Start a Portrait Photography Business

Capturing the Essence of Emotion: Launching Your Portrait Photography Business

woman holding DSLR camera

Camera Icon Marco Xu / Unsplash

Portrait Photography Business - Picture Yourself

Ready to immortalize moments, one click at a time? Welcome to the idea of starting a Portrait Photography Business - a venture that will let your creativity break loose, capturing the flashes of human emotions in fractions of a second. This type of business revolves around taking photos of people, exploring different tones and nuances of their personality or staging an ambiance that narrates a unique story. With your knack for observation and technical skills, you'll be transforming fleeting moments into beautiful photographs, generating smiles that last a lifetime.

Grab Your Business Website Name

Before you get caught up in the whirlwind of setting up your business, invest in a domain name. It's a small but significant step that lays the foundation for your brand and makes it easier for customers to find and trust you. Just like you wouldn't build a house without securing the land first, don't build a business without securing your domain name.


Your domain name is more than just a web address; it's an essential part of your brand identity. It's what people will type into their browsers to find you. Securing a domain name that closely aligns with your business name helps you present a unified and professional image right from the get-go.


Having a domain name adds an element of legitimacy to your business. When consumers see that you have a dedicated domain name rather than a generic one (e.g.,, they're more likely to trust you. It's akin to having a business card versus scribbling your contact info on a piece of paper.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Having your own domain name can benefit your SEO strategy. Search engines like Google give weightage to domain names when ranking websites. A domain name with keywords related to your business can help you rank higher in search results, thus bringing more eyeballs to your product or service.

Avoid Losing the Perfect Domain

Good domain names are like good real estate—they're in high demand and can get snapped up quickly. If you delay purchasing your domain name, you might find that someone else has grabbed it, and then you're either out of luck or need to negotiate to buy it at a much higher price.

Early Marketing

Once you have a domain name, you can start marketing your business—even before you launch. A "Coming Soon" page with an email capture can help you start building an audience. You can also set up professional email addresses (e.g.,, which can be used on business cards and in other preliminary marketing materials.


Owning your domain name gives you the flexibility to move your website to any hosting provider without losing your web address. It's like owning a piece of land where you can build, rebuild, or renovate your store as you please.


Compared to other startup costs, a domain name is relatively inexpensive. Yet, its value can be immense. For the cost of a few cups of coffee a year, you can secure a critical asset for your business.

Portrait Photography Quick Business Check

This a quick reality check to help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your business concept before you dive in.

Expected Percent Margins:

  • Gross Margin: 60-70%
  • Net Profit Margin: 15-35%

Earnings Expectations:

  1. Daily Earnings: Approximately $200 - $700 based on shooting 1-3 sessions per day assuming each session cost ranges from $200 - $700.
  2. Weekly Earnings: Approximately $1,400 - $4,900 assuming 5 working days.
  3. Monthly Earnings: Approximately $6,000 - $21,000.
  4. Annual Earnings: Approximately $72,000 - $252,000 excluding holiday and seasonal increases.

Actions to Hit These Numbers:

  • Initial Investment: $10,000-$20,000 for professional-grade camera, lenses, lighting equipment, and props.
Marketing and Customer Acquisition:
  • Portfolio Building: Maintain an online portfolio and invest in search engine optimization (SEO).
  • Social Media: Regularly post engaging content. Utilize paid ads to reach a wider audience.
  • Partnerships: Collaborate with event planners, modeling agencies, and wedding venues for referrals.
  • Session Pricing: Maintain competitive pricing. Consider bundling prints and digital images into the session price.
Cost Control:
  • Studio: Consider starting with a home studio to keep overhead low.
  • Editing Software: Invest in professional-grade editing software. Many offer monthly subscriptions which can lower initial costs.
Time Management:
  • Booking: Try to schedule at least 1-3 sessions per weekday.
  • Photo Editing: Allocate regular time for editing to ensure quick delivery.

This general guideline can vastly differ based on local market conditions, your unique selling proposition, and business strategy. Always seek personalized advice from a financial or business advisor.

Starting a portrait photography business can be a great way to turn your passion for photography into a successful business. Not only will you be able to make money doing something you love, but you will also get to capture special moments for your clients. In this article, we will discuss how to start a portrait photography business in nine steps. We will cover topics such as determining if the business is right for you, naming the business, and breaking down startup and ongoing expenses. We will also provide examples on ways to make money. With the right preparation and dedication, you can make your portrait photography business a success.

Determining if a Portrait Photography Business is Right for You

Breakdown of startup expenses

Starting a portrait photography business can be a costly endeavor. Before jumping in, it’s important to understand the startup costs associated with the business. These costs can include the purchase of a camera, lenses, lighting equipment, props, and other photography accessories. Additionally, you may need to invest in a computer and software for editing photos, as well as a website and other marketing materials. You may also need to pay for business insurance, business license fees, and other legal fees. Finally, you may need to pay for a studio space, or rent a space for special events.

Breakdown of ongoing expenses

Once you’ve started your business, you’ll need to consider the ongoing expenses associated with running a portrait photography business. These can include the cost of maintaining and replacing equipment, as well as the cost of marketing materials, website hosting, and other business expenses. Additionally, you’ll need to factor in the cost of travel and lodging for special events, as well as the cost of any props or other materials you may need for your shoots.

Examples of ways to make money

There are a variety of ways to make money with a portrait photography business. You can offer individual portrait sessions, as well as family and group portrait sessions. You can also offer special event photography services, such as weddings, birthdays, and other special occasions. Additionally, you can offer photo packages, such as prints, albums, and digital downloads. You can also offer additional services, such as photo retouching and editing, and you can even offer classes and workshops. Finally, you can offer prints and other products, such as mugs, t-shirts, and calendars.

Naming the Business

When it comes to naming a business, it is important to come up with something that is memorable and unique. It should also be something that is easy to pronounce and spell. Additionally, it should be something that reflects the type of business you are running. For example, if you are starting a portrait photography business, you should come up with a name that reflects the type of photography you are doing. For example, if you specialize in family portraits, you could come up with a name like “Family Photo Creations” or “Family Portraits by [Your Name].” Additionally, you should make sure that the name you choose is not already taken by another business. You can do this by searching the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database. This will ensure that your business name is unique and not already taken by someone else.

Registering the business

Once you have settled on a name for your business, you will need to register it with the appropriate government agency. Depending on the type of business you are running, you may need to register with the state or federal government. For example, if you are running a limited liability company (LLC), you will need to register with the Secretary of State in the state in which you are doing business. Additionally, you may need to register with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in order to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN). This will allow you to open a business bank account and apply for business loans. Additionally, you may need to register with your local government in order to obtain a business license.

Protecting the business name

Once you have registered your business, you will want to protect your business name. This can be done by filing for a trademark with the USPTO. A trademark will protect your business name from being used by another business. Additionally, it will give you the exclusive right to use the name in connection with your business. This will help to ensure that your business name is unique and not already taken by someone else.

Once you have registered and protected your business name, you will want to create a logo. A logo is a visual representation of your business and can be used on your website, business cards, and other marketing materials. When creating a logo, you should keep it simple and make sure it reflects the type of business you are running. Additionally, you should make sure that the logo is easy to recognize and remember. This will help to ensure that your business stands out from the competition.

Setting Up the Business

Obtaining necessary licenses and permits

Before you can start your portrait photography business, you need to make sure you have all the necessary licenses and permits. Depending on where you live, you may need to register your business with the state or local government. You may also need to obtain a business license, a sales tax license, and a permit to operate a business from your home. Additionally, you may need to obtain a photography permit if you plan to take photos in public places or on private property. Make sure to research the laws in your area and obtain all the necessary licenses and permits before you start your business.

Setting up a business bank account

Once you have obtained the necessary licenses and permits, the next step is to set up a business bank account. This will help you keep your business finances separate from your personal finances. You should also apply for a business credit card and a business loan if you need additional funds to start your business. Make sure to shop around for the best rates and terms before you make a decision.

Purchasing necessary equipment

The next step is to purchase the necessary equipment for your business. This includes cameras, lenses, lighting equipment, and other photography accessories. You should also invest in a computer and software to help you edit and store your photos. Additionally, you may want to invest in a website or online portfolio to showcase your work. Make sure to do your research and purchase the best equipment for your budget.

Developing a Portfolio

Tips on how to create a portfolio:

Creating a portfolio is an important part of starting a portrait photography business. It is important to showcase your best work and demonstrate your abilities to potential clients. When creating a portfolio, it is important to select images that are clear, well-lit, and showcase your unique style. Additionally, it is important to include a variety of images that highlight your range of skills. For example, include a mix of posed and candid shots, as well as different types of lighting and settings. Additionally, consider including images that are taken in different locations, such as outdoor and indoor shots. Finally, make sure to include a variety of subjects, such as families, couples, and individuals.

Examples of types of photos to include:

When creating a portfolio, it is important to include a variety of types of photos. For example, consider including close-up shots, full-body shots, and environmental shots. Additionally, consider including a variety of poses and angles, such as headshots, profile shots, and three-quarter shots. Additionally, consider including a variety of lighting setups, such as natural light, studio lighting, and mixed lighting. Additionally, consider including a variety of props and backgrounds, such as props that reflect the subject’s personality and backgrounds that add depth and interest to the image. Finally, consider including a variety of editing styles, such as black and white, sepia, and color.

Developing a Website

Tips on how to create a website

Creating a website for your portrait photography business is a great way to showcase your portfolio and attract new customers. When creating a website, it is important to consider the overall design, layout, and content. You should also consider the cost of hosting, domain name, and any additional services you may need. Additionally, you should consider the use of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to help your website rank higher in search engine results. You can also use social media to promote your website and drive traffic to it.

Examples of website design

When designing your website, you should consider the overall look and feel of the website. You should also consider the type of content you will be displaying, such as portfolio images, customer reviews, and contact information. Additionally, you should consider the use of a blog to showcase your work and provide helpful tips and advice to potential customers. You should also consider the use of a portfolio page to showcase your best work and help potential customers get an idea of your style. Finally, you should consider the use of a contact page to allow customers to easily reach out to you with questions or inquiries.

Marketing the Business

Tips on how to market the business

It is important to create a marketing plan for a portrait photography business. This plan should include a budget, target market, and strategies for reaching potential customers. It is also important to create a website and social media presence for the business. Additionally, consider creating a blog to showcase the work and attract potential customers.

Examples of marketing strategies

One example of a marketing strategy is to offer discounts or promotions to attract new customers. Additionally, consider offering referral discounts to existing customers. Networking with other photographers and local businesses is also a great way to spread the word about the business. Finally, consider participating in local events or trade shows to showcase the work and attract new customers.

Setting Prices

Tips on how to set prices

When setting prices for portrait photography services, it is important to consider the cost of running the business, the cost of materials, and the amount of time it takes to complete a job. Additionally, it is important to consider the market rate for similar services in the area. It is also important to consider the cost of any additional services that may be offered, such as prints, frames, albums, and digital files.

Examples of pricing structures

There are several different pricing structures that can be used when setting prices for portrait photography services. One option is to charge a flat fee for a certain number of photos or a certain number of hours of shooting. Another option is to charge an hourly rate for the time spent shooting and a separate fee for any additional services. Additionally, some photographers may choose to offer a package deal that includes a certain number of prints, frames, albums, and digital files for one price. Finally, some photographers may offer discounts for larger orders or for repeat customers.