Pug Face
Credit: Jaime Rowe

Unhappy with your current job?

Photography is a hobby for many people but many other people make a living from photographing families, executives, children, events, weddings and pets. You may be unhappy with your current full-time job and you might be thinking about starting a part-time photography business. It might start with a wedding on the weekend and maybe one or two families photo sessions per week. As you begin to debate staying at your full-time and making photography your full-time job, there are many areas to assess.

1) Income - Are you generating enough income from your photography business to meet your current living situation?  Can you pay the bills with your photography income? I would suggest sitting down with your household income and expense reports, reviewing your finances and determining if you can still keep a roof over your head, the lights on and food on the table. A lot of new business owners overestimate their sales and underestimate their costs. Write down your sales and then cut the number in half. Now write down your estimated expenses and double the number. If you look at this final number and you can still keep a roof over your head and food on the table, then you might be ready to start a photography business.

2) Hidden Expenses - What expenses are covered by your current employer? Did they pay your cell phone bill, internet connection or healthcare coverage? If your employer covers your healthcare coverage, then you will need to shop around for healthcare coverage. Healthcare coverage and monthly prices vary so finding the right healthcare for you and your family may take some time and consideration.

3) Three to Six Month Savings - Do you have a three to six month savings in reserve available if needed? If your monthly expenses are $5000, then you should have $15,000 for a three-month savings reserve and $30,000 for a six-month savings reserve.

Some types of photography are seasonal. For example, senior and wedding photography is sometimes seasonal work depending on your location. How are you going to get through the months where you have a significant decrease in revenue coming in the door? A three to six month reserve will protect you from financial disasters and give you peace of mind.

4) Equipment - Do you have the professional equipment needed to provide quality images and artwork for your clients? Anyone can go to the local electronics store and buy a decent camera but do you have a professional camera that can create beautiful images for your clients? Do your research and buy the right camera for your business needs. You do not need the "top of the line" camera and flash. Purchase a camera that you understand and can pay with cash.

5) Knowledge - Do you have the technical knowledge to be a photographer? You might have the "top of the line" camera but do you know how to use it? Do you leave it on "auto" and hope for the best? If you are uncertain about your technical knowledge, then take a photography class or workshop, become a certified photographer, research the history of photography and learn from other expert photographers in the field. Knowledge about the art of photography and the technical aspects of your camera will greatly enhance your success rate as a photographer and business owner.

To conclude, taking the leap from a part-time photographer to a full-time photographer should not be taken blindly. Stop and review your potential income, hidden expenses, savings, camera equipment and photographic knowledge before becoming a full-time photographer. If you review these five areas and find favorable results then you will be ready to start your own full-time photography business. Good Luck!