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How to Start a Photography Business

Lesson 1 of 87

Class Introduction

Pye Jirsa

How to Start a Photography Business

Pye Jirsa

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Lesson Info

1. Class Introduction
Go from nothing to a booked client or grow a young photography business -- that's what students should expect from this course. Learn what's ahead in the course in this introductory lesson.


Class Trailer
1 Class Introduction 13:12 2 Common Myths & Unknown Truths 11:42 3 The Road Ahead 13:03 4 Find Your Passion 06:06 5 The Lin & Jirsa Journey 13:54 6 Part-time, Full-time, Employed, Partners? 03:51 7 Stop Wasting Time & Money 06:07 8 Your 12 Week Roadmap 04:33
9 Great Plans Still Fail 06:01 10 Strategy Vs. Planning 04:16 11 Mind Mapping 07:25 12 Select a Focus 14:16 13 Competitor Research 09:34 14 S.W.O.T. Analysis 13:54 15 Strategy & Long Term Goals 03:50 16 Values, Vision & Mission 27:49 17 Effectively Managing Your Time 15:05 18 Artistic Development 07:30 19 Create Your Plan 13:12 20 What's Your Product 10:51 21 Luxury vs Consumer Products & Experiences 11:44 22 Quick Break for Econ 101 16:31 23 Your Target Market & Brand Message 21:25 24 What's in a Name 09:20 25 Your Client 'Why' 05:43 26 Crafting the Why Experience 24:17 27 Document the Client Experience 08:29 28 Business Administration Basics 27:03 29 Book Keeping Management 06:51 30 Create the Logo & Branding 07:04 31 Portfolio Design 15:11 32 Design Your Services & Packages 18:51 33 Pricing Fears & Myths 08:46 34 Three Pricing Methods 25:39 35 Package Pricing Psychology & Design 06:15 36 Psychology of Numbers 07:29 37 Pricing Q&A 23:51 38 Grass Roots Marketing 09:36 39 The Empty Party 07:03 40 Friends & Family Test Shoots 16:28 41 Join Groups 04:32 42 Second Shooting Etiquette 07:44 43 The Listing & Classified Hustle 14:10 44 Make Instagram Simple 13:55 45 Your Automated Pinterest Plan 08:01 46 Facebook Because You Must 07:37 47 Giveaway & Styled Shoots 12:17 48 Content Marketing & SEO 08:12 49 The Monster: SEO 07:26 50 Selecting Your Keywords 05:45 51 Testing Your Keywords 07:53 52 Grouping Main & Niche Goals 12:39 53 Your Content Road Map 11:47 54 Content Marketing Q&A 10:45 55 Inspiration to Keep Working 07:45 56 How to Craft Your Content 15:03 57 Internal Linking Basics 05:30 58 Back Link Building Basics 04:55 59 Link Value Factos 14:38 60 Measuring Link Value 04:24 61 Link Building Strategy & Plan 06:10 62 Link Building Plan: Vendors & Guest Writing 06:45 63 Link Building Plan: Features, Directories, Comments 03:11 64 Link Building: Shortcuts & One Simple Tool 14:44 65 What is Sales? Show Me! 12:58 66 Your First Massive Failure 05:17 67 The Sales Process 07:31 68 Your Second Massive Failure 05:23 69 Understand Buyer Psychology 10:00 70 Step 0: Building Rapport & Trust 15:14 71 Step 1: Identify Need or Want 15:39 72 Cognitive Dissonance 12:01 73 Steps 2 & 3: Value Proposition & The Solution 14:21 74 Step 4 : Close, Make the Ask 04:32 75 Step 5: Follow Up & Resolve Concerns 06:13 76 Family Photography Hot Seat 12:06 77 Business Example Hot Seat 15:52 78 Boudoir Photography Hot Seat 16:09 79 The Best Sales Person 07:45 80 Your Mindset, Vibrations & Frequency 06:56 81 Always Positive, Always Affirming 11:55 82 The Second Money & Dual Process 07:39 83 Chumming the Price Waters 03:57 84 Creating Want or Scarcity 09:54 85 Timeless Advice on Being Likable 11:53 86 Selling Over The Phone 10:59 87 Forbidden Words in Sales 11:40

Lesson Info

Class Introduction

I want to jump in and talk about Expectations and Aspirations as kind of our intro. In terms of number one, coming into this course, what should you guys be expecting to learn? What should you guys be expecting to learn? Some of the Course Promises, I'm gonna say this, if you guys will give me 12 weeks of your time. Well, not 12 weeks 'cause it's really three days, but give me 12 weeks of 112% effort in that time, I'm gonna show you how to have a functioning business. We're gonna do this, and we're gonna take you from basically a place of nothing to having your first booked client 'cause that's the question. Honestly, that's the question that I get the most is well, how do I get my first client, but for those of you that are already running a business, maybe you're six months in, maybe you're a year in or two years in, there's a lot of stuff for you guys too. What we wanna do is before we launch a photography business, we need to go into it with the proper expectations. We're gonna pre...

sent to you guys a 12-week roadmap. It's literally the most ridiculous thing I think I've ever made in a spreadsheet, full on CPA, you're gonna see it, you're gonna see that. We're gonna cover planning and strategy. We're gonna cover developing your overall product. What it is that you're trying to sell to your consumers and we'll talk about it in a minute but it can be really any genre as we go through this. We're gonna do Grass Roots Marketing because I'm sorry audio guys, I'm spazzy in my levels. I can't control the volume of my voice. That's the way it works, but how many of you guys have $10, to throw at advertising? Raise your hands. Great, I'm gonna teach you how to use $10, to put together a really great ad campaign. No, that's not approachable. It's not something, literally nobody here raised their hands because when you're starting up a business, you don't have that kind of money to throw at advertising. Any money that you do have, you need to put in your warchest, you need to invest in the equipment and the things that you need to get your business off the ground. We're gonna talk about Grass Roots Marketing campaigns and how to be very effective with what you do with very little actual money put in, and then Sales and Closing. Oh my goodness, this is one of my favorite topics, Sales and Closing. First question, what if I don't shoot weddings? How many of you here are wedding photographers? Raise your hands. Alright, you scratched your chin. I'm not sure if that was like a raise. (audience laughs) If that was an auction, you would've placed the bid right there. (audience laughs) You got to be careful with your motions. So we have like a couple of wedding photographers here. What about portrait, like general portrait? Seniors? Newborns? Are there any commercial photographers here? I'm sorry you two, this really doesn't apply. (laughs) I'm just kidding. You can take away a lot of stuff. Here's the thing, if you don't shoot weddings, that's okay. I'm gonna say that this entire course will transfer over to family, to maternity, newborns, seniors, wedding, engagement. All of that stuff is identical, and what we're getting at is that these are all direct client-serving businesses, meaning, your marketing efforts, everything that you're doing, you're reaching end-consumers directly. Commercial is the one area where you're not because those that are in commercial arenas typically are gonna work through agencies. That means that the way that you market, the way that you promote, the way that you do a grassroots campaign with a commercial studio is a little bit different than the way that you would do it with a portrait studio, but most of the content marketing, SEO, sales, closing, everything else will still apply even to commercial and to anybody in these categories, this is literally your 12-week roadmap that's gonna spell out every single thing that you need to do for your business. Does that sound good? Yeah. Yeah? Yes. She shook her head no back there. I'm just kidding, you didn't. (laughs) I like to call people out like that, be ready. Here's what I'm gonna say, start with one. Pick one area to focus in, and we'll talk about why as we go through, but we need to start with one. Will I benefit if I'm already doing good running my own business? Abso-freaking-lutely because this is the way I actually talk guys, I'm sorry. It's how it works, okay? Yes, if you're running your own business, I guarantee. What if I asked you, how do you create a push versus pull brand in terms of buyer psychology? What if i said, do you understand the difference between an emotional sale versus the feature sale? There's so many different components of this course, including content marketing, including SEO, including all these different pieces that it doesn't matter if you're already doing good, I'm gonna show you ways of doing things better. Now this isn't to say that I know everything about business, I don't. I'm still learning myself and I think anybody who claims and guarantees that they know all of this stuff is kind of blowing smoke up your pipe, but we've learned a lot. We've learned a lot, and I wanna share, Justin, Chris, and my 10 years of experience in building a business with you guys in three days. Little note here, little note, I enjoy teaching photography. I like teaching photography, it's fun, but I love teaching business. Business and the sales and marketing and all these components, this is my passion. This is what I love doing. I am gonna get spazzy. That's just the way that I am. I'm gonna rely on you guys here to say, Pye, focus fox, focus fox, I have a question. You can do the focus, everybody try the focus fox. Just, focus fox, there you go. This is a thing that I learned from my cohost, Schevonny. Focus fox, okay. Raise your hand, ask a question, bring it back. Whatever it is, if you need me to slow down, just say, hey, can you go over that again, anything. Same for those of you that are online. Let us know. Kenna's over here running the show. That is the promise that I'm gonna make you guys that you will walk away a better business person and a better artist and photographer, and that's the funny thing, is I'm not gonna teach you anything about art, but you'll walk away from this class being better at taking photographs for your clients. Here's what can't be covered in this class. So just swipe these off your expectations list. What can't be covered is anything under technical photography, lighting, composition, artistry side. We have entire libraries of stuff for that at Creative Live, on SLR Lounge. It's so far beyond this, we're not gonna focus on that. We're not gonna really cover anything beyond the initial 12 weeks. Now that doesn't mean that if you're 36 weeks in your business that this is gonna be invaluable, that there's nothing of value here. What this means is that, for us, running our business, we run off of servers that operate in petabytes, going through 10 gigabytes lines throughout the entire studio. I don't think anyone probably knows what we're talking about right now. These are our fiber-optic networks at our studio. We're not gonna talk anything about that because it has nothing to do with where you're at starting your business right now. So that means that there are plenty of things that you're gonna do at the start of your business and that you're gonna do two years in, four years in, six years in. That's the stuff that we're covering, the stuff that you need to start the beginning and operate through the business, but we're not gonna teach things that only come into play three years or four years down the road. Does that kind of make sense? Bookkeeping and Admin, that stuff sucks and that's coming from a former CPA. I'm a former CPA and I hate it. We're not gonna teach you the bookkeeping and accounting side. I'm gonna tell you the importance of it. I'm gonna give you tools and reports and analytics and show you how to analyze and understand it, but as far as actually taking notes on it, no, no. Hiring people, no not yet. We're not there yet. Associates, training, management, advanced marketing and additional things that you might do, cross-promotional campaigns, all that kind of stuff, we're gonna, let's table it for now, cool? Regarding the artistry, we'll talk about this a little bit when we talk about artistic development. We created a series, when I set out with Chris and Justin, when we created SLR Lounge, we had this vision of like, what if we could help ourselves to train our own people basically. So we created two sets of courses, one we just finished up, but one is the Photo 101, Lighting 101, Lighting 201. This is available on Creative Live and on SLR Lounge and this is Mastering Manual Mode, the Power of On-Camera Flash and Off-Camera Flash. It sounds basic, it's not. This is literally like the prerequisite to coming into our studio. It's okay, start there. Once you have that, and we'll talk about what's included in there and what you guys need to do in terms of your own artistic development, but that's kind of our beginning stages. Then for wedding mastery for those of you that are on this pathway, we came out with a series of eight workshops. Each one is about six to eight hours that literally covers the entire process, and that is our prerequisite. So this is five, six, seven, eight, four, Becoming a Lin and Jirsa Wedding Photographer. So our hope is to create actual pathways and potentially even a certification that means something and to do that, we need to create a start-to-finish learning program. Unfortunately, it's about 120 hours to get from that to there. This class is three days, which is why we're not covering it. That makes sense, right Kenna? Um hmm. Yeah, I think so, but here's my promise to you guys, I have put in a lot of time and effort into creating this course for you all, and what I wanna promise is that if you guys will do what we're talking about and simply adapt it to your own business model and do what you're doing in your specific locale, you will be successful, and my promise to you is not to sell. I have no desire to stand here and tell you, go and buy this course, go and buy that course, go and do this. I'm gonna give you recommendations and a guide, a pathway. I'm gonna tell you what gear we use. I'm gonna tell you how we get to where we wanna get to. You guys choose, online. You guys choose where you wanna be, what you wanna use, all of it. I don't wanna, that's not the goal of this class is to sell you on other things. Does that make sense? I never like it personally when I come and I sit in an audience and I spend time to be sold during that time. If something is of value, you'll see it on your own, and you can choose on your own. I do have one favor though. This is a free class, well, this is online live, right now. So everybody online, everybody here, if you see value in this class, do us a favor and leave a review. Leave a review, talk about it, share it. You have no idea how much effort, Kenna, Sara, all the people here, we have 15 people right now that are going in there making this a wonderful educational experience, and the thing that means the most is honestly, when we see positive reviews and people sharing the class. To me as an instructor, I know that I did something good, and I'm also gonna ask you another thing to promise right now, and if you're on, gosh dangit, I wanna say at home. (laughs) If you're online, in your car, if you're here, I'm gonna ask you guys to promise me something. I'm gonna make you raise your hands. So, I promise to be involved and to be interactive throughout this entire class. Raise your hands to the square. That's a left hand, I see a left hand! That doesn't get. (laughs) Okay, perfect, perfect, thank you. You have no idea how much more valuable this is gonna be for all of you and for all of you to be involved and be participating because that way I can tailor the content to your needs.

Class Description

The content and opinions expressed in this course are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.


  • Start a photography business
  • Develop the ideal business structure and business plan
  • Research competitors and the market in your area
  • Build a short-term and long-term strategy
  • Create a marketing plan and marketing materials on a budget
  • Confidently conduct an in-person or phone sales session
  • Manage small business tasks from accounting to strategy


Professional photographers aren't just people with a knack for photography and a good camera -- because launching a small business on nothing but passion is a sure-fire way to fail spectacularly. Layer business savvy, marketing know-how, professional grit and more onto your existing passion and learn how to start a photography business. Take your hobby, vision, and creativity and build a career -- whether you are looking to run a full-time business or just a side gig.

Led by a photographer that's also a certified public accountant, Pye Jirsa, the class teaches the ins and outs of launching a photography business from the ground up. Along with three full days of instruction, Pye shares a 12-week plan to get your business up and running, a business expense calculator and more inside the class workbook. Understand what gear and skills you need before you launch and how to build a portfolio by photographing family members or organizing a stylized shoot.

Stop feeling overwhelmed by the monumental task and tackle one task a day in a 12-week plan. Brainstorm names for your business and learn the different types of business licenses available. Secure a domain name and build a website that's easily searchable. Develop a marketing plan with little investment. Master in-person sales and book your first session.

Whether you want to venture out in portrait photography, commercial work or any other client-based type of photography, learn the "business" in photography business with Pye Jirsa.


  • Photographers ready to launch a business
  • New professional photographers looking to grow a young business
  • Photographers interested in working in weddings, portraits, newborns, maternity, families, seniors, engagements or commercial photography


Pye Jirsa is a wedding photographer with Lin & Jirsa photography -- but besides running a successful photography business, he also has a background in accounting, creating the perfect blend for teaching the ins and outs of running a photography business. Along with working as a photographer and educator, Pye is also one of the founders of SLR Lounge, an online resource for photographers.

Learn from a founder of a photography business that photographs more than 300 weddings a year. Pye's Los Angeles and Orange County wedding photography business has been named among the top 100 wedding photographers by Brandsmash.


Armstrong Su

This class and materials are to the point and eye-opening on the business side of photography. Pye Jirsa is an amazing and fun teacher as well! Most photographers need more business classes offered to bring us who love to create art back to reality for a more successful business that makes a living on it's own. This course will definately get you started in the right direction and so cheap too! Great investment! armstrong outdoor tv case outdoortvcase Pye Jirsa is one of the best instructors that I have the pleasure to learn from. He and his team have given me so much more than they'll ever realize. Knowledge, wisdom, training, friendship, mentoring, inspiration, joy... I cannot thank Pye enough for changing my life for the better. I owe them more than they'll ever realize. Thank you, Pye Jirsa!!!

Angela Sanchez

This class has been an eye opener for me; a point of change in my vision as photographer. Pye is and AMAZING, INSPIRING, GENEROUS instructor, with an, authentic desire to help people and to share with them the best of his knowledge. I will not have enough words to say thanks to Pye Jirsa, as a teacher and as a human being, and thanks to Creative Live who allows us to benefit from the experience of such a knowledgeable, educated, well-versed photographer and instructor. 1000% recommended!

Yenith LianTy

Been following this guy forever. Pye Jirsa may be well known in the wedding & portrait photography world and if there is something that this guy knows it is how to create a business, a sustainable one. The workbook he provided is comprehensive, and I honestly wish I had this when I first started out as a photographer! I love that he talks about his failures, keeping it real and honest for anyone starting out. He is definitely one of the best instructors around, super humble, down to earth and with a sense of humor to boot. The course is worth it! THE WORKBOOK is AMAZING! SUPER DETAILED!