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Photography Business Plan Template

Written by Dave Lavinsky Photography Business Plan Template

Over the past 20+ years, we have helped over 10,000 entrepreneurs and business owners create business plans to start and grow their photography businesses. On this page, we will first give you some background information with regards to the importance of business planning. We will then go through a photography business plan template step-by-step so you can create your plan today. It can be used to create a photography studio business plan, or a commercial photography business plan or a plan for any other type of photography business.

Download our Ultimate Photography Business Plan Template here >

What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan provides a snapshot of your photography business as it stands today, and lays out your growth plan for the next five years. It explains your business goals and your strategy for reaching them. It also includes market research to support your plans.

Why You Need a Business Plan

photography plan session

Source of Funding for Photography Businesses

With regards to funding, the main sources of funding for a photography business are personal savings, credit cards, bank loans and angel investors. With regards to bank loans, banks will want to review your business plan and gain confidence that you will be able to repay your loan and interest. To acquire this confidence, the loan officer will not only want to confirm that your financials are reasonable. But they will want to see a professional plan. Such a plan will give them the confidence that you can successfully and professionally operate a business.

The second most common form of funding for a photography business is angel investors. Angel investors are wealthy individuals who will write you a check. They will either take equity in return for their funding, or, like a bank, they will give you a loan.

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Below are the 10 sections of an example photography business plan:

Executive Summary


The goal of your Executive Summary is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the type of photography business you are operating and the status; for example, are you a startup or do you have a photography business that you would like to grow.

Next, provide an overview of each of the subsequent sections of your plan. For example, give a brief overview of the photography industry. Discuss the type of photography business you are operating. Detail your direct competitors. Give an overview of your target customers. Provide a snapshot of your marketing plan. Identify the key members of your team. And offer an overview of your financial plan.

Company Analysis

In your company analysis, you will detail the type of photography business you are operating.

For example, you might operate one of the following types:

  • Portrait photography : this type of photography business photographs people ranging from models to famous personalities on red carpets or at magazine shoots to graduation pictures, family portraits, and professional headshots for business people, aspiring models and actors.
  • Product photography : this type of photography business typically requires both artistic and technical expertise to adequately showcase consumer products.
  • Wedding and event photography : this type of photography business usually involves photographing everything from posed portraits to people and their candid moments to the venue and the food at weddings and other events.
  • Commercial photography : this type of photography business creates images for commercial purposes, such as advertising, marketing or instructional brochures or publications.

In addition to explaining the type of photography business you operate, the Company Analysis section of your business plan needs to provide background on the business.

Include answers to question such as:

  • When and why did you start the business?
  • What milestones have you achieved to date? Milestones could include sales goals you’ve reached, prestigious clients, etc.
  • Your legal structure. Are you incorporated as an S-Corp? An LLC? A sole proprietorship? Explain your legal structure here.

Industry Analysis

Female photographer business plan

While this may seem unnecessary, it serves multiple purposes.

First, researching the photography industry educates you. It helps you understand the market in which you are operating.

Secondly, market research can improve your strategy particularly if your research identifies market trends. For example, if there was a trend towards documentary-style event photography, it would be helpful to ensure your plan calls for instant cameras for guest contributions, or a drone, etc.

The third reason for market research is to prove to readers that you are an expert in your industry. By conducting the research and presenting it in your plan, you achieve just that.

The following questions should be answered in the industry analysis section of your photographer business plan:

  • How big is the photography business (in dollars)?
  • Is the market declining or increasing?
  • Who are the key competitors in the market?
  • Who are the key suppliers in the market?
  • What trends are affecting the industry?
  • What is the industry’s growth forecast over the next 5 – 10 years?
  • What is the relevant market size? That is, how big is the potential market for your photography business. You can extrapolate such a figure by assessing the size of the market in the entire country and then applying that figure to your local population.

Customer Analysis

The customer analysis section of your photographer business plan must detail the customers you serve and/or expect to serve.

The following are examples of customer segments: celebrities, expectant and/or new moms, engaged couples, schools, online retailers, etc.

As you can imagine, the customer segment(s) you choose will have a great impact on the type of photography business you operate. Clearly schools would want different backdrops, pricing and product options, and would respond to different marketing promotions than engaged couples.

Try to break out your target customers in terms of their demographic and psychographic profiles. With regards to demographics, include a discussion of the ages, genders, locations and income levels of the customers you seek to serve. Because most photography businesses primarily serve customers living in their same city or town, such demographic information is easy to find on government websites.

Psychographic profiles explain the wants and needs of your target customers. The more you can understand and define these needs, the better you will do in attracting and retaining your customers.

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Competitive Analysis


Direct competitors are other photography businesses.

Indirect competitors are other options that customers have to purchase from you that aren’t direct competitors. This includes amateur photographers and DIY-ers with smartphones. You need to mention such competition to show you understand that not everyone who needs photography uses a professional photographer.

With regards to direct competition, you want to detail the other photography businesses with which you compete. Most likely, your direct competitors will be photography businesses offering similar services in a nearby location.

For each such competitor, provide an overview of their businesses and document their strengths and weaknesses. Unless you once worked at your competitors’ businesses, it will be impossible to know everything about them. But you should be able to find out key things about them such as:

  • What types of customers do they serve?
  • What services do they offer?
  • What is their pricing (premium, low, etc.)?
  • What are they good at?
  • What are their weaknesses?

With regards to the last two questions, think about your answers from the customers’ perspective.

The final part of your competitive analysis section is to document your areas of competitive advantage. For example:

  • Will you provide superior photography services?
  • Will you provide products or services that your competitors don’t offer?
  • Will you make it easier or faster for customers to book your services?
  • Will you provide better customer service?
  • Will you offer better pricing?

Think about ways you will outperform your competition and document them in this section of your plan.

Marketing Plan

Traditionally, a marketing plan includes the four P’s: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. For a photography business plan, your marketing plan should include the following:

Product : in the product section you should reiterate the type of photography business that you documented in your Company Analysis. Then, detail the specific products and services you will be offering. For example, in addition to portraits, will you offer a documentary video of the shoot?

Price : Document the prices you will offer and how they compare to your competitors. Essentially in the product and price sub-sections of your marketing plan, you are presenting the menu services and packages you offer and their prices.

Place : Place refers to the location of your photography business. Document your location and mention how the location will impact your success. For example, is your photography studio located next to a high-traffic retail development, or inside a mall, etc. Discuss how your location might provide a steady stream of customers.

Promotions : the final part of your photography business marketing plan is the promotions section. Here you will document how you will drive customers to your location(s). The following are some promotional methods you might consider:

  • Making your photography studio’s storefront (if applicable) extra appealing to attract passing customers
  • Advertising in local papers and magazines
  • Social media marketing
  • Reaching out to local bloggers and websites
  • Partnerships with local organizations (e.g., package discount when booked through partner wedding planner)
  • Local radio advertising
  • Banner ads at local venues

Operations Plan

stylist planning

Everyday short-term processes include all of the tasks involved in running your photography business such as serving customers, procuring supplies, scouting new photoshoot locations, etc.

Long-term goals are the milestones you hope to achieve. These could include the dates when you expect to serve your 100th customer, or when you hope to reach $X in sales. It could also be when you expect to hire your Xth employee or launch a new location.

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Management Team

To demonstrate your photography business’s ability to succeed as a business, a strong management team is essential. Highlight your key players’ backgrounds, emphasizing those skills and experiences that prove their ability to grow a company.

Ideally you and/or your team members have direct experience in the photography business. If so, highlight this experience and expertise. But also highlight any experience that you think will help your business succeed.

Financial Plan

Your financial plan should include your 5-year financial statement broken out both monthly or quarterly for the first year and then annually. Your financial statements include your income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statements.

Income Statement : an income statement is more commonly called a Profit and Loss statement or P&L. It shows your revenues and then subtracts your costs to show whether you turned a profit or not.

In developing your income statement, you need to devise assumptions. For example, will you serve 10 customers per month or 50? And will sales grow by 2% or 10% per year? As you can imagine, your choice of assumptions will greatly impact the financial forecasts for your business. As much as possible, conduct research to try to root your assumptions in reality.

Balance Sheets : While balance sheets include much information, to simplify them to the key items you need to know about, balance sheets show your assets and liabilities. For instance, if you spend $100,000 on building out your photography business, that will not give you immediate profits. Rather it is an asset that will hopefully help you generate profits for years to come. Likewise, if a bank writes you a check for $100.000, you don’t need to pay it back immediately. Rather, that is a liability you will pay back over time.

Cash Flow Statement : Your cash flow statement will help determine how much money you need to start or grow your business, and make sure you never run out of money. What most entrepreneurs and business owners don’t realize is that you can turn a profit but run out of money and go bankrupt. For example, let’s say a company approached you with a massive $100,000 product photography contract, that would cost you $50,000 to fulfill. Well, in most cases, you would have to pay that $50,000 now for supplies, equipment rentals, employee salaries, etc. But let’s say the company didn’t pay you for 180 days. During that 180 day period, you could run out of money.

In developing your Income Statement and Balance Sheets be sure to include several of the key costs needed in starting or growing a photography business:

  • Location build-out including design fees, construction, etc.
  • Cost of equipment like cameras, lights, film, backdrops and props, software, etc.
  • Cost of ingredients and maintaining an adequate amount of supplies
  • Payroll or salaries paid to staff
  • Business insurance
  • Taxes and permits
  • Legal expenses

Senior photographer planning

Photography Business Plan Summary

Putting together a business plan for your photography business is a worthwhile endeavor. If you follow the template above, by the time you are done, you will truly be an expert. You will really understand the photography business, your competition and your customers. You will have developed a marketing plan and will really understand what it takes to launch and grow a successful photography business.

Download Our Photography Business Plan PDF

You can download our photography business plan PDF here . This is a business plan template you can use in PDF format.  

Photography Business Plan FAQs

What is the easiest way to complete my photography business plan.

Growthink's Ultimate Photography Business Plan Template allows you to quickly and easily complete your Photography Business Plan.

Where Can I Download a Photography Business Plan PDF?

You can download our photography business plan PDF template here . This is a business plan template you can use in PDF format.

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Home » Blog » How to write a successful photography business plan.

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How to write a successful photography business plan.

How to Write a Successful Photography Business Plan

Whether you want to know how to start a photography business or take your existing one to the next level, the best place to start is with a plan. A photography business plan is a document that outlines what you hope to accomplish with your business. 

As your business comes to life or goes through change, you can use a business plan to measure your progress and re-calibrate your professional goals. In addition, if you are planning to pitch your business to potential investors for brand partnership opportunities, a business plan is one of the documents you can use to help bring credibility to your business.

However, learning how to start a photography business the right way doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Taking the right steps to showcase your photography services beyond your online portfolio website can set you off on the right foot and continuously help you attract the caliber of clients you want.

Why you need to make a photography business plan. 

Running a small business is hard. You may have heard the lifespan statistic that 20% of small businesses fail in their first 2 years, 30% fail in their first 3 years, and 50% fail after operating for 5 years. While this number is discouraging, the number one reason for the small business mortality rate is the lack of financial planning.

This is why using available tools is essential to your business’s long-term success and to your ability to grow your business. A business plan is critical in keeping you on track with your business goals and identifying where your business is lagging before, during, and after growth.

The main components of a photography business plan.

While you can customize the components of a photography business plan to suit your needs, the standard components are:

  • Executive summary
  • Business description
  • Product or service portfolio
  • Target market
  • Competitive landscape 
  • Marketing approach
  • Operations & logistics

These elements work together to provide you and your possible stakeholders with a fulsome portrait of your business and its potential. We will go into further detail about these individual components in the following sections.

Write an executive summary.

The executive summary is a 50-250 word section at the start of your photography business plan that focuses on big-picture goals and outcomes of your company. This section summarizes the entirety of the document and should serve as the “elevator pitch” for your company, and its unique position to succeed. A good question to ask when compiling your executive summary is, “What are 3-5 things I want my clients to remember me by?”

Some of the elements to include in your executive summary are your experience, your specialties (ex. commercial photography , landscape , or wedding photography ), and key components of your business that contribute to your success, such as your marketing efforts or a unique angle you bring to the industry.

Explain your company in a business description.

While you may have a clear vision for your business inside your head, being able to succinctly express it to clients and stakeholders is key to your professional success. When compiling your description, it’s important to be as specific as possible.

First, learn about different organizational structures and the associated terms that come with the territory. Are you running a sole proprietorship, partnership, an incorporated company, or another type of business?

Second, your business description should also outline additional details including the history of your business. It gives possible stakeholders an idea of what your business is about and how it began.

In addition, you want to share your business’ mission statement. Because you will go into more details about the offerings and other aspects of your business, it’s best to keep your company description simple and provide only a high-level overview.

Describe your product and services.

This is the place to talk about the types of photography services and products you offer, and the ones you plan on expanding into in the near future. 

As part of your product and services description, provide a comprehensive pricing model. Your pricing model should cover the types of sessions, services (shooting, editing, formatting) you offer, and their associated fees. For example, do you offer mini photography sessions or 2-hour shoots? Is there a sliding scale for editing services, color correction, or airbrushing? Do you handle the physical production of photos, or is the handoff done digitally?

A competent photography business relies on the client’s clear understanding of your “menu” of skills and services.

Lastly, detail the types of services you offer and the types of products you want to focus on that bring you the most income.

Determine your target market.

Targeting your customers is no simple task, as small business owners want to serve everyone. Nevertheless, it helps you to focus on your customers who need your products. You’ll end up wasting money marketing your product to people who don’t need it or have any interest in it.

Understanding your target audience means researching your local market to identify where demand exists. You can search forums and Facebook groups to see what kinds of photographers people are hiring and how much they’re willing to pay. 

For example, a professional wedding photographer should join relevant local event planning and vendor groups on social media to build connections and promote their wedding photography services. Keep in mind that a wedding photographer often has to travel to a location to shoot the wedding, and make sure to factor it into your project estimates. 

While a target audience looks different for everyone, it’s important for your photography business to have a few areas of specialty that help build up credibility and steadily bring in clients.

Conduct a competitive analysis.

As you conduct research on your local market, you will start to discover there are a number of different photographers that offer similar services as you. To create a thorough competitive analysis, take the list of competitors, and evaluate them in different areas. Conducting this analysis will help you determine what sets yours apart.

When looking at your competitors, consider the following questions:

  • Are my product offering and pricing model as straightforward as theirs?
  • What is their tone of voice (ex. humorous/expert/familial)?
  • Who is their target audience?
  • What do they bring to the table that I do not, and vice versa?
  • How can I differentiate myself from them?

To help you understand how your business is perceived, you can seek the help of a brand marketing professional. To take a more DIY approach, you can send your portfolio website to a roundtable of friends and colleagues and ask them how they would describe your business. Collecting these adjectives and looking for common threads can help you understand how your business is perceived and use these findings to your advantage in your marketing efforts.

Conducting a thorough competitive analysis can help you determine your own competitive edge and stay abreast of the competition. As a best practice, get into the habit of conducting a competitive analysis on an annual basis to stay informed about how your industry and your local market evolve over time.

Detail your marketing strategies.

In marketing, there is a saying that goes, “hope is not a strategy.” Yet many organizations allow an “if you build it, they will come” mentality to drive clients toward their marketing efforts.

In reality, a continuous funnel of new and repeat customers is what ensures their long-term success. This is why continuous marketing efforts are the number one way to ensure a consistent workload. Your marketing should work in tandem with a greater marketing plan that aligns all your efforts.

Because stakeholders and investors know the importance of marketing, they will look for a comprehensive and proactive marketing strategy when evaluating your business plan. This is why it’s important to outline the various marketing mechanisms you plan to use in your marketing plan.

Your marketing strategies encompass your marketing programs and your photography portfolio. 

Marketing programs.

Marketing programs mean any platforms, channels, or mechanisms you use to promote your company and attract customers. These may include email marketing campaigns, direct mail initiatives, local photography directory memberships, trade shows, your social media presence, and any paid social media advertising campaigns.

Photography portfolio.

Your online photography portfolio is an essential part of your marketing toolkit. After you make your potential customers aware of your business with your marketing programs, they will seek out a digital presence to explore your abilities as a photographer and to see if there is a fit. A portfolio experience can make or break a client lead, which is why it’s important to invest in a portfolio website that represents the unique offering your photography brings to the world. You can learn how to build a portfolio website the right way with our helpful guide.

Think about operations. 

While service businesses like photographers traditionally have fewer logistics than brick-and-mortar ones, it’s still important to consider the day-to-day logistics and expenses when compiling your business plan.

The operations portion of your photography business can include details like information about where you conduct work.  Many photographers choose to conduct business out of a home studio or office, holding a majority of their sessions at outdoor locations, client homes, and occasionally utilizing a professional studio. Meanwhile, commercial photographers almost always rely on a professional studio to conduct their business. 

Because different types of photographers have different operational needs, stakeholders will look for this information in your business plan to help assess the overhead cost of the operations. Understanding your operations also helps you to plan for potential opportunities in the future.

Draft your financial plans. 

This portion of your photography business plan is important to understanding the overall factors in the cash flow of your venture. Cash flow refers to the amount of money going in and out of your business. 

While compiling this section of your business plan may take the most time, it’s important to get it right to have an accurate understanding of the amount of money it takes to run your photography business, and which investments (ex. new lenses or editing software) are feasible within your business profits.

If you are a new business owner getting into photography, this section of the plan is where you outline the equipment you hope to invest in and what types of services it will be used for. Consider that as a professional photographer, you may need to invest in two copies of every item in case of malfunction. Some photographers, who may be just starting out, may use rental equipment to help them offset the costs of duplicates. However, the cost of renting can add up, which is why purchasing may be the cheaper option in the long run.

As a photographer, you are investing in hardware and software that is imperative to your job. To protect yourself, consider insuring your photography equipment and professional computer in case of theft. You can outline your insurance policy coverage and its cost in the financial portion of your plan. 

Create a timeline.

For photographers, a timeline is a management tool that helps you keep your business goals on track. Some of the key activities to include in your timeline are marketing, financial, investing, and operational in nature. 

In your timeline, consider setting goals for when you expect to pay back for the items listed in the financial portion of your plan. Calculating how many completed photography sessions it would take to cover the cost of the item can help you calculate this date.

It’s important to remember that timelines don’t need to be complicated. You can simply write down the task and the date by which you hope to complete it in sequential order. To help you stay on track, you can put reminders in your email calendar that notify you when you are nearing the anticipated completion of a task, as well as your personal deadline for its completion.

Putting your photography business plan together.

Compiling a photography business plan is an important step in starting your business and in evolving an existing one. While our photography business plan outline contains all the elements to run a successful photography business, there is nothing like drawing inspiration from what’s out there. A tried and tested photography business plan sample can give you the guidance you need to brainstorm the ins and outs of your business.

While all photography business plans are slightly different, most professional photography business plans are clear about their vision and how they want to get there. We’ve collected sample photography business plans from some of the best and most successful photographers in the industry and made readily editable templates for a fast and comprehensive photography business plan.

If you are just starting with your venture and feel a little lost, be sure to check out startup costs for your photography business and three business questions new photographers often ask . These guides give you the important information you need to get started on turning your photography dream into a viable business.

Photography business plan examples.

A sound business plan will set you on the path to success as a photographer. Whether you are a studio photographer, wedding photographer, or anything in between, these industry-specific photography business plan examples will help you kickstart your career.

Photography studio business plan.

If you run a photography studio, the most important element of your business plan is the photography business description. This segment in your photography studio business plan consists of a thorough description of all of the activities you engage in and the services you offer.

By keeping a detailed checklist, you can be clearer with your clients about the studio photography services you offer and market your business accordingly. Our guide to photography marketing shows you how to attract new clients the right way, without spending a dime.

Wedding photography business plan.

Creating a wedding photography business plan is a crucial step in better understanding your market and the opportunities you can leverage with your skills and experience. If there are any specific photography services you offer that other wedding competitors don’t, make sure to include them in your business plan.

If you are looking for a place to start, a simple Google search will provide you with a range of wedding photography business plan samples to work from, which can be tailored specifically to your business.

Now that you are armed with your photography business plan, you can attract better clients and be prepared for the future with a firm grasp of your competitive edge and industry shifts. Don’t forget that along with a solid business plan you need a beautiful website portfolio to show off your work and start getting clients.

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Cheryl Dell'Osso

Cheryl is the Director of Content Strategy at Zenfolio and the Owner/Photographer at Portraits by Cheryl and Seniors by Cheryl in Raleigh, NC. Cheryl has mentored countless new photographers looking to build successful photography businesses.

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Photography Business Plan

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Believe it or not—anyone can take a few pictures, but it takes true skill and talent to get the perfect shot.

And If you’re the guy, everyone’s after asking to click pictures at every party or event, starting a photography business could be incredibly lucrative and satisfying.

However, making your photography business successful is more than just clicking good pictures. You need a solid business plan to ensure success.

Need help writing a business plan for your photography business? You’re at the right place. Our photography business plan template will help you get started.

Download the template and follow step-by-step instructions to draft your business plan in no time!

→ Download Now: Free Photography Business Plan

And though photography lets you fulfill your passion, it attracts a lot of competition due to its ease of entry.

Also, having a successful photography business takes a little more than skill. A photography business plan helps you deal with that, while you shutter away your masterpiece.

Industry Overview

According to the IBIS World industry report , the US photography market is expected to decline at a CAGR of 1.3 to reach 12.9 billion dollars in 2023.

With 7-8% profit margins, individual consumers and households make up the main customer base for the industry. Despite a minor recent decline, the photography industry is projected to experience consistent growth in the coming years.

Here are a few key industry highlights to consider:

  • Number of businesses: There are 258,450 operational photography businesses in the US in 2023.
  • Industry employment: 293,339+
  • Key players: Shutterfly Inc., Alamy Ltd.

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example photography business plan

Things to Consider Before Writing a Photography Business Plan

You’ll need to focus on both the artistic and business sides of your trade.

Though having an excellent eye for proportion, dimensions, and light is great it isn’t enough to have a profitable business. You bring your skills to the table, but you’ll have to work as hard as any other business owner on your marketing, finance, and operations to have a profitable business.

Get the Pricing Right

Develop your soft skills.

Good photography isn’t just about your skills with the camera, especially if you are dealing with people. You’ll need to make your customers feel at ease and have a friendly way of communicating.

This helps you become the person’s go-to photographer. As pictures aren’t just products you pay for, but memories that are cherished for years.

Get the Right Equipment, but Don’t Go Overboard

The right camera, technical equipment, etc, are important to help you work effectively. But it doesn’t do to go over budget for it. Especially, if you are just starting out.

Why Do You Need a Photography Business Plan?

Product photoshot

As you are ready to enter the industry, it brings us to the above question, why does one need a photography business plan?

Aren’t you just supposed to dive right in if you are passionate enough?

The answer is, NO.

Though diving headfirst might sound appealing, it can lead to a series of roadblocks in the future. Also, a business plan isn’t as time-consuming as it may seem to you.

It increases the efficiency of your business and acts as a guide on your road to success. Moreover, writing a business plan helps you get a clear idea of your goals and the opportunities and threats that stand in your way of achieving them.

Also, a well-researched and innovative plan can help you get funded. An investor’s confidence in you is directly proportional to the clarity of your business idea. A business plan can help you achieve just that.

How to Write a Photography Business Plan?

Writing a business plan is not as intimidating as it seems. A well-rounded business plan requires thorough research of the industry, a clear set of goals, well-observed and carefully designed strategies to achieve them, and a clear list of milestones and timelines for all the departments of the business.

A business plan should include strategies for all departments from marketing to finance. There are several resources like online software, business consultants, and predesigned templates that can help you in writing the perfect business plan .

Writing a business plan has become a cakewalk through online business planning tools which can craft an ideal business plan for you at the snap of your fingers.

Chalking out Your Business Plan

Though anyone can click pictures with devices as simple as a smartphone, it takes skills, a sense of proportion, and creativity to make people stop scrolling.

In today’s world of photo-sharing apps where people grapple for attention, the demand for excellent photographers continues to rise.

Hence, with the advent of Instagram, the photography industry is growing leaps and bounds.

Photography Business Plan Outline

This is a standard photography business plan outline that will cover all important sections that you should include in your business plan.

  • Introduction
  • Products and Services
  • Financial Path To Success
  • Keys to Success
  • Company History
  • Market Segmentation
  • Target Market Segment Strategy
  • Competition and Buying Patterns
  • Web Plan Summary
  • Website Marketing Strategy
  • Development Requirements
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Competitive Edge
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Sales Forecast
  • Year 1 – Digital Media Production
  • Year 2 – Digital Media Production
  • Year 3 – Digital Media Production
  • Important Assumptions
  • Projected Profit and Loss
  • Projected Cash Flow
  • Projected Balance Sheet
  • Ratio Analysis

As you sit down to write your business plan, it brings us to the question, what all things you will need to include in your business plan? Read on to find out.

1. Write an Executive Summary

The executive summary section of a business plan works as an overview of your business and acts as a highlight of its aims and goals. It should be brief and precise and sum up everything your business stands for.

It serves as a pitch of your business ideas to potential investors and should have the following points.

  • The kind of services your business offers (Eg. Commercial Photography, Travel Photography, etc.)
  • Your target audience (Eg. Models, travel bloggers, influencers, etc.)
  • Your strengths and past experiences
  • Your goals for the company.

2. Business Overview

Overview Image

In the business overview section, you’ll jot down all of the business ideas you have and analyze how to bring them to life.

This section would consist of an overview of the functioning of your business. as well as your mission statement.

While writing this section it is important to be as precise as possible It helps the stakeholders of your business to know it better.

3. Describe the Services You’ll Offer

In this section of your business plan, you have to list the services you are going to offer. This helps you get a clearer idea of how to advertise your services and how to reach out to your target audiences.

For example, if you are a landscape photographer all of your marketing strategy and the list of resources and services you’ll need will be built around that.

Also, your target audience would be travel websites and tourism companies. And the ways of reaching out to them would be different than reaching out to influencers or celebrities.

4. Market Analysis

The market analysis section is a crucial part of your business plan.

In this section, you’ll write down everything you can find about the photography market as well as resources that can help you stay updated about the recent trends in the market.

For example, as a photographer, it is essential to know the trending photography techniques.

You can also include the size of the market, your competitors, areas that have the highest growth potential, etc Know the right market value of services and identify the existing market gaps that you can fill.

Let’s consider there is no food photographer in your locality and the restaurants around you need one, you can specialize in food photography to capture that market.

5. Create a Website Strategy

Screenshot of Website

The Internet is the first place where people look for any product or service, hence your business must have a website to be discovered by clients.

A well-optimized website can help you in meeting a lot of potential customers.

Including a website strategy in your business plan is crucial.

6. Plan Your Finances

Your financial planning is one of the major deciding factors of whether your business will stay afloat or not.

In this section keep track of your company’s finances, jot down ways of making it more cost-effective. List down resources that can help you understand and manage your finances better.

Download a sample photography business plan

Need help getting started writing a business plan? Here you go; download our free photography business plan pdf to start.

It’s a modern business plan template designed for your photography center. Refer to the example business plan and follow step-by-step instructions to start writing your plan.

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A business planning tool like Upmetrics is the best way to draft your business plan. This incredible tool comes with step-by-step instructions, customizable templates, AI assistance, and business plan examples to help you get started.

You may also explore our library of Entertainment and media business plan examples before you start writing your plan.

So, whether you are starting a photography business or planning to grow an existing one, Upmetrics is the tool you need to create a business plan.

So, what are you waiting for? Start planning now!

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Frequently asked questions, what are some common mistakes to avoid when drafting a photography business plan.

Following are some of the common mistakes to avoid when writing a photography business plan:

  • Inadequate and inaccurate financial projections.
  • Poor market research and ignoring industry trends.
  • Undefined goals and lack of details.
  • Not proofreading the document for typos and grammatical errors.
  • Including outdated and irrelevant information.
  • Not regularly updating your business plan.

What are some key financial metrics to include in a photography business plan?

Following are some of the key financial metrics to include in your photography business plan:

  • Balance sheet
  • Cash flow statement
  • Income statement
  • Break-even statement
  • Projected business ratios
  • Sales and revenue projections
  • Projected expenses

How can a photography business plan help in securing funding or investment?

A well-crafted photography business plan will help your investors better understand your business domain, market trends, strategies, business financials, and growth potential—helping you secure investment.

Where to find business plan writers for your photography business?

There are many business plan writers available, but no one knows your business and ideas better than you, so we recommend you write your photography business plan and outline your vision as you have in mind.

About the Author

example photography business plan

Upmetrics Team

Upmetrics is the #1 business planning software that helps entrepreneurs and business owners create investment-ready business plans using AI. We regularly share business planning insights on our blog. Check out the Upmetrics blog for such interesting reads. Read more

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Photography Business Plan Template [Updated 2023]


Photography Business Plan Template

If you want to start a Photography business or expand your current Photography business, you need a business plan.

The following Photography business plan template gives you the key elements to include in a winning Photography business plan. It can be used to create a photographer business plan, a commercial photography business plan, or a photography studio business plan.

You can download the Photography business plan template (including a full, customizable financial model) to your computer here.

Photography Business Plan Example

Below are links to each of the key sections of a sample business plan template for a photography business: I. Executive Summary II. Company Overview III. Industry Analysis IV. Customer Analysis V. Competitive Analysis VI. Marketing Plan VII. Operations Plan VIII. Management Team IX. Financial Plan

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Photography Business Plan Outline

photography business plan template

Don't bother with copy and paste.

Get this complete sample business plan as a free text document.

Photography Studio Business Plan

Start your own photography studio business plan

Phoebe's Photo Studio

Executive summary executive summary is a brief introduction to your business plan. it describes your business, the problem that it solves, your target market, and financial highlights.">, opportunity.

Families need photographs to capture the special moments of their lives. Families of professionals are busy, and if too much time goes by between photos, these moments are lost forever. Babies, especially, grow fast and parents need photos of them several times a year.

While nearly everyone has a camera for snapshots, people need professional quality photos when they will be shown to an important audience, and when people want to be seen in the best light. The Internet has expanded the use of photos, making it possible for anyone to send them or to publish them for wide viewing.

Phoebe’s Photo Studio will meet the needs of professionals and their families to capture the special moments in their lives and present them in the best light. We will establish a relationship in which we initiate the calls to keep their photos up to date. Digital files of their photos will be available for free by e-mail, or with a nominal fee for CD.  Because of our relationship with the families, when something big like a wedding comes, there’s no place else they would go.

Families with children are the biggest market for portraits. For the purpose of this analysis, these families are divided into three socio-economic categories:

  • College graduates
  • High school graduates
  • Non-graduates

Families of college graduates are most likely to be professionals and to have the means and the taste for professional portraits.  There are nearly 20,000 such families in the metropolitan area. 


Competitor X is an award-winning, highly creative photographer with a style that one would expect to find in a national magazine.  His prices are the highest in the area, up to $15,000 for a wedding album.  His strategy appears to be to capture the high-end market, where a magazine look is a luxury that people can afford.

Competitor Y is a more typical photographer with more staged photographs and wedding packages running up to $5,000.  His strategy appears to be to occupy the middle-ground of quality and price where most of the market is likely to be.

Competitor Z offers same-day photos.  This is easier to accomplish with digital processing for a studio organized around speed, but the quality is necessarily sacrificed.  The market for same-day photos doesn’t necessarily demand quality.  Prices are average.  The strategy of this studio appears to be to appeal to convenience and speed.

Our competitive edge is that we provide not only a photograph, but a program of ongoing portraits to capture the special moments in a family’s life. We then make the digital images of their photos easily and affordably available for distributing on the Internet.


Phoebe’s will grow at a healthy annual rate by targeting families of professionals with newborn babies for baby pictures and then developing a relationship with the client over the years for ongoing photographs. The funding envisioned in this plan is projected to result in a comfortable healthy business by the third year. 

Financial Highlights by Year

Financing needed.

We foresee a total of $80,000 in startup financing to get this business going and healthy. That comes $10K from owner savings, $20K as a 5-year loan (family cosigning), and $50K as an interest-free loan from family. 

If the business proceeds according to plan, we will have about half of the $50K family loan paid off within three years. 

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Photography Business Plan Template

Photography Business Plan Outline

  • Photography Business Plan Home
  • 1. Executive Summary
  • 2. Company Overview
  • 3. Industry Analysis
  • 4. Customer Analysis
  • 5. Competitive Analysis
  • 6. Marketing Plan
  • 7. Operations Plan
  • 8. Management Team
  • 9. Financial Plan

Start Your Photography Plan Here

Photography Business Plan

You’ve come to the right place to create your Photography business plan.

We have helped over 1,000 entrepreneurs and business owners create business plans and many have used them to start or grow their Photography business.

Below are links to each section of a sample photography business plan. It can be used to create a wedding photography business plan, a commercial photography business plan, a portrait photography studio business plan or any other type of photography business plan.

1. Executive Summary 2. Company Overview 3. Industry Analysis 4. Customer Analysis 5. Competitive Analysis 6. Marketing Plan 7. Operations Plan 8. Management Team 9. Financial Plan

Next Section: Executive Summary >

Photography Business Plan FAQs

What is a photography business plan.

A photography business plan is a plan to start and/or grow your photography business. Among other things, it outlines your business concept, identifies your target customers, presents your marketing plan and details your financial projections.

You can  easily complete your photography business plan using our Photography Business Plan Template here .

What Are the Main Types of Photography Businesses?

There are many types of photography businesses depending on the style of photography and target market. The most common and profitable type is event photography. Other types are stock photography, family/baby photography, travel, school, photojournalism and social media photography.

No matter what type of photography business you plan to start, you need a solid photography business plan. You can quickly complete your photography business plan using our Photography Business Plan Template here .

What Are the Main Sources of Revenues and Expenses for a Photography Business?

The primary source of revenue for photography businesses are service fees for photoshoots and video, licensing fees and photo editing. Other revenues are also generated from product sales like prints, albums, cards, wall prints and canvas.

The key expenses for photography businesses are equipment expense, advertising, transportation, and labor or professional fees.

How Do You Get Funding for Your Photography Studio Business Plan?

Photography businesses are typically funded through small business loans, personal savings and credit card financing.

This is true for a wedding photographer, pet photography business, commercial photography business, a portrait photography business or any other type of photography services.

Download your plan in word or PDF to share with investors.

What are the Steps To Start a Photography Business?

Starting a photography business can be an exciting endeavor. Having a clear roadmap of the steps to start a business will help you stay focused on your goals and get started faster.

1. Develop A Photography Business Plan - The first step in starting a business is to create a detailed business plan for a photography business that outlines all aspects of the venture. This should include potential market size and target customers, data on the photography industry, the services or products you will offer, pricing strategies and a detailed financial forecast.  You can quickly complete your photography business plan using our Photography Business Plan Template here .

2. Choose Your Legal Structure - It's important to select an appropriate legal entity for your photography business. This could be a limited liability company (LLC), corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship. Each type has its own benefits and drawbacks so it’s important to do research and choose wisely so that your photography business is in compliance with local laws.

3. Register Your Photography Business - Once you have chosen a legal structure, the next step is to register your photography business with the government or state where you’re operating from. This includes obtaining licenses and permits as required by federal, state, and local laws. 

4. Identify Financing Options - It’s likely that you’ll need some capital to start your photography business, so take some time to identify what financing options are available such as bank loans, investor funding, grants, or crowdfunding platforms. 

5. Choose a Location - Whether you plan on operating out of a physical location or not, you should always have an idea of where you’ll be based should it become necessary in the future as well as what kind of space would be suitable for your operations. 

6. Hire Employees - There are several ways to find qualified employees including job boards like LinkedIn or Indeed as well as hiring agencies if needed – depending on what type of employees you need it might also be more effective to reach out directly through networking events. 

7. Acquire Necessary Photography Equipment & Supplies - In order to start your photography business, you'll need to purchase all of the necessary equipment and supplies to run a successful operation. 

8. Market & Promote Your Business - Once you have all the necessary pieces in place, it’s time to start promoting and marketing your photography business. This includes creating a website, utilizing social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter, and having an effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy. You should also consider traditional marketing techniques such as radio or print advertising. 

Learn more about how to start a successful photography business and photography business planning:

  • How to Start a Photography Business

Where Can I Get a Photography Business Plan PDF?

You can download our free photography business plan template PDF here . This is a sample photography business plan template you can use in PDF format.

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How to write a strong photography business plan:  step-by-step

example photography business plan

This article was updated on December 2, 2022

Starting a successful photography business involves more than having a camera and a keen eye for beauty. As a business owner, you must also have a solid business plan.

Without one, your professional photography business may have no legs (or tripods) to stand on. 

Creating a photography business plan is simple. This complete guide will cover all you need to know about writing a comprehensive business plan—from executive summaries to competitive analyses. 

What to include in a photography business plan:

  • Write an executive summary
  • Describe your photography business
  • Outline your products and services
  • Analyze your finances and list out business expenses
  • Understand your competition and the photography industry
  • Devise a sales and marketing strategy
  • Set operations logistics and management structure
  • Perform customer and market analysis
  • Establish a timeline and exit strategy
  • Round out your business plan with Nextdoor

1. Write an executive summary

Perhaps you’ve been dreaming of running your own photography business since the day you picked up your first disposable camera, or maybe you just started outlining your vision in recent months. Whatever the case may be, you’ll need to match those dreams with quantifiable business goals and a clear course of action. 

Defining your mission is one of the most important aspects of a strong business plan and almost always comprises the first section. In the executive summary, you will explain your business details such as your business name, and a summary of your business plan in a few sentences.

When defining your business as a professional photographer, it’s crucial to cover two key components: the executive summary and the business description.

2. Describe your photography business

Following the executive summary, the business description section is the place where you'll describe the ins and outs of your business.

Effective photography business descriptions usually contain the following information:

  • A history of your business
  • An overview of your business structure

Let's break down these two essential components further.

As a professional photographer, your business's history is more than just a summary of facts. It's your unique story . Your passion for what you do should come through in every line.

Include life and color into your business plan by detailing the following:

  • Your personal relationship with photography
  • Your professional work experience
  • The origins of your business and the values you intend to uphold

Describing your history with photography not only gives potential stakeholders an inside look at your motivations but also gives you an outline for an "About" section on your future website.

REAL BUSINESS EXAMPLE: Johnson City, Tennessee's Hunter Kittrell Photography is a business that knows the power of storytelling. Their website's "About" section mentions how the business's founder, Hunter Kittrell, got his start in photography after college and how his love of adventure inspires his work. Look to this small business as a model for your own and add in all of your business's unique details to compel potential clients to work with you.

Business structure

Few business descriptions are complete without an outline of the business structure. To define your business structure, consider the following:

  • Type - Is your business a sole proprietorship or an LLC? A partnership or corporation? If you're just starting out, there's a good chance your photography business will be a sole proprietorship. However, if you're thinking of future growth (and outside funding), it may be wise to consider an LLC. Whichever business type you choose, providing this information in your business plan will help you think through the management and other logistical structures.
  • Management and business operations - Most U.S. photography businesses have less than two employees . However, if you're planning on employing more people and/or having a detailed managerial structure, it may be wise to include this in your business description. Furthermore, it may be helpful to include details about business hours and studio location(s).

While businesses, especially startups, can experience a number of operational changes during the first couple of years, outlining your initial business structure is a smart way to set up your photography business for continued success.

3. Outline your products and services

The best business plans clearly specify the business's products and photography services. As you draft your plan include the following details:

  • Photography type - Will your business specialize in commercial photography, marketing photography, landscape photography, portrait photography, pet photography, or wedding photography? Will you mainly shoot individual portraits or family portraits? Identifying your niche in the photography industry in your business plan will allow you to structure other elements of your business model around that particular focus.
  • Pricing model - When it comes to the financial aspects of your business, few details are more important than your business's pricing model. Will you charge by the hour or by the photoshoot (regardless of time)? Is photo editing included in the package or is there an additional cos t ? Look at other photographers for example pricing; likely event photography pricing is structured differently than landscape photography. You would also need to consider your business expenses and budget when setting your rates. Being as specific as possible about your pricing model will help you estimate your income and also p rovide a clear outline of your rates for potential clients.

REAL BUSINESS EXAMPLE: Based in Manchester, New Hampshire, Image of Home Real Estate Photography is a small business with a big-time, three-tier pricing model. Their website states that they charge by the square foot and offer the additional benefit of same-day image delivery. This pricing model was, more than likely, hashed out in the business plan. Settle on the pricing specifics for your business and be sure to share them on your online platforms so that they are clearly visible to the public.

4. Analyze your finances

When it comes to financial planning, the more you can foresee, the better. This will keep you from overextending your budget in terms of expenses or overestimating your revenue in your first year. 

To adequately plan for finances, detail the following in your business plan:

  • Expenses – Expenses include everything from ordering business cards to the cost of equipment to your studio space. Make a list of everything you’ll need to pay for to get your business up and running. Doing so will also help you budget for the unknown, such as buying an extra lens in case one breaks or hiring an assistant to lend a hand on a particular photo shoot.
  • Projected revenue – To stay afloat in the long run, you’ll need to bring in more revenue than you’re spending. As a result, it’s wise to calculate your projected revenue alongside your expenses in your business plan—especially in the first year. These calculations will allow you to budget properly and change your strategy should your financial situation change.
  • Set up bank accounts and EIN - Most professional photographers tend to work independently or work by case. Therefore, it is better to separate your work bank accounts and credit cards from your personal accounts to manage your finances. Further, even if this is a small business, you still need to apply for an EIN (employee identification number) from the IRS for legal purposes.

In addition, figuring out where you stand financially will enable you to find room in your budget for marketing strategies and competitive analysis metrics.

5.  Understand your competition

An often overlooked, yet highly important, section of most business plans is the competitive analysis section. 

Researching your competition is beneficial for many reasons. Not only will you better understand your competition’s pricing models and services, but you’ll also learn how you can set yourself apart from competitors. Given the fact that there are more than 40,000 professional photographers in the U.S. , knowing how to stand out in the industry will make sure your one-of-a-kind business doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. 

When writing your competitive analysis section, it’s helpful to answer the following questions:

  • How many photographers are located in my area?
  • Am I fulfilling a specific niche (i.e. landscape, portrait, etc.)?
  • What are my competitor’s pricing models?
  • What are their marketing strategies?
  • What are my competitors doing well? What could they improve upon?
  • Who are my potential client pods and are they overlapping other existing photography businesses?
  • How will I provide a necessary and unique photography service?

Of course, there are many more questions you could ask when thinking about your competition, but these should help you get started.

6. Devise a sales and marketing strategy

Good business plans almost always focus on business growth. But to grow your business and attract new clientele, you need to market yourself. 

Detailing your marketing strategy is, therefore, a crucial component of a strong business plan. If you’re wondering how to get photography clients, you’ll want to employ a number of different marketing tactics.

When writing the marketing section, it’s helpful to think of the following strategies:

  • Social media marketing – Given that social media is a major conduit of ideas and information, it’s important to develop a social media strategy for your photography business. As a photographer, your portfolio and past works are the best marketing materials. Image-sharing platforms make the most sense, but you’ll want to consider the potential of other platforms, too. For example, if you want to attract local clientele , the best way to connect with your neighborhood is on Nextdoor. This community-minded platform allows you to set up custom business ads or create a Business Page where you can showcase important aspects of your business—from operating hours to services.
  • Email marketing – In your business plan, detail how you intend to use email to market yourself. Will you send around a quarterly email discussing new trends in the photography world? Will you deliver special holiday emails urging your target audience to take advantage of discounted holiday shoots? Generating an email list is an effective way to keep clients in the loop about what’s happening with your business.
  • SEO marketing – SEO, or search engine optimization, is a critical strategy that will help drive potential customers to your website. To improve the quality of your site, you’ll want to decide which type of keywords are important to your business and build content around them to make your website more discoverable by Google and other search engines. You can do this by adding informational content to different pages on your website, as well as creating a photography blog with helpful tips and information for users. For example, if you are a portrait photographer, you can add keywords such as family pictures or graduation portfolio photos.

7. Set operation logistics and management structure

This section gives you the opportunity to first think through the details of your business workflow then define how you will manage the logistics of your day to day operations. A major part of your photography business will likely be post processing and photo editing before final delivery. Spend time defining how long editing will take after a shoot. How many days afte r a shoot will you promise delivery to your customers? What methods of payment are you planning to accept? Other topics to address in this section may include:

  • Primary and backup suppliers
  • Equipment inventory
  • Transportation expenses
  • Management and staff structure if applicable

8. Perform customer and market analysis

C ustomer and market analysis is a critical part of your photography business plan; it helps define the size of the market needing your service as well as your ideal client. Here you will justify your target market and specify niche segments within that market. To do this answer the following:

  • What is your dream client - age range, gender, location, demographics, and style of photo shoot. Will you specialize in high end weddings, aerial photography, sports photography, or something else? 
  • What are the needs of these customers
  • how your services address these needs. 
  • What is the growth potential of your market segment? Including considerations such as the number of potential customers, their annual income, frequency of photography style needs

9. Establish a timeline and exit strategy

This later section describes your timeline for the goals and objectives outlined earlier in the business plan. Describe how soon you plan to become profitable, within what timeframe do you plan to meet your revenue objectives, or even when you might plan to hire employees to help grow your business. While it may seem far off, planning how you may want to exit your business years down the road may open up questions and considerations that can have a big impact near term. For some, selling their business to a larger investor is the end goal, for others, keeping photography as a small side gig to pass to their children is the exit strategy - no matter your desired path, document it here. 

10. Round out your business plan with Nextdoor

Developing a strong photography business plan is often the first step in running a successful business. Now that you’re equipped with all the tools to execute it like a pro, you’ll be well-prepared for a promising future ahead. 

But no plan is truly complete without Nextdoor — the neighborhood hub that connects you with your local community so that your photography business can flourish.

Claim a Nextdoor Business Page today to simplify the process of building your brand. That way, you can get back to what truly matters—working your magic behind the camera.

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example photography business plan


Table of contents, 1. summarise your services and products, 2. describe your target market, 3. analyse your competitors, 4. conduct a swot analysis, 5. outline your marketing plan, 6. outline your operations plan, 7. work out your finances, 8. set goals and create systems, 9. write an executive summary.

Photography business plan template for services and products section

What is your main photography service?

List any other photography services your offer, how do your photography services complement each other, describe the products you provide to clients.

Photography business plan template - target market section

Sum up your ideal client in one sentence

What are the top 3 desires you can help with, what are the top 3 pain points you can help with, what will connect you and your ideal client, 3. analyse your competitors.

Photography business plan template - competitor analysis section

List 2 or 3 of your closest competitors

Describe their services and products, who are they appealing to, what is their price point and position, what are they doing well, what could they be doing better, write 3-5 adjective to describe their brand, 4. conduct a swot analysis.

Photography business plan - SWOT analysis section

Make a list of your strengths

Acknowledge your weaknesses, where are the opportunities, are there any potential threats, 5. outline your marketing plan.

Photography business plan template - marketing plan section

What makes your business stand out?

Write your elevator pitch, write your big, bold statement (tagline), define your brand personality and tone of voice, what content are you going to create, which social media platform will you use and how, will you do any face-to-face marketing, will you seek publicity for your business, how will you generate and nurture leads, how will you create loyalty and encourage referrals, 6. outline your operations plan.

Photography business plan template - operations plan section

Describe the enquiry and conversion process

Describe the booking and onboarding process, describe the shoot or wedding process, describe the post-shoot/wedding process, describe the product sales process, describe the order fulfilment process, describe the process beyond order fulfilment, 7. work out the finances.

Photography business plan template - finance plan section

Summarise your CODB and salary aims

Where are you positioned in terms of price, which pricing model is right for you, 8. set goals and create systems.

Photography business plan template - goal setting and action plan section

Decide on your financial goal

Map out your systems, what needs to happen for your systems to work, 9. create an executive summary.

Photography business plan template - executive summary section

Privacy Overview

Photography Spark

Business Education for Photographers

Sample Photography Business Plan – 5 Critical Elements

Last updated on July 6, 2019 By Angela Pointon

** This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking through my links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Opinions expressed are based on the Author’s own experience.

Pen and penciled business plan next to computer

I look at those famous photographers, too. You know, the ones who have tons of gear and who seem to be growing bigger and bigger every year. And sometimes I catch myself thinking, “gosh darn it, how did they get so lucky?”

And then I realize that it probably was only a sprinkling of luck on top of a solid foundation of planning and a bucket of sweat to represent their hard work.

Even though I forget sometimes, I have actually come to realize that so much in business hinges on good planning. And it’s not to say that plans can’t shift and change. They can. But going in feet first with no plan at all can mean rapid disappointment.

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. – Benjamin Franklin

As photographers, most of us just want to be behind the camera. If we had all the money in the world, we’d pay someone to do our marketing, respond to emails, do our post-processing, and do our business planning for us. That stuff is all yucky and boring. Being behind the camera is fun.

The good news about planning, however, is that you really only need to lay out a photography business plan once a year and then visit it monthly to ensure things are staying on track (or to see if things need adjusting).

If you plan to start a photography business and have never done a photography business plan before, it probably sounds kinda scary, right? Well, what most of us think of when we think of the words “business plans” are really long, drawn-out documents that take up a lot of time and hard work. But then, they sit on a shelf to rot.

That’s the kind of business planning that I loathe. It isn’t helpful to anyone, except, perhaps, a bank if you’re seeking funding. A solid business plan, and one that actually works and makes a real impact, however, is a business plan that is simple and fits onto one piece of paper.

I’m going to walk you through each step for creating a sample photography business plan as you work on starting a photography business.

1. Know Your Strengths

We’re all good at a lot of things. However, when you’re evaluating your strengths for your photography business plan, you’re comparing yourself to your competitors in the photography industry. So, let’s talk about each of these things for a minute, starting with your competition.

Your competitors are your real competitors . Meaning, they’re the other photographers that your customers are considering when they’re looking for someone like you. So, if you’re a wedding photographer in a really big town, you might have 3-4 actual competitors out of all of the dozens of those doing wedding photography and serving your area. And even though there are other photography businesses, your competitors are only really the select few that your typical client considers.

Now, picturing those few competitors, when you’re thinking about your strengths, you want to be thinking of the strengths you offer that these competitors don’t. Perhaps it’s that you’ve shot at more locations than they have. Or perhaps it’s that you’re more networked than they are. List whatever strengths allow you to shine, where your competitors are weak.

For our sample photography business plan, we’re going to pretend we’re a portrait photographer in Philadelphia. We’ve evaluated our competition and narrowed it down to three. And after careful consideration, we’ve listed our strengths as being: better customer experience, more referring partners for our business, and more connections with Philadelphia non-profit groups.

Why are Strengths Important?

Because when you realize a list of strengths that your competitors do not have, you may see some opportunities for further growth. The key to market significance and capitalization is to leverage your strengths to their fullest

Too many photographers try to match their competition. That just creates more of the same. Leverage your unique strengths, instead, and leave the competition in your dust.

2. Identify Your Weaknesses

So, while strengths are competitive differentiators, weaknesses are holding you back from even more success. Just as we all have strengths to leverage, we also all have weaknesses.

The important thing to remember when thinking about your weaknesses for your own photography business plan is that the weaknesses you list should be things you’re looking to improve before the end of the calendar year. It’s no use listing weaknesses that you have no interest in improving. Think of your list of weaknesses as an alternative version of your to-do list.

When thinking of our sample photography business plan, our fictitious Philly portrait photographer really wants to improve her skills with lighting, the search engine optimization for her website, and her packaging. These are three things that she believes will enhance her business if she can manage to improve them all before the end of the year. As a result, they’re good things to have on her weaknesses list.

Once we know our weaknesses, they cease to do us any harm. – Georg C. Lichtenberg

3. Target Your Ideal Customer

When working on your own photography business plan, your ideal customer might not be the type of people that have hired you in the past. No, this is the opportunity to be super critical and super detailed about the type of person you want as a customer moving forward. They’re the people that make your job easy, don’t ruffle feathers and who are super appreciative of what you do.

They pay what you want them to pay, and they don’t think twice about it. So, while they might not be who you’re working with now, it’s important to document who they would be going forward. And be as specific as possible.

For our sample photography business plan, we’re going to list the following attributes for this Philadelphia-based photographer’s ideal customer (see if any are on your list, too):

  • the customer lives in Philadelphia’s city limits
  • is married with at least 1 kid… usually a dog, too
  • An active lifestyle and seems to really like marathons
  • both spouses work full-time jobs
  • their extended families tend to live far away
  • they commute to work each day via public transportation
  • they frequently do day trips and go out to dinner on the weekends

While much of the above list seems to have nothing to do with photography, it reveals some interesting marketing opportunities. For example, in this photographer’s case, they’ve identified that most of their customers participate in marathons. So what if they found an opportunity to sponsor a marathon as a marketing opportunity? Perhaps they could take shots of runners crossing the finish line as promotional pieces for their business. Or, since their customers’ families typically live far away, perhaps they can leverage some product sales by marketing special holiday keepsake books that help to connect families through photography that live miles away?

Some really fun brainstorming can come from listing out the commonalities amongst your ideal customers.

4. Understand Your Financials

All good business owners have a keen awareness of their current financial state. They know the revenue they need to bring in each month to make their number, along with their current standings against the goal. While financials can be a scary thing for many creative types, what I’ve found is that awareness actually moderates the fear.

A basic understanding of your photography business financials – including start-up costs and other expenses – allows you to plan better and manage the business better, thus alleviating this general sense of ignorance and uncertainty.

While crunching numbers and determining financial goals can seem like nerd-work, it can actually have a really positive effect on your own personal outlook on your business.

Here’s how I recommend you start:

Determine Your Total Sales Per Month

Grab a calculator and a pen and paper. If you’re an ex-corporate type like me, feel free to open up Excel and do this work there, instead.

You’re going to determine how much in total sales you want to earn for every month that remains in 2017. If you’re a wedding photographer or any other photographer that is booked further out, feel free to start your planning for 2018, instead.

Your total sales generally consist of:

  • Session fees/month
  • Average product order amounts per session
  • Any other miscellaneous fees you charge your clients

If you’ve never done this kind of planning before, you’re probably thinking, “but I have no idea how much I’m going to book from now through the end of the year.” Or, “but everyone orders different amounts of stuff after each session.”

Don’t worry. The lovely part of planning is that we can use rough numbers for now.

To figure out your session fee revenue, determine how many sessions you think you will reasonably schedule between now and the end of the year. Then, figure out how many sessions, on average, you’ll book each month and multiply that number by your average session fee.

To figure out your print and album fees, it might help to look back at the earlier months of 2017, or last part of 2016, and figure out an average print/album order amount and go with that.

Finally, add your monthly session fees to your product order fees and other miscellaneous fees to get an estimated total sales number per month. Remember, a rough starting point is fine. There is an opportunity to refine your estimates later.

Determine Your Cost Of Sales Per Month

For every shoot you book, you have costs. There might be editing costs (if you outsource your editing) or second shooter costs or, at the very minimum, your own costs to the print lab or album company.

When thinking of your cost of sales (otherwise known as the cost of goods sold), consider anything that is variable and only incurred if a client books you. Your business has other fixed expenses (like your website hosting fees or marketing fees), but those expenses fall into another area.

Again, if you don’t know how to figure this out, look back at the earlier months of 2017 and associate your averages from this time period to what you’ll incur going forward. Be sure your cost of sales is a monthly number, as well.

Calculate Your Gross Profit

This is a fairly easy number to calculate. Your gross profit is determined by taking your total sales number and subtracting your cost of sales. You should be left with a positive number, which equals your average gross profit per month.

If the number you’re left with is a negative number, you need to take a closer look at your prices. A photographer should never have a cost of sale higher than the total sale.

Identify Your General Expenses

Your general expenses are the fixed costs associated with running your photography business. They consist of things like:

  • website hosting fees
  • accounting and legal fees – manage them using Freshbooks (affiliate)
  • equipment and computer expenses
  • studio rent, etc.

In most cases, general expenses don’t vary too much from month-to-month, aside from annual fees or quarterly fees you might pay to keep your business running. For example, I pay my website hosting fee and my email newsletter software fee in an annual payment to take advantage of their annual payment discounts. Therefore, my expenses are abnormally high in the specific month when these two payments are incurred.

Figure out your own personal business expenses per month. Then, add your own compensation to that number. Now, you have a total general expenses number, including the owner’s compensation. If you’re currently running a part-time photography business while still working a “day job,” your owner’s compensation may be $0, and that’s okay.

Obviously, when you’re running a photography business full time and are wanting it to be your source of income, you need to provide yourself with monthly owner’s compensation.

Calculate Your Net Profit

When figuring out your photography business’s financials, the two numbers you’ll find the most enjoyable are the owner’s compensation and net profit.

Net profit is simple to calculate. It is your gross profit minus your general expenses. If you’ve been in business for years, you’re likely to have a positive net profit number. If it’s your first year being a photography business owner, your net profit number might be in the negative, and that’s perfectly okay if you’re planning for the loss.

Many businesses take a year, sometimes more, to get out of a negative net profit (known as operating in the red) and see positive net profits. Smart businesses owners know this ahead of time and save up equity to cover the losses that will be incurred for the first year or so until profits become positive.

If you’re at the point where you’re making money, and you’re left with a positive net profit number, you have a couple of decisions to make. You can either boost your owner’s compensation and take home more income from the business, or you can decide to invest more money into the business to increase its longevity and future success.

There are other potential uses for positive net profit, such as charitable donations or keeping more cash in the business for use later, but investments and bonuses for the owners are typical uses. Investments that photographers typically make are in staff, assistants, new equipment, or an additional marketing strategy.

5. Set Your Goals

The last piece of a solid photography business plan is articulating some goals for the business. When you’re thinking about your goals for the remainder of 2017, review the sections of your business plan that are listed above. They’re loaded with ideas for really strong, growth-oriented goals.

When setting your goals, remember the acronym SMART. What that means is the goals you set should be:

  • A well-defined goal, so you know your target
  • A way to measure progress toward your goal
  • The goal is within reach (although it may be a stretch)
  • You have the means to achieve the goal (time, resources, knowledge)
  • A realistic time limit to achieve the goal is essential. Too short and you may get discouraged, too long, and you may lack focus

In the case of the Philadelphia-based photographer we used for our sample photography business plan, she should consider:

  • making each of her weaknesses a goal to improve upon before the end of the year
  • leveraging some of her strengths through her marketing plan, such as attending more non-profit group events for marketing and networking, for example
  • taking a closer look at her financials for opportunities to raise prices and earn more per shoot, lower her expenses and/or invest in some things that will help her photography business grow (this is recommended for all photographers)
To help ensure your success, set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.  

Defining Your Business Plan

Having a plan for the plan is also recommended to help you reach your goals. Start with a simple goal with an x amount of days to complete it. For example, you will have your business plan completed in 60 days.

Photography Services

Have you made a list of the photography services you will be offering? Are you a portrait photographer or do you dabble more in commercial photography? Maybe you do stock photography or even pet photography. All of these are different services, and all require their own set of must-haves and must-determines, including calculating what the start-up costs for your new venture may be.

A solid photography business plan will simplify this and outline the main areas you need to focus on to grow a successful photography business.

You can then enlist any help you feel you will need and create a schedule of times that you have available to work on the business plan. In addition to the elements above that should be included in your photography business plan, you should also be able to define your products and photography services, tune up your website, get social, and follow up with any old clients you may have.

Marketing Strategies

As business owners, you need to come up with viable ways to reach your target audience and get the attention of prospective clients for your business. To do this, you need to determine which channels you use the most and what your marketing budget will be. Are you going to put all or just some of your efforts into different strategies, including social media, SEO, and email?

Define Target Market

When you define your target market, you need to do everything you can to understand your ideal clients in detail. It is only then that you can successfully market to the right audience to grow your business.

Final Thoughts

If you can’t sit down and come up with your business plan right away, set time aside each day to work on it, so it doesn’t become overwhelming. If you choose to skip this very critical step for your photography business, you risk financial ruin and the downfall of what could have otherwise been a very successful photography business with clearly defined goals and objectives.

Planning Made Easy

example photography business plan

About Angela Pointon

Angela Pointon is the founder of Angela Pointon Photography and Steel Toe Images , which offers advice and inspiring motivation for photography business owners. Angela's weekly email newsletter is packed with advice for photographers, which can be subscribed to for free here . In addition, she has authored multiple books for photographers, is a monthly columnist for Professional Photographer Magazine, blogs at Steel Toe Images and posts to Facebook , G+ , Pinterest and Twitter .

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10 Key Steps for Writing Your Photography Business Plan

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A surprising number of photographers never write a photography business plan. If you plan to embark on a career as a freelancer, you need a plan.

A business plan is a road map to success . It outlines your business-related goals and how you intend to achieve them.

There is no need to have a very formal business plan. But the components of a traditional business plan can help you be more specific about your goals. This way, you are more likely to achieve them.

The Components of a Photography Business Plan

Create an executive summary.

The Executive Summary is where you define your photography business . What will be the legal structure of your business? Will you be operating as a sole proprietor?

This is an overview of your business. It lays out how your business will meet the needs of your target clients.

It’s helpful to write out a mission statement for your photography business. You should have tangible objectives and the keys to success.

Write a Product and Service Description

You need to create a detailed description of your photography services and products.

What is the focus of your business? What stage are you at in terms of developing your business?

Overhead shot of a person making an illustrative photography business plan on a white desk

Consider Your Target Market

Start with some research about the photography industry and photography businesses in general, as well as in your area. This will help you narrow down your target market.

Who are you going to serve? Come up with some examples of your ideal clients. Find out as much as you can about them so you can market to the right people. It’s helpful to create a client profile and marketing plan so you can understand your potential audience.

Before I wrote my food photography business plan, I thought everyone was my client. Food is such a broad niche . I reasoned I could shoot for all types of clients, from restaurants to stock agencies .

Overhead shot of a busy cafe

When researching your target market, look at the size and present status of the market. Identify any trends for the future. Ask yourself if this market is accessible, affordable, and achievable.

If I had focused all my attention on high-end restaurants, I would have failed. There are not enough in my area to keep me busy. Nor does restaurant photography pay as well as commercial photography . So, I had to include other kinds of food photography clients in my target market.

Assess the Competition

You should find out who your main competitors are in your target market and demographic area. Research them and determine how your photography services will compete and differ from them.

There is something unique that will set you apart from your competition. It can be difficult to pinpoint, but you need to determine what it is. This difference will affect your branding and marketing strategies for your business.

Overhead shot of a person holding a coffee cup at a table with plants, camera, lenses and other photography equipment

Develop Key Marketing Strategies

Once you have worked out who you will market to, you need to come up with some strategies. What activities will you undertake to get your name out there?

I often send a PDF of my recent work to advertising agencies and publishers. A commercial photographer may want to include external promotion in photography business marketing.

Many successful commercial photographers no longer use agents who charge hefty commission rates. Instead, they pay to be included in high-profile directories.

There are also production service companies that promote your work and connect you with clients. They help ad agencies, brands and publications to produce photoshoots. They also provide photographers with marketing support.

A barista pouring coffee into a v60 filter at a busy cafe

Consider Your Operations Strategy

In this section, you can break down where you will be operating your business in more detail.

Many portrait and product photographers have home-based studios. If you’re a commercial photographer with clients and creative directors, you need to rent a studio.

Depending on what kind of photography you do, you might not need to rent a studio on a monthly basis.

As a food photographer , I often shoot on location at restaurants. When I do commercial and packaging work, I rent a local studio for the day. I am not shooting jobs as often as a portrait photographer might. There is no point in my spending thousands of dollars on a studio space every month. That would absorb a lot of my profit.

A laptop, film and camera set up on a wooden desk to prepare a photography business plan

Plan the Financials

This part of your photography business plan is where you will focus a lot of your energy. You should spend considerable time determining what equipment you will need and how much it will cost.

Most likely, you will need to spend quite a bit more in this area in your first year of business.

When you are shooting professionally , you need to have two of everything in case of technical issues. You even need two cameras.

A photo studio set up as part of photography business plan

You might need an assistant on your shoots. How much will you pay them? How much money will you need to get started and survive until you have a positive cash flow is reached? Where will the money come from?

Finally, set up your pricing structure, depending on the type of photography you do.

If you shoot portrait photography , you may want to offer packages. If you shoot commercial photography , you may opt to have a day rate and charge for image usage .

Behind the scenes of a fashion photography shoot

SWOT Analysis

SWOT stands for strengths-weaknesses-opportunities-threats. This component of your photography business plan will take some analysis on your part.

When you compared yourself to the competition, you thought of what made you unique and different. Most likely, you came up with several strengths.

You may also have advantages that you can make work for you.

When I first started my business, I got a lot of work through a relative who owned a branding agency. The work was not related to my niche , but it gave me experience in professional shoots. And I was able to start earning money right away.

Another strength I identified was that I had hundreds of images to license through stock agencies . This came from years of practising my food photography. I was able to start earning passive income in my business with very little extra work.

Think of what gives you an advantage in your business right now.

An overhead shot of three small bowls of nuts and dried fruit on a metal surface

Your weaknesses are areas for improvement. Perhaps areas where you need to build up your skills. A weakness can be a lack of experience or technical knowledge. It is important to be aware of this so you can make these weaknesses part of your goal setting. This way, you can make strides to improve in the future.

Opportunities mean chances for developing your photography business. Are there trends you might take advantage of, such as changes in technology or social factors?

Threats are the challenges that can undermine your business or be serious obstacles on your path. It could be that most of your competitors are already well established. They have their own studios and twenty years of experience under their belts, as was my case.

A dark and moody food photography shot of three pink ice cream lollys in a pile on a wooden surface with berries and leaves

Make a Timeline

A timeline is a management tool. You can use it to hold yourself accountable for your actions and change it as required.

I strongly suggest writing a timeline for your business. The key to knowing which challenges are next for your business is to map them out in a timeline. Then, you can add it to your action plan. It helps to do a rough timeline on a monthly basis and then refine it as time passes.

Your timeline can consist of marketing and financial, legal, and operational activities. You don’t need to get complicated. You can simply write down a task you need to complete and the date you aim to complete it by. Start by writing a timeline for the first three months of your business.

A photography business plan checklist

Preparation and goal setting are crucial to success in any business. A plan for your photography business can make all the difference.

Start today by working on your photography business plan. If you can set aside 30 to 60 minutes a day, you’ll finish before you know it. And then you’ll be far ahead of most photographers, who have no plan whatsoever!

Now you’ve worked out how to make your business plan, check out our posts on how to price your photography services or use social media marketing next!

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