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This is the first EVER Q&A Saturday! Todays’ question comes from a young photographer, we’ll call her “E” from Nigeria who has not been working due to the cost of materials AND the high competition where she lives. She’s asked a two-part question. First, “E” wants to know how to start a photography business without much capital. Second, she wants to know how she can sell her photos, specifically she asked about exporting the photos.
How to Start a Photography Business
So to answer “E’s” questions, I had to get some help. I’m not a photographer, and I know next to nothing about photography businesses. So, Marisol Farda, a freelance photographer and graphic designer based in Arlington, Texas, volunteered to shine some light on the topic for us (pun intended). You can find Marisol on Instagram at MarisolFarda. Here are the questions I asked our expert.
Q: What are the bare minimum tools?
A: DSLR camera with a lens and photography education.
Since “E” is already trained as a photographer, I figured we just need to find her a camera. So, let’s figure out what camera is best to get started.
Q: What is the best most cost-effective photography equipment?
A: Marisol, suggested that the most cost-efficient equipment to get started for a photography business is an entry-level DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) Camera. A brand new entry-level DSLR with kit lens will cost around $500. She recommended spending a little bit more money on a used mid-level DSLR or entry-level full-frame camera with a higher quality lens.
A used mid-level camera body will start anywhere between $200-$300 and the prices will increase depending on the quality of equipment. A used full-frame camera will start anywhere from $600-$800 and once again, the prices will increase depending on the quality of equipment.
After reading Marisol’s response, I took a look on Amazon, and found used cameras and new DSLR cameras at various price points. To add to Marisol’s answer, I would guess you’d also need a laptop, some photo editing software, like Photoshop or InDesign, and possibly a lighting kit.
This is where my discussion with Marisol ended, but “E” had more questions. Let’s look at some of her less technical questions about competition and potentially exporting her images.
Q: How to succeed in a highly competitive environment?
A: Ok, so this is a tough question to answer. You guys know that I’m pretty adamant about moms starting businesses online. So, I’d have to say that the best way to avoid competition, in my humble opinion, is to take your photography business and put it entirely online.
You could start taking amazing photos and develop an online marketplace to sell your images. You can sell the rights of use to them.
Currently, there are several new niches in stock photography that need even more participants. My favorite new stock photography sites are CreateHER Stock and Colorstock. These are two relatively new (or at least new to me) stock photography sites specifying in pictures portraying women of color, professionally and leisurely.
Setting up an online marketplace to sell your photography allows you both to work as a professional photographer and export your work all over the world.
Q: How do you set up an online marketplace to sell photographs?
WPBeginner has a fantastic overview of the different e-commerce sites. You can read their review here.
As for tutorials on how to set the whole thing up, once you choose a platform, that platform will most likely have videos and instructions on how to set things up. Most platforms now also have support pages where you can find answers to common questions and post your own questions if they haven’t already been asked and answered. But when all else fails, Youtube has a wealth of how-to videos on everything under the sun.
Q: Is there a cheaper way to start?
A: Probably. You can always do things cheaper. The question you should ask yourself is whether cheaper is better. You can always save money on the front-end. But will you lose revenue on the back-end? If you don’t put your photos online, you have to figure out a way to market your work in-person. You also have to figure out how to print and store your images for sale.
Starting a photography WILL require an initial investment. In my opinion, it’s probably best to either take a small loan (whether it’s a personal credit card or a bank credit) and invest in your business OR start saving a little each month to invest in your business.
For anyone interested in starting a location independent photography business, I hope this helps frame your expectations of what equipment, tools, and resources you’re going to need.
Are you a mom that secretly wants to start her own business? Want to start a business and questions? Contact me, and you’ll see your question in an upcoming Q&A Saturday.