How To Start A Business In Food Photography

Are you wondering how to start a food photography business? Well, you’re in the right place, because this post dives into important steps you need to take as you start turning your passion into an actual business.

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how to start a photography business

Tips for Starting a Business in Food Photography

Food photographers are creative people. We love what we do and we’re passionate about creating images that make people stop and stare. But, when it comes to starting a business in food photography, you need to learn what goes into the business side of food photography. So, let’s dive in!

1. Get An Accountant

The very first tip I recommend is to get an accountant. If you want to start making money as a business, hiring an accountant will help you get started on the right foot. And, as we discuss the first few tips, you’ll start to understand why.

Accountants know all the steps involved when it comes to naming your business, choosing an LLC or S-Corp, planning for quarterly and annual taxes, what classifies as a “business expense” and all the other “money questions” that are involved with starting your own photography business.

When I started reaching out to my food blogger friends, they referred me to Helena at Sweeter CPA. She works with a lot of creative people, so she knows how to explain money in a way that makes sense. It’s incredibly important that you understand your business finances, so working with someone who makes that easy for you is going to be a breath of fresh air.

2. Name Your Business

Figuring out the name of your photography business is a fun step. My business name is Regan Baroni Photography, LLC. I wanted my name in my business, because I think it’s easier to remember a photographer by their name. I also added “photography” because figured it would make it pretty clear what I do. 😉 But, you can come up with more creative names for your photography business – just make sure that it’s a name that isn’t already taken.

3. Sole Proprietor, LLC or S-Corp

As a business, you’ll need to decide if you’ll be a sole proprietor or a single-member LLC. S-Corp is also an option, but isn’t as common when you’re first starting out. Your accountant can help you figure out the best option for you.

A sole proprietor is the default business structure for anyone who is earning money on their own. The drawback is that there’s no separation between your personal assets and your business assets, which makes everything you have fair game if someone decided to sue you.

A single-member LLC means Limited Liability Company and separates your personal assets from your business assets in case there are ever any liabilities. This means if anyone were to come after you, they can’t touch your personal assets. So, this is a safe way to protect yourself and keep your business life separate from your personal life.

Single-member means that you are the owner of your business and don’t have a partner. LLC’s are regulated by the State, not the federal government, so the fees to establish your LLC will vary depending on what a state you live. Again, your accountant can help guide you with this.

4. Register Your Business

Registration varies depending on your business name, whether or not you’re a sole proprietor or an LLC and where you live. You’ll need to get an EIN (employer identification number) for tax purposes. This helps separate your business from your personal social security number.

If you’re a sole proprietor operating under your legal name, you might need to get a business license depending on your local jurisdiction. If you’re a sole proprietor operating under a different business name, you might need a DBA or a “doing business as” license. If you’re an LLC, this is regulated by the State, so the fees will vary by state.

Have I lost you yet? 😉

See what I mean about hiring an accountant? I’m just scratching the surface on these first few tips and an accountant will make all of this so much easier to understand as you get started.

5. Get Business Insurance

As a photographer, you’re going to be putting a lot of work into your business to help it grow and thrive. Protecting everything that you are building as a small photography business should be a priority. You never know what could happen to cause potential harm to you and your business.

There are a variety of insurance options, but I think equipment and liability insurance are the most important to look into as a photographer when you are first starting a food photography business.

Equipment insurance protects your expensive equipment (hey, you might drop your camera or crack a lens) and liability insurance protects you if someone trips over one of your cables on set and breaks their wrist. If you ever need to rent a studio space, a lot of studios will request proof of insurance too, so that’s something to keep in mind. I currently work with AllState for my small business insurance.

I really don’t like to admit this, but in the beginning, I didn’t have a photography contract for my client projects. But, eventually I took the time to get this in place for my business. My advice is not to wait on this. Contracts help outline the expectations and deliverables for your photo shoots, protect the use of your valuable images and ensure that you will be paid for your work. Be sure to use a contract for all of your client projects so you are protected.

If you’re not sure where to start with getting a legal contract, I recommend checking out Legalpreneur or The Law Tog.

7. Set Up A Business Checking & Savings Account

I highly recommend setting up a separate checking and savings account for your business. This will help you track your business finances separately from your personal finances and it will make tax time soooo much easier as well.

8. Get Bookkeeping Software

In the beginning, I was tracking my business finances through a google excel sheet. This was way too time consuming and it was easy to make mistakes. I highly recommend getting bookkeeping software to help you keep track of your business’s profits and losses.

I use Quickbooks Online for my bookkeeping. It allows you to connect your business checking, business savings and business credit card in one spot so you can easily track your spending and earnings. You can upload images of your receipts (less paper to hang on to) and categorize your business expenses so you’re nice and organized. There is a monthly fee to use the software, but it’s worth it to keep your finances organized.

Skillshare has a great online tutorial with an great introduction to Quickbooks Online – so check it out when you get time.

9. Figure Out Your Business Expenses

Once you start operating as a business, you’ll need to figure out what your business expenses are each month. Your business expenses may fluctuate, but having a general idea of how much it costs you to be in business will help you figure out your pricing model as a photographer.

Your business expenses can be written off, which is why it’s so important to keep track of them. For example, if you earn $50,000, but have $15,000 of eligible business expenses, you will only be taxed on $35,000. Think of your business expenses as everything you need to run your business.

Some examples of business expenses are:

  • Camera Gear & Equipment
  • Editing Software
  • Utilities (internet, cell phone, etc)
  • Business insurance
  • Website Hosting
  • Bookkeeping Software

If you’re not sure about what counts as a business expense, definitely discuss this with your accountant.

10. Figure Out Your Pricing

Figuring out your pricing can be a very tricky topic for photographers. There isn’t a one-price-fits all approach with food photography and I kept trying to figure out that “universal number.”

So, how do you figure out your pricing?

The way to figure out your pricing is to get to know your numbers by thinking about the following things:

  1. Business expensesWhat does your business cost you each month?
  2. Personal expensesWhat do you need to pay yourself each month?
  3. What is your “desired” annual income after taxes?
  4. How often do you want to be working?
  5. What should you roughly charge per photo shoot to support numbers 1 – 4?

11. Launch A Good Website

Having a website is very important for your photography business, because in a way, it’s a description of your photography business. Everyone is online and potential clients will always want to check out your website to see your work and see what you offer.

I currently use Tonic Site Shop & ShowIt for my website (and my blog) and it has been one of the best decisions I’ve made for my business. Not only is my website beautiful, but I was able to learn more about SEO-friendly keywords and add them throughout my site with ease. This helps my website rank in online food photography searches. It also means that my website has become my number one marketing tool for my photography business.

If you’re looking to start (or improve) your business website, use my code: REGANSENTME for 15% off your template purchase.


12. Figure Out Your Marketing Plan

Getting clients is obviously an important part of being a photographer and how you decide to market yourself is going to help you get them.

How do you plan to connect with the clients that will be the right fit for you?

The main tools I use to market my photography business are my website, Pinterest, LinkedIn and email subscribers. I don’t invest my time or money in printed materials, cold calls or hustle to networking events or portfolio reviews. I like to keep it simple, budget-friendly and less exhausting so I can save my time and energy for the studio.


If you’ve made it this far in the post, congrats!! I know this was a lot of information to take in about starting a business in photography. It can be a really exciting time, but it can also be an overwhelming process to start thinking like a business person, not just a creative person. I hope this post helps you get started. Reach out with questions anytime!

Cheers to entrepreneurs!

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