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Is This Thing On

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Start A Photography Business

By Pye Jirsa on March 28th 2019

You’re reading this because you take great pictures but you’re wondering… “should I start a photography business”? In this episode of ‘Is This Thing On’ I’m going to tell you exactly what you need to consider before taking the big leap.

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Now, this video is not meant to crush your dreams of owning a photography studio or business, it’s actually the opposite. I want you to enter this industry with the right expectations. If you do so, there is a far greater chance that you’ll succeed and stick around. Close to 90% of photographers and cinematographers churn out of the industry within 5 years.

Here are 5 things to consider before starting up your photography business:

1. Photography and the Business of Photography Differ

The best way to explain this is to use another analogy. You might make a great cup of coffee, but does that mean that you should start a coffee shop? Opening up a coffee shop requires so much groundwork before even making your first cup of coffee: finding a location, designing the space, crafting a menu, scoping out local competition (AKA every Starbucks on every street), marketing and advertising, and obviously so much more, the list literally could go on for hours.

All of this to say that there is so much to do to create and sustain the business before even pouring your first cup of coffee. 90% of your photography business is not going to be comprised of taking pictures, that’s just 10%. Beyond just the passion of capturing photographs, you need to be passionate about the entire process ahead.

2. Customer Service is Non-Negotiable

You are entering a service based industry. This is a line of business that deals directly with customers and along with that, you’ll be dealing with exceptional wants and needs. Sales, valuing and justifying your worth, price negotiation – all of this comes with the territory of walking into this line of business. Learning your way around running a business is one thing, but factoring in multiple personalities, budgets, and expectations is an entirely separate matter.

3. 10% Photography, 90% You

Understanding that 10% of your job will be photography while 90% will be setting up the actual business is an absolutely crucial mentality to have for the first couple of years of your business. Once your business is off the ground and running, you can begin to outsource certain tasks you don’t prefer to tackle which frees up more time to perfect your craft and establish your personal photography style.

4. Delivering Consistently Under Pressure Is Stressful

When a client pays you, they expect the same consistent results that they have come to know from your portfolio and your body of work, no matter the time constraints or circumstances. So, the question you must ask yourself prior to “should I start a photography business” is whether or not function better in high-stress situations vs. low-stress situations. If you thrive in high-stress scenarios and excel then this is the industry for you.

5. Be Ok Giving Up Creative Freedom

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When you’re being paid, you are on your clients’ time. You give up your own creative freedom in order to satisfy the needs of the client. Many people might fight me on this point, but I stand by it. Sometimes that means reigning in your creative ideas or trying something outside your comfort zone.

After reading all of this and you still think you are up for the challenge of starting a photography business, we’ve created the perfect resource to kickstart this journey.

Purchase Here

Our Complete Photography Business Training System is comprised of 4 comprehensive workshops designed to tackle the toughest steps of building a photography business. Along with the workshops, you’ll receive contracts, templates, and additional resources – everything that you would possibly need to run your studio successfully!


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Founding Partner of Lin and Jirsa Photography and SLR Lounge.

Follow my updates on Facebook and my latest work on Instagram both under username @pyejirsa.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Gabi Nocito

    I’ve never read something more condescending and discouraging. Obviously starting a business is tons of work. All 5 reasons can be said in this: “it’s a lot of work so you shouldn’t do it”. Sad to see clickbait prevailing rather than thoughtful articles challenging you rather than “don’t do this because you’re not good enough and don’t realize how much work there is to be done”

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  2. David Blanchard

    Would you recommend starting a photography business and contracting out almost all of the actual photography?

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  3. michael stringer

    Hello ,  I photographed with 35mm film ( people asked if it was digital ) ( 3 cameras / with different  zooms ) , I endeavoured to give the “timeline of events From diferent perspectives “28 mm ” ,”35-80″, 50mm+100mm ( 2x converter with 50 1.7; for portraits ), 70-210 mm ( minolta products with flash (bounce, ttl , minolta ) . Dont worry ……I had a better success rate with film……..havnt done with digital YET ….  . YES , I will Do so with A7R +24-240 , or 28-70 , 35 2,8 , 6D +28-75 f 2,8 , or 17-40  f.4 , 7D + 11-16 2.8 , 55-250 , or 28-75 2.8 , 70- 300 , 70 – 300 , T5i + 18-135 ,  ( still have option of 40/2.8///50 1.8 with 7D or 6D ) ,YES 17-50 2.8 on 5300 will be fantastic , PLEASE NOTE 7D’s have 8 frames per second , T5i+5300 have 5FRAMES per second…………….one of my favorite shots is the young boy blowing bubbles + the rehearsal photos of the daughter making a duck face ( not flatterring at all ) versus the WOW hairdoo of MAID OF HONOUR !!!! Another photo had the young boy using the blonde girls hair as his own + a beautiful black girls smile ( the blonde + black girl were not a part of the wedding) . Everyone was BEAUTIFULL !! ” MAKE SURE EVERYONE SMILES + looks at the camera !       ….hands in polyester “knuckles ” dont look good .  mik/frm/can/tm

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  4. Carly Street

    Great article.  There are a lot of artsy, creative people out there, but RUNNING a business is a whole different ball game.  I mean, how many times have we heard the story about the photographer who doesn’t deliver the images until 5 months after the wedding & won’t answer your emails & calls?

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