with Courtney Slazinik
Photography Business: Start Up Cost

There are so many things that go into starting a photography business.  Let’s discuss some of the things that you need to get your photography business up and running.  Of course there are many little things that are going to vary from business to business but these were the most important when I started mine up.

At the end of each paragraph I will be stating my cost for that particular item. That way you can see how much it can add up to.  So let’s get started.

Licensing–State and Local or City

It doesn’t matter where you live, you must have a business licenses to operate your photography business.  You MUST have this before you are accepting any money.  This is very important!  Some places only require a state licenses, others require city and other permits as well.  Please make sure that you check with both your local and state departments to see what you need.  There is usually a fee that goes along with your application.  This again will vary from state to state and will state on your application.

Total Cost of License:  $15

Logo & Design

This was probably the most difficult part of starting my photography business and still is.  Logo designs can cost a chunk of change for a fabulous design.  We are possibly talking $200-1,000 depending upon who you choose and what you have made other than a logo.  Honestly, if you are truly starting out and you are portfolio building and not sure what direction you want to go with your business, I would suggest buying a premade logo off of sites like etsy.  Granted a lot are generic, there’s a small chance someone else will have the same one.  However, you can purchase a one of a kind (OOK) for a bit more money if you really don’t want someone to have the same one.

Here’s the reason I say this.  When I was first starting out I went to a fabulous designer and had a logo and marketing material made.  I loved it, it was so exciting.  Fast forward a year and I no longer like it.  Not that I don’t still think it’s fabulous but it doesn’t fit the business brand I want.  All that money is now wasted.  Once you find your nitch I highly recommend spending that money.  Your logo and brand are going to help showcase your work, you want it to represent you and what you want your clients to feel when they look at your work.

First Brand/Logo (an amazing designer)  $500

Second Brand/Logo (standard Etsy) $100

*Again look at those two numbers, I sure wish I would have spent the $100 first and save that money for when I truly knew my nitch.

Photography Business Website

A website is very important when starting a photography business because it is where you will showcase your work.  There are many ways to do a website that are free and not so free.  There is, of course, basic blogger and wordpress blogs.  However you will have “yourname.blogspot.com” or “yourname.wordpress.com as your URL unless you decide to buy domain which then you can have a url of “yourname.com.”  Hosting your site will require a sign up fee and a yearly renewal fee.

Also with a website you need a site design.  If you are website efficient or know someone who is, that’s wonderful.  But most of us need to purchase a design.  I have a ProPhoto blog and I cannot say enough good things about it.  Sites like that come with a hefty price tag.  There are many others and once again you can find designers on Etsy but it’s another expense.

BlueHost Domain $200 Signup

($100 renewal yearly)

ProPhoto Template $199

Marketing Material

My personal opinion is that you do not need a full marketing kit out of the gate.  But once you have built a solid portfolio, I highly recommend it.  What you do need is business cards.  While you are portfolio building you want to get your name out there.  The quickest way is with business cards for referrals.  When I first started out the number one thing my clients asked me was if I had business cards.  It was embarrassing not having them and I lost out on a lot of potential clients that saw those photos.

Business Cards $35


Equipment – Lens, Editing Programs, Computer, Calibration

I have a feeling your eyes got big with that title.  NO, you do not need the best of the best to have a business.  My business started with Canon 50D and 50mm 1.4.  I have know lots of photographers who rock their Rebels when first starting their photography business.  However I do believe you need a good solid lens.  Kit lens are not well made lens, they tend to be soft and perform less than stellar.  Now do you need to buy the most expensive lens on the market?  Nope.  I think that the 50mm 1.8 can totally be rocked and won’t break the bank.

50mm f/1.8 $114


Another point to add to equipment is having a good computer, editing program and calibration.  Lets start with the computer.  More than likely you all have a good computer but you need to make sure that computer has enough room on it to support all your photos.  If not you will want to purchase a External Hard Drive (EHD).  Although you should purchase one of these to back up your computer anyways which you can read more-Data Backup: A Photographer’s Friend.
Editing Program
Next you will need an editing program.  Again, you don’t need to go out and buy the best thing out there.  I owned Photoshop Elements for the longest time before upgrading to full Photoshop and Lightroom.   There are so many resources out there for PSE and I also happen to know of a few photographers that are fantastic using PSE and actually prefer it to PS.  So again, go with what you can afford and not break the bank.  But you do need some sort of editing program.

Photoshop Elements (PSE) $63.99


Lastly, lets talk about calibration.  I didn’t know how important calibration was until I got it.  I will tell you that with Macs their screens are pretty true to color, however I still notice a difference when I calibrate.  To me, calibration is important because if you don’t have it you’ll have no idea what type of photos you are producing.  They could have green casts all over them but to your screen they’ll look perfect.  Again there are several out there.  You do not need to buy the most expensive one if that is not in your budget.  The Spyder 3 Express does a great job at a fraction of the price of others.

Calibration $114

Grand Total: $1,342 (this includes both logo designs)

Now, this number is not going to be your number.  But I wanted you to see what mine looked like to get an idea of what yours could possibly look like.  This does not come out of pocket all at once.

Make a list of what you need, prioritize it and slowly start purchasing items and checking things off.

Running a photography business is not cheap, so make sure your pricing helps cover this.  But that’s another topic.

How much did it cost when you started your photography business??