Starting an Architectural Photography Business

Starting a business can be challenging, to say the least, you want to open your architecture photographer or real estate photography business?

You need to determine several elements like who is your target audience, pricing, service, and products.

Table of Contents

Basic Business Plan

Before you start any business you need to have a basic business plan that will check that there’s a market fit in the place you want to operate your business, understand who the target clients and understand the costs, income, and profit.

Don’t go crazy, you can continue until tomorrow to try and predict the future with 10 clients in the first year and 100 clients by the end of the 3rd or 5th year, this is just structure and speculation.

The goal is to understand what is the market in the area of your operations, what is the ratio between high-end to moderate, and how many architects, designers, real estate agents, restaurants, retail shops, hotels, etc.

Understand what your competitors offer (time, product, service) and what they charge for it, and establish your plan. Don’t forget you are competing also on price not just quality, this is business.

Learning Architectural Photography

You can’t open a business that you don’t have either the knowledge or experience of. Everyone starts somewhere and that’s more the fine to test the water.

But if you are just starting or shifting into being an architectural photographer I suggest you educate yourself both on the basics of photography, lighting, post-production, and business as well. 

If you want to understand better your option of learning photography make sure you read more about it in our blog.

It’s important to note that learning is a lifetime experience and learning never ends we also can educate ourselves about new techniques, methods, and business practices.

Have Action Plan

A business plan is great, but now you need to act, been a successful photographer requires 50% professionalism and 50% business side to establish your business.

In your business plan, you identified the market, and target audience and set yourself some goals for the first, second, and third years.

Now you need an action plan on how to achieve those goals, try to break down each industry, and set yourself weekly goals. Things like going to 1 event per week, going to 2 architects in person, and calling 3 other architects on the phone.

Something does not work? Refine it, still does not work? Replace it, this is the sales and business side of things and it’s up to you to have a hard you will push your business to success.

Building Your Portfolio

Before you run to Market your Architecture Photographer business, you need to establish a basic portfolio that you can share with potential clients and create a website.

Start by reaching out to friends, family, and colleagues, and ask them to photograph their home or office for free to get some experience and create your first portfolio.

The second thing will be to call real estate agents and ask to provide them with a free shoot, the reason I target real estate agents and not architects, is as you don’t want to burn the bridge with potential customers, although anyone can be your customer, there are more agents out there and it will be easier to get your first 4-5 shoots.

You should tell them it takes 3 hours to capture the space, the first hour you will be photographing for the agents with everything they need for themselves as they do you the favor here not there another way around. 

Then the next 2 hours is your time to create those unique visuals to start your portfolio and I suggest you give them also to the agent, who knows you might going to have your first client already.

Another option is to capture public buildings, while some of them may require a property release, as long as you don’t use them for the commercial business you should be ok depending on the law in your area.

Website

Now that you got the portfolio it’s time to create your website, I suggest doing a basic WordPress website and not using other 3rd party services.

You need a domain, hosting with backup, and a clean WordPress installation with a theme like Hello and Elementor to build your website (for free).

Have the basics, home page, about, contact us, blog, portfolio, or gallery.

Make sure it’s easy and fast to use the normal font, and read easily, If you work in Europe (Germany, Poland, Norway, Switzerland, etc) you need also a GDPR plug-in and several other pages to protect yourself.

Getting Your First Client

The first client is always the toughest, the easiest way to get started is to offer 1 free session to 10 clients in your area.

So those clients should not be the top clients in your area, just the average ones, as you don’t want to burn any bridges with the big players.

This will take you about 2 weeks of work and post-production, and it will give you the average first year in the business of photographing, networking, and getting to know the business.

Believe it or not, you spend more on social media per year much more time and you will get about 1% of the clients and business you can get by providing complementary work.

Why not charge a small fee? Because when you offer a complimentary shoot and tell them you charge 500 euro for a shoot or 5,000 euro, they know your pricing and they will look for the value, if you tell them I will do this for 100 euro, they for sure have someone that already does this for them and they will compare you to the lowest service provider they have.

Start Networking

Networking is a great way to get to know people in person, it does not mean you need to go to every networking event out there, you remember? We talked about understanding who is your target audience.

Go to local BNI events, industry exhibitions and tradeshows, and other local events when your target audience is there.

Aim to get to know people, everyone is someone, and don’t start jumping between people when you understand they are not “architects, agents, designers”.

Be professional, ask about what people do, and tell them about what you do, offer assistance, and be kind, people will open the doors when you want to know them not when you want to sell them.

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