I'm often asked, what is the best way to start a photography business? The answer depends mainly on what area of photography you want to specialise in, or whether you want to be an 'all rounder'.
You should be clear about this before you start. There is nothing more distracting to achievement of your goals than jumping constantly from one specialist area to another; you never quite make it at anything!
You need a business plan and goals and targets to work toward. Your aim should be to become competent in only 2 or 3 areas. You can choose between commercial photography, portraiture, wedding photography, pet photography, group photography and many more.
The main distinctions between these are the pressures you are under to produce the level of skill needed to please the customer. For example wedding photography will require working under a lot of pressure with people to produce the goods in a few hours, whereas commercial photography may give you a few days, say working with equipment rather than people.
So you need to decide if you are a people person and have the skill and ability to carry off your chosen area of work. You need also to discover your style of photography; this applies mainly in wedding and portraiture photography. Will it be candid, will it be reportage, will it be formal or a mix of all?
After you have a clear picture in your mind of where you are heading with your photography business goals, you need to start to look around at the competition. How do prices compare, what is the size of the market, what equipment would you need, do you have the experience, if not where and how could you learn?
For example wedding photography is an area where I would advise that you steer clear from until you have the confidence, the technical expertise, posing and people skills required to achieve a high standard product. I usually advise people to start with group photography and work there way towards weddings.
It's ideal if you can get some experience shooting with a professional, you could offer your support service at no cost to assist the pro with weddings. You will learn a lot this way.
Other areas of photography allow you to become conversant with lighting and exposure techniques before you decide to tackle weddings. So perhaps group, or pet photography is best for you to start with.
The key to successful business, without stating the obvious, is getting and keeping customers. It should be your aim in the early days of your photography business to over deliver for your first customers. You will find for example if you take christening shots for a family and make a good job of it, they will hook into you and you will be first choice for all other family occasions. This is by far the best type of marketing approach for your photography business.