How to Run a Successful Photography Business

Carsten Arnold Photographer

You may have read my blog ‘Choosing a Photographer – Going Gourmet or Fast Food’ and you have been inspired to become a true professional photographer. You know you have the talent and you want to leap to that next level of professionalism. Having travelled this road already, I would like to share my experience on how to run a successful photography business. These are in no particular order of importance.


  • Charge realistic pricing that will sustain you. Being the cheapest is a sure road to oblivion. Check out this Cost of Doing Business Calculator, it will help you determine how much you should be charging for your work.
  • Have a passion for photography and offer your clients the absolute best images you are capable of creating each and every time.
  • Publish your terms and conditions including photo license restrictions. Ensure the client knows of these in advance.
  • Clearly communicate your expectations and seek to understand your client’s expectations in advance of the project. Many disappointments can be avoided through effective communication.
  • Immerse yourself in your craft. Live, eat, breath photography. Never stop learning.
  • Run an ethical business. Show integrity, be honesty, and be reliable.
  • Be patience. It will take at least 2 – 3 years of solid full time effort to start making a name for yourself.
  • Specialize in one area of photography such as architecture, landscape, nature, sports, food, etc. The time, and money it takes to develop the skills in multiple genres and compete with the best is not practical.
  • Become a Company. Register your business name, and either be incorporated, or be in a legal proprietorship business that is recognized by government agencies.
  • Purchase a business license as required in your jurisdiction. If you live in a strata, permission is usually required by the strata counsel or corporation to run a business from your home as well.
  • Create a website with a unique domain name, and email address that ends with your domain name. A Flicker site and ‘’ is not professional.
  • Publish a portfolio of your work on your website and use only the best images. If viewers are not impressed with the quality of these images, they will look elsewhere.
  • Learn Photoshop inside out. There is nothing more frustrating than seeing a great composition look awful in the end because the photographer didn’t know the tools available to turn a good photograph into a great one. Subscribe to online training sites such as, or
  • Using Adobe Lightroom to catalog and preprocess RAW files is highly recommended. Capture One may be a good option for RAW processing as well.
  • Shoot in RAW format instead of .jpg. All professional photographers shoot in RAW for good reason, check out why here.
  • Follow standard book-keeping and accounting practices maintaining accurate and clear records of all your business dealings.
  • Purchase insurance for liability and all your equipment and digital files.
  • Backup your data at least twice, and once preferably on the cloud as well.
  • Make it a point to understand your client’s expectations prior to each project. The more closely you work with them the more likely you will deliver or exceed their expectations.
  • Follow other photographers to gain insight and inspiration.


Drop me a note if you found this article useful to your business.


Carsten Arnold