Are you interested in starting your own photography business at home? Photography has evolved profoundly since the popularity of the digital camera, and budding photographers everywhere have turned their hobby into a business. With a combination of artistic flair and business savviness, knowing the correct way to set up a home studio is paramount to achieving the ultimate professional space.
When starting a photography business, you should first address the core basic business concerns. Running a business is very hard work and not for the lazy. You might want to explore the photography market thinking it will be all fun and no work. Owning some equipment and having a few friends to help will not get your business flowing. If you have given it much thought and still decided to join the photography bandwagon, then here are 15 tips to guide you on your business journey.
1. Working Space
You may decide to set up your studio in your own home which is completely doable with a little creativity. Make sure to dedicate a space solely for your business and away from your actual living area. You want to make your clients feel comfortable and have your space look professional at the same time. Appearance is everything in a home studio as you will have to work harder at looking competent in a homemade studio.
2. Choosing the Right Camera
Nowadays, there are so many great choices in camera equipment for your home studio. There are compact cameras, bridge cameras, live preview cameras, and all varieties of SLR cameras. Which among these is the best choice for your business?
In choosing your camera, consider the following:
- Megapixels. Choose a camera with the greatest number of pixels.
- Sensor. Among the digital SLRs, the one with larger sensors are sure to perform better than smaller ones.
- Lenses. Cameras can depreciate faster than cars but one with good lenses is a solid investment. Buy a camera with lenses that are suitable for the type of photography that you are doing.
3. Low Ceiling and Zooming
A space with enough room to zoom out is ideal for a studio. If the studio is rather cramped, you will not be able to shoot correct distances and angles therefore, making your photography seem amateur. Generally, a room about 20 feet is ideal for a full-body shot.
If depth is vital, so is the ceiling. A low ceiling can cause light to bounce off it. It is important to study the effect your lights have on your photos. Another disadvantage to having a low ceiling is that it prevents you from installing a hair light for subjects in a sitting position. Generally, you need approximately 3 feet between your subject and your hair light for it to work properly.
4. Setting a Perfect Backdrop
Your studio needs a custom backdrop for different settings. A perfect backdrop should be simple and clean and must not distract the focus from the subject. There are varieties of backdrops that you can purchase but be sure you have enough space for storing them. Wrinkled or creased backdrops make the editing process a more difficult task. Backgrounds with neutral colors can be changed to different colors and shades by using gelled lights. Photo editor applications can also be handy if you want different background colors or setting. Remember, the more you get right in the studio, the less work you have to edit and fix in a photo editor later on. You can also use a wall mount which can be rolled up if you are working in a limited area.
To enhance your studio photography, you may use a variety of lights to aid you in your flash photography. Here are the 3 basic lights:
- Constant lights need to be on all the time and let you instantly see the effect of lights on the subject, but they do not have the brightness of a strobe or speed light.
- Speed lights are easy to set up flashes that are compact and handy. This allows you to move around without the hassle of cords.
- Studio strobes are heavy, powered flash lights that need to be plugged into the wall perpetually but can do a lot for your photo quality.
6. Light Modifiers
You need modifiers to control light effects from the flash. Although there are many modifiers you can acquire, here are two modifiers that you can use in conjunction with the 3 lights previously discussed.
- Umbrellas. For a home studio, a white shoot-through umbrella as well as a silver reflective umbrella work best. They are intended to spread light in a large area or group.
- Softbox. This is attached to speed lights and strobes to control light direction. This is valuable gear for a smaller studio.
7. Additional Equipment
To get your business off the ground, you’ll need basic equipment such as cameras, lenses, digital cards, flash units, tripods, studio lightings, props, backdrops, and a computer. As your business grows and prospers, you might think about adding some additional equipment.
8. Registering Your Business
No matter what size business you own, you will still need to start working out the legality concerns. For your photography business, you may want to use your home address to start, and register it legally to give your business a name of its own. To register, you must go to your local government offices in charge of Business Permits and Licensing.
9. Bank Accounts
Always consider your business a separate entity when it comes to your personal finances as this is the essence of business accounting. It is important to have a separate bank account for your business under your actual business name. Having a business account will not only help you through government legalities but will also prove useful when you need additional capital later on for expansion.
10. Business Insurance
Like any other aspect of your life, your business needs insurance as well. This is especially true when you are doing work outside or on location. For starters, aim for an insurance that will cover both you and your equipment.
11. Branding Your Business
How you are branding is essential for the success of your business. Branding includes how you represent yourself to your customer’s via personality, studio arrangement, ambiance, products, and quality and service performance. This is markedly true when you are starting to build your customer base. Be sure to impress them with your brand name, designs, materials, and service. Word of mouth is a very effective way in branding your business. Having your business right in your own home can sometimes be a disadvantage. However, you can have complete control over this.
12. Decide on Services to Offer
It could be hard to determine what line of photography to immerse yourself in. You may choose to offer children’s photography, family, business, commercial, or fine arts landscapes. Whichever direction you head, be sure to know your limits on what you can and cannot do. Research beforehand and prepare yourself. When customers call or drop in for inquiries, you should be ready to answer them. It would serve in your favor to radiate knowledge and professionalism to save yourself from being embarrassed.
Pricing products or services is the most difficult task for any business newcomer. In photography, figuring out what the best pricing structure is for your services and products is essential. You will want to consider cost of goods sold and the perceived value that you hope to attain for your business. Although there is a lot of competition in this market, you must primarily take into consideration the type of people you are catering to. Are you targeting a high-end group, average users, etc.? This is where you have to put great thought into how much your value your talent. To be competitive in the market, it is not price alone that needs to be considered. In fact, lower prices could give your customer the impression that your services are less than stellar performance wise. You must not only consider the present but also give mind to your thoughts on the future. Do extensive market research before attempting to create a price structure.
14. Cost of Goods Sold
The Cost of Goods Sold (CGS) is any cost you incur to produce a finished product and have it delivered to your client. Therefore, you should not forget about including your CGS in your pricing, lest you will be out of business sooner than you expect. CGS is a good starting point when you are considering pricing and profitability. Your goal must have 10-12 percent cost of goods percentage on your pricing. Here is an example: An 11×14 print costs you $12 and you charge $120 retail price, you then have 10 percent costs of goods sold. However, this is only a guide and you can adjust lower or higher based on your goal, research, and general preference.
15. Marketing Plan
Finally, every business needs to be backed up with a solid marketing plan. If you are serious about your business, this is one aspect that you need to consider as a vital plan to your business: Start formulating plans to sell your business. Having a defined goal and objectives is important for your business to have direction. Your marketing plan should help realize all of these both in short and long term goals. Your marketing plans must include targeting clients, developing strategies on promoting services, and reaching out to your clients as well as establishing publishing public relations, etc.
Now that you have read this guide and have a better understanding of how the business works, you can begin creating your home photography studio.
About the Author:
Ralf Llanasas is a digital entrepreneur and a photography enthusiast. He works at PhotopieBackdrops, which sells custom backdrops for studios, photographers, and events. You can connect with him on Twitter at @iamRalf12.
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