written by: Caroline Thompson•edited by: Jonathan Wylie•updated: 5/24/2011
These simple templates are useful models for making comparisons between the different types of photography businesses. There is some overlap between a portrait photographer, an event photographer and a corporate photographer, but the business structure varies with the type of photography service.
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Basic Photography Template
For a photographer, business templates are important, but the basics of business are consistent for any type of small enterprise.
Business Plan--A successful business starts with a business plan. Writing up a business plan helps to formalize the actual direction, timeline and goals of a business. It explains what type of service is offered, and answers the questions who, what, when where, how and why. The business plan is not a static object, it is updated along with changes in the business. This keeps the business fresh and focused.
Office Space--A space to work, organize and generate new business is necessary. Whether this is in an office building or an in-home office, it is important to set up an office to work from. If it is a home office, there should be strict office hours and family members should be advised that it is the same as if it was located in an outside building.
Finances--Capital is necessary for equipment, set up and inventory for any production. These things are still needed even if the type of photography is location work.
Advertising--Some type of advertising is necessary so people and businesses know you are available for work.
Inventory--Once new business is acquired, some type of product will be delivered to the customer. It is important to have everything on hand to deliver a quality product in a reasonable amount of time. Most photography business is deadline dependent.
This is the basic template for a photography business. Each type of photography service will have extra templates that are added to this basic template. These more specific photographer business templates can be found in the following sections.
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Portrait Studio Template
A portrait studio plan builds upon the foundations of the basic template. The areas that are expanded include the location, services, advertising and product.
Location--A portrait studio is based out of a building with one or more rooms devoted to taking pictures of people. In this case, the office is located in the studio. Choosing a location that is in a busy public place can help cut down on advertising costs. People walk by and stop in to inquire about services and set up appointments. Room is needed for large amounts of lights, cameras and other photography equipment.
Advertising--Portrait studios are dependent upon advertising. All of their business comes from letting people know where they are, what type of photography the offer and the quality of the work. Word of mouth will provide a small amount of business, but a large part of the budget needs to be spent on advertising. Some types of advertising include phone book ads, online ads, newspaper ads and any local magazines or other small local publications. Another source of advertising is a storefront window. If the studio is located on a busy street, captivating portraits can be placed in the window to attract attention and potential customers.
Equipment-- Portrait studios need lights, cameras, sets and other photography equipment. Computer equipment is also necessary for imaging and running the business. This is the largest part of the budget. Camera equipment is expensive, but can be depreciated over time to help reduce taxes.
Inventory--Supplies are needed if the studio prints the images in-house. Printers, inks and paper are needed for the final product. This is more costly than outsourcing printing, but gives the photographer greater control over the final product.
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A photojournalist has different business needs than a portrait photographer. The basis of the business is done on location for magazines and other publications. The basic model for the photojournalist includes travel expenses, equipment, product (sometimes), delivery system (electronic or mail), and is all driven by deadlines.
Travel--Photojournalists travel to the work. They need to charge for time and expenses.
Equipment--Camera expenses are still the biggest part of the budget. Items needed include camera equipment, lenses, travel equipment gear and computer equipment. Printers, inks and paper if the product is in printed form.
Delivery--Website expenses are necessary for FTP transfer for images and projects.
Advertising--Advertising expenses are less for photojournalist. The biggest advertising expenses are for a web site for a web presence, portfolio and other mailers for direct contact advertising. Most contracts in the business evolve from networking and strong word of mouth recommendations.
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Corporate Photograher Template
Corporate photography has some overlap between photojournalism and portrait photography. Corporate photographers have a need for studio work and location shots. They provide a full range of media service for news, publication and portrait services for corporations. The needs of a corporate photographer are more extensive, but the payoffs are bigger profits.
Location--Corporate photographers have a need for a studio location that can serve as an office and studio. Clients may drop by for head shots or product shots. Some photography is done on location for corporate newsletters or head shots for company web pages.
Equipment--Studio lights and equipment are needed along with location travel lights and gear. The equipment costs for corporate photography are the biggest part of the budget due to the variable work location and shoots. Different computers and imaging equipment are necessary to deliver product on deadline.
Advertising--Advertising is another big bite of the budget. Corporate advertising covers mail, commercial and print publications. A professional advertising agency may be of benefit if the funds are available. Companies need to know what services are provided and what the difference is between you and the competition.
Networking--Corporate photography involves a decent amount of networking. Getting to know the different departments that book the type of services that your company offers is important to set you apart from the competition. This involves a considerable amount of time and research with a little investment of capital.
Product--Production is heavy in corporate photography. The product is the main deliverable. Considerable expertise is necessary for imaging, shooting, printing and delivery. The best choice may be to outsource or hire industry experts in the different areas of production.
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For a photographer, business templates should always follow a basic business plan with modifications for the different types of photography services offered. It is best to make a business plan using a template that fits the type of service and make constant modifications for new technology and business trends.