Aug 15, 2011

When you know it's time to start your photography business

If you have the dream of becoming a photographer and owning your own business one day when do you  make the switch from hobby to business? When do you start charging people?

Just because you buy a DSLR doesn't mean you are ready. You start charging people when there is a consistency in your work and when you have a vast knowledge about editing and shooting.

When I first decided that I wanted to move in the direction of starting my own business I took photos for free, anyone that would let me. Just for the practice. I did that for almost a year and a half. When I started charging I only charged $25. That would cover my gas and I was able to start saving up for more gear.

I didn't become an official business until there was a consistency in my work and I was able to move out of shooting in auto. Consistency in the sense that there were no blurry photos, colors were correct, I was well rounded in the area of editing and I was able to provide an overall great experience. (Only then did I feel comfortable increasing my prices.)

Why is that even important?

Simply, you are charging people for a service. They deserve to have someone that knows what they are doing and can give them beautiful images. Not someone who is shooting a bajillion photos hoping a few good ones come out.


(this session was a free session. click here to view more.)

(another freebie.)

(this session was after becoming a business and I charged full price. $75 and they purchased prints seperately)

(the above session was when I first became a business and started charging more. $75 To see more from this session click here.)


(this one was after a few years in the biz and after I changed how I price my sessions)

I hope this post isn't coming off as snarky. That is not my intention. My point is simply don't break out into the business world until you are able to provide a service worth paying for. You only have one opportunity to make a first impression. If I had claimed to be a photographer with some of my first images I know my business would have received a bad reputation and would not have been taken seriously. But because I waited until there was some consistency I feel confident in the service I provide. 

What are your thoughts?


  1. Great advice and you are a wonderful photographer!

  2. Great post, thanks for sharing.
    I am planning to start shooting more for free to be more consistent, find my style and make people happy with the results. Maybe one day I can call myself a "professional photographer", for now I am an aspiring and happy with that.

  3. I could not agree more with this post

  4. This is exactly what I'm doing right now (free sessions) and I think $25 is a good price to start from, too. I really liked this post because I feel the very same way.


  5. i think you nailed it. you need to develop your skills before you expect folks to really invest in your photos!

  6. I think this is a great post! I have known for a while now that I never want to go in the business but this was still interesting to read. I just like taking pictures of my family. And I love using a DSLR and the editing programs I use. Oh, and it's fun to participate every once in a while in photography blog hops. :)

  7. Its good to know that you eased into charging, that's what I am doing as well. I had one person say to me, "If you aren't good enough right now to charge $200 a session, I don't even know why you are in business".

  8. i think free practice is great and then set realistic prices that don't kill the market.

    i'm trying to primarily just practice on people that i'd never charge anyway to eliminate the "but it was free last month" deal. i think it's hard to know when you are ready to leap...i'm currently at that crossroads...

  9. I agree too- however when I look back at the images I provided when I first started charging, versus what I'm providing now I do cringe sometimes! I think "how did I think that edit looked good?" I think that we should all be able to say we've grown as photographers and developed our style and skills. It's a natural progression.
    However lately I've seen a lot of "mom's with cameras" charging pretty steep fees for less than perfect images and it makes me wonder what DOES make a person a professional?

  10. so agreed! It's tough because some photogs will tell you "never work for free." Or "you have to charge so much more or you are ruining it for other photographers". There does have to be a progression. You can't charge steep prices and be "learning". Not a good idea.

  11. I completely agree. Over a year ago, I used friends as guinea pigs to start my photography business. I never charged them. And by word of mouth I have been busy ever since. I do it because 1.)I love it and 2.)I want to share my ablitiy to capture families in precious moments that they will cherish for a lifetime.

    SilleHille, I can't even look back at my first photo sessions either b/c my style has changed some much and I get sick over how much I edited the shots...ugh!

  12. Great advice! Your work is amazing.

    Traci @ Ordinary Inspirations

  13. Thank you so much for posting this. I just posted (tonight) my first post on my photography blog as I have really have been learning and growing (just a few mths) w/my 1st DSLR and this just wonderful advice. I hope a couple of years from now I might be able to take the next step.


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