What equipment do you need to start a photography business?
If you are serious about starting a photography business either full or part time, you are going to need some gear and it “ain’t cheap” as they say!
As I mentioned in the events section, you could always start by renting your equipment for each job but in the long run, that could work out expensive and not very cost efficient. If you have no other option, renting is a great way to start as your layout is minimal making your profits higher which could go towards buying the gear.
Make a list of ALL the kit you will need from cameras through to computers and software. Work out what you have already and if you have something that will do for now, don’t upgrade for the sake of it.
For example, software. Photoshop CS3/4 will do everything you need to do without having to splash out for CS6 or CC.
If things are really tight, download a 30 day trial of Photoshop CS6 (whichever is out when you read this) for month 1. Then in month 2 download the trial version of Lightroom 5/6 or whatever, month three download Adobe Photoshop Elements 11, 12 or 13 etc, and if by month 4 you cannot afford to buy your own software, you are doing something very wrong!
Shave overheads where you can in the beginning to make enough profit to really kick start your business. It is really tempting to go out and buy all the latest kit but you need to make sure you have the work coming in before you go too mad.
Decide which area of photography you are going to cover in the first year and build your kit around that. In the beginning I made it a goal of mine to work for each new piece of kit I wanted so I would do a job, save up and then buy the lens or new camera only when I could afford to buy it for cash.
Here is a rough equipment guide…
If you are shooting weddings:
- 2 DSLR’s or cameras
- 2-3 lenses ranging from wide (for the church) to telephoto (for stealth shots)
- Speedlight/s (you WILL use them at some point in your wedding career)
- Tripod for low light, night or arty long exposure shots etc
- Cable release for the above
- Lots of memory (CF, SD etc)
- Editing software (Adobe Lightroomis great for processing wedding photos)
If you are shooting portraits:
- 1 DSLR to start
- 1-2 lenses with one preferably being a telephoto or prime lens
- Studio lights or speedlights for indoors
- Reflector (Lastoliteare great)
- Again, Adobe Lightroom is great for editing portraits
If you are shooting properties/commercial:
- 1 DSLR to start with
- Wide angle lens such as a 16-35mm on full frame or 10-22mm on cropped sensor
- Standard lens or short telephoto (24-70mm) for detail shots
- Tripod (essential)
- Cable release
- 2 speedlights or studio lights
- Lighting stands
When costing a job, and we will cover pricing in a lot more detail later, use this as a guide. Take one third of your income and put it into a “tax account”, take another third and put it into “business expenses” and the final third is your profits. Just because you have a profit, don’t just go out and spend it…re-invest it into your business until you are well established.
Use it for marketing, advertising, paying affiliates, buying equipment that you absolutely need and so on.
Cost out your yearly expenses such as rent, food, fuel, heating, electricity, education, marketing, travel, rental fees and any other overheads you can think of. Work out a projected income from the work you intend to do. Take into account any earnings you currently have if you are already employed and intend to start a photography business part time to begin with.
Take these figures and try to establish just how much money you would like or need to make from photography. You can then plan your strategy around that.
For example. You currently earn £30,000 per year of which you net £20k. You would like an additional £10k to spend on holidays, a new car and a few treats.
To earn that £10k you need to earn around £30k from your photography (real prudent estimates here and you will no doubt end up with more profits this way).
Of that £30k, a third goes on tax and National Insurance, a third goes on expenses such as salaries and commissions, travel, fuel, software, equipment etc and the remaining third, i.e. £10k is for you.
Things should work out a lot better than this as the longer you operate, the less your overheads and you may well end up with over £15k profit but you need to aim higher to get what you want.
What is it someone once said? Something like “It is better to set your targets high and not reach them than to set them too low and make them too soon“…something like that.
Anyway, the moral is to set your goals higher than you need to and that will give you more of a chance of making what you expect. Work hard, set the cogs in motion, use the butterfly effect and amazing things will happen.
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