5 Reasons Photography Businesses Fail


Becoming a photographer and starting a photography business is not as easy as it seems. You could be the best photographer in the world, but if you don’t know how much to charge for photography or how to get photography clients, or aren't skilled in photography marketing, your business can fail. I've had my own photograph business for over 10 years and I've seen a lot of photographers have to shut down their business. In my opinion these are  the five major reasons why photography businesses fail. While this is certainly not an all-encompassing list, understanding how to navigate these five problems will help you create your own successful business.

  1. The lack of understanding of the money involved - both initial costs and photography pricing. Do you already have a professional camera? What about the right lenses for the type of photography you’re offering? These can be costly. Then you’ll need to consider how you’re going to price your services. You won’t make any money if you keep gifting free services to family and friends. Determine how much money you need to charge and make to cover your own expenses and pay yourself for the job, then price your services accordingly.
  2. Not having a professional looking photography blog (or a blog in general). Think of your blog as a first impression. Not only is it a way for potential clients to see your work, it is a way for them to get to know and trust you before hiring you. Make sure you display your best photographs in easy to navigate categories. And don't forget the text. It's important to have quality content on a regular basis. One way to do this is to sign up for the Photographers Pre-Written Blog Post Monthly Subscription Program.  You will get 4 pre-written blog posts sent directly to your e-mail each month. Find out more by clicking here
  3. Not utilizing social media. Not choosing a niche and identifying your ideal client. What type of photography are you best at, and what will be most popular around your area? Choose one genre and stick with it. It’s much easier to perfect a certain style and market to one particular group of people than to try to appeal to everyone at once. For example, wedding photography requires a whole different skill set than a photography photographer and then clientele is different too. You’re going to want to learn as much as you can about the niche you choose and it is very difficult if your interests are divided. Wouldn’t you rather be “great” at one type of photographer than “mediocre” at two? Focus on one niche, specialize in it, master it and then add other areas as you are able. This tip is good for learning a social media platform too which brings me to my next tip.
  4. Not utilizing social media.

It’s one of the easiest ways to get free publicity; all it takes is a small amount of time to initially set up your page, and then a small amount of time each week to keep it updated. Update regularly, and remember to interact with your clients and fans.  You can use social media to update your followers and clients on new projects you’ve been working on or offer special discounts on services and also as a way to collect their e-mail addresses so you can market to them with email. Check out our photographer email templates which are a great time saver. As I mentioned start with one platform, whether it is Instagram or facebook and really get to know how to use the platform and master it and then move on to the next one.

5. Not planning for the slow seasons. 

I’ll be honest with you this is a mistake I made and one that I see a lot of photographers make. They don’t realize that it’s very difficult to have a steady stream of clients throughout the year.  For example for some photographers the summers are slow because of the climate and for others it’s the winter months that slow them down. You need to be prepared for that ahead of time. Whether it means budgeting your money better and planning for those slow times or looking for additional ways to earn extra income with your photography business such as teaching photography to kids or adults.  If teaching is not your thing check out this other post with more ideas on how to make money with photography.

Bonus reason: Not creating a Brand: When people see your work, you want them to know that it was you behind the lens. While creating your own distinct photographic style can certainly help, creating a brand will really bring your business full circle. This includes a logo, a website or blog, and a social media profile that all have the same look and feel – including consistency in font, color, and overall style.

Finally, don’t get discouraged! If you have all five of these common problems figured out, you’re already well on your way to having a successful photography business.  Just remember: it’s not as easy as simply being talented behind the lens. You’ll need to wear many different hats, but in the end it will all be worth it.


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Comments on this post  ( 4 )

mindy says:

Thank you so much. So helpful.

Pru says:

Defiantly not vain, you can make a comment on their post like Cindy suggested! "I had so much fun shooting……… Then everyone that has liked it will automatically see that you are the photographer. You are building your Brand.
Starting out is defiantly a learning curve. The one thing I learned, in the beginning, is to put your logo at the bottom of every image that is shared Digitally. If they purchase images give them two files… One Full Resolution (Print Ready), One with your watermark on it (Screen Ready). By Screen ready the files are smaller and easier for them to upload. Only on one occasion has anyone taken my logo off. When I send them the files to the client, in the body email I simply ask then to make sure they use the watermarked images for social media. I don’t give digital (Print Ready for portraits anymore.) If they order from me I automatically give them images with watermark for social media, so they can post all they want. This keeps the quality control on printed images consistant with my Brand.

Cindy (Magazine Mama) says:

Hi Tricia,

Thank you for your question. First, congrats on starting your photography business! This can be both an exciting time and frustrating as well. I understand not wanting to charge in the beginning, but here is an idea for your next photo shoot. Offer to shoot your client’s session for free, and then post the images to an online gallery. Tell your clients they can buy the photos they like from the gallery. That way, there’s less pressure on you, and you still get paid for the photos they choose.

For the images on facebook perhaps you could ask nicely something like “would you mind to tag my business page…” Or you could post a comment on the images such as “I had a great time shooting your session…” For future, I wouldn’t post any images online without your watermark on them. I’d post the images on facebook and social before your clients have access to them and go ahead and tag them.

Hope this helps!

Tricia says:

I’m in the very (very) beginning of starting up a photography business. I’ve done a few sessions for people for free (please don’t cringe) in order to gain more experience as I am just beginning to start charging for sessions. When these people have put up their photos on Facebook, they have not tagged me or done anything to say who shot the pictures. I had assumed this would just be normal etiquette. But, once they’re up, I feel like I can’t ask them to give me credit (seems a little vain to me). What advice would you give for something like this?

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