Turn Your Photo Passion into a Home Portrait Business

Avid photographers and camera lovers have a knack for taking great photos. Here’s how you can turn your hobby into a well-paid part-time home business.

If you’re an avid photographer and like to take pictures, especially of people or pets, there could be money waiting for your through your lens. If you already have a quality digital or film SLR (single lens reflex) camera and flash, you could well be on your way to starting a home portrait business.

A part-time home portrait business is easy to start if you have the know-how, the equipment, and the marketing savvy to place yourself in the market. And you don’t need to think of just kids, teenagers, and grownups as subjects for your home portrait business. Anne Geddes has made an industry of baby photography, and so has William Wegman with his wonderfully dressed Weimaraner hounds.

In a home portrait business, you might offer portrait photography for the following:

  • Senior Photos
  • Engagement Photos
  • Weddings
  • Newborns
  • Family Portraits
  • Actor Headshots
  • Executive Photos
  • Pet Portraits

Skills Required: Advanced knowledge of camera controls and photo techniques.

Although there is formal training in photography techniques available through colleges and art institutes, you don’t need a college degree or diploma to become a skilled and reputable portrait photographer. You can learn by doing and by reading available portrait photography books. Practice taking portraits of your friends, family and acquaintances. Read photography books to get familiar with portrait photography techniques, poses, and lighting setup.

To be successful at a home portrait business, you will need to be experienced and skillful in the following:

  • Operating an SLR camera with full control of aperture and shutter.
  • Reading a light meter and properly setting camera controls for best exposure.
  • Setting up or framing a shot, with the “rule of thirds” in mind.
  • Talking to and giving directions to people.
  • Creativity in setting up backgrounds, poses, and lighting design.
  • Photo editing software for final touchups and image controls.

Startup Expenses: $300 -$6,000

Your startup expenses for your home portrait business depend on the equipment you may already own and how well you want to outfit your home studio. If you already have a good SLR camera and flash, you can begin taking portraits right away! If you need to start your home portrait business by purchasing basic equipment, here is a typical cost list:

Basic Needed Equipment

  • Digital SLR Camera $500 – $1,200
  • Detachable Flash $100 – $200

Optional Equipment or Needs

  • Basic Studio Lighting Kit $400 – $2,000
  • Portrait Backgrounds $100 – $500
  • Photo Software $200 – $600
  • Quality Photo Dye Printer $150 – $400
  • Professional Website Design $100 – $500

Additional startup expenses for your part-time business would include obtaining initial business cards and advertising.

Monthly Revenue: $300 – $3,000 per month

Your revenue could be as simple as earning a few sitting fees per month or even just shooting one wedding a month. Typical sitting fees are about $100 to $150, and that doesn’t include the revenue from actual print sales. Wedding packages average about $1,500 to $3,000 for wedding photographers.

Monthly Expenses: $0 – $500

The nice aspect about a home portrait business is that your overhead is low once you have all your basic equipment. Your regular expenses might include gasoline for driving to client locations, liability insurance, quality film if you use a non-digital camera, advertising, and quality photo paper if you do your own photo printing. However, in most of these cases, except for insurance and advertising, expenses are passed on to the customer in the fees you charge.

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