Business Overview

Photography is essentially an art form which captures the moments in life we cherish. If you are thinking about sharing the beauty of your work with others while generating some cash flow, a photography business might be right for you. There’s a need for professional photographers in every market, but the majority of photographers make money either by serving individual clients or by working as a freelancer for magazines, websites, and other venues. Here is an overview of each type of photographer:


  • Client-based: These photographers are hired by different clients and charge a certain rate per hour or per session. Their clients range from individuals, couples, families, advertisement companies, fashion brands, travel agencies, schools and corporations, etc. For instance, wedding, portrait, and headshot photography are all client-based business models.
  • Freelancer: These photographers envision themselves primarily as artists and see their own self-expression as the core of their work. Their source of income often comes from selling or licensing photos to various stock image companies, magazines or books, and also from making large prints to sell at craft shows, art fairs, private galleries, etc.

Who is this business right for?

This business is great for people who have a creative eye, like flexible work schedules, and enjoy creating and editing photography of all kinds.

What happens during a typical day at a photography business?

If you’re running a service-based photography business, you will be:

  • searching for potential customers for your photos, including cold emailing, calling, marketing and networking within your community and finding freelance work online
  • reviewing event logistics, pricing, and service details
  • taking photographs of clients or your specific subject/event
  • editing the photographs and delivering the final product to your customers

As a freelancer, you can expect to be:

  • taking photographs wherever your inspiration is from, be it architecture, landscape, human or animals
  • connecting with and pitching your work to local galleries, art fairs and coffee shops
  • submitting high-quality photos to stock image companies
  • freelancing for magazines or a newspaper for specific events

What is the target market?

When you are first starting out, you will want to reach out to family and friends as your first clients. Word of mouth is very important for growing a photography business.

How does a photography business make money?

Service based photographers charge in one of three ways:

  1. package-pricing, or charging for a specific number of edited photos
  2. event-pricing, or charging a fixed price for a single event
  3. hourly-pricing, or charging a fixed rate per hour

As a freelancer, depending on where you’re selling your final product, the price can range from a few cents per photo for a stock image site to several hundred dollars for a magazine or gallery.

What is the growth potential for a photography business?

A professional photography business can be managed on a part time basis and kept rather small or it can be built to be a much larger business. There are some professional photography businesses that have many different photographers on the payroll for additional man power to cover more events. On the other hand, a small photography business with just a handful of customers can be managed from home on a part time basis. As your company grows larger and you get new clients, you may want to consider moving your business out of the home, leasing a professional studio.