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How to Start a Photography Business

Lesson 2 of 87

Common Myths & Unknown Truths

Pye Jirsa

How to Start a Photography Business

Pye Jirsa

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Lesson Info

2. Common Myths & Unknown Truths
Bust the myths and set appropriate expectations for running a photography business. In this lesson, Pye shatters some myths, then lets photographers know what to expect before launching a business.


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

Common Myths & Unknown Truths

I wanna talk about common myths and some unknown truths. This is all about setting the expectations of what you're about to get into. I think that's so critical, to have the right expectations, because, have you guys ever heard that basically disappoints, what do disappointments come from? It's literally just unmet expectations. So the the problem is that when you're setting out on a journey like this one, a career path, having the wrong expectations can derail you very quickly. So let's talk about it. How many people have heard this? You must have a studio. Nobody's heard that? You just promised to interact with me. You have to have a studio to have a photography business. Oh my goodness. So false. You do not. We ran the first three years, like Kenneth said, over there, over here. Like Kenneth said, the first three years of our business was out of my apartment. I had an employee in my apartment. Oh, here's the funny thing. I actually had a video I was gonna show you guys. But me, Just...

in, and our first employee Joe, we lived in the exact same apartment complex, and so our commute was like, you'd open Justin's door, walk three feet, and you're at work, and then you walk in on the other side. And we did that for years. Completely fine. At home, in an apartment, doesn't matter where you are, totally fine. Nobody makes money in photography. That's completely wrong. How many people have heard this? Please, tell me your parents said this. Everybody's parents said this. My dad just told me he'd disowned me. I'm kidding! But seriously. Okay, your portfolio has to be perfect. Oh, I'm gonna prove this one wrong. I'm gonna prove it. I'm gonna show, you guys wanna see some of our early on photos? Oh yeah, you do. Everybody loves a good bashing session. You need the best camera and lenses. Eh, wrong. Have you heard this, yeah? We were shooting, it sounds, this is almost embarrassing to admit, we started out our studio on Rebels. The Costco kit. Hey, let's start a business. Let's go to Costco and buy some Rebels. That's literally what we did. And the very first shoot that we did was in a helicopter with a Rebel. It didn't come out great. You're looking at me like, no, it didn't come out great. We made it, okay, you're gonna see it, you're gonna see it, don't even worry about it. You need a perfect brand and look. No. It's great to have a good brand and a good identity. We're gonna help you create that. But these things evolve over time, right? How many of you have not bought a great product because their logo wasn't good? Okay, how many of you have gone onto Amazon, found a really great reflector, like a five-in-one reflector, and you're like oh man, 20 bucks, it's got good reviews. How many of you looked at their logo and branding and made the decision at that point? Raise your hand if the logo and branding mattered. No. You saw the reviews, word of mouth, you saw the price, it was good. Okay, Apple is the only computer for creatives. Oh, holy crap, that's wrong. You can use anything you want. I recently switched everything over to Apple, if you guys are curious about it, I can tell you why. But, the first nine years of my career, I've been on PC. I've been on PC my entire life. I still love PC. It's just tough to maintain a studio of 60 PCs, so we're switching everything over for maintenance side. If you take great pictures, you will be successful. Oh man, that is so false. You can take the best pictures in the world and tank it. It has nothing to do with that, unfortunately. I mean, in the perfect world, in the perfect business environment, business decisions and purchase decisions would be made strictly on the quality of the product. That's just not the world that we live in. Business decisions and purchases are made based on how you feel, on what's presented to you, on the information that you actually have. So, probably a lot of the world's best photographers are people that nobody knows about. My market or clients won't pay that price. That's wrong. Your market might be smaller. Maybe it doesn't have a ton of high-end, super wealthy clients, but every time I've heard this statement, I've thought, man, there's a lot of ways around that. Either find that audience in your existing market or market outside of your existing market. Solved. Full RAW only. Please, gosh. I know studios that run jpeg. Their clients pay $8,000 to $10,000 per wedding, and they shoot all jpeg. That's not what we do. From a shooting standpoint, we shoot medium RAW for all journalistic moments. Basically moments that are not gonna be blown up to a 20 by a 30. We shoot full RAW for anything that could be. Family portraits, portraits of the clients, that kind of stuff, we'll go full RAW. But this is up to you guys to choose that. Now, I saw a question in the back. Tell me what that is, what's the resolution on that? That's like, it depends on the camera. On a 5D Mark IV, that'd be something like 16 to 18 megapixels, something like that. It's in between. Okay yeah middle. The point is, you choose. This isn't a huge, honestly, when I shoot for myself, like family stuff and all that kind of stuff, if I'm doing a portrait session for friends, I'll shoot in jpeg. Full jpeg. You know why? I'm shooting it myself. I know exactly how my camera works, I know exactly the range that I have, and I shoot it in camera to be almost, you pop a preset on it and it's done. So I'll shoot it in camera that way. But when you're operating a studio of 30-something photographers shooting, how easy is it to make sure that every single person shoots the exact same way? So we operate RAW, so that way we have more flexibility in post to be able to fix errors. Does that make sense? So, but I'm saying that I have friends that operate studios that shoot only jpeg. High-end studios. You need the best camera and lenses. No. Canon greater than Nikon, Sony, I mean that's true, let's be honest. Just kidding. Pick your weapon. It totally doesn't matter. They're all great. Use your iPhone. I'm just kidding, don't use your iPhone. If you're online, I take it back, don't use your iPhone to take wedding pictures, that's no, that's not what we want. You probably could, actually. Working for free is a waste of time and a bane to the industry. This is one of the biggest incorrect statements that has been put around the internet, that working for free is a bad thing. Working for free without purpose is a bad thing. But working for free has opened up some of the best opportunities that I've had in my career. We'll talk about it. You matter more than your camera or product in the success of your business. This is a truth that nobody ever talks about. Do you know what I mean by that? You will, 'cause I'm gonna show you how we were producing some not so great images, but we still sold $3,000, $4,000 weddings at the very beginning of our studio. It had nothing to do with operating out of an apartment, it had nothing to do with anything. Something had to do with the people that we're interacting with. Education is greater than gear. Can we start spreading this truth around? We are so brainwashed by all the fantastic marketing efforts on the parts of these camera companies that we actually believe that the lens and the exact specific aperture diameter matters. This is something that we're going to talk about quite a bit. The client experience trumps all. This is right. This is one of my favorite things to talk about. If I asked you guys here to think about an image, okay, if you're online, think about an image in your head, one of your favorite photographs of you or your family or your loved ones. You have something in your head? Are you thinking about a particular image right now? Give me my nods. Pick a picture. Now tell me if the lighting or the exposure or any of those things mattered about that photograph? Did the picture that you select, was it a perfect exposure, was it a beautiful image with amazing dynamic range? Or was it something emotional? Was it something that had a meaning and a purpose to you? This trumps all, because it doesn't matter how good of a photograph I take if I made you feel like crap when I took the photo, if I said oh my gosh, this is your wedding day, just relax, there's no reason to do that. It doesn't matter how great that picture looked, if I made you feel bad about something, that's what you're gonna remember. When you see that photograph, you're gonna remember how you felt when it was taken. Alright? Which means that if I made you feel good when I took your picture, it probably doesn't matter so much what the picture looks like. If you look flattering, if it looks good, and you remember that good feeling, that's all that matters. Is that a weird thing to hear? Good. I hope not. The business of photography is more about service and experience over the product itself. Yes. Now, you can call this an unfortunate truth, I don't know. To me, it's wonderful, because if you can separate yourselves, and this is the beauty of a statement like this, and this is the beauty of the truth of this. If I said to you to be successful, you had to be, my dear, what is your name? Chelle. Chelle, I'm Pye, nice to meet you. If I said you, Chelle, like... It's Michelle, but I go by Chelle. Ah, that is, I've never heard, that's amazing. Sorry. So, Chelle. Yes. Along these lines, if I said to you to compete in the photography industry, you have to be taking the best photographs, better than everybody else, how would you feel? I would feel intimidated. Okay, what if I said, instead, that to compete in the photography industry, you just have to give the best client experience? How would you feel now? I would do all I could to make that happen. Do you feel like one's more controllable than the other? I think so. Yeah. Giving somebody a great experience should feel a lot less intimidating, a lot more in your control, than something subjective like being the best photographer.

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!