A portrait photography business provides high-quality, professional photos of individuals and families. Many businesses offer specialized services for things such as school photos, holiday cards, and family portraits. Because of the ability to offer these useful services year-round, portrait photography businesses play a vital role in the communities that they are located in.

Plan your Business

A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:

What are the startup and ongoing costs?
Who is your target market?
How long it will take you to break even?

What are the costs involved in opening a portrait photography business?

It is possible to run your business from home. In this case, you would shoot your subjects in your own home studio space or meet them at an agreed-upon location. With this setup, the cost of opening your business will be about $11,000. That cost breaks down to $2,500 for two professional cameras, $1,000 for three different professional lenses, and $1,000 for assorted camera equipment (bags, lights, memory cards, etc.), It will cost about $1,500 to get insurance, incorporate your business, pay for money management software, and pay for annual accounting services. A professional computer and relevant editing software will cost about $2,000, and a professional website will start at around $500. Finally, you’ll want to spend about $500 creating samples of your photography, and about $2,000 on initial advertising.

What are the ongoing expenses for a portrait photography business?

The good news is that your ongoing expenses are small, though variable. Once your equipment is acquired, your primary cost will be the cost of printing photos (if you have not invested in your own high-quality printer) and the cost of travel (if you are going to where the clients are instead of having them come to you). You may also spend money hosting your website, though this is typically less than $100 per year.

Who is the target market?

While you will have a diverse array of clients (and may market yourself towards a very specific niche), the typical portrait photography business market is comprised of young families. They are likeliest to want new photos every year for a variety of occasions, including holidays and birthdays.

How does a portrait photography business make money?

Typically, a portrait photography business offers fixed prices for different photo packages. You may also consider charging extra for special services, such as converting photos into holiday cards. Depending on your business model, you may also consider charging money for travel or even charging a flat hourly fee on top of the specialized package fees.

How much can you charge customers?

Your prices will vary, and may depend on your price structure. If you charge by the hour, you may charge between $25 to $100 or more per hour, and this typically includes providing a set number of different shots, poses, and copies of images. If you charge by the photo, you may charge between $10 to $50 per photo, though many businesses create photo packages that are more attractive to a customer (such as a $300 package that provides multiple poses, prints, and settings, such as outdoor photos).

How much profit can a portrait photography business make?

The exact profit your business makes may vary. For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median pay for photographers is just a little over $34,000 per year. However, this number is brought down by both low-paid hourly workers and those who are struggling to pay for expensive studios. If you are willing to shoot from home or on location, then almost all of the money you take in is pure profit, and it’s easy for you to develop a steady stream of clients and create a very lucrative business within your community.

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