Starting my Own Photography Business?

Posted by Mrs Money on August 24th, 2009

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89051741.jpgI don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this here or not, but I do photography on the side.  A few years ago I saved up money and bought myself my first digital SLR, a Canon Rebel XTi.  It wasn’t cheap (around $800) and served me well through a few weddings and random photo shoots.  I’ve never advertised my photography anywhere; in fact, it’s all word of mouth, and I’d like to keep it that way.  It makes me nervous to take pictures for people, especially of their weddings.  I mean, if I mess up, that’s a huge deal, and I can never replace the pictures. I just need to gain some confidence and get over it if I’m going to pursue this as a side business.

Anyway.  I’m shooting a wedding Labor Day weekend.  I can use my camera, but I would really like a little bit better camera so that the picture quality is higher.  I have a few different options figured out right now, and I’d love to get your opinion.

1. I can rent lens(es) and use my current camera.  This is the cheapest option, but the image quality won’t be quite as nice as if I had a better camera.

2. Rent a camera and lens(es).  This will cost me around $130 for the day, and I would get better quality images, but this eats into my profit.  A lot.

3. Buy a bigger and better camera and rent a lens for $30 or so.  If I do buy a new camera, they are around $1100 but I am getting money from this wedding, plus I just booked another in December.  I’ll pretty much make up my money quickly, but then I can’t use that money to pay off debt or for something fun.  I guess I am investing in my “business”.

I enjoy photography and everyone loves the pictures I take, but it seems like everyone wants to be a pro photographer these days.  I don’t know if I’m good enough to do it, but I guess if people keep wanting me to do it, then I am, right?

What would you do?

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16 Responses to “Starting my Own Photography Business?”


  1. i know lots of ppl with an xTi and really really nice lenses that take some fantastic shots. mix a great lens with your camera and the free actions from thepioneerwoman.com and i think you’d be great. (i have an xti btw but no really great lenses yet.)

    ~Tara

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Tara, thanks so much for your words of encouragement and for the link to the free actions! They are lovely and I’m sure I will put them to good use! I normally edit every single photo myself without an action (yes I know that’s crazy! :) ). I think I may just rent a lens or even buy one. I don’t feel like it’s a good use of my money to just drop that on a camera right now. :) Come shoot with me!

    [Reply]

  2. Kacie says:

    I love photography, too! I’m nowhere near good enough to get paid for it, though.

    I say rent an additional camera body so that you can easily switch from wide to telephoto lenses (without actually changing the lenses — just grabbing a different body, ya know?).

    And, I don’t know what lenses you already have…so renting one or two might be helpful.

    I’m going to email you with a link or two.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    I think it would be great to not have to change lenses. I do have a few but I may just buy another lens. This is what I’m thinking: if I’m willing to spend $130+ on renting a camera and a lens, why not just put that towards a new lens and just use my camera? As I get more work, I can save more money and buy a better camera. :)

    [Reply]

  3. cavewoman says:

    Have you looked around on craigslist or ebay for the camera of your dreams?

    You may find it for cheaper than you think.

    Best of luck!

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    I haven’t yet but I’m going to soon! I am sort of afraid to buy a used camera, but I think I need to get over it. :) Thanks!!

    [Reply]

  4. bluntmoney says:

    I don’t think that the picture quality is going to be that different from a Rebel to a professional SLR, unless you’re planning on making poster sized images. But I would advise you to look into getting errors and omissions insurance before shooting any more weddings. Your profit will really be eaten into if you end up getting sued.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    I doubt they will make poster sized images. I think I am just going to use my camera and either rent or buy a new lens. And as far as the insurance- I second that. It’s something I need to look into seriously! Thanks for your help! :)

    [Reply]

  5. Miss M says:

    Do you want to do photography as a business? A lot of people think wouldn’t it be great to make money with the hobby I enjoy, but once the hobby becomes a business it’s not that fun anymore. I think it sounds like a great way to earn some extra money, lots of luck.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    I know a lot of women photographers that has happened to. I think if I did it part time on the side it would still be fun and rewarding. I’m going to play it by ear and definitely not quit my day job!

    [Reply]

  6. cavewoman says:

    If you do decide to go into the business…may I recommend a really wonderful book for you, the photographer:

    Cheap Ways to Tie the Knot: How to Plan a Church Wedding for Less Than $5,000

    Althought it’s mainly the bride and groom’s planning guide, it does provide a really great “Shot List” for photographers.

    It helped me decide which pictures I wanted my photographer to take. (Just for fun—-my photographer was a former college roommate who had taken a few photography classes. I always liked her pictures, so she took the pics for us as her wedding present to us. Nicely, we posted all of the pictures on Snapfish, and then let wedding guests/friends decide which of these photos they wanted, and then they could download and print them at home.
    Frugal, but awesome!)

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Awesome! Thanks so much. The bride did give me a list, which is super helpful. I am getting excited about it!

    [Reply]

  7. Tiffanie says:

    Hi! :) I am also a photographer on the side. It’s lovely isn’t it? I don’t really do weddings though. Like you- too nerve wracking! I’ve done one and it was for a friend’s second marriage and super laid-back. But anyway—the point of my reply…

    I would def invest in good glass for your XTi. The eye of the photographer and the lenses are what is most important. Yes, 5D with a full frame sensor is wonderful, but those cameras are sooo expensive. I’m sure with a 50mm 1.4 your camera would do great!

    Also, the idea from Kacie about an additional body with a different lens on it is great! Yea, the money is again the issue, but maybe after doing a few more weddings you could invest in a second body and then not be out the rental fee anymore.

    What lenses do you currently shoot with if you don’t mind me asking? Also- do you have a flickr or somewhere I can check out your work? I love looking at other photographer’s work. It’s the only way I get better. (besides practice of course!!)

    Good luck in your adventure!

    [Reply]


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