wikiHow to Open a Portrait Photography Business

Photography is a wonderful career, and you may want to pursue it. However, in order to be a successful photographer, you'll need a successful photo studio! Follow this guide to obtain just that, make money, and do what you love.


  1. Image titled Open a Portrait Photography Business Step 1
    Get a location. The place you choose should be wide, spacious, and comfortable. A lot of equipment will have to be set up here, and you need room for: backdrops, equipment storage, and even people! An indoor place is more suitable than an outdoor one, but if you're planning on taking more outdoor shots, then that's a fine place to set it. However, this may interrupt the process (you'll have all sorts of bothers such as nosy neighbors, etc.). Nothing in the room should be too eye-popping, or that will take away from pictures you take. Bare walls work the best. Comfy, cream colored carpeting make a nice atmosphere. Remember: this place is where you'll be taking photos of people. Use your location to welcome your customers, and let them know that they haven't made a mistake by coming.
  2. Image titled Open a Portrait Photography Business Step 2
    Get a waiting room (optional). If you're going for a professional approach, you may want to establish a waiting room, where customers can lounge and relax before coming in for their photographs. This room doesn't have to be as spacious as your "photo room". But it must be fairly big. Set up chairs and/or a few couches, so that your customers can have a seat and look around. This room should be colorful, warm and welcoming. Hang some of your past photography work on the walls, for customers to observe and compare. You can also provide magazines for their entertainment. Create a nice atmosphere by exploring wall and carpeting choices. Make your customers feel like may even want to provide snacks.
  3. Image titled Open a Portrait Photography Business Step 3
    Get workers and establish the schedule. You can advertise in help wanted sections of your newspaper, to get workers for your photo studio. Specify the experience and style of the people you are looking for, and if possible, set up interviews with the possible choices. Unless you plan on establishing an entire photo studio by yourself, you'll need responsible, dedicated people to assist you. You'll need somewhere between 2-8 people to successfully get your photo studio running. After you have finished this process, and have a good team, you can start making the schedule. When will your photo studio open and close each day? Who will work each day, and for how long? Discuss this with your current workers. As the boss, it is your job to make sure everyone has their hours done, and that they have agreed to come to the studio at the designated times. Now that your schedule is done, you have the basic platform of a photo studio: a place, and a time frame.
  4. Image titled Open a Portrait Photography Business Step 4
    Get seamless paper backdrops. A good photo studio has a wide selection of backdrops, or backgrounds, for photos. Customers will expect quality designs, landscapes, and solid colors, to compliment their photos. Backdrops should not be sloppy or unprofessional. Have a few backdrops to choose from (solid white, solid black, and maybe a few scenery ones). They should be large enough to take up the whole frame. Use gels on the background lighting to adjust the appearance (a solid white background can appear red with the help of gels).
  5. Image titled Open a Portrait Photography Business Step 5
    Have makeup and accessories on hand. Customers want to look their best in the photographs- after all, they're paying good money for it. Show that you respect this, by supplying makeup for their use. Hire a make-up artist to apply the makeup for them. Provide a medium sized mirror, that can assist them in putting the makeup on. Also, consider providing accessories for the photos such as: hats, jewelry, purses, etc. This can help make the photograph more fun looking, and stylish. Your customers will be pleased with your immense assistance, and strive for their picture to turn out great!
  6. Image titled Open a Portrait Photography Business Step 6
    Decide on prices. Prices are an important factor to consider when creating a photo studio. A cost that is too high, will show that you are greedy, and will have you losing customers very quickly. However, a cost that is too low, will make your profits skimpy. Look at the prices of your area. Charge a sitting fee (they usually range from $75 to $300) and also charge for prints. Factor in the wages of your employees, the cost of studio equipment, and your experience.
  7. Image titled Open a Portrait Photography Business Step 7
    Post the price list so that customers can see it.
  8. Image titled Open a Portrait Photography Business Step 7
    Name the studio. Every photography studio needs a name to attract customers. The name you give can excel or fail such a business. Discuss the name choice with your fellow colleagues and think about your cooperation. What are the strong points? How can you express this in a few words? Give everyone a chance to share their opinions on the matter, before writing each one down. Then file a vote between everyone. However, if you feel that the winning name will not sell your portraits, then bring it up withing the discussion. As the boss, you should be able to voice your opinion on the matter and try to come up with a compromised solution.
  9. Image titled Open a Portrait Photography Business Step 8
    Advertise the studio. Now that you've established a location, workers, props, and even a cool name, it's time to begin advertising your photography studio. Before beginning the actual advertisement, make a list of all the studio's strong points. Why would a customer want to come to your photography studio? What does it have to offer that the other guys don't? Create a colorful, eye-popping advertisement that lists these strong points. Give contact information (such as the phone number you can contact, to schedule an appointment or get more information). Also, include the address of your location.
  10. Image titled Open a Portrait Photography Business Step 10
    Run the business. As you get more customers, run your business accordingly. Have fun!


  • It's a good idea to compliment the person getting their picture taken. Statements such as, "oh, you look beautiful in that dress!" or "this picture is going to be lovely!" work like a charm. However, don't overdo it or you will sound pushy.
  • Ask the customer what kind of a picture they're going for, and then pose them accordingly. You should be posing them; not simply taking pictures.
  • Give your customers freedom when choosing backdrops, makeup, etc. Although you can share your own opinion on the subject (so that they don't look overdone or silly in the photograph), let them choose the things they want.
  • Take a variety of pictures with different poses, etc.
  • Decide on your retake policy. Will the retakes be completely free? Will they have to pay the full price? Portion of the sitting fee?
  • If the pictures happens to come out horrible, retake them. The images that leave your studio should be ones that you are proud of.
  • If any worker begins acting snotty toward customers, or doing anything else that is hurting your business, discuss the problem with the worker privately. If the situation continues, fire the person.
  • Always treat your customers with exemplary kindness and respect. Refer to them by sir or ma'am unless asked otherwise, and act enthusiastic about meeting them. People will be more willing to suggest your business to others, if you show a positive, kind attitude. However, in order to produce the best images, it would be best to call them by their first name once you start to take pictures of them. If you don't, the relationship won't be personal enough and the images you'll get will reflect that.


  • Make sure you are aware of the person's allergies before applying any makeup on them. You don't want your customer leaving, angry, and covered in a rash!
  • Having one eyeliner or lipstick that you share among all customers can cause the customer to get red irritated eyes, and germs.
  • Ask your customer to bring lipstick/eyeliner with them if they plan on having it applied. Ask them not to apply any makeup beforehand.
  • Provide disposable combs, and use a different one for each customer, to prevent lice.

Things You'll Need

  • Photo room
  • Waiting room (optional)
  • Dedicated workers
  • A schedule
  • Poster/Photo paper
  • Paint
  • Makeup
  • Accessories
  • Fair prices
  • Camera
  • Film Developing equipment
  • Back Drops

Article Info

Categories: Photography