How do I start a photography business?

We get asked this question a lot!  With so many new photographers popping up everyday, I thought I would make a list of the top 20 things you need to do before you start charging people for your services.  Until you are set up as a legitimate registered business in Saskatoon, it is illegal to charge people to photograph them.  Here are the top 20 things you need to do to start your own photography business.

  1. Register your business with the city.  You need to renew this each and every year!
  2. Register your business name.  This is different than step #1.  It is so important you do this or anyone else can actually start a business under the same name.  This needs to be renewed every 5 years.
  3. Get insurance!  Talk to an Insurance agent to find out what you need.  You are technically not allowed in many public areas in Saskatoon without liability insurance. 
  4. Get a PST number.  You need to collect PST if you are selling a product.  And photographs, whether in print or in digital format, is a product.  Every photographer should have a PST number.
  5. Once your photography business brings in more than $30,000 a year you need a GST number as well!
  6. Get a camera and learn how to use it in the manual settings.  Learn your camera inside and out.   
  7. Invest in great lenses.  Great glass produces top quality images. 
  8.  Buy Lightroom and/or Photoshop, and learn how to use it. 
  9. Take a photography course, and keep learning!  There are some great online courses, but as a creative person I learn best by doing, so in class learning is far more beneficial for myself, which is why we take a few workshops every single year. 
  10. Take a business course.  Photography is only 10% of running a photography business.
  11. Create a business plan, and review it every couple of years.  
  12. Open a business bank account. 
  13. Charge enough money so you can make a living, don't charge based on what you think people can afford.  People often think that if they charge $500 for a session, that goes directly in their pocket and they don't account for monthly business expenses or taxes, which you have a pay at the end of the year (or quarterly).   
  14. Practice, Practice, Practice.... and then practice some more!
  15. Find a mentor.  Choose someone who is established and whose work you love.  The PPOC is great for this. 
  16. Make friends with other photographers.  
  17. Once you have a great variety of images, create a website.  Facebook pages are great marketing tools, but websites are a must, as a photographers work is so visual.  
  18. Hire a graphic artist to help you create your brand, and logo. 
  19. Get as much experience as you can.  Offer to second shoot/assist other photographers for free to learn as much as you can.  
  20. Lastly, know that running a business takes a ton of work.  9-5, Monday to Friday is officially out the window.  It's rare I take a full day off, even if that means I'm answering emails at midnight.  It never stops!

We truly hope this list of how to start a photography business helpful!  Please, feel free to add anything below in the comments:).  Good Luck!

An image we got at the Canada fireworks here in Saskatoon. 

An image we got at the Canada fireworks here in Saskatoon.