We earn commissions if you shop through the links below. Read more

How to Start a Wedding Photography Business

Written by:

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

Edited by:

David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.

How to Start a Wedding Photography Business

Fast Facts

Investment range

$5,900 - $10,800

Revenue potential

$70,000 - $175,000 p.a.

Time to build

1-3 months

Profit potential

$63,000 - $70,000 p.a.

Industry trend

Declining

Commitment

Flexible

Weddings are often the biggest event of people’s lives, and need to be captured in photos. Weddings are also events that people spend a lot of money on, which is why US wedding services is a $70 billion industry

If you’re a skilled photographer, you could start a wedding photography business and grab a share of a massive market that’s now bouncing back in the wake of the pandemic. 

But you will need a bit of business savvy. Luckily, this step-by-step guide details everything you need to know to launch a brilliant career as a wedding photography entrepreneur. 

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Share in the joy of those special days
  • Follow your photography passion
  • Good profit potential

Cons

  • Competitive industry
  • Deal with bridezillas

Wedding photography industry trends

Industry size and growth

Wedding photography is part of the wedding services industry. 

  • Industry size and past growth – The U.S. wedding services industry is worth $70.3 billion in 2023 after declining 4.1% annually the last five years.((https://www.ibisworld.com/united-states/market-research-reports/wedding-services-industry/))
  • Growth forecast – The U.S. wedding services industry is projected to decline .6% in 2023. 
  • Number of businesses – In 2023, 413,597 wedding services businesses are operating in the U.S. 
  • Number of people employed – In 2023, the U.S. wedding services industry employs 1,031,769 people. 
Wedding Photography industry size and growth

Trends and challenges

Trends

  • Capturing natural moments rather than traditional wedding party poses
  • More couples are requesting videos, which is an opportunity for wedding photographers to offer additional services and boost revenue.

Challenges

  • Wedding photography has become trendy, leading to more entrants and greater competition.
  • Spending on weddings has decreased the last few years, causing many wedding photographers to reduce their prices.
Wedding Photography Trends and Challenges

Demand hotspots

Wedding Photography demand hotspots

What kind of people work in wedding photography?

  • Gender –  62% of photographers are female, while 38% are male.((https://www.zippia.com/photographer-jobs/demographics/))
  • Average level of education – The average photographer has a bachelor’s degree.
  • Average age The average photographer in the US is 39 years old.
Wedding Photography industry demographics

How much does it cost to start a wedding photography business?

Startup costs for a wedding photography business range from $6,000 to $10,000. Costs include cameras and other equipment, and a vehicle to transport the equipment.

You’ll need a handful of items to launch your wedding photography business, including: 

  • Cameras
  • Wide angle lens
  • Flashes
  • Lights and light stands
  • Tripods
  • Photo editing software such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom
Start-up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Setting up a business name and corporation$100 - $500$300
Business licenses and permits$200 - $300$250
Insurance$100-$500$300
Website$200 - $1,000$600
Initial Marketing Budget$300 - $500 $400
Camera and other equipment$3,000 - $4,000$3,500
Vehicle to transport equipment - down payment$2,000 - $4,000$3,000
Total$5,900 - $10,800$8,350

How much can you earn from a wedding photography business?

As a wedding photographer, the prices you charge will vary based on the length and size of the wedding and how many photos the clients want. The average fee is $3,000 to $4,000. 

These calculations assume you’ll charge an average of $3,500 and have a profit margin, when you’re working by yourself, of 90%. In your first year or two, you could shoot 20 weddings per year, bringing in $70,000 in revenue. This would mean more than $60,000 in profit, assuming that 90% margin. 

As you gain traction, you could land 50 weddings a year. At this stage, you might have an office and hire staff, reducing your margin to around 40%. With annual revenue of $175,000, you’d make a tidy profit of $70,000.

Wedding Photography earning forecast

What barriers to entry are there?

There are a few barriers to entry for a wedding photography business. Your biggest challenges will be:

  • Breaking into a competitive market
  • Having the photography skills to take outstanding photos

Related Business Ideas

If you’re still not sure whether this business idea is the right choice for you, here are some related business opportunities to help you on your path to entrepreneurial success.
How to Start a Wedding Photography Business

How to Open a Wedding Venue

How to Start a Wedding Photography Business

How to Start a Bridal Shop

How to Start a Wedding Photography Business

How to Start a Wedding Planning Business

Step 2: Hone Your Idea

develop a business idea

Now that you know what’s involved in starting a wedding photography business, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market. 

Market research could give you the upper hand even if you’ve got the perfect product. Conducting robust market research is crucial, as it will help you better understand your customers, your competitors, and the broader business landscape.

Why? Identify an opportunity

Research wedding photography businesses in your area to examine their services, price points, and customer reviews.

  • Make a list of wedding photography businesses that offer similar services. 
  • Review your competitors’ services – their features, pricing, and quality – and marketing strategies
  • Check out their online reviews and ratings on Google, Yelp, and Facebook to get an idea of what their customers like and dislike.
  • Identify your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. 

This should identify areas where you can strengthen your business and gain a competitive edge to make better business decisions.

You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a wedding photographer who also does portrait photography, or one that also offers wedding videos. 

You might consider targeting a niche, such as destination weddings.

This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away. 

What? Determine your products or services

In addition to wedding photos, you could create wedding videos or do photography for other events, such as corporate events. You could also offer other types of photography, such as portrait photography, when you’re not doing weddings.

How much should you charge for wedding photography?

Prices for wedding photography depend on the range of services you offer and the size and length of the wedding. It could be $1,000 for small events and up to $10,000 for big weddings, but most of the time you’ll likely be in the $3,000–$4,000 range. 

Once you hire staff, you should also factor in costs when setting your prices. And once you know your costs, use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. 

Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.

Who? Identify your target market

Your target market will be fairly broad, since your customers could be the couple or their parents. You should spread out your marketing to include Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. You could also find wedding planners to partner with for referrals. 

Where? Choose your business premises

In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home to keep costs low. But as your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire workers for various roles and may need to rent out an office. You can find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.

When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:

  • Central location accessible via public transport
  • Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
  • Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
  • Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
Wedding Photography Business idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Wedding Photography Business Name

Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.

Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:

  • Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
  • Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better 
  • Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
  • Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
  • Including keywords, such as “wedding…” or “event photography”, boosts SEO
  • Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “Endless Emotion Photography” and “Lifelong Frames” over “Rustic Love Photography” and “Beach Bliss Captures”
  • Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
  • Use online tools like the Step by Step Business Name Generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.

Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these. 

Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead and reserve your business name with your state, start the trademark registration process, and complete your domain registration and social media account creation. 

Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick a name, reserve it and start with the branding, it’s hard to switch to a new name. So be sure to carefully consider your choice before moving forward. 

Step 4: Create a Wedding Photography Business Plan

Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:

  • Executive Summary: A brief overview of your wedding photography business, highlighting your unique value proposition and goals.
  • Business Overview: An outline of your business structure, location, and the background behind starting a wedding photography business.
  • Product and Services: Detailed description of your photography services, including wedding day coverage, engagement shoots, photo editing, and album creation.
  • Market Analysis: Insight into the wedding photography market, including customer demographics, trends, and seasonal variations in demand.
  • Competitive Analysis: Evaluation of other wedding photographers in your area, their pricing, style, and market position.
  • Sales and Marketing: Strategy for attracting and retaining clients, including pricing, promotions, advertising channels, and digital presence.
  • Management Team: Information about the team running the business, their roles, experiences, and how they contribute to success.
  • Operations Plan: The day-to-day workings of your business, from client consultations to shooting weddings and managing post-production.
  • Financial Plan: Projection of revenues, expenses, and profitability, including pricing strategy and cost management.
  • Appendix: Additional supporting documents, like sample photographs, marketing materials, and client testimonials.
what to include in a business plan

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.

Step 5: Register Your Business

Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.

Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business! 

Choose where to register your company

Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to wedding photography businesses. 

If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state. 

Choose your business structure

Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your wedding photography business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely. 

Here are the main options:

  • Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
  • General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts. Here’s how to form an LLC.
  • C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation. Read how to start a corporation here.
  • S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
types of business structures

We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have. 

Form Your LLC

Choose Your State

We recommend ZenBusiness as the Best LLC Service for 2023

starts at $0, plus state fees

4.7/5

starts at $0, plus state fees
Visit ZenBusiness

Step 6: Register for Taxes

The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN. 

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online.

It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.

Step 7: Fund your Business

Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:

  • Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
  • SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
  • Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
  • Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
  • Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
  • Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.

Bank and SBA loans are probably the best option, other than friends and family, for funding a wedding photography business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept.  

types of business financing

Step 8: Apply for Business Licenses/Permits

Business Licenses and Permits

Starting a wedding photography business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.

Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits. 

You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. 

You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.

Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your wedding photography business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.

Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account. 

Step 10: Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.

Here are some types of insurance to consider:

  • General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
  • Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
  • Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  • Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
  • Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
  • Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of the above insurance types.
types of business insurance

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

Launching a Business

As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business. 

Essential software and tools

Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.  

You may want to use industry-specific software, such as UBOOKR or ULeadz, to manage your clients, scheduling, invoicing, and payments. 

Accounting

  • Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero
  • If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.

Create a website

Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism. You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.

Your customers are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. SEO will help your website appear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element for increasing sales. 

Make sure that you optimize calls to action on your website. Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Schedule Consultation Now”. This can sharply increase purchases. 

Marketing

Here are some powerful marketing strategies for your future business:

  1. Social Proof and Testimonials: Leverage the power of satisfied clients by showcasing their testimonials and wedding photos on your social media platforms, creating a compelling portfolio that builds trust with potential clients.
  2. Strategic Partnerships with Wedding Vendors: Collaborate with local wedding planners, florists, and venues to establish mutually beneficial partnerships, increasing your visibility in the wedding community and gaining referrals.
  3. Run Limited-Time Promotions: Generate excitement and urgency by offering limited-time promotions or discounts for early bookings, encouraging potential clients to take action and secure your services.
  4. Engagement on Social Media: Actively engage with your audience on social media platforms by responding to comments, participating in relevant wedding-related discussions, and sharing valuable content to enhance your online presence.
  5. Host Wedding Photography Workshops or Webinars: Position yourself as an authority in wedding photography by conducting workshops or webinars, sharing your expertise, and providing valuable insights that attract aspiring photographers and potential clients alike.
  6. Showcase Behind-the-Scenes Content: Humanize your brand by sharing behind-the-scenes glimpses of your work, giving clients a personal connection with your business and a preview of the dedication you bring to each wedding.
  7. Implement Referral Programs: Incentivize your satisfied clients to refer your services to friends and family by offering discounts, free prints, or other exclusive benefits for successful referrals, expanding your client base through word of mouth.
  8. Local SEO Optimization: Optimize your online presence for local search engine results by ensuring accurate business listings, obtaining positive reviews, and utilizing location-specific keywords to attract couples searching for wedding photographers in your area.
  9. Create Exclusive Packages for Off-Peak Seasons: Attract clients during slower seasons by designing exclusive packages with added value, such as engagement photo sessions or discounted rates, encouraging bookings throughout the year.
  10. Participate in Bridal Shows and Expos: Gain exposure by participating in bridal shows and expos, providing a tangible experience for potential clients to interact with your work and personality, making your business memorable in the crowded wedding market.

Focus on USPs

Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your wedding photography business meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire. 

Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your wedding photography business could be:

  • Capture every moment of your special day!
  • Brilliant wedding photography that fits your budget
  • Getting hitched on short notice? We’ll capture it all for you 
unique selling proposition

Networking

You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a wedding photography business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in wedding photography for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections. 

The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in wedding photography. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership.

Step 12: Build Your Team

Building a Team for a New Business

If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a wedding photography business include:

  • Photographers – handle larger client loads
  • Videographers – take videos of weddings
  • Photo editors – edit photos
  • General Manager – accounting, scheduling
  • Marketing Lead – implement marketing strategies

At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need. 

Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent. 

Step 13: Run a Wedding Photography Business – Start Making Money!

Running a Business

If you’re a photography buff, a wedding photography business is a great way to put your passion to work. It can also be fun, as you get to share in all those special moments. In a $70 billion market, there’s also money to be made, so you could make a healthy living with your photography skills.

Now that you’re a business-savvy entrepreneur, it’s time to pick up the camera and start shooting your way to success!

Wedding Photography Business FAQs

Is a wedding photography business profitable?

A wedding photography business can be very profitable. Photo shoot prices can range from $1,000 to $10,000 or more, depending on the size and length of the wedding, and how many photos the client wants.

What is the growth potential of a wedding photography business?

A wedding photography business is somewhat limited by geography. You can grow your business by expanding your services and doing other types of photography when you’re not doing weddings. You can also do photography for other types of events.

Can you start a wedding photography business on the side?

A wedding photography business can be a great side hustle since most weddings are held on the weekends. If you’re good at it, however, you might find your services so in demand that you’ll want to do it full-time.

How do wedding photographers get clients?

Wedding photographers get business through digital marketing channels and social media. They can also get business by partnering with wedding planners or other wedding vendors to get referrals, which is often the most effective technique.

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How to Start a Wedding Photography Business