Portrait photography is a fantastic and rewarding genre, but starting a business in this industry can be challenging for many. There is a growing demand for high-quality portraits in many genres but there is also a lot of competition. To build a successful portrait photography business, you need to be prepared to overcome a range of challenges. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the greatest hurdles for portrait photographers who want to start a lucrative business in portrait photography.
One of the biggest challenges for portrait photographers who want to start a business is competition. There are many portrait photographers in this industry and it’s important to know and understand who your direct competitors are. If you are starting now it’s key to find out who the popular photographers in your area are, and understand what makes them the go-to photographer! When I started my journey I booked portrait sessions with our potential competitors to understand what kind of experience they delivered. Remember that it’s not just great photos but also the level of connection you have with clients and what you offer outside of the images. You might want to find out how they present images, do they offer IPS, and what printing options they offer, how they “click” with you. Do your competitor research. It’s important to develop a unique style that sets you apart from others in the industry. Trends can be short-term but might help you get into the market quickly but offering images that buck the trend might get you noticed a lot quicker too! You may want to invest time shooting a variety of portrait genres as you will begin to discover what you love shooting the most. You’ll create niche market space for yourself and when you love what you photograph you’ll be able to create a motivated mindset that will help you drive yourself forward. This leads us neatly to building our portfolio…
Building a Portfolio
As a portrait photographer starting out, building a portfolio can be a daunting challenge. To tackle this challenge, I started by shooting portraits for friends and family. I even put out model calls on my preferred social media platform, and was pleasantly surprised by the positive response from folks eager to model for me. By practicing with friends and family, I was able to grow my confidence in using my camera and working in a variety of settings. I was fortunate to have Amy as my in-house model, which allowed me to build a diverse portfolio that then featured families, maternity shots, and other related portrait genres. I carefully selected the best images from my shoots and shared them on social media and my website. These images helped me book 10 weddings in my first year of business, all based on my portfolio of portraits. It just goes to show that with dedication and hard work, building a strong portfolio can pay off in big ways.
Marketing is a hurdle that portrait photographers need to overcome. To attract clients, you need to market yourself and your work effectively. Social media is one of the greatest tools at our disposal and it’s where the attention of the entire world is directed these days! You need to become a loudhailer of your brand on social media and with the tools, we currently have it’s easy to reach our target market with a desirable product (Our images). Once you get the ball rolling and you are creating an awesome experience for clients they will become a voice for your business. Word of mouth is a powerful tool if clients love what you do. They will recommend you to friends and family and that in turn builds trust and a growing clientele. You want to build an audience of clients that don’t question prices but book you because of the experience and images you deliver in the end.
Determining your pricing is another challenge that portrait photographers need to face. It can be difficult to know how much to charge for your services, especially when you’re first starting. I overcame that start-up pricing conundrum but taking a sample of the most popular photographers in my area, taking an average, then going just below that average. Naturally, you need to consider your time, equipment, and other expenses, as well as your skill level and the quality of your work. Pricing too high can turn off potential clients and it might take much longer to get into the market! If you find yourself being overbooked then it’s time to raise those prices. I started 4x times below the most popular photographers in my area just to gain market share initially but soon found myself overbooked which meant I needed to raise my pricing significantly. It’s important to research the market and determine fair prices for your services.
To start a portrait photography business as your sole income, you need a strong sense of self-motivation and determination to succeed. Your business becomes like your baby since it’s your only source of income. There are no shortcuts or instant gratification, so you must dedicate yourself to growing and learning. This may require sacrificing some of your free time initially and focusing most of your energy on your business. Remember that the effort you put in will directly correlate with the success you achieve. To maximize your efforts, it’s important to structure your day and seek guidance from experienced professionals in the portrait photography industry. There are many educational resources available that can help you avoid costly mistakes and concentrate on the key areas of your business. Since your business is visually oriented, it’s crucial to continually work towards creating the best images possible. Despite the inevitable challenges you may face, it’s essential to stay tough and perseverant when the going gets tough. With dedication and effort, you can build a thriving portrait photography business and achieve your goals. If you’re eager to learn be sure to join me HERE
Starting a business in portrait photography is not easy, but it can be highly rewarding. To overcome the hurdles that come with starting a business in this industry, you need to be prepared to work hard, be patient, and invest in your skills and equipment. It’s important to develop a unique style, market yourself effectively, determine fair pricing, manage clients professionally, and stay up-to-date with the latest technology and trends. With dedication and perseverance, you can build a successful business