how to start a photography business

The Ultimate Guide: How To Start A Photography Business

The Ultimate Guide: How To Start A Photography Business – Our goal is to provide you with one place to find all the best tools and resources for starting, running and growing your photography business.


This list is not just for beginners! Below you will find some simple steps in getting started along with an extensive list of over 100+ FREE tools and resources. Everything in here has been tried and tested by several professional photographers.


This guide will be updated over time as the industry advances and as things continue to get better.


If you have any questions or helpful content you think would be a good fit for this list, please feel free to add yours by making a comment at the bottom of this post.


20 Simple Steps: How To Start A Photography Business

*We will break down each of these steps in more detail over time and update them here:

  1. Figure out WHY you want to be a photographer
  2. Research your competition
  3. Figure out what type of photography is right for you
  4. Create a brand foundation, business plan and USP
  5. Create SMART Goals (Long and Short Term)
  6. Figure out start-up costs and create a budget
  7. Create your ideal customer avatar
  8. Come up with a photography pricing plan
  9. Come up with a photography marketing plan
  10. Choose the right tools and gear
  11. Register your photography business name
  12. Buy a domain and website
  13. Build a portfolio and gain experience shooting
  14. Assist other professional photographers
  15. Find a photography mentor
  16. Start marking and get your work out there
  17. Network with the right people
  18. Create an amazing customer service experience
  19. Build a client email list and follow up
  20. Always be improving yourself, craft and your business


How will this list help you to start a photography business?

• This list will give you a foundation of tools needed to keep you focused on building your craft and growing your photography business.

• This list will provide you with the best referrals and preferred vendors on the market.

• This list will keep you from wasting time and money trying out bad products and services.

• This list will help you to take faster steps toward succeeding at your photography business.

• This list includes over 100+ Tools, Resources, Apps/Software, Sites, Vendors, Products and Services that we absolutely love and trust.

• The list covers several different categories of communication, management, organization, productivity, website building, SEO, marketing, accounting, editing, packaging, prints, albums, gear, education and inspiration.

General Gear & Equipment:

Amazon – Great place to search for random photography products.

BH Photo Video – Good for buying just about anything related to photography and videography.

Adorama – Another great place to buy camera gear.

Foto Care – Really helpful customer support for backup solutions.


Learning Hubs:

Creative Live – The place to learn new crafts from industry leaders through video workshop settings.

Branding Q&A – Here is a branding Q&A we did on the Reddit Wedding Photography page but it applies to all different types of photographers.

Lynda – Behind the screen tutorials. Great place to learn a new application.

Audible – Listen to books first before you buy them. It’s great to quickly get the overall idea of a book before digging into it deeper. Highly recommend listening to books during you car rides or when you have nothing going on.


Communication Tools:

Google Mail – Managing all day to day emails

Boomerang – Sends emails back to us for reminders

Google Calendar – Managing all events for our business

Slack – For all undistracted internal communication between the team

Skype – Video meetings with clients

Mail Chimp – Managing our e-mail newsletter communication

Sidekick – Tracks email openings and clicks for better e-mail communication

Hubspot – Client Relationship Management

Postable – Simple way to send out customized thank you cards to clients

Organization Tools:

Evernote – Organizes everything in our life.

Trello – Project management & Task lists for creative minded people.

ShootQ – Photography Studio management system.

XMind – Mind Map your ideas for visual organization and structure.

Productivity Tools:

Calendly – Book appointments and meetings on the fly. No more back and forth emails. Simply send clients to your page to choose from your available times. Syncs perfectly with your Google Calendar. Great for setting up consultation meetings or multiple mini sessions.

Zonebox – The perfect app for staying on task and timing yourself throughout the day to work on projects without wasting time.

Text Expander – Drop in boiler plate text into any application including your phone. All messages sync to dropbox.

Clyppan – Mac App that saves all your clipboard copies

News Feed Eradicator for Facebook – Google chrome plugin that replaces your facebook newsfeed with a productive quote. Saves tons of wasted time when jumping on Facebook.

Sunrise Sunset – Great for checking the golden hour times in your area. (Note – We now subscribe our Google Calendar to a Sunrise/Sunset feed provided by Google for our location)

Bitly – Creates trackable short links.

Renamer – Batch renames all different types of files quickly.

Wallet – Encrypted app for storing credit cards, passwords, account info, etc.

One Password – Quickly log into your favorite sites without having to remember your usernames and passwords. Saves so much time!

Transmit – FTP for accessing your website servers core files.

We Transfer – Easy way to transfer large files.

Alfred – Quick way to easily search just about anything on your computer or even online.

ScreenFlow – Simplified way to record screencast tutorials. Helpful for teaching clients or training employees so you don’t have to keep repeating the same steps over and over.



Online Searching & Inspiration:

Feedly – Nice way to view all your favorite websites content in one place.

Spotify – Great for listing to music from your favorite artists.

Google Chrome – Helpful Plugins: Ad Block, MOZBar, Evernote, Amazon Wishlist, SEO Toolbar, Sidekick by Hubspot

Designspiration – Like Pinterest but for designers. Nicely curated graphics for inspiration.


Accounting and Invoicing Tools:

PayPal – Quick way to send money and invoice for collecting payments.

Stripe – Simplified way to receive funds online from clients. Connects seamlessly with ShootQ. No monthly fee only a percentage of the transaction.

Venmo – Simple way to pay your friends back for things

Adobe EchoSign – Purely for creating official contracts that go direct to a clients email for signatures.

Quickbooks – The online version is really good for bookeeping, budgeting and payroll.



Fundy Album Builder – Fast album editing software. You can create an entire album in about 15-30min.

VSCO Presets – Great looking film emulating Lightroom presets.

VSCO Keys – Speed up your workflow by turning your keyboard into a control panel for making Lightroom adjustments. This product is now open platform freeware.

Red Leaf – Great looking actions and presets.

Totally Rad – Great looking actions and presets.

Auto Loader – Great plugin to have if your workflow consists of editing lots of photos in photoshop. Auto Loader allow you to make individual edits to an image close it and automatically reopen the next.

Storyboard – By Code & Hustle is great for quickly creating custom layouts for blog posts. Their droplet and seo tool is also incredible helpful and a huge time saver.

JPEGMini – Compress images fast without losing image quality

DNG Converter – Free application from Adobe to convert your NEF or CR2 files to the universal DNG format.

Photo Mechanic – Get this for super fast culling. You’ll save a ton of time in your workflow.

Lightroom – A must have for all wedding photographers. Great for editing lots of photos from a shoot.

Photoshop – Made for pixel graphics for web or print. When photo editing it’s used more so for retouching and sharpening images on file at a time.

Autopano Pro – Great for panoramic photos or photo stitching lots of images to create one.

Illustrator – Vector format editing that does not involve pixels. Good for illustrators and typographers or logo making.

Indesign – Made for brochures, magazines, books or anything that involves multiple sides/pages.

Fotofafa – Outsourcing photo editing. A bit more custom. Attempts to match your style.

Shoot Dot Edit – Outsourcing photo editing. This place is very fast in their delivery. Focuses primarily on white balancing skin tones.

Align Album Design – Outsourcing the album design process.

Album Exposure – Way to showcase and approve your album designs to clients.


Printing and Presentation:

Red Tree – High quality album makers. Really good customer support. Fast turnaround times. Really good prices on their mini albums. Great selection to choose from.

Vision Art – Nice quality albums. A good option for guestbooks.

Loktah – Wide selection of interesting natural packaging and print materials for clients.

HH Boogie – Really nice looking hand made wooden keepsake boxes for delivering products.

CG Pro Prints – The best quality and price I’ve found in gallery wrapped canvases.

Millers – High quality color corrected lab printing. Great customer service.

WHCC – Fun unique print products for seasonal occasions.


Print Resources:

Real Thread – High quality water based screen printed t-shirts. The best I’ve seen. Fast turn arounds. Really good customer service.

Mamas Sauce – Quality letterpress printing. A good referral for wedding invitations or custom letterpress business cards.

Simon Stamps – Custom rubber stamps of all sizes for packaging materials.

Moo Cards – The quality of their 4 color silk cards is much better than anything else around. They offer a variety of prints as well. Amazing customer service. You get what you pay for.

123 Stickers – Well priced if you choose one of their standard sizes. Stickers are always good for marketing.

Blank Media Printing – Really good customer support. For all your DVD printing and duplicating needs.

Photo Flash Drive – Should you need custom usb drives.

Uline – Random business packaging and materials. You name it they probably stock it.

Envelopes Express – Really well priced envelopes.

Paper Source – A variety of paper types for various notes and letters.

Mag Cloud – Perfect solution for a catalog or pricing guide. Something we give to clients if we meet in person with them. Makes a big statement.


Backup Solutions:

Data Rescue – Pull lost files from a deleted hardrive.

Disk Warrior – For the corrupted hardrive that needs to be reset and configured beyond your normal disk repair

Backblaze – Unlimited cloud backup solution for all drive connected through wire to your computer. Best price I could find.

*Dropbox – Cloud solution to keep all your local files and folders on. Quickly allows you to obtain deleted files or previous versions of a save. Another great place to share files with other vendors or clients.

Google Drive – Place to store all your google docs. Similar to Dropbox but less personal and more for a business.

Time Machine – Macs built in way of backing up old versions of files and a way to migrate your computer from one drive to another.

Delta Walker – App that helps compare folders or drives. Especially helpful to compare if you transferred all your photos from a memory card into a hardrive. Another way to not second guess yourself.

SuperDuper – Simple way to make backups and clones of drives and time them to happen at night.

ChronoSync – Another time based app that can sync drives or folders from one place to another. Helpful to apply automated backups of specific folders so you’re not doing redundant tasks all the time.

CRU – Really good drive solutions for specific backup needs. Great customer support team to help answer questions along the way.

Promise Pegasus – Really fast and reliable archive or working drives. I have the R6 with Raid 5 setup on enterprise drives for my archive/working drive connected via thunderbolt. It’s awesome!


Website & Hosting:

1&1 – I’ve used a lot of hosting providers and this one is by far my favorite for shared server space. I’ve had very little issues, complaints and downtimes with this service. Great for smaller startup sites.

WP Engine – An alternative hosting provider for the serious site wanting to take it to the next level. Very user friendly. Fast response time and great customer service!

WP Curve – Flat monthly rate that helps fix all your wordpress needs that take under 30min.

Leadpages – Great for creating landing pages and opt-ins for email newsletters.

WordPress – Content Management System for custom websites. 23% of the internet is WordPress based.

Gravity Forms – Good plugin for creating custom forms of all various types and stores them on the backend just incase you don’t get the email from inquiries.

Pro Photo Blogs – Well optimized wordpress themes for wedding photographers

Themeforest – Well made wordpress theme for those who like custom sites.

Squarespace – If you don’t have any experience with building a website and you want something done really well save yourself the headache and just go with Squarespace. They have incredibly well built sites, easy customizations and wonderful customer support. They provide a web experience like non other.

Zenfolio – Really well priced photo gallery service for delivering, selling and printing your photos for clients. Very reliable. Awesome support. Additional way to back up your clients photos. Very detailed backend for customized features. I can go on and on about them. One of the best investments. Not even worth mentioning some of the other newer flashier versions out there.

Pixieset – All the cool kids are jumping on this one. If you want to deliver your images to clients on a slick responsive gallery with great design and quick load speeds this is the way to go. It costs based on how much space you use but it’s definitely worth it.


Marketing & Automation:


IFTTT – Let the internet work for you. Create recipes that trigger things to happen within all your various online profiles. The options are endless with what you can automate online.

Hootsuite – Automated web app for managing your social posts and timing them.

Buffer – Automated web app for managing your Instagram posts and other social media.

Two Bright Lights – Easy way to submit your photos to one place for distributing to all the various blogs and site for gaining features.

Google Adwords – Create ads to promote your brand toward people searching online for answers.

Facebook & Instagram – Create ads to promote your brand toward people browsing on social media.



MOZ – If you want to get serious about SEO this place has a ton of great tools.

SEMRush – Great software for researching keywords and competitors.

Open Site Explorer – Free tool from Moz to research competition

Google Analytics – The way to view your sites traffic and statistics.

Google Web Master Tools – Another part to your sites traffic that is important to manage.

Yoast – The SEO plugin is a must have for WordPress to optimize your pages and posts properly for search engines.

SEO Local – Easy way to let this service submit your site and match your information across multiple places for local search.




Lulu Lemon – Another unlikely place to find dress pants or random clothing you can get away with at a wedding or especially a portrait session. Stretchy and breathable.

Ministry of Supply – Super awesome customer care. High quality clothing for men who want to look professional working in hotter climates. Fits come slim already so stick with the regular sizes if your of a normal size. Easy way to exchange and make returns. They will even reimburse you money for getting your pants tailored.


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