Photography is a great example of how working your hobby can become a profession. Every professional photographer has started in the same way with his passion: just click on it and get better over time. Being self-employed as a photographer is not difficult. Starting a photography business to earn money with your photos? It is usually complicated afterward, namely, when it comes to keeping his job above water. The competition is tough and many jobs are poorly paid. Self-employed as a photographer is part of a small business ideas series discussing on our blog – you have to pay attention to everything.
How to become an independent photographer?
In order to work independently as a photographer, you have since 2004 no more training. It is therefore sufficient to know the basic functions of a camera and be able to take a photo. The fact that a photographer is no longer a protected profession has led to a massive “dilution” of the industry. In addition to the really good professionals, there are many so-called photographers but are miles away from it.
In order to work as a freelance photographer, you must – regardless of your professional skills – have a business license. The registration takes place via the local trade office and usually costs between 20 and 50 Euros. The exact costs depend on the city or region in which you start your trade.
Which legal form for independent photographers?
When you fill out your trade license, you also have to indicate which legal form you choose for your company. Since photographers are mostly on their own and seldom in the team, the sole proprietorship is the most popular legal form for this business model.
As a sole trader, you can look forward to a manageable bureaucracy. A capital stock (as it is required, for example, when founding a GmbH) is not necessary. For the establishment of a sole proprietorship is relatively risky. If you fail with your business, you are not only liable for your business assets, but also with the private ones. Therefore always pay attention to a comprehensive protection and never take a too much entrepreneurial risk.
You should bring these requirements as a freelance photographer
As already mentioned above, you do not have to have a proper education as a prospective photographer in self-employment. However, let me tell you that this will not hurt in any way. Alternatively, you can attend various courses and workshops that will prepare you to work independently as a photographer. Even if learning by doing is the order of the day in this industry, it is better not to leave anything to chance and to underpin your specialist knowledge through appropriate training and further education.
Furthermore, it is indispensable to bring along a minimum of creativity as a photographer. In this profession, an eye for detail and for that certain something is required. It’s not about just putting an object in front of the lens and then pressing the trigger. Good photographers are artists who literally arrange a picture motif and perfectly stage each individual element. For this purpose, a professional photographer not only uses the objects themselves, but also light, perspectives, blurring, backgrounds and much more. He always regards the finished picture as a Gesamtkunstwerk.
In addition to the professional skills of a photographer, his social skills are of utmost importance. If you do not want to specialize in landscape or wildlife photography, human contact is essential. Whether wedding, business or portrait photography – especially in the early days, the people you scan will be your customers in most cases. In order to guarantee the most professional and satisfactory cooperation, it is indispensable to listen to the wishes of the customers and to respond to them individually.
Starting a Photography Business: An overview of the requirements
- Technical and technical know-how (handling a camera, knowledge about different lenses, etc.)
- Ability to arrange picture motifs
- Eyes for small details and special features
- Feeling for the right light mood and the ideal perspective
- Social competence
- Joy of communication
Stand out as a freelance photographer from the crowd
A little hand for photography is the basis for a successful self-employment as a photographer but is still far from sufficient to make long-term money. If you want to hold your own in the (fiercely competitive) market, it’s imperative to make a name for yourself and stand out from the crowd.
Most photographers succeed with the help of an unmistakable handwriting. When someone looks at their picture and immediately realizes that it is theirs, you can be sure that you have achieved the desired recognition effect and that people perceive your photos much more consciously and intensively.
Another must for self-employed photographers is good marketing. Since the triumph of digitization, most photographers have focused on social media. These provide excellently and at the same time free presentation space for your photographs and are used by countless people (= potential customers). But beware! As a photographer, you should never share your work lightly on the Internet. Copyright infringement is not a rarity here and can never be completely avoided. To protect your images, at least to a degree, you should at least watermark them.
Tip: Do not just place the watermark at the bottom of the picture. It is easily removable. Better is an unobtrusive placement in the middle of the picture – if that does not destroy the effect of photography.
Do I need a photo studio as a freelance photographer?
Anyone who wants to become self-employed as a photographer, first of all, has to invest a lot of money in high-quality equipment, especially in the early days. Cameras, lenses, tripods, memory cards and more are costly purchases, but they are simply necessary if you want to gain a foothold as a professional photographer.
A little different, however, it is with respect to a photo studio. What was an absolute must-have for every photographer a few years ago, is now moving more and more into the background? Many – especially young – photographers consciously decide against their own studio – and not only to save money, but also to stay flexible.
Classic studio photography has recently lost much of its popularity. People now prefer Urban, Natural and completely crazy environments for the photograph. While images shot in front of a photo canvas are usually more static, a dynamic background has a decidedly invigorating effect on the photos.
If you want to work independently as a photographer, you can confidently save the cost of a studio. There is a possibility to rent the appropriate premises to photographed in front of the photo canvas.