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21 Essential Things you Need when Starting a Photography Business

21 Essential Things you Need when Starting a Photography Business

So the biggest question I always get is what is the gear I should buy when starting my photography business? So let's talk about it.

I wanted to help you all out with one in particular, which is starting a photography business. It may seem overwhelming to get started, and you might think that you don't have the funds to invest in yourself to start your photography business, but honestly, it's really not that expensive, and it's something you could get started at today, while you're still at your day job, and build yourself a portfolio.

So basically, we're just gonna talk about the basics in general, and then you can choose how much you wanna spend on that. Also, since I shoot with Fujifilm, and not everyone does, I'm gonna go into lenses, the gear in general for all photographers. So let's talk about the 21 essentials to get you started with your photography business.


1. Camera

21 Essential Things you Need when Starting a Photography Business

There are a lot of options out there for camera systems.
You have Nikon, Sony, Canon, Fujifilm. I have been using the Fujifilm system for 3 years now. One of the best things about it is that the system is not expensive. If you need amazing quality for cheap to get started with a new camera or to upgrade your camera, definitely look up Fujifilm.


Fujifilm X-T30

The camera that I would recommend to anyone starting out is the Fujifilm X-T30. This thing currently on B&H is only for 1099 with the 18 to 55-millimeter lens. This is an amazing price to get started & something you can pay off quickly with just a couple of sessions, or even just save up some money over time, and have it before you know it.

The X-T30 has an APS-C sensor, 26 megapixels & uses exactly the same technology as the X-T3. This is the main camera I use for wedding photography. It's small, powerful, it shoots video at 4K, 30- frames rate per second, so the quality is really great. So that would be my opinion for a camera to start out with. I know Sony has an equivalent. I think it's the A600 or 6600. I'm not sure. But that's another great option.

These mirrorless systems are super small, they're super light, they're cheap, but they look amazing. So if you're always scared of the price of a camera, and you're like, "Oh, I'm not gonna buy a camera "'cause they cost too much."

Definitely look up, These new small mirrorless cameras, such as the XT-30, 'cause you to be surprised at the quality and price. For our initial investment in the photography business, we are talking around $ 1,000, maybe even cheaper if you use or buy a used camera. As you can see, on B&H, the X-T30 is only 799 when you use it, which is super awesome.


2. Camera Strap

21 Essential Things you Need when Starting a Photography Business

These two things we have here are extremely important, especially if you're an event photographer or you're shooting with primes only. First off, that's gonna be a great camera strap. For that, I absolutely love the HoldFast Gear Money Maker. The Money Maker is the strap that I use in any of my full-day wedding videos. It's a double-strap, it's nice leather. They last forever.

I've been using my first one for 5 years now. And it's still trucking through, and it works great. Basically, the system gives you a great way to easily use two cameras, which is great to have a backup, or so that you don't have to switch your lenses every five seconds because you have two cameras.

You can also attach all kinds of extra things to it, like how I use the Sightseer bag on my back or the pouch on my side any time I'm shooting a wedding. If you're looking for an easy way to carry two cameras, hands down, the Money Maker is the best way.

Seriously, it is probably the one thing that I can't shoot without. Basically, any time I go out, it's either my camera or the HoldFast Money Maker. If I don't have those two things, I can't do anything. Also, if you're not using two cameras, they make a single strap for just one camera.


3. Camera Bag

21 Essential Things you Need when Starting a Photography Business

So on wedding days, I like to travel as light as possible, but having a good camera bag is absolutely a necessity. For when I travel, I like to use the Roamographer. Basically, this is a nice, large camera bag, one of those doctor tops. It makes it easy to get in, grab my gear, and put it back in. It has a lot of space, and I'm able to fit my whole system in this one bag.

While traveling, that's a huge plus because I can take that carry-on with me on the plane and hold it tight and close to my heart to make sure that I don't lose any of my gear.

I get so many compliments on it while I'm using it as well. I love the bag overall. So the Roamographer is what I use for traveling. And then the other camera I use is the Sightseer. I talk about the Sightseer all the time.

The reason I love this one is 'cause it's a nice, small size, but I can fit all of my extra gear into it. So my modifiers for my flashes, my flashes, and extra lens, extra batteries, all of the stuff that I need to get to is right there on my bag. And this way on a wedding day, I can be extremely mobile because I just have everything on me.

I can go wherever I need to. I don't have to go back and grab lights, or light stands, or another bag with 50 different lenses. Everything is right on me. And again, since these bags are made out of leather, they last forever. The build on them is amazing, and I cannot, cannot suggest them anymore, really.

I love these bags, and you should definitely, definitely check them out. If you all have any suggestions of other bags that you think are amazing, definitely leave them down in the comments below. I know there's stuff like the ONA bags. I've never had a chance to use them, but I've heard a lot of good things about them as well.


4. Good Lenses

21 Essential Things you Need when Starting a Photography Business

Getting a better glass for your camera is honestly the most important thing you can do. You can have a camera that can't perform too well and put some great glass on it, and all of a sudden, it's an amazing, camera. So, get lenses, get good lenses, and this is the area that you're gonna wanna spend your money on.

Yet again, since I shoot Fujifilm, I'm not gonna talk specifically about Fuji lenses, but I suggest Fuji in shooting weddings. But for now, let's just talk generally about what type of lenses you should get while starting your photography business. Essential Gear for Fujifilm Wedding Photography.

I'm coming from an event's perspective, so keep that in mind, but I absolutely love prime lenses. Zooms are great and all, but especially if you're starting out and learning, primes really give you a feel for the lens, the look, and they're just great. They let in more light. They're sharper most of the time. So definitely, definitely stick with prime lenses.

I'd say the most important stuff to get is a good wide lens, like a 35, a good tight lens, like a 50, and then something super tight, like 150, 110, 85, somewhere in that sense. Those three lenses are a must-have. Also, if you wanna shoot more super wide stuff, make sure you're getting something like an 18 or a 24.

So a basic kit starting out, yet again, would be an 18, a 35, a 50, and an 85, or something longer like 150. So look up those lenses in your own camera body system, and grab those four lenses. They will absolutely do you an amazing job.

And just to make sure they're fast lenses, make sure the F-stop is as low as you can get at f/2.8, f/1.4. Somewhere in there is gonna be good. It'll cost you, but yet again, it's going to be worth it.


5. SD Cards

21 Essential Things you Need when Starting a Photography Business

Obviously, buying the right SD cards is extremely important. This is what you're actually using in your camera to save all of your photos. I'm a huge, huge fan of SanDisk, and they're the only ones I've been using basically since the start. Get the SanDisk Extreme. Really, just don't bother with any of the other ones. They're faster and they're more professional. They're just better overall.

I usually suggest staying around 64 GBs or 128. Anything bigger than that is a little scary because if your card gets corrupted, that's like so much data just gone. Get enough that you can shoot on it at a full wedding day or a full event, and that's about it. So 64 or 128 GBs. So they do have UHS-1 and 2. You wanna check your camera system to see what's gonna work with your camera.

But the UHS-2s are way faster than the 1s and can support larger files. Systems like Fujifilm, and I believe Sony also, will take UHS-2 cards. And your speeds, definitely get them at least around 95 megabits a second. I use the 170 and 95 megabit cards, and they all work great for me.

So just make sure you're getting stuff fast enough to keep up with your camera because basically the faster the card and the more it can handle, the less time you're gonna get to a buffering when you're just holding down the shutter. And that can be super important, especially if you're doing stuff like making gifts or anything of that sort.

Now that we have our SD cards, the next biggest thing is to make sure that you're backing up those cards.


6. Hard Drives

21 Essential Things you Need when Starting a Photography Business

For your hard drives, the first one I absolutely suggest for your business, especially if you do events and you're out and about, is the GNARBOX 2.0. Now, the reason I suggest the GNARBOX is because it's a backup device that has an SD card slot on it, so you can back up your stuff directly on site.

So immediately after a wedding, I'm popping my SD cards in there and backing it up so that I have multiple copies of that wedding, and I'm not gonna lose it until I get home. Also, it absolutely helps if you have a second photographer because instead of having to deal with their card, they can just give it to you, pop it in the GNARBOX, back it up on-site, and then they can go home, and everything's all good to go.

Not only can you back up stuff but you can also set it in different file systems. So I'll set it up so that I have wedding backups, so I know all my weddings are in one place. And if I'm backing up other stuff on it, I have another place for that stuff as well. So definitely, definitely make sure to check out the GNARBOX. It's worth it. It's super cool.

External hard drives
Aside from something portable, obviously, external hard drives are a must as well. I absolutely love G-DRIVE. They have small portable ones. They have larger ones, like the one I use at home. They're four terabytes a piece. I back up a lot of stuff on there. And I also use Backblaze to back up both of those drives that I have. If you're looking for a good, reliable external hard drive, I highly, highly recommend G-DRIVE.

And last but not least for something for some large, archival-type backups, you wanna grab a Synology. So the Synology is a NAS, and the main reason you want it is just to have a large number of files archived for backup.

Mine has like 48 terabytes in it or something, which I've already used up. But they're really awesome because if you get one like 4 Bay, you could put one, two drives in it, and then it's gonna back up everything and also make sure that if a drive fails, it can back up to one of the other drives.

And then over time, you can just keep adding drives to it and work on from there, and just back up all of your photos over time. So a Synology is definitely the last piece in all of your backups.


7. Flashes/lights

21 Essential Things you Need when Starting a Photography Business

So for lights, I started buying into the GODOX brand, and I absolutely love the brand. I'm not one of those photographers that does a lot of off-camera flashes, but GODOX made it extremely easy to learn how to use triggers and trigger all of your lights at the same time. I always found it hard when I was on other systems, but GODOX is by far the easiest, and the pricing is really good.

For Speedlight, I recommend the V860iis because they come in every camera brand. So mine are the F for Fujifilm, but they also have the C for Canon and the N for Nikon, and so on and so forth. But the Speedlight is really awesome. It also can act as a Master and sync up with other flashes as well. So what I'll do is have 4-speed lights, two on my cameras and then two off-camera, and I'm able to trigger those with the ones on my camera. It's really awesome and is easy to set up.

The great thing as well is this can also trigger other GODOX flashes, which brings me to the AD200s. If you need something more than a Speedlight, the AD200s are great, and I think they also have an AD200 Pro. But definitely check them out. But the thing I loved about it is, again, my V860iis can trigger these. So I can have that off-camera, have the V860iis on my cameras, and trigger all of them that way.

The AD200 are strobes, so this is what you're gonna wanna use outdoors if you're trying to light your subject and get a nice, exposed background. And again, the pricing on all of this stuff is absolutely amazing. I love their stuff. Absolutely love it. After you've gotten all of your flashes, you need modifiers for them, and you already know I'm a huge fan of MagMod.

The MagMod stuff, hands down, is the best on the market, and it's the easiest to use because of all the magnets. The MaxSphere is my go-to. Basically, you put the plastic magnets around your Speedlight, and then you can just pop that thing right on the top, and it's easy to use.

21 Essential Things you Need when Starting a Photography Business

If you need a softbox or something, they also have a softbox as well that they call the MagBox. The thing I love about this is it also works with magnets. So if you already have your Speedlight setup, you can also just pop those into the softbox. Again, coming from someone who doesn't really like to use off-camera flash, the MagBox system is, hands down, the easiest softbox you can ever use.

Hopefully, at some point, they'll make a larger one. And if you all want to see a review on it, let me know in the comments below, and I'll go ahead and put one together for you 'cause I've been using this for some time, and it's actually my main softbox for when I'm doing videos.

So I absolutely love it. It's super, super useful. So if you wanna see more about the MagBox, let me know. So again, the V860iis, the AD200s, and any MagMod stuff are absolutely amazing for your flashes.


8. Computer

21 Essential Things you Need when Starting a Photography Business

A lot of people have asked me about a computer and what they should get. And honestly, I have a very strong opinion against laptops. I am not a laptop fan at all. I love desktops.

So let's talk a bit about what route you can go with desktops and then maybe a little bit about laptops.


Desktops

So for desktops, if you go into the PC route, definitely build your own PC. I cannot tell you how much I absolutely love my PC. I'm able to put in parts when I need them. I can switch out parts when I want to. And if you're a little bit tech-savvy and you wanna waste some time, you can try to Hackintosh your PC as well. But basically, I have Windows and Mac on my custom-built PC, and I can use either or when I want it and when I need it, which is absolutely awesome. macOS vs Windows - A Detailed Comparison.


Mac

If you go into the Mac route, I would definitely say pick up one of these new iMacs. They just refreshed them, and they're looking amazing. The specs are awesome, the screen is awesome, everything is built-in, and it's easy to upgrade your RAM if and when you need to. As far as specs you're looking for, try your best to get one of the most recent processors and something at least like an i7 or i9.

Also, make sure it's at least a quad-core as well. As far as RAM is concerned, definitely make sure you're getting 32 GB. Anything lower is a waste, especially when you're editing photos. I've seen a lot of people in different Facebook groups just complaining about their computers, and they post their specs, and they have like 8 GB of RAM, and it's, like, no. no, no, no.

Go ahead and get in there, and get that 32 GB of RAM. Seriously, it's gonna be worth it in the long run. And then your storage is not as important because, obviously, especially as photographers, we're gonna be buying external memory.

So, don't worry too much about the internal memory, and just worry about your RAM and your processor. but the reason that I absolutely love desktops is that all of my stuff is here at home and safe, and then I can get something like an iPad for when I'm away from the house.



Laptop

If you're bringing a laptop with you, that's great. But the chances of it getting stolen are way higher because you're bringing it with you, and I cannot risk going to do a wedding and having my laptop stolen and having all my work just gone right then and there.

So to me, personally, desktops make more sense. If you have questions about laptops, leave them in the comments below, and I'll make sure to give you all some different suggestions for that



9. Lightroom & Photoshop

21 Essential Things you Need when Starting a Photography Business

Obviously, this comes into play because you are going to be editing your photos. Adobe has a really awesome photography plan, which gives you Lightroom Classic, Lightroom CC, and also Photoshop, for only 9.99 a month. You may be thinking that getting a program to edit your photos is going to be super expensive, but it really isn't with these monthly subscriptions.

Lightroom Classic gives you the full power of Lightroom, enabling you to edit your photos and get them ready for print quality. You also have Lightroom CC, which you can use on your iPad or your iPhone, so you can quickly edit stuff on the go.

I absolutely love it. It's really amazing how you can use now an iPad to do serious work now. So if you don't have a computer, and if you need something cheaper, you can use an iPad and Lightroom CC to get started.

Then having Photoshop is always a great choice. It helps you with removing objects from the background, any epic healing stuff you have to do on the skin or your photo, or just in case you wanna do a lot of photo manipulation. I don't personally use Photoshop very much, but when I need to remove something from a photo, it's great to be in my back pocket.

So all of that for only 9.99. It makes it really easy to get in, take your photos with the camera we just talked about, and then edit them with the Adobe photography package. So 9.99 a month, add to the list of how much it's gonna cost you to get started with your photography business.


10. Website - As your storefront & portfolio

21 Essential Things you Need when Starting a Photography Business

Think of your website as your storefront and portfolio. What everyone will want to see before hiring you. This is probably one of the most important parts, as well.

For websites, I recommend Squarespace. I also have been using them for about 6-years. My website is built on Squarespace & it is super easy to use.

With Squarespace, not only do they have a lot of templates for photographers, but you can also build stuff from scratch very easily, and you don't need to know how to code or anything of that sort. There are also all kinds of resources for Squarespace. you buy different templates outside of Squarespace.

One of my most favorite is Squaremuse. They make really awesome templates for Squarespace, specifically for photographers. So definitely check them out.

Squarespace costs $16 a month, which is not bad, or if you want to use your business plan you can go from there. With the business plan, you can actually sell products, and they do not charge any commission from it.

And selling products opens up the ability for you to sell prints.

So if you're not doing something like wedding photography like me, and you are doing landscape photography or street photography & you want to sell your prints, you can do that through your Squarespace site. and you wont to have to deal with another website like Etsy or something of that sort. It is definitely something you should check out. So, $16 a month to get started with your website.


11. Client Management System

21 Essential Things you Need when Starting a Photography Business

Client management systems will help you communicate with your clients, receive your payments, sign contracts, and keep everything in one place.

Use all the Google services like Sheets & email & all of that, but if you really want to have everything in one place and be able to handle lots and lots of clients, like I did 40 weddings in 2020, then you need a client management system.

My preferred client management system is HoneyBook. And if you haven't heard about honeybook, you can automate your payments, communicate with your clients, have them sign your contracts, and receive your money so quickly.

It's how I was able to book 6 figures worth of weddings in 2019, and have all the payments smoothly get to me, have all the contracts signed easily, and not have to pull out my hair going through Google Sheets, and all of the Google emails, and all that craziness.

HoneyBook comes in at about $40 a month, which is not too shabby for a service that really gets you all of your payments quickly and easily, and makes you look more legit by having contracts, and e-signing all in one place.


12. Pic-Time - Photo Delivery

21 Essential Things you Need when Starting a Photography Business

After shooting our sessions we need a way for our clients to get their photos. And for that, I would suggest Pic-Time. Pic-Time is an online photo delivery service that's fairly new, so not a lot of people know about it. You'll usually hear people talking about ShootProof and Pixieset, but I've recently switched over to Pic-Time, and absolutely love it.

Pic-Time gives you beautiful galleries where you can load all of the photos from your sessions and deliver them to your clients easily. They can download their photos, they can buy prints from the photos, and it's just quick and easy to deliver the photos to them, and it looks a lot more professional than just dumping it in a Dropbox folder & sending them a random link.

The greatest part about Pic-Time is that they want you to sell prints. Therefore their business is focused on ensuring that they help you sell prints and physical products. In 2021, I made $1700 worth of print sales because of Pic-Time. They have really great automation built right into Pic-Time to help you sell prints, and you don't need to do anything.

Literally, you go in there, turn on the automation, select which sessions you want the automation to work on, and they're basically gonna work it out for you, and help your clients buy their prints. And the really great thing about this, you get almost all of those features for free.

So Pic-Time's starting plan is free, for 20 GB of storage, which is not bad, especially if you're starting out. It's a great place to do a couple of sessions, upload them there. If you have something like JPEGmini, then 20 GB is more than enough because you can reduce the size of your JPEGs while you uploading them.

Also, their next plan up is only $20 a month, and that gives you 100 GB of storage. So, Pic-Time is definitely a must-have. They are worth every penny, and it makes you look much better in the way that you deliver your photos.


13. Photo Backup

21 Essential Things you Need when Starting a Photography Business

Back up and protect those photos that we've taken for our clients, which would be Backblaze. I'm a huge fan of Backblaze and have been using them for a couple years now. Now I do have a whole bunch of different hard drives, and I shoot on a dual-card camera, which is a huge deal, but after I have all of those backups made, being able to back it up to the cloud, at unlimited storage, is a huge plus.

Backblaze costs just $5 a month, per computer. you can back up everything on your computer.

So, if you're like me & you have a desktop with like 50 hard drives, you can back up each of those hard drives, as well as your external hard drives, for $5 a month, unlimited data. It is super amazing.

If you have a lot of data, let's say you lose all of it, all you have to do is buy a hard drive for them, they will ship you your data. If you don't need that hard drive, you return it & get your money back quickly.

This has saved me from removing the entire wedding by accident many times, but at least it has been kept in the cloud.


14. Business Cards - Moo

21 Essential Things you Need when Starting a Photography Business

Many people don't think it is important, but I honestly, think you should always have them on you is business cards. So I know what you are thinking. You're like, "Swapee'' it's 2021, We are all digital. Who uses business cards anymore? "It's so old school." But, business cards are very important.

So the first way to think about business cards is actually advertising.

I know we're in a digital world now, and everyone wants to do things digitally, and I know you can share from your phone, and send stuff like that, but tell me a company that has not put a billboard up, or put new advertising on the side of a bus, or put new advertising just somewhere in the city which is physical, to see, while you are out and about.

You have to advertise 24x7, at all times and places. And when someone comes up to you and sees you doing photography while you're out doing an engagement session, or something of that sort, and they go, "Oh man, you're a photographer? "You got any business cards?" And you go, "Oh, no sorry, digital." No, just no.

You need to have business cards, and you need to have them on you all the time. I'm personally a huge fan of MOO, and I have been using them for a while now. What I love about them is that you can put multiple photos on the back of your cards. So, you can show off your portfolio while I hand out cards, instead of just having one single business card.

They have pre-made designs that you can use, or you can upload your own designs. Make sure you put your business card on your Instagram account, because once again, going back to the digital age, it's great that you have something physical, but still let people find you easily. Your website, Instagram, number, whatever you want to have there.

In fact, I can personally say that I booked a couple of weddings just to have business cards with me, where I'm at the reception, and people see me dancing on the floor with everyone, while taking photos, and they say, "Man, that photographer it's great ". Come up to me real quick, "Hey, do you have business cards?" Boom, give them a card and guess who calls me 6 months later. "Hey, we are getting married." Trust me, you want business cards & you want them with you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You can get a pack of 50 cards for just $ 20, it is not a bad deal. you don't need a lot of cards.


15. A Business Email Account

21 Essential Things you Need when Starting a Photography Business

One of my largest pet peeves, which is getting a legit email account. Now what I mean by a legit email account is having a custom domained email. So instead of having @gmail, or @yahoo, or @hotmail, or whoever you're using, you can have @yourcustomdomain.com, I cannot tell you how much I hate it when I'm emailing with a business or somebody and they're trying to act all official and everything and you look at their email and it's @gmail.com Like, I get that it's free, but it just doesn't look as professional as it could be.

And also getting a custom domain email is not that expensive. If you already got your website and your domain, you already have your domain, you've paid for that and it's only $5 a month with G Suite to get a custom domain email. And mind you this is the exact same email system as Gmail, it is Gmail, it's just looking more official now. just $5 a month to get yourself a custom domain email address.


16. Choose a Business Structure


21 Essential Things you Need when Starting a Photography Business

You all have been asking me the most about, which is choosing a business structure and getting your DBA. Now the disclaimer for this, is I'm not an expert on any of this stuff. So if you need more information about it, you'll need to search online for your specific state and what you should do but I'll give you my personal opinion, but yet again, I'm not an expert in this area.

I am not liable for anything you do on your end, but I'm happy to give you my own personal experiences and opinions. So for choosing your business structure, this has a lot to do with how your business looks and how you're gonna be paying taxes. Personally, I think the easiest way to start out is just by being a sole proprietor.

Now the reason this is because while you're a sole proprietor, you and your business are not separate entities, you are one in the same. So when you make money, it's you making money, not your business and something else.

If you're gonna go the sole proprietor route, you do need to get a DBA which is ''Doing Business As,'' this lets people know that when I say swapee photography, I'm swapee, doing business as swapee photography, and that's personally how I started out, DBA with sole proprietor, it's easy to manage your money, you pay your taxes the normal way you would, you can file it all together.

Just make sure you're definitely paying your taxes don't skip out on that. And it's easy to start that way when you're not making a whole lot of money. Once you start getting up to around 6- figures or so, you may wanna look into that getting an LLC, when your LLC'd or a ''Limited Liability Company'' is gonna protect you and your personal assets.

So if for any reason you get sued, they're suing the business and its assets, not you and your assets. Yet again, an LLC separates you and your business.

So now you're two different entities. You have swapee the person, and swapee the business. Rather than as a sole proprietor where it's just Swapee making money, we're gonna sue him and take his money. So it varies in different states. But in North Carolina, getting an LLC was about $125.

And getting a DBA was about $26 or so. And if you're feeling overwhelmed with how to sign up for any of this stuff, the easiest route to take is going through something like LegalZoom.

I don't have a lot of experience with them personally, but I know it's easy, it doesn't cost that much and they're very quick about filing that stuff for you and getting you set up. So let's go ahead and add in choosing your business structure and getting your DBA that's 125, and 26 ish. Yet again, it varies from state, look up what it is exactly in your state.


17. Business Banking Account

21 Essential Things you Need when Starting a Photography Business

With business banking accounts, there's a whole bunch of different options. And yet again, I'm not the hugest bank account person in the world. But I have been a huge fan of online bank accounts recently, I've been using Simple Bank for years now for my personal finances, which led me to Novo bank for my business. Novo is an online-only business account, which you can use on your phone.

It has a debit card that comes with it, you can use it with Apple Pay, and it's all online. The biggest con to this bank account is the fact that it has no physical banks, so you're not able to deposit any cash. Now, if you're a business that doesn't take a lot of cash, that's not a problem at all. I don't deal with cash, so it's cool for me.

But if you need to be depositing cash, you may wanna go the more traditional route with something like Chase Bank. Novo Bank has no fees, it refunds you for any ATM fees. It's really good overall, and I've been using it for a while now and absolutely love it. It's very straightforward and easy to use.

If you're looking for something online, it's super easy to sign up, they're very quick in the turnaround time, and then you can just go ahead and start depositing money in it, there's no minimum fees, nothing. It's really, really cool. And if you're up on online banks, I would say definitely check it out.

The other route, again, is something like chase Business Banking, which for them, they have a $15 a month fee, or you have to hold a $1500 minimum in your bank account at all times. So for someone with a small business, that could be kind of rough.

So definitely, definitely check out Novo Bank, because that works better for me. I don't have to have a minimum, I don't have to pay any fees. The only thing I can't do is take cash. So let's add a business bank account to our list, and I'm gonna put that at $0 with using something like Novo Bank.


18. Liability Insurance

21 Essential Things you Need when Starting a Photography Business

Especially as a wedding photographer, or honestly, any working photographer, where you're working with clients, you need liability insurance. If something happens at a shoot or someone gets hurt or you break something, you need a way to be able to finance that stuff without it eating your whole business alive. I personally use the Hartford or Hill & Usher from my liability insurance.

They're really awesome, and they're actually not too expensive. I'm paying $600 for the year and getting a million dollars worth of coverage for my own gear, and for anything, I may break, or if anyone gets hurt. Now obviously, that rate is gonna change depending on how much liability insurance you need and what state you're in.

But 600 a year is only like 50 bucks a month or something. So, it's really not that bad to get insurance for yourself. I've had a great experience with them so far, and I've been using them for like four years now.

Liability insurance is one of the things I got pretty early on because yet again, I'm not trying to have anything happen while I'm at a wedding and not be protected.

Another option if you want something a little bit cheaper is going with Professional Photographers of America, I actually pay for both PPA and the Hartford together just to have more coverage overall, and more ways that I can be helped if something happens.

So far for PPA, and I don't know if it's changed, I'm paying about $30 a month for that. And I've been doing that for pretty much my whole career as a photographer. So for liability insurance, let's add that to our list at $50 a month. This is something you definitely wanna get, don't shy out on this. Don't let something go down and not be covered.


19. Good Accounting

21 Essential Things you Need when Starting a Photography Business

For accounting, obviously, you can do this yourself, but it takes lots of hours. And honestly, if you're not a tax expert, you're not gonna be helping yourself out.

You could be losing out on money or just missing certain things that you should be tracking on your taxes. So for that reason, I use Bench.co Bench is an online accounting service that will go through all of your income and all of your expenses, put it together for you, and also send it off to special CPAs and get it all ready for tax time and there's not much of anything you have to do.

I've been using them for almost a year now, I signed up in the past, stopped for a little bit because I wasn't making enough money. And I've recently resigned up because I just couldn't stay away from how good their system was.

They have really awesome communication, and you can meet with them and or message online about different expenses that they'll ask you about and make sure that everything is being tracked correctly. I've had only the smoothest experience.

And then I don't have to do as much because I've wasted years of my life sitting around in a Google Sheet, trying to track all my expenses, and trust me it is not the way. If you want it to be legit, if you wanna make sure that you're paying taxes correctly, Bench.co is the way to go.

So if you sign up for a while, and then you don't like it or you feel like you don't need it, you can go ahead and cancel it at any time, which is the most awesome part about it. Bench costs about $159 a month if you're paying monthly, or 139, if you're gonna pay it all upfront for the full year.

Keep in mind too, if you pay a full year and cancel, you get a refund for everything you paid. That's what I did the first time I used them because I ended up not needing it. So for our accounting and taxes, we're gonna add that to our list at 159 a month.


20. Advertising & Marketing

You've always asked yourself about, which is, how do I get more clients? And that's through advertising. Now advertising can range on how you're gonna do it. But the biggest thing you all have to realize is you have to pay to play, that's just what it is.

Don't think that you can do everything only through word of mouth. Now you can get a lot of business through word of mouth, but especially when you're getting started, you're gonna have to pay something.

Be careful about wasting all your money, though don't just be throwing money all over the place and advertising for no reason. Be smart about it and think about different places where you can advertise. And that's what I wanted to talk to you all about right now. So a couple of ideas for where to advertise.

You have Facebook ads, and Instagram ads. Those are probably the most straightforward and honestly, in my opinion, is the best place to advertise. Everybody's on Facebook, everybody's on Instagram, I get most of my work now from Instagram without even having to advertise, which is why advertising on those platforms helps even more.

If you're able to get work from Instagram by just posting stuff and posting stories, and add advertising to that, it's really gonna boost your sales and just work overall. And mind you with advertising this way, you can pick and choose when you wanna advertise, how much you wanna advertise. And just going from there.

Some other options for our wedding photographers is things like The Knot, I used to get most of my income from The Knot, they are a little bit expensive. And in the past, they used to work amazingly for me, things recently have been kind of, so be careful with The Knot, they're expensive, but they are a great place to advertise if you're a wedding photographer or if you want to getting started as a wedding photographer.

Local magazine publications is also another great place to advertise. In North Carolina, I have stuff like the Carolina Magazine, and Hearts of Wedding or something of that sort. I can't remember all the names, but there's a couple of good publications that people in my area are gonna be reading and it's usually cheaper to do something like this than going on a national publication like The Knot.

So definitely look into your area, look at what kind of magazines they have for your style of photography, and see if you can get some advertising in there. That stuff ranges usually around 200 or $500. For your publication that will run for maybe 6-months or so.

Wedding Expos is another great place to advertise and the great thing about wedding expos is you're seeing your clients face to face. So they get to meet you and have a better experience before they think about booking with you.

So expos or wedding expos, they cost usually generally around a couple of thousand dollars or just $1,000 flat, but again, they're usually like a day or two, and people are getting actual face time with you so that raises the sales much better. I found the most success through doing local wedding venues and things of that sort.

Word of mouth or getting featured on blogs online. This is huge because you don't have to pay anything for that getting featured online as you do a great wedding, you do a great photoshoot. That stuff ends up online, everyone sees it, they go to it. They're like, "Oh, wow!" You can also boast that you've been published in whatever magazine or online and that just gives you more word of mouth. And it also helps your SEO. Earlier this year I actually had something featured on Essence.

21 Essential Things you Need when Starting a Photography Business

So, now I have that link linking back to my website, helping my SEO, and also giving me more word of mouth. So, definitely try to get published online, on online blogs, or wherever you can. So, while adding advertising to the list, I'm actually just gonna say $250 a month, you can pick and choose where you wanna do that.

You can do it only on Facebook, you can do it on Instagram, you can print whatever you want to, you can pay a local blog or magazine, there are just all kinds of ways you can approach that. I think 250 is a good kind of starting place. Yet again, don't waste all your money here, just do what you need to do, see how it's working, and then kind of figure out what works best for you with advertising.


21. Tracking your Mileage

21 Essential Things you Need when Starting a Photography Business

Tracking your mileage is hugely important because it's something you can write off at the end of the year on your taxes. If you're ever driving to sessions, and you're not tracking it, you're missing out on a lot of stuff you can write off. Now, I'll have to give a quick moment of silence to my favorite way of tracking, which was the Automatic. I'm so sad, they closed, I was a huge fan of Automatic.

Basically, it was a little thing that you could connect onto your car and it would track literally on your car. But they went out of business since the pandemic. So I've changed over to Mile IQ. Mile IQ is an app you can get on your iPhone or your Android phone, and it tracks basically anytime you drive anywhere.

It works off a GPS, and it's easy to use because you don't have to do anything, it just tracks it automatically. Now it is free to start but that only gives you 40 drives a month. So if you're driving a lot, even for personal stuff, because it tracks that as well, you're gonna go through that 40 really quickly. The great thing, however, is it's only $59 for the year which is like absolutely nothing.

So you pay for that, you track all your mileage and you can easily just swipe left or right really quickly, de tag at different drives, and tell it that it's business or it's not. Also while you're tracking those drives, you can put a purpose to it as well. So for me, I can say, this was a portrait shoot, this was an engagement, this was a wedding, and have all that stuff tracked for me right in the app.

Again, that thing is free, so definitely check it out, go to the App Store search Mile IQ. But it's really awesome. I've been using it only for a little bit now. Because like I said, again, Automatic was my main go-to but they went out of business.

So, Mile IQ has been working really well for me. And again, you may not have thought about it, but it's actually very important because you can write off your mileage on your taxes. So let's go ahead and add that to the board. It's $5 a month. Trust me, you're gonna need to track your mileage.


Last words

So those are the 21 things that you need to buy for your photography business when you're starting out.

A good camera. Usually, I suggest a desktop. Lenses are the backbone of any photography business. Make sure you get nice prime lenses that are fast. SD cards. Obviously, these are extremely important. Make sure you're getting fast SD cards. A way to back up all of your SD cards, something like the GNARBOX or Synology.

Good lighting, so flashes are a must, especially if you're doing events, and it's gonna start getting darker. A good camera strap like the HoldFast Gear Money Maker, and also camera bags.

We have an email account with a custom domain at $5 a month figuring out your business structure and getting your DBA at about $150. Remember, this is a single-time payment and it varies depending on your state. A business bank accounts for free if you're using something like Novo, insurance with Hill & Usher at about $50 a month. Remember this will range depending on how much coverage you need.

Accounting with Bench, at around $159 a month, advertising at $250 a month. This is given or take, you can spend more you can spend less, and you don't have to do it every month, and your mileage tracking with Mile IQ at $5 a month.

You're looking to totally start your business at around $5,000. Again, that may seem like a lot of money, but if you take the time to save it up, and or, if you're only paying monthly once you start generating revenue $5,000 is actually not too much.

And remember the main reason I made this article is not only to give you all some options of where you can start and different services you can use, but I really, really wanna put it into perspective that you can start a business, you can do it. It's something that I personally never thought I would do in my whole life.

And here I am about 5 years deep, into a wedding photography business, making around 6- figures. It is possible. So again, this is not to shame anybody on money or make you feel like it's too expensive for you. I wanna give you all the positive vibes that you can start, and you can do this thing yourself. 

Please don't feel discouraged if you do wanna start a photography business.

In the comment section below, tell me any other things you think you should have in starting your photography business and also just drop some encouragement down in the bottom, or if you have questions about how to get started, or just wanna hear a little kind word from me, If you have some other services that you like to use.

If there are any other products that you think are a must-have when you're starting a photography business, leave them down in the comments below. So I hope you found this helpful. I wanna share as much information with anyone and or learn myself from you all.

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