Do you recall the moment you knew you wanted to make your photography dream into a reality and start a photography business? Here at ShootDotEdit, we know running a business is a tough for anyone, and especially as a photographer. Not only do you need to take gorgeous photos and interact with ideal clients, you also have to tend to the important tasks that keep your business running and successful. Since there are so many aspects for you to focus on, how do you know which tasks are most important and ones you can leave behind?

Today, Ben Hartley of Style & Story Creative shares 51 things he wishes he would have known when starting a photography business. These items can help you when you are first starting out in your business, as you can skip some of the tasks which are not necessary to focus on. This list can also help you as a photographer who has been in business for years, as you can take a look at your business and decide what you can change to make every process you have streamlined and succinct.



1. Being a photographer is 1st being a small business owner and 2nd being a professional photographer

2. You will have less, not more, free time as a small business owner

3. Taxes are real; set aside money to pay them

4. Personality is as important as product

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5. Your copy is as important as your photographs on your website

6. Do everything for either free or expensive, NEVER cheap

Related: Will you make a profit by the end of the year? Fill out our Pricing Calculator for Wedding Photographers to find out!


7. Other people can edit better and faster than me

8. Brand should not be an afterthought

9. Re-branding means re-building

10. Saying “no” is a good thing

11. You don’t have to give away digital files

12. Timeless is better than trendy

13. Clients are willing to pay

14. There is more to weddings than kiss shots

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15. Giving up weekends is harder than you might think

16. Your computer is your best investment as a photographer

17. You don’t have to do it all

Related: Are you overwhelmed in your workflow? Here are 20 tasks you can take off your list today!

18. Hire an accountant

19. You do not need a studio

20. Set office hours

21. Set up a backup solution on day 1

22. Have a pregnancy plan (ok, this might not apply to everyone)

23. The 70-200 f2.8 is not a requirement for wedding photography

24. Don’t look at other photographers in your field

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25. Reading is crazy important

26. Buy the right/good quality gear once

27. Light > lens

28. G your gear today

29. Having photography business cards does not make you a small business owner

30. Cheap products communicate cheap service

Related: Do you have a wedding photography contract?? Our free guide with CreativeLive can help!

31. Albums make money

32. Clients do not care about the normal quality reduction on Facebook, stop obsessing over it

33. Obnoxious watermarks communicate insecurity

34. Don’t hire the massive SEO company that cold calls you

35. You don’t have to use Photoshop

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36. Invest in yourself before investing in a new lens

37. Taking mediocre pictures and trying to save them with editing results in over-edited mediocre pictures

38. “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough” – Robert Capa

39. There is more to getting brides than bridal shows

40. Your brand defines your target bride (If you want high end clients, you need a high end brand)

Related: Do you know the keys to sending a clear brand message to your ideal clients?

41. Losing clients can be a good thing

42. You are not your target

43. Stay away from gossipy Facebook photography groups

44. Read Robert Cialdini’s Influence and Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People

45. Charge more to shoot on holidays

46. Associate photographers are not all that they are cracked up to be

47. Film is not dead

48. Even famous photographers are just people

49. Celebrate your competitors’ victories

50. You sell memories, not ink on paper or digital bits on drives

51. Always over deliver

Ready to learn more about these 51 things? Access Ben’s 7-Day Crash Course to get a deep dive into how to better your business!


What did you relate to on this list from Ben? Are there still things you can work on in your business to ensure you continue to be successful? Share in the comments, we’d love to know! Running a business can often be challenging, and starting a photography business is no easy task. Constantly re-evaluating where you are at, and how your current systems function, is key to your success. In our 16 Things I Wish I Did My First Year as a Photographer Guide, we connected with 16 pro photographers to find out what they wish they did in their first year of business to set it up for success. Download it today to use their insights for your business!

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