and location of their upcoming appointment with you. With these automated reminders, your clients will always be well-informed and ready for their next session.
  • Chatbots for personalized communication . Chatbots and email marketing can be beneficial to personalize communication with your clients. These tools can be set to send specific and personalized messages, taking into consideration your client’s interests, preferences, and previous interactions with your business.
  • Management of social media . Many automation tools can help to manage your social media presence or engagement more efficiently. You can schedule posts in advance, monitor engagement, and quickly respond to messages and comments.
  • Client follow up .  You can set each client to receive automated follow-up messages after their session. These messages contain simple appreciation for their business with you and give them additional information that may be helpful for future business.
  • Customer feedback . Use automation tools to collect client feedback and help you improve your services and customer experience.

By implementing these automation tools, you can provide a better overall experience for your clients while also improving the efficiency and profitability of your photography business.

Which automation tools for photography businesses are suitable for you?

When it comes to automation tools for photographers, there are numerous options available. Here are some of the most popular tools:

  • Trafft is a fantastic automation tool for photographers, streamlining the booking process and freeing up time to focus on your craft. With its intuitive interface, you can easily manage appointments, set availability, and showcase your services. Clients can book sessions effortlessly, while automated reminders reduce no-shows.
  • IFTTT . IFTTT, which stands for “If This Then That,” is an automation tool that allows photographers to connect different apps and services to automate tasks. For example, photographers can set up an IFTTT recipe that automatically saves their Instagram photos to a Dropbox folder.
  • SproutSocial . Sprout Social is a social media management tool that can help photographers automate their social media campaigns. With Sprout Social, photographers can schedule posts, track their social media analytics, and engage with their followers all in one place.
  • Flodesk . Flodesk is an email marketing automation tool that can help photographers create beautiful and effective email campaigns. With customizable templates and automated workflows, Flodesk is an excellent tool for photographers looking to improve their email marketing efforts.
  • Photoshop and Lightroom . Adobe’s Photoshop and Lightroom are essential tools for any photographer. They are considered the number one photo editing tools. These tools can help photographers edit photos, manage their photo library, and create beautiful marketing materials.
  • Canva . Canva is a graphic design tool that can help photographers create beautiful marketing materials like flyers, social media posts, and email campaigns. With customizable templates and an intuitive interface, Canva is an excellent tool for photographers looking to create professional marketing materials.

The benefit of putting Trafft in your budget for your business’ growth and efficiency

While many automation tools are free, some more advanced tools require a subscription or a one-time payment.

Photographers or entrepreneurs need to make room in their budget for automation tools, as they can significantly improve efficiency and help grow your business. Investing in a tool like Trafft can help photographers streamline their appointment booking process, improve client management, and ultimately increase their revenue.

trafft booking software

One of the best choices to automate your business is Trafft , a scheduling and booking software designed to help businesses manage appointments, events, and resources. With the help of Trafft, you can automate all your internal processing, such as scheduling appointments, sending reminders, and collecting payments. Thus, the manual workload is reduced, and you have more time to focus on other essential aspects of your business.

Trafft’s ease of use and customization options make it a versatile and reliable solution for businesses of any industry.

Additionally, Trafft offers advanced security features and detailed reporting capabilities to ensure the safety and success of your business. It’s also accessible on mobile devices, allowing you to manage your business from anywhere.

Trafft: your best automation solution for a seamless booking experience

Trafft is a comprehensive booking and scheduling software that allows businesses to handle complex scheduling needs, such as recurring appointments and resource management. It is highly customizable, and businesses can easily tailor their booking process to their specific needs and branding.

Additionally, Trafft has many tools businesses can use to manage their customer relationships, such as email and SMS notifications, customer feedback, and detailed reporting.

Take a look at some of Trafft’s key features:

Online scheduling

The appointment scheduling system is one of the key features of Trafft. It allows photographers to create customized schedules that clients can view and use to book appointments online. The system also enables businesses to manage their appointments efficiently and effectively.

Client management

This feature gives photographers easy access to client details such as contact information, order history, and payment status. As a result, it enables you to provide personalized services and ensure timely delivery.

Marketing automation

Trafft’s built-in or customizable email templates help photographers reach out to potential clients and keep existing clients engaged, streamlining their marketing efforts.

Online payment

Trafft enables clients to make payments online using credit cards or PayPal, and photographers can track payment status in real time.

Customizable forms

Trafft’s customizable forms streamline the client onboarding process, reducing manual data entry and minimizing errors.

Multiple locations

Trafft’s multiple locations features allow photographers to manage appointments and clients across multiple locations and set up different schedules for each location. Clients can select the location that works best for them.

Resource management

Trafft’s resource management feature enables businesses to effectively manage and allocate resources such as staff, equipment, and facilities.

Reporting and analytics

Trafft’s detailed reporting and analytics help businesses track their performance, identify trends and patterns, and make data-driven decisions.

Integration with other systems

Trafft integrates with other systems, such as Google Calendar and Zoom, helping businesses manage their appointments more efficiently.

Mobile access

Trafft’s mobile access feature allows businesses to manage their appointments and clients on the go, giving them greater flexibility and control.

FAQs about business plans for photographers

What should be included in a photography business plan.

An executive summary, business description, target market analysis, competitive analysis, marketing and sales strategy, pricing structure, services offered, equipment and resources needed, legal structure, financial projections, and an expansion plan should all be included in a photography business plan.

How do I determine the target market for my photography business?

Choose your specialization in photography (weddings, portraits, commercials) and do some market research to learn more about the demographics, tastes, and needs of potential clients in that area.

Marketing and service provision should be geared specifically toward the target demographic.

What are the essential elements of a successful marketing strategy for a photography business?

Having a strong online presence (website, social media), local networking, collaborations with complementary businesses, targeted advertising, and client referrals are all essential parts of a successful marketing plan for a photography firm.

Put your energy into highlighting your company’s USPs, developing its brand identity, and creating memorable experiences for customers.

How can I price my photography services competitively while maintaining profitability?

Researching the going rates in your area and factoring in all of your expenses (equipment, travel, editing, and overhead) will help you set reasonable prices for your photographic services.

It could be profitable to provide a range of pricing tiers to appeal to customers with varying budgets.

What equipment and resources will I need to start and operate my photography business?

Cameras, lenses, lights, tripods, editing software, a computer, backup storage, marketing materials, and maybe even a studio space are all things that might help you get started in the photography company .

Don’t forget about legal and financial necessities like taxes, licensing, and protections for your employees and customers.

How do I create a financial projection for my photography business?

Make a forecast of your finances by calculating your predicted revenue, costs (both fixed and variable), and profit.

Think about a range of potential outcomes and growth rates as you establish sensible financial objectives. In order to keep up with the changing nature of your business, you should revisit and revise your forecasts frequently.

What legal considerations should I be aware of when starting a photography business?

It is important to understand copyright rules that pertain to your work as a photographer, as well as to register your business, receive relevant permissions and licenses, set up a tax structure, prepare contracts for clients and vendors, and secure liability and equipment insurance.

How can I differentiate my photography business from competitors in the market?

Create a name for yourself in the photography industry by establishing your own distinct aesthetic, expanding your service offerings to meet niche needs, prioritizing the satisfaction of your clients, and building a solid brand identification.

Create a portfolio of your finest work to present to potential clients, and make use of positive feedback from satisfied customers to boost your standing in the industry.

What are the potential revenue streams for a photography business?

Photography sessions (weddings, portraits, events), print and digital image sales, photo editing services, workshops, and training courses, and photography-related goods sales (albums, frames, accessories) are all possible ways to generate income for a photography business.

How do I develop a growth strategy for my photography business?

Create a road map to success by deciding where you want to go, what you want to accomplish, how you’ll know when you’ve gotten there, and what you’re going to do to get there.

Think about teaming up with other businesses or finding investors so you can hire more people to handle the expansion.

What are the key performance indicators (KPIs) to track the success of my photography business?

Some key performance indicators (KPIs) for a photography business include revenue growth, profit margin, number of bookings, cost per client acquisition, client retention rate, website and social media engagement, and customer satisfaction ratings.

Keep an eye on these KPIs on a regular basis to make decisions based on hard data and boost your company’s productivity.

Concluding Thoughts on Business Plans for Photographers

Adequate preparation and goal-setting are essential components for success in any business endeavor.

A well-crafted business plan for photographers can be the difference between success and failure. It provides a clear roadmap for achieving your desired objectives and helps you maintain focus, organization, and accountability throughout the journey.

By dedicating the necessary time and effort to create a solid business plan, you can identify potential obstacles, capitalize on rewarding opportunities, and make informed decisions that will ultimately bolster your bottom line.

Armed with a comprehensive photography business plan, you’ll be well-equipped to attract superior clients and remain agile and responsive to shifts in the competitive business.

You’ll be well on your way to enjoying success if you devote even just 30 to 60 minutes of your time each day to this critical task. In fact, by doing this you’ll already be ahead of most photographers who lack a strategic plan for their businesses. Take this vital step toward your success.

Jovana Smoljanovic Tucakov

  • Jovana Smoljanovic Tucakov

Jovana Smoljanovic Tucakov is a Content Marketing and SEO Specialist who uses both words and data to communicate a message and deliver value. With more than 5 years of experience in digital marketing and content production in the IT industry, she loves identifying and solving the readers’ pain points and creating targeted content.

Curious about the human mind and emotions, especially those that drive consumer behavior. Likes fitness, food preparation, board games, reading (both for pleasure and learning), and binge-watching Netflix.

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