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I Left Employment to Start a Photography Business: A Case Study

By: J.A.J Aaronson - Updated: 14 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Photography Business Photography

Self employment is a dream for many people. The idea of running one’s own business is a very attractive one; you can choose your own hours, decide what sort of work you want to take on, and you will never have to worry about the possibility of being made redundant.

The rate of self employment is increasing, with many people taking their talents and turning them into profit-generating activities. If you have a passion and a talent for photography, and you are willing to put in the incredible amount of hard work associated with setting up a business, you too may be able to become your own boss.

Going it alone

This case study concerns Julian, who having been made redundant as the recession hit, decided to strike out on his own and start a photography business.

“I had been working as an IT technician – not at all related to photography,” he said. “But I love photography. I have done a lot of amateur work and have had a couple of paid assignments in the past. I thought, if ever the time was right to give it a go, it was now.”

Julian decided that he wanted to do portrait work. Like many photography enthusiasts considering setting up a business, he already had a semi-professional camera. “Luckily, I spent some money on photography equipment while I was still in a job. I had a decent camera and a copy of Photoshop, so I was half way there.”

Before beginning work, Julian registered as self employed with HMRC, a process which takes a few minutes on the phone. Failure to do this within three months of your first month of self employment can result in you receiving a fine. He then purchased a basic lighting rig and some backdrops in order to complete portrait shoots.

Home studios

“I couldn’t afford to take on a studio, so I set up a very small studio in my spare room. I set up a frame for backdrops, and had my lights arranged in a standard configuration. I got some friends to let me take test shots of them so that I had a reasonable portfolio.”

Julian built a simple website and put these images online, along with contact details. “I didn’t put any prices up, as I wasn’t entirely sure what people would be willing to pay. I just said that I would consider any offers.”

But Julian’s main source of work has been local word of mouth. “I put adverts up in local shops, with a couple of my best images. Almost all of my work so far has come from an advert I put in the window of a local independent baby clothing shop. So all of a sudden I’m doing lots of baby portraits.”


Business has been quite slow for Julian. “I am certainly not earning anywhere near what I was in my previous job. But I have only been going a couple of months, and business is slowly starting to pick up. I am starting to get more hits on my website, and word of mouth is spreading.

“If I could give one piece of advice, it would be to make sure you have some cash saved before starting out in self employment like this. There may well be a period where you have little business, and you will need some money to tide you over.”

If you are considering setting up a photography business, you have come to the right place. Take a look around the site for further information on starting your new venture.

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