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Old 08-23-2009, 03:44 PM
Location: Warwick, RI
3,398 posts, read 4,408,424 times
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My wife and I are trying to decide if we want to take a shot at starting a photography business. I have 15 years of sales experience and 5 years of sales management experience, and my wife is a very successfull amateur photogrpaher. We are thinking of opening a small portrait studio, and supplementing the business income by doing outside work such as weddings (which she has already done twice) and selling stock photography on line.

I am piecing together a business plan, and estimate opening a portrait studio at somewhere between $50K - $75K. Although we have no debt, we are unwilling to risk using our nest egg to help finance the business, and we are also looking down the barrel of two kids getting close to college age, so we don't have a lot of our own cash to put up, maybe $5K max.

Are there any photographers or studio owners out there that can offer us some advise on what to do and what not to do? Thanks in advance!

Last edited by treasurekidd; 08-23-2009 at 04:23 PM..
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Old 08-23-2009, 04:13 PM
Location: In America's Heartland
929 posts, read 1,938,334 times
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I know of people who have started photography businesses out of their house. I would go slow and do it with cash. I would not risk your house, your nest egg, or do it with debt.
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Old 08-23-2009, 06:54 PM
28,461 posts, read 75,179,337 times
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I second dm's suggestion. The 'demand' for portrait photography is highly elastic -- costs at the bigger chains are low and falling, yet the quality of the image that one can produce at home is very similar.

Higher quality cameras and devices to print the photos continue to rapidly decline, thrashing the investment that some may have made just a short time ago.

I doubt you would find a lender that would be eager to finance such a venture. I think if the business can focus on weddings and perhaps operate out of your home the additional income could help put the kids through college, but the odds of being able to pay off $75K in a reasonable time frame seems remote..
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Old 08-28-2009, 11:36 PM
38 posts, read 158,970 times
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A friend of mine had the same business and went bankrupt.

With digital everyone does it themselves.

Be careful and good luck!
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Old 08-29-2009, 06:22 AM
Location: SE Michigan
6,191 posts, read 16,221,664 times
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I have a friend who is a professional photographer and I strongly agree with the advice to start small by building a website, marketing and networking. Leasing studio space and putting up that sort of up-front capital sounds like a recipe for disaster right off the bat.
My friend runs her business out of her house and has a portable set up (lights, backgrounds etc) so she can do studio-type shots in people's homes. She also does a lot of potraits in outdoor settings. And she does all sorts of events, including weddings and dog shows. If you can get hooked up to a dog club, that is a pretty good gig. Dog people will pay a lot for show and working/action shots as well as portraits!
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Old 08-29-2009, 01:19 PM
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Some "niches" to research:
Google . . pole photography
RC model aircraft photography . . RC Groups . . RC Universe
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Old 08-29-2009, 03:22 PM
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You really don't need the studio to get started. The most important thing is to get a good camera and lighting setup, and photoshop skills are another must. You really don't need to spend money up front on a high quality large format printer. Walgreens does a good enough job for all but the very pickiest of clients, and you probably don't want them anyway.

A good way to get referrals is to do senior pictures for a decent rate. A lot of studios out there want $400-500 for a set of class photos, but if your wife works from home she could still make decent money at half of that price. Once a few people find out that you do good work at a fair rate, they'll tell friends and you'll start getting calls for family photos, baby pictures, weddings, etc.

Another thing you can do to set yourself apart is to always give the customer the copyright to the photos. I won't work with photographers who refuse to give me the full resolution images on a disk, and I'm sure there's others out there who feel the same way.
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