Photography is an enjoyable hobby, allowing enthusiasts to express their creative side and record important events. It can also easily be converted into a sideline job. During the continuing economic downturn, many people are seeking a way to increase their income, and what better way than turning an enriching pastime into a profitable small business?

The initial investment in a small photography business is generally lower than for many other small business ideas, especially if most of the equipment is already on hand. In the digital age, most of the investment will be in the camera itself and a good editing program for enhancing and improving the images. No longer is a dark room a necessity, as many professional photographers exclusively use a digital format.

Often the key to a successful small photography business centers around the flexibility of the photographer. Although some specialize in only event photography, this can narrow the number of clients, especially in small towns and rural areas. Being able to broaden the focus of the photography business draws more customers. Weddings, graduations and other special events might be the primary emphasis of the business, but expanding to include fine art photography, business centered photos, or architectural photography highlights the photographer’s varied skills and desirability.

If the business is based in an area rich with tourism, artistically captured scenes make a wonderful souvenir of a journey. Not only large framed photos, but small note cards and other mementos of a trip are good sellers. Photos can be placed in local galleries and gift shops that are frequented by tourists.

House photography is becoming more popular as people not only want a family portrait but a beautiful portrait of their home. Businesses frequently need excellent professional photographs of their products. Many photographers do nothing else but offer this service. In large cities, it can be a very profitable sideline business.

Offering photography services to casual sellers on online auctions can be promoted as an investment. Sellers with eye catching photos of their offerings often receive higher bids than those with poor photos that don’t attract buyers. Great advertising doesn’t have to be expensive. Using social media and special offers from printing shops can help cut costs. Business cards, brochures and websites can all be found at reasonable prices to help get the word out about the new business.

Recommendations from satisfied clients are one of the best forms of advertising. As the business grows, many eventually convert their one-time hobby into a full-time, income generating endeavor.

Daniel Blinman is writing on behalf of Steve Watkins Photography, who is a bristol wedding photographer and photographer bristol

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