Photography: From Hobby to Business

Collaborative post – may contain affiliate links

Photography used to be a hobby that only those with larger bank accounts could afford to indulge in. Now high-grade cameras are available and targeted at the average consumer. Meaning more and more photography businesses are thriving. The current climate with digital work and the gig economy means that photographers are in demand for everything from weddings to helping to create some unique website content for small businesses. Of course, with a surge in any field the competition becomes fierce, and with platforms like Unsplash, Pexels, Pixabay and more offering amazing images for free it can become just a touch harder to make a living. But, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a whole host of successful photographers out there making their mark on the world. But how?

Let’s take a look at how to set up a photography business.

It is imperative to know that just because you own a camera, this doesn’t automatically make you a photographer and the chances are if you were to say that, in some circles, you’ll leave with a bad taste in your mouth. It is also important to note that a high-end camera, an iPhone, a point and click from the ’60s are all perfectly reasonable mediums to begin your career. Some photographers choose to take some qualifications, online course or even a degree. But, knowing and doing are very different things.

Before you charge anyone for anything, you should spend a lot of time practicing. Learning how to use your camera, and your own eye. Essentially your eye will be what sets you apart and what will get your hired.

Get Started

The first step is pretty self-explanatory. You need to get out there and start taking photos. At first, you will likely take pictures and videos of everything. Which is great, because you will enjoy some of this more than others. Eventually, you will begin to narrow down what you love and what you can tell a story with. Most modern cameras will help guide you in the first few months with its own auto settings. Most of the time in the early days your camera will give you what you want. The further on you get, the more you’re going to turn some of those setting from auto to manual. It is trial and error. You will take plenty of too dark, too light and out of focus shots. Learn from it. There is space in the early days to experiment with instant photography and film. Both of these will add to your overall skill level and help you understand different concepts.


Once upon a time photography was a lengthy process, involving dark rooms, and before that sitting still for hours on end. Now it is fast and furious. Depending on the type of photography you do. There are a whole host of post-processing programs that you might like to play with when you are creating your works of art. Photoshop is brilliant for post-processing and creating astounding works of art, Lightroom can help you build a distinct feel to your work via a range of presets (downloaded and created), and there are great video options too. Although the video does tend to be a little bit more expensive so it might be worth outsourcing that and focusing on your strengths. Companies like Perfect Image Video are the perfect solution to help you either backup all of the work that is on discs (many computers and laptops no longer have disc drives, but you might just need that footage at a later date), or for those times you need to produce many duplicates quickly.

You might also like to spend some time getting to grips with software like iMovie, Final Cut Pro or simply Windows Media Player – to help create your promotion reels.

Technology will play an active roll in you creating your visions in the form of photos.

Work, Work, Work

Once you feel confident enough, it’s time to head out and pick up a couple of jobs. Now, your first one or two will nerve-wracking, to the point you might completely blow the whole thing. Consider that part of your learning. Reach out to local businesses and ask for the opportunity to work on any upcoming campaigns they have. Or, get in touch with a local school, sports team or a friend you know is getting married and ask if you can take some photos. Try to keep your first ‘big job’ as small as possible.

Try to stick to the niche of photography that you have fallen in love with as much as you can that will give you the best results, but to make money, you might end up taking a few jobs that provide a stopgap on the road to what you enjoy doing. And, it’s all experience.

Every time you complete a job, reach out for feedback and keep the lines of communication open with the clients. If you have a good working relationship, you provided an excellent service and managed their (and your) expectations then you are likely to get follow up work. When it comes to photography businesses like to work with someone they trust to give them the best results.


All of that practice and job big and small will give you a lot of fodder when it comes to choosing your portfolio photographs. When you are building your online portfolio, try to work on the SEO aspect and the content at the same time. You need to show off your best work, or the work that has the most amount of positive feedback – they aren’t always the same piece. Hook up some business-specific social media and be sure to share new snaps and talk about what you are doing on your Instagram, a blog on your website. The best advice is to stick with the platforms you enjoy and get the most engagement from. The rest are nice to have, so you can reserve the name, but don’t feel pressure to use them. Rather than flood your site with 900 black and white images, take some time to display a few different styles so people can see what you are capable of.

Never Stop

Photography is as much a passion as breathing and when you get the bug, and even if you don’t make a full-time income, don’t give up and never stop taking photos and learning.