Many people with a love of photos dream of becoming professional photographers and earning a living from their passion for images.
But if you want to start a business selling your photography skills then you need more than just a dream. You must have the right equipment to be able to make your dream a reality.
We’ve listed seven key pieces of photography equipment you have to invest in to set up the business you need to become a professional photographer:
- Editing software
This is the gear you need to get started.
All seven pieces of equipment give you the tools to create your online portfolio, market your skills, win customers, take pictures and run a successful professional photography business that makes money and earns you an income.
We explain each of these pieces of kit in more detail in the following sections.
Having a good camera is the foundation of being a professional photographer. Whether your ambition is to join the legion of wedding photographers or sell arty portrait shots in New York, if you want to make money from your photography then you need the right camera.
There’s an enormous range of cameras you can choose from and it’s not simply a case of picking the most expensive one you can afford. You need to research things such as the mount system it uses, the lens it requires (which is where money can quickly rack up) and the accessories you can get for it.
However, the most important thing is that it takes the type of photos you want to capture. It needs to allow you to get images that both allow you to express your creativity and make a profit from your work. So, research the cameras on the market and pick the right one for you.
Even the sturdiest of hands can’t stay steady at all times and this is why it’s vital to invest in a quality tripod. If you don’t then you’ll find you shoot plenty of images that lack the clarity your clients demand, which will cost you time and money.
Tripods are particularly invaluable if your business is to rely on shooting big events, such as weddings. They give you the freedom to rest your camera, get people into position and then take your photos. But they’re also useful for those overhead table shots if you’re a food photographer, or catching beautiful sunrises if you’re into your landscapes. Basically, tripods are a must.
Durability is perhaps the most important thing to look for in a tripod. You need it to stand firm against the elements (which is a genuine concern if you’re working outside) so look for one that has a solid structure to make sure you spend your money sensibly.
You can control many things as a photographer. You can buy the right equipment, train yourself to take the best shots and use your charm to manoeuvre your client(s) into the right positions.
One thing you can’t control, however, is the weather — which is why lighting equipment is key.
Lighting kits range wildly in the equipment they include and the price they’ll set you back. Some feature the absolute basics and are at the lower end of the scale, while others include loads of kit and cost the earth.
A sensible approach is to start by focusing on quality over quantity. This means getting a few high-quality essentials, rather than lots of low standard kit. You can then build your way up as you take more pictures, earn more cash from your work and splash out on more expensive lights that can help you to get the lighting perfect.
Many photographers will have looked down their nose at the idea of using a smartphone to capture professional photos. However, hostility to using smartphones for photography work should have ended years ago because these devices are invaluable pieces of kit.
There are few reasons why smartphones are so important to a modern photography business. Firstly, many smartphones now have excellent cameras that can capture high-quality images. Secondly, smartphones are a great admin tool that allows you to record data, present your work and communicate with clients. Thirdly, you can hook up your camera to your smartphone while on a shoot so that your photos come through and you can see if an angle or image works — very handy.
Your main decision you need to make with your smartphone is whether you opt for Android or iOS. Each offers some great, free tools you can use for your business and it’s a good idea to see what’s available before you decide which operating system you choose.
Every full time photographer needs a computer to run their business. As good as smartphones are, you simply cannot do your job effectively without having the power and size you get with a computer.
While costs are a significant factor in deciding which computer to use for your business, the most important consideration (as with your smartphone) is the operating system you use. Namely, if you want an Apple or Windows computer.
Many creative businesses prefer Apple devices because their layout can be personalised, which saves valuable time by allowing you to put a range of shortcuts in place. The main thing is that you choose a computer you’re comfortable with and that supports the software you need to run your company, such as editing software.
No matter how brilliant your eye is for an excellent image opportunity, you need photo editing software to ensure that the finished product you deliver to your client(s) is exactly what they want it to be.
As with all the pieces of kit you require to run a successful photography business, the price you pay for your editing software ranges wildly. There is some great free software available to you (like GIMP) and some world-renowned options (like the Adobe Suite) that you have to pay for.
Keeping on top of costs is essential when starting a business, with every penny potentially being the difference between making it to the next billing period. With this in mind, you may wish to start with the free software and then work your way up to those you have to pay for.
All great artists need a portfolio and all successful companies need a place to advertise their services. That’s why you simply have to set up a website for your business. If you don’t then your potential clients won’t be able to find you.
Your website is a valuable piece of real estate that serves a huge range of functions for your company, including:
- Displaying your contact information
- Listing your different pricing options
- Advertising your expertise as a photographer
- Showing testimonials from your clients
- Housing your marketing materials
Setting up a website is a pretty straightforward process but it’s one that can’t be explained properly in a couple of paragraphs. You need the right software (like your CMS), the correct hardware, and the technical know-how to bring it all together.
That’s why we recommend you watch the below video, so you can get an idea of what steps you need to take:
These seven pieces of kit aren’t everything you need to run a successful photography company.
You have to know what type of photography you’re going to offer, must have a business name, certainly need a business plan, should know what your brand identity is, could really benefit from social media accounts and might want to think about getting business cards.
But you simply can’t start your company without a camera, tripod, lighting, smartphone, computer, editing software and a website.
So, start by picking the right camera then work your way through the other six bits of kit. And once you’ve set up your website you’ll be ready to kickstart your photography business.