How to start a lifestyle photography business
Love being behind the camera? We look at the big picture and find out how to turn your passion into a successful business.
We’re reader-supported and may be paid when you visit links to partner sites. We don’t compare all products in the market, but we’re working on it!
In the age of image-dominated social media, the quest for that perfect picture has led to an increased demand for quality lifestyle photography. If you have skill behind the camera, you may be able to turn this into a money-making business model.
Read on to find out what it takes to build a lifestyle photography business from the ground up, from structuring a business to having the correct legal documents in place and more.
Register Your BusinessRegister your company with Lawpath in just 10 minutes.
What's in this guide?
- What skills, knowledge or requirements do I need to start a lifestyle photography business?
- What courses or qualifications do I need to complete?
- Compare photography courses online
- Equipment and software needed to start a lifestyle photographers business
- What business structures should I consider?
- What legal documents might I need?
- Find legal services and free legal templates
- How can I build up my customer base?
- How much should I charge my customers?
- Frequently asked questions
What skills, knowledge or requirements do I need to start a lifestyle photography business?
A lifestyle photographer requires several skills which branch across many different areas. First and foremost, a true passion for photography is essential as it will drive you to succeed.
Alongside this love of the craft, a grasp of camera technology is also helpful, as is photo editing software that allows you to "touch up" and edit photos according to your customers' specifications.
As well as an eye for a great shot, a lifestyle photographer also requires business marketing. You'll need to quickly hone the ability to sell yourself and your services, including via social media.
Combining this artistic approach with a solid business plan will allow you to turn your artistic talent into a viable and money-making business, standing alongside some of the best lifestyle photographers in the business.
What courses or qualifications do I need to complete?
You don't need any specific formal qualifications to create a lifestyle photography business, as a combination of artistic flair and business acumen can be enough to help you succeed. However, getting a relevant qualification can help you accelerate your business's success much faster.
Completing a degree in photography or photo media is a great way to increase your photography skills. You can also take part in a Vocational Education and Training (VET) course, which will provide you with on-the-job experience and help you gather the right skills to further your business.
There are also a number of different online courses in photography and photo editing. These courses can be helpful for even the most experienced photographer, offering new insights into the profession.
As well as the vital knowledge you will gain, these courses and qualifications will give your business an air of professionalism and legitimacy to customers.
Compare photography courses online
Equipment and software needed to start a lifestyle photographers business
The scale of your business and the type of photography services you offer will greatly affect the equipment and software you will need. For most modern photography, there will be a standard list of equipment and tools you will need. This equipment includes the following:
- A good camera: This will be at the very heart of all your further business ventures, so ensure you get a top of the range camera. Numerous different cameras can be needed for different types of photography.
- A powerful computer
- Lighting equipment
- Camera bag
Besides the physical equipment, it is also important for any modern photography business to have an array of photo software. This will allow you to edit photos and correctly format them for a wider customer base. These software programs may include:
- Adobe Creative Cloud
- Portrait Professional.
Like all famous lifestyle photographers, a strong business website is a must. This website will enable you to market your business, present your work, and facilitate client communication and awareness.
What business structures should I consider?
There are three main ways to structuring your business. Which one you choose will depend on factors such as the size of the business, your own personal approach and the business's financial situation. The main ways of structuring a business are as follows:
A sole trader business structure is where only one person is responsible for all the business's decisions and responsibilities. This is ideal if your business contains a small number of employees or the workload is low. The one downside to being a sole trader is you alone are responsible for any debts, costs and legal matters.
Similar to a sole trader structure, a partnership is a business owned by two people. These two people will be on equal standing in the company and the partnership must make all decisions.
Structuring your business as a registered company makes the company a separate entity to its owners. This allows the company to be invested in and even owned by shareholders. Making the company public will also enable the business to be invested in by the public, which can, in turn, boost your capital.
What legal documents might I need?
As with any business, having the correct legal documentation in place will allow you to trade without any legal implications. There are a number of legal documents that need to be written up before you start your lifestyle photography business.
These documents include:
- A service agreement. This will put a legally binding contract in place between you and the customer, ensuring all services provided will be paid for accordingly.
- If you begin to grow your business, you may take on more staff. If this is the case, an employment agreement document should be drawn up.
- If your business is employed to take photographs at a wedding, a wedding photography agreement should be written to ensure both parties understand what is expected from them.
Find legal services and free legal templates
Does your company belong in this list?
How can I build up my customer base?
Building your customer base will be one of the most important things to keep your business successful. Harnessing the power of social media is a great way to get your work out there and win new customers. So, you might want to explore your options with a social media course.
Again, constructing a well-thought-out business website is a great way of showcasing your skills and attracting a client base.
Finally, harnessing the reach of online marketplaces can link your business directly to customers who need a particular photography service. Online marketplaces such as hipages and Oneflare are two of many in Australia and will link you to a whole new potential customer base.
How much should I charge my customers?
Knowing how much to charge for your work can be a difficult thing to do, especially with no way of measuring it succinctly. There are a number of factors to take into account and each one will give you a better understanding of what to charge. The factors can include:
- What other similar lifestyle photography businesses are charging
- The time it takes you to complete the photography session
- The number of photos you have taken and the amount you are giving the customer
- The cost of the equipment used to take the initial photos
- Plus, your own markup.
Ready to get set up with Square?Get your business moving with payment terminals, QR code ordering, invoices and more.
Frequently asked questions
What exactly is a lifestyle photographer?
A lifestyle photographer is basically a photographer who takes pictures of people in real-life situations, usually done with an artistic air or flavour.
Can you make a living by being a photographer?
Yes, it is possible to make a living from being a photographer. But it does not come easy. It is imperative that you're willing to put the hard yards in and have a passion for photography from the outset. Like many artistic professions, it can't be just the financial reward that motivates you.
Is a photography business lucrative?
It can be. Ultimately, it'll come down to the quality of the service you provide, the number of customers you receive, how well you manage your business operations and a number of other factors.
Ask an Expert