Business Ideas for New Photographers, Part 2

Be sure to check out PART 1 here.

There are a lot of different ways to structure your photography business. I'm not talking about the legal structures like LLCs, but the types of offers you advertise and the things that are included in that package or process.

Four main types of photo biz models

  1. Shoot-n-Burn (give it all away)
  2. All-Inclusive (selling digitals or pricing for profit)
  3. Hybrid (offering digitals AND products for sale)
  4. IPS – In Person Sales (or a boutique studio)

This is certainly a simplification as there smaller tweaks you can make to each. But for the purpose of thinking about this, here's where we'll start.

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I don't recommend this route. In most cases, this means that you're not even really editing the images, just showing up and dumping the files.

The only real reason you'd take money to shoot and burn is as a second or associate shooter for someone. My associates, for example, show up and shoot, then give (burn) their RAW files to me.

If you decide to take on a few of these gigs, it is valuable to know if you're able to also keep your RAW files to edit on your own and use for your portfolio. I always allow this, as it's part of my core values to be as helpful as possible when new photographers are starting out.

Some folks, though, still don't allow seconds/associates to use the files for their own purposes. Double check if you're the second photographer and consider erring on the generous side if you're the lead photographer.


This is similar to the hybrid, but without the products for sale. The major plus to this type of model is the freedom and lack of inventory to deal with. For example, when I spent the winter in Hawai'i a couple of years ago, my associates Dropboxed (is that verb now?) the RAW files from shoots they shot for me and I edited them and delivered everything literally from the beach.

This is the model I have for my branding clients, with a few tweaks.


Pretty much the same as above, but with products.

This can be acheived in a remote “beachy” way like the all-inclusive, as long as you're okay drop-shipping things to your client hot off the press without quality-checking first.

I've definitely done this for most of my print sales over the years, but I am very familiar with the quality of my printing service. I rarely do this with albums or anything really expensive that could have an issue.

This is the model I currently have for my lifestyle photography.


In person sales can be hugely lucrative. It's also very time consuming, and takes a bit more scheduling finesse. This model is best for photographers selling only a low number of images that are highly retouched. It's hands-on, and requires you to have a large amount of inventory available to show clients.

It's a great model if you have an office or studio in your area. You can also go to client's homes a couple of weeks after the session with samples. I did this for a while. And while I sold more prints (WAY more), it was really difficult for me to maintain the demands of my travel schedule and keep so many appointments.

Plus, as a storyteller, the small number of images didn't really fit my style.

Other considerations

In addition to the models for sales and packages, you'll want to think about what best suits your genre and style.

If you're a studio newborn photographer with tons of prop set-ups, you're most likely aiming for one or two great shots. This is an excellent IPS genre.

If you're a documentary wedding photographer, storytelling is a huge part of what you offer, so a hybrid style is probably going to be a good fit. However, if you're a fine art wedding photographer, or film photographer, IPS will also work really well.

Keep things simple

Whatever way you go, make sure what you offer is CLEAR and EASY to understand.

No one wants to look at a pricing sheet that has your session time priced by the minute plus 13.5 prints included for the first 27 minutes and 2 more prints if you book for 31 minutes but only on Sundays, plus on Fridays you get 10% off the small-sized albums and and extra $5 print credit to share with friends…

…you get the idea.

Start VERY basic.



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