Running My Small Photography Business.

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I can remember the exact day I decided to open up my photography business.

It was like one day I felt impossible, and the next day I felt.. possible. Scarlet was three-years-old and in nursery school and Des was just a few months old. I was learning things, many things, day by day. Des used to cluster nurse, all of the time. There was no rest for the weary. With Scarlet, I used to read books while I was nursing. With Des? I used to read photography tutorials. Over and over. I couldn’t get enough information. I swear I learned all about shutter speed while nursing my son.

I have a history thick with photography, and it didn’t just start with my kids. I studied cameras as a young child, then took courses in high school and college, and did an apprenticeship in my early 20’s. I really loved fine art photography for years.

I wanted to be on gallery walls, or in people’s homes. It never occurred to me that I could potentially do and be more than one thing. It’s like this blog – if you’ve noticed? It’s more than one thing. So one day I just decided that writing and photography were the things for me and I should stop being so afraid. That’s the thing. I was so afraid. I felt like a hack. Have you ever felt like a hack in your chosen field? I now know that many people do, and then find themselves doing things they only just dreamed about. It was my time. Everything needed upgrades – my gear, my computer, my advertising, my website, but all of that comes with time. You do a little at a time, at a comfortable pace, and then you soar every now and then.

One thing I’ve been LOVING throughout my journey is my DYMO LabelWriter® 450 Value Bundle Pack

I’m not wonderful at paperwork, so the DYMO LabelWriter® 450 helps me with specific labels – like shipping labels when I’m sending out DVDs of client proofs, or appointment cards when I want to send and remind someone about a client photo session. I also make labels for file folders so I keep track of the business expenses and profits. It’s a lot of labeling!

I would love to share with you the tips for starting a small photography business that worked for ME. You should always consider your passions and expertise, as well as research insurance and LLC options, and many more. My tips are more about channeling that inner something you need to get this off the ground – with some hands-on, technical advice as well, wherever appropriate. It’s a journey that will be different for everyone, and for various fields of work. It’s amazing sometimes to think back to how we all go from Point A to Point B, because sometimes point B is just dizzyingly wonderful, and oh-so-right.

  1. Learn to shoot in manual. I can’t stress this enough. This is all part of finding your specialization(s) and style(s). You need to know what your camera is doing, and how you can contribute nearly fully to that process.

  2. You are not just a creative. Remember this. If you’re starting and running your own business, you are a photographer/customer service rep/bookkeeper/marketer/secretary, and a million other things. Never underestimate this.

  1. Love takes time. So does this. This is love. Go slowly, or don’t. Either way, IT may go slowly. I started with two kids – one an infant – so I’m still playing the long game, and perhaps I alway will be. It’s paying off slowly but surely. Be aware that photography is a luxury that people don’t NEED, but they also kind of do need. I mean I need it! It’s memory-keeping at its most exquisite. It has changed the world and always will. People do need to be reminded that they do need it, though.

  2. Be friendly and open. I’m a natural people person so I’m lucky, but this is huge. Sometimes it’s just hard, but be genuine. Some things may not come easily to you, but being genuine will shine through and people do understand. They do.

  1. Branding and style are important, but not always easy. I was lucky because I got incredible website and logo design help, as well as great website domain and hosting. I needed a lot of hand-holding through that process and I still do sometimes.

  2. Word of mouth is your friend. I do most of my work this way. I could expand too (see next point) but sometimes it’s perfectly comfortable where I am. I have a lot of tasks to juggle as is, and that’s why I love word of mouth best.

  1. Marketing is your bigger friend. I do mine in strange, strange ways – through my blog, mostly, and through Facebook, but not even my fan page! I worry that if I plastered the world with my info, I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the workload. And I’m petrified. That’s the truth. This is scary. And it’s different for everyone. I have this strange “advantage” to being a blogger/photographer because my photography helps my blog, and my blog helps my photography business. Strange but true.

  2. Think outside the box. Be someone YOU’D want to hire. For me, it was reprint rights. It’s hard to find a photographer who offers them. And I may never be rich from photography but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE what I can afford give to people. And it’s too much sometimes. That’s ok. People tell me it is. I give a lot but I don’t know another way. Go big or go home.

  1. Ask for help and advice. And take it. My friend Kirsten was the one to tell me this was the career path for me, even if it took years to believe her. And my friends from Two Clever Sisters have been immensely helpful.

  2. You may need a lot of stuff. You may own some, and you can also rent some since some equipment is good for only one time, or is not yet affordable. This will vary for everyone. Do you want to know what I need? I’ll tell you: a website, a social media presence, a camera, a backup camera, lenses, different lighting units, reflectors, an external flash, filters, a macro lens filter, battery type stuff, memory cards, Lightroom software, Adobe Creative Suites software, Photoshop and Lightroom actions – can make your own, buy them, or download them from free sites, insurance and other incidentals, contracts, Tax ID, professional lab, DVD labels, accounting software, business cards, model releases, external hard drive, business bank account, PPA membership, pricing list, packaging/mailing/filing materials. THIS is where my DYMO LabelWriter® 450 comes in.

I don’t know what I’d do without my DYMO LabelWriter – it helps me organize my business and retain my style as well. I love cool fonts and labels and return address labels and thank you cards! I think all of these little touches are so important for a small photography business. The DYMO LabelWriter 450 Bundle is available primarily online, but you can check HERE to see if your local Staples carries it. I bought mine online through Staples and it was quick and easy!

The LabelWriter 450 is the perfect solution for my labeling, filing and mailing needs. I need my little business to stand out, and although I can go far with providing a warm personality and clear photography (at least I hope), I love what I can do with my LabelWriter. I can print address labels, create file labels for my records, make stickers for my business and make appointment cards. I just love little appointment cards. I can also create fun thank you and gift cards. My LabelWriter saves me a lot of time and money without the hassle of printing sheet labels on my husband’s desktop printer.

You can save time by creating labels directly from text in Microsoft® Word, Excel®, Outlook®, QuickBooks®, etc. or easily print addresses from Outlook® Contacts or Mac® Address Book. And the LabelWriter can print crystal-clear barcodes, labels and graphics with a 600 x 300 dpi resolution. I love that I can also create custom labels from 60+ label styles and layouts.

There is also the DYMO LabelWriter® 450 Turbo as another great solution for your small business. It can also be purchased online, and is available in a limited number of Staples stores. The LabelWriter® 450 Turbo prints labels at a high speed – 71 labels per minute – and takes the outstanding performance of the LabelWriter® 450 to another level. It eliminates the waste and hassle of sheet labels, and prints precise quantities without difficulty. You can label, mail and file more efficiently with the DYMO Label™ software and DYMO Stamps®, and you can customize and print address, shipping, file folder and barcode labels (and more) all from your PC or Mac®. This is also an amazing product to help fuel a small photography business.

The bundle includes thermal printing technology and comes with four LabelWriter® label rolls – including: LabelWriter appointment card labels, LabelWriter shipping labels, LabelWriter file folder labels, and LabelWriter multi-purpose labels. The bundle pack also comes with DYMO Label™ software, which was a big help in getting started with my labeling.

Be sure to go check back every week at Staples Daily Deals for special deals on your favorite DYMO LabelWriter® products including DYMO LabelWriter® 450 Bundle, LabelWriter® 450 Turbo, and LabelWriter® 4XL Turbo!

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  1. I am telling you, my bucket list still consists of you photographing my family and I. Seriously, I am truly in awe of your photo skills and someday this will happen! But still you are the best photographer that I know and love your tips on how you run your photography business and that Demo label maker is pretty cool, too! 😉

    1. What a coincidence because my bucket list consists of photographing your cute family! Yay!
      You have made my day and I’m totally grinning ear to ear with your “best photographer that I know” comment. Yay!!!!

      1. Aw, so happy to make you smile from ear-to-ear and you know I just love you to pieces. So in my eyes you really are the best photographer I do have the pleasure of knowing – always!! <3

    2. If Janine says it, I believe it. And she does have a cute family. I have zero doubt their family pictures would come out great. 🙂

  2. Such great advice! But number 8 is my favorite –

    “Be someone YOU’D want to hire. For me, it was reprint rights. It’s hard to find a photographer who offers them. And I may never be rich from photography but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE what I can afford give to people. And it’s too much sometimes. That’s ok. People tell me it is. I give a lot but I don’t know another way. Go big or go home.?

    I think is true of all professions:) Except of course the reprint rights:). And how I wish you’d been my wedding photographer, for the reason and your talent!

    1. I wish so too!! But I guess I wasn’t ready. So renew your vows!
      We had trouble finding a wedding photographer who would give us reprint rights but we DID and that inspired me for life.

  3. I love your advice about providing a service or product YOU would want to pay for. That’s really the quality you want to aim for. I’m so happy you’ve found success in your business and can live the life you want!

    1. Thanks! I’m really happy being someone I’d be able to afford. And it’s still so much fun and it’s not my only career which is nice. I think maybe I’d be different if I didn’t have blogging and Cassidy’s income, but I’m glad I don’t have to find out right now!

    1. It was one of the hardest things I’ve done. I just didn’t realize how hard and possible it could be at the same time.
      And labelwriters are amazing. You just walk around and think about labeling the entire planet.

  4. I definitely don’t think you could handle the workload if you marketed more than you do. Your pictures and talent are amazing and I don’t doubt you would have hordes of people knocking down your door! I really need a label maker for so many projects from our business to my blogging life! This one sounds like it would definitely do the trick!

    1. Thank you! Today I achieved a new career status – I had to turn down work and give it to my “assistant.” (aka – another photographer I work with)
      Label makers are incredibly wonderful.

  5. Those are truly all great tips. You possibly could have ran your photography business with your eyes closed and still do awesome at it. We are going to take a trip to see you and spend an entire week with you so be prepared next year. You’re going to take our photos and you’re going to use that super cool label maker to ship them to us. 🙂

    1. Bring it on!
      I did get a lot of support when I set out, so now I realize how important that is when I see someone about to embark on a journey!

  6. I was so glad that you said you would do my wedding. You were so easy to Work with and you really helped to bring a natural smile to my face.I love seeing you pop up on my instant message because that means you have another wonderful picture of my special day !!! You rock💚💜💙

    1. Julie, I have to confess that the reason I was not great with communication and commitment at first was because I was petrified! I am SO glad I got over that and got to meet you and do it.
      It was awesome. And I’m going to be finishing up this weekend and I will so miss seeing them for the first time because it’s been so much fun.

  7. Great tips! I think that’s awesome you were read about photography while nursing Des. I read books and lots of blog posts and learned about how you and Cassidy met 😉
    Next week I’ll be sharing all about my DYMO label maker. It’s pretty amazing!

  8. I wish you lived closer to me girl… your photos are amazing and we are due for another set of family photos!
    What struck me is when you said “love takes time” if you don’t love what your doing… change it right!

    1. Aw, thank you! I wish I could travel more with the photography. Maybe someday I will!
      It really does take time, and I was totally channeling Mariah Carey with her “love takes time” song!

  9. You wanted to be on gallery walls, but now, you are on hundreds of families walls! I am truly proud of you and your photography! Thank you for all of the great business tips!

  10. Love these tips. So practical and helpful. I am constantly toying with the idea of starting my own company but some of it is pretty daunting overall. – Katy

  11. I wish more people provided a service that they would want to pay for. All business owners should think like that.

  12. Having a small business sounds like a lot of work, but if you love what you do, then it seems like something you’d have to do. Also, I love label makers! I look for excuses to label things at work!!

  13. Thanks for the tips and your pictures are all wonderful. I need to go online and look into getting the DYMO Labelwriter 450 Bundle .

    1. It’s the best! I remember doing it as a kid and getting great pleasure in labeling the snacks with my name in our cupboard. My siblings didn’t appreciate that.

    1. Thank you so much! See I studied writing and photography and I’m forever confused by which one is first and which one is secondary. Anyway, if you ever have questions, I’m your girl!

  14. It’s awesome that you were able to perfect your craft with some self-teaching. I still have to learn to shoot in manual. I get so flustered when I’m trying to adjust all the settings. That labelwriter is sweeet!

    1. It’s strange because I did it professionally and not in manual which surprises me. I’m glad I got over the hump because it makes a huge difference.

  15. These are great tips for any business, really. Our has been going for 13 years now, with many ups and downs. You are a truly gifted photographer, and I love how you said your blog helps your photography and vice versa. A match made in heaven! I must admit, I love to label things :)!

  16. I am trying to imagine how the LabelWriter works and I think it’s so awesome! I agree with you that branding and style are both important. Also, I love that you’re sending out cards that suit your personality. I think it’s a great way to level up your brand.

    1. It’s pretty much the best LabelWriter ever.
      Leveling up my brand is really fun! It’s a bit of a challenge figuring it all out, but that’s part of the fun.

  17. These are some great tips some of them just for life in general. I try to shoot in manual but since I switched to the Samsung I’ve been super lazy!! Thanks for the reminder. The label writer looks awesome too, you know I love little gadgets like this!!

    1. I think I’d have fun with the Samsung for a bit. And I’m so used to manual, that shooting any other way takes work so I’m the lazy one.

  18. Until I started reading your blog, I had no idea that photographers need so much equipment. Photography is A LOT more complicated than I intially thought. I have a lot of respect for you guys that know how to get a great shot. I would love to be able to afford to pay for a session with a really good photographer one day. Too bad you are really far away 🙁

    1. I’m so glad you know! It’s a pretty expensive job and hard to make much money with, which is why I’m glad we have other income sources. That said, people do make it work in spectacular fashion. Maybe I’ll get there one day.

      I’d love to photograph your family!

  19. I want a labeler! I don’t have a small business but I’d love to. I will have to keep your tips in mind if I ever do. I love your photos, if only I could have you take ours. 🙂

  20. Great tips!! That’s my problem, I just don’t know where to begin!! But I know I need at least one actual photography course first because I don’t know my camera well enough. But I do shoot in manual — I get a lot of happy accidents. ha.
    And I don’t have a lot of equipment yet either. no external flash which is proving to be a big WANT.
    But like you say: slow and steady. That’s how it will unfold for sure.

    1. Slow and steady wins the race! And there are many giant leaps along the way too. There are times you’re like, “Oh man, I’m so glad I learned that. I can’t imagine if I hadn’t..”

  21. Since my hubby stole my label maker, I guess it’s time for me to get a new one 🙂 I may have to pick up this nifty little Dynamo label maker.

  22. This is so helpful and inspiring. Kudos to you for finding your path from passion to a solid business plan. These are truly great tips. Also, I love, Love, LOVE label makers and as mine has died, I think I will the DYMO.

    1. Thank you! It took me a ridiculously long time. I kept thinking I had to go other routes but having bosses never suited me… or co-workers. Ha! Having clients totally works, though.

  23. Hi you! I know, surprise-surprise. I just wanted to stop by your blog and give you a hello here too. I really enjoyed reading the 10 outline points as I’m always fascinated with the photo end of your life (and the other aspects too!) to feed my own photography hungry. Great post as always! And I like to give to and sometimes maybe you, Tamara, can learn to receive some generosity as you give so much 🙂 🙂 🙂 Have a great day my dear friend and love ya bunches! 🙂

  24. Running a photography business seems like it should be so simple and straightforward, but there are so many small pieces that you don’t think about until you’re in the midst of them. I love how you’re using your DYMO to keep everything organized and professional looking! #client

  25. Good photography is so difficult. I still haven’t figure out manual mode…shameful isn’t it? So glad you took the leap and started your business. You have a special gift for photography that I love to see.

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