Breaking Into The Event Photography Business

You’ve probably been to a wedding, graduation or little league sporting event and wondered why you couldn’t be the person earning a living capturing it all on your camera. Event photography is one of the most competitive careers one could choose, while also being one of the most personally rewarding. The median salary for self-employed photographers was about $29,000 in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But it’s the freedom to work your own hours doing something you love that makes a career in event photography so enticing.

Get The Right Equipment

Make sure your camera has a burst (continuous shooting) mode, especially for action photos, so you can capture that base hit, man-and-bride kiss or lizard snatching the moth the millisecond it happens. If sporting events and other jobs that require distance shooting are your desired specialties, you will need at least a 70-200mm lens. Weddings, graduations and other indoor activities with a lot of people will require additional flash and lighting units.

Your equipment will be the most expensive investment you’ll make for your business, so do not cut corners. Make sure you have everything you need for any situation. With a small-business credit card or small-business loan, you can make a sound investment in your equipment, advertising and transportation. It’s also best to double up on certain things like batteries in case of emergency.

Create a Business Plan

Photography as a business is much different than photography as a hobby. Liability and property insurance are both essential. Inquire with your local Small Business Administration about any licenses, taxes and other state and municipal requirements needed to start your business.

When deciding how much to charge your customers, take into account your initial costs to determine your base rate. These include:

  • Travel
  • Meals
  • Equipment costs
  • Supplies
  • Service Fees
  • Assistant Fees (if needed)
  • printing, proofing and imaging

You can gauge an average of these costs to determine a base rate, plus a profit percentage. In a Bright Hub post, Caroline Thompson, a professional photographer, suggests you compare rates to competitors in your area who are at your same level of expertise. Choose whether you will charge by the hour or by the day. Your rate may depend on the event and you can negotiate with your customer.

Marketing Your Work

A recent survey of 5,000 photographers found that 54 percent of them got most of their new customers via word-of-mouth. Social media was second at 25 percent, while more than 68 percent said they will focus on social media and word-of-mouth marketing in 2013. Create Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin and Twitter accounts specifically for your business. Do not use your personal accounts. Post some of your best work, but make sure to water-mark all photos with some sort of translucent signature. Hand out business cards at every event you work and always dress to impress. Your work will ultimately speak for itself, but people are more likely to recommend a well-dressed, decent photographer than a good one wearing a T-shirt and sandals.

Rookie event photographers will face stiff competition, but the key is to not give up. You’re doing something you love. Confidence and persistence will ultimately equate to a comfortable living.