How to Start A Photography Business in 2024


December 18, 2023

If you’ve been dreaming of becoming a photographer but don’t know where to begin, look no further! We’ve got you covered! 

Starting a photography business is not as daunting as it may seem. All it takes is a little bit of planning and a lot of enthusiasm! Most importantly, you need to make sure that you have lots (and LOTS) of coffee handy at all times. 

We’re sharing seven steps to help guide you as you get your business up and running! Are you ready for this? Let’s get into it! 


We know you want to jump right in and learn all about lenses, posing, and how to book that first wedding! But making a plan is the first step in the process of becoming a pro! All that fun stuff will come soon enough, but it’s important to do your research first.

With photography, you have two kinds of expenses: start-up expenses (which are all your gear and tools) and ongoing expenses (which are more about time management). 

Start-Up Expenses: To be honest, it all starts with having the right gear. Camera and lenses are essential, of course. You’ll also need hard drives and memory cards. Start by making two lists: your must-haves and the big splurges.

Here’s the gear that we currently use, along with some great options for getting started. 

How to start your photography business in 2024 - Colorado based wedding photographer Britni Girard Photography share the steps needed for a successful and legal business

Don’t forget about investing in things like registering your business, website hosting, a CRM like 17hats, editing tools like Lightroom, Gallery delivery and hosting from Pixieset, and those optional extras (like Tailwind for scheduling or Canva for design). It’s a lot, but just take it one step at a time! 

Ongoing Expenses: It’s always better to overestimate than underestimate here. Sure, you’ll have recurring fees like website domains and subscriptions. But don’t forget about travel expenses! Most importantly, consider how much OVERALL TIME goes into a job, not just the hours you’ll be shooting. Editing, client communication, and marketing all add up, so plan your time wisely.

BRIT’S TIPS:  When we first started, we kind of went by this rule of thumb for time.  

1 Hour of Shooting = 2 Hours Editing

Your time is valuable, so take it ALL into consideration!


Alrighty, now onto the fun stuff (kind of)… pricing your services! Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to charging for photography. It all depends on years of experience, the location you’re serving, and type of work you’ll be doing. Research what’s standard in your local market and don’t be afraid to ask other experienced photogs for advice. Take them out for a coffee and pick their brains! 

BRITS TIPS:  NEVER give sessions away for FREE. Sure, when you first put a camera in your hands, you’ll willingly take photos of anything and everything to get experience. But the sooner you place even a small value on your work, the sooner your friends and family will recognize you as a legit business owner.


Ok, let’s get down to official business: 

  • Form an LLC to protect your assets with your Secretary of State.
  • Register with the federal government and get your EIN or Tax ID number rather than using your social security number for your business taxes.  
  • KEEP ALL YOUR RECEIPTS FOR EVERYTHING!! You’ll need them to start filing the documents related to deductions at the end of each year. (And get a good tax gal. Trust me!)
  • Open up a bank account in your business’s name to keep track of all that profit! 
  • Protect your gear by insuring it. If your camera breaks, you’re no longer able to work! Most home insurance companies provide business insurance for an affordable rate.
  • Check your county for any photography permits you might need to shoot in open space and natural areas. Where we live in Colorado, there’s about 4 different permits we need as photographers to shoot, including in the National Park. These are each renewed annually.
How to start your photography business in 2024 - Colorado based wedding photographer Britni Girard Photography share the steps needed for a successful and legal business


A good portfolio is super important when it comes to getting your photography biz off the ground. Clients want to see that you know what you’re doing! You can start out by shooting family members and friends, or maybe a styled shoot – whatever works for you!

Start with Engagements: Friends, this is the best time to take your portrait skills and relate them directly to the wedding day! You can take the wedding day pressure off your shoulders while still building a portfolio featuring crazy-in-love couples. When we were first getting started, I used family sessions as an opportunity to practice posing with the mom + dad, and I even offered prom mini-sessions so I could work on my couple’s posing!

Know Your Value: When you are first getting started, it can be very tempting to offer sessions for free. (I sound like a broken record, but it bears repeating). And believe me, we’ve all been there. But this is your chance to establish yourself as a professional and set a precedent for your friends and family down the road. You don’t have to charge full price, but I’m a firm believer that people respect you and your services when they have to give something in exchange. So know your value and make it clear that you’re only offering a “discount” this once, so it’s not expected down the road.

Shadow or Second Shoot: Starting off as a second shooter may be just the ticket to get your foot in the door of the industry and start building that dream portfolio. Start by connecting with photographers whose work you admire.

You can also join Facebook groups for local photographers and email lists for second shooters to stay in the loop about opportunities, rates, local venues, vendors and more! Plus, it’s a great way to meet your future A-Team! You never know when those connections will come in handy.


I think this might be my most favorite part of building a photography business. Good branding leads to good marketing, which leads to IDEAL CLIENTS. You may not even know who your ideal client is until you’ve had the experience of working with a variety of clients at a variety of venues. So just know that this part will evolve over time. So for right now, ask yourself these questions:

What’s My Photography Style?

Bright and Airy, Dark and Moody, Fine Art or Journalistic? These words will be used to define your style to future clients!

What Type of Couples Do You Want to Work With?

Carefree and easy-going, romantic, adventurous, or luxe? If you want to take it a step further, try looking at the venues around you and determine which ones you’d like to work at. Oftentimes, those venues attract a certain type of couple.

Define YOUR Personality!

Ask yourself who you want to be when you imagine your dream business. Will you show up as a wedding day BFF, funny third wheel, an advice guru, or a highly-sought after pro photographer? We kind of like to dabble in all the above, honestly. When thinking of your ideal clients, your own natural personality will bring so much to the table when it comes to finding your people. 


Whether it’s a contract for the photos you take or one that covers all the policies of your business, having something official in place will help ensure that neither you nor your client is at risk of misunderstandings or breaches. Think of it this way: a good contract sets expectations, clearly outlines deliverables, and eliminates confusion. Plus, who doesn’t like some peace of mind? We recommend checking out the contracts by Engaged Legal and The Legal Paige to help protect your business.


We know this is the part you wish was STEP ONE. But sadly friends, if you don’t have your business set up correctly, the last thing you want is to drum up business you can’t handle on the back end. So hang tight, and make sure everything above is locked in first. THEN you can begin the fun part of telling everyone about it! 

Create Your Website: When it comes to starting a photog business, your website is key! It’s a reflection of your brand and skills, holds the key to your portfolio, and it’s how future clients can get in touch. So put some time into building out your site! 

Consider consulting a professional so that the copy and visuals reflect your brand perfectly. Make sure it’s easy to navigate, with easily accessible contact info. Highlight your favorite images and regularly update with new work. One thing is for sure, make sure it all clearly represents YOU as an artist! 

We LOVE the easy to use ShowIt platform for all of our websites. With gorgeous free templates to get you started and the ease of optimizing your site with SEO, it makes it easy for Google to keep the traffic flowing your way. 

Time to Get Social: Now let’s talk about Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest when building your wedding photography biz. Use them all! But if you have to focus on one, Instagram is a great way to show off your personal brand and get your feel wet in social marketing.  

It also helps make connections with anyone who loves (and needs!) what you do, and cultivates relationships with venue managers, vendors, and potential clients. This is how you’re going to grow your business. (It’s much more effective than just having your mom tell everyone about your darling photographs 🙂 

BRITS TIPS:  To start building a following, we encourage you to try posting multiple times a week. If you can swing it, even post daily! You’ll see the return in engagement much quicker, but let’s be honest, that’s crazy hard to keep up with. Post your work on your feed and your face on your stories. In other words, look at your feed as your portfolio and your stories as the place people can get to know you.

That said, Pinterest is amazing for getting people to actually visit your website if they’re looking for someone just like you! Take advantage of this incredible tool. And let’s be honest, Google loves words, so getting future clients from Pinterest to your website is best done with blogs…like this one! 

There are easy tools like Canva that’ll help you create those awesome graphics you need for your biz. If you don’t want to do all that yourself though, consider hiring a social media management service to take that load right off your plate! 

Did Someone say Blogging?: Don’t let anyone tell you blogging isn’t necessary. Trust me, blogging is alive and well, and it’s a non-negotiable part of getting your website seen! Keep everything up to date with all your new work (for both potential clients and Google). This means building a blogging routine into your post-shoot workflow and making sure you make time for it. We recommend blogging once a week if possible. You’ll be shocked at the traffic your website starts to generate. And don’t forget about SEO if you wanna boost those Google ranks!


That was A LOT of information and honestly, it’s kind of the non-sexy side to owning a business. We are obsessed with the “entrepreneur life” and are SO PROUD OF YOU for jumping in. We’re cheering for you and know good things are coming your way, friend. Just follow these steps and you’ll have your wedding business up and running before you know it! 


…if you’re feeling overwhelmed and want someone to walk alongside you while you navigate this whole thing, we’d love to help. We offer one-on-one support through our BGP Coaching to ensure you never feel alone. Let’s jump on a call and get this business off the ground!


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