Starting your own photography business can be a whole lot of fun. Whether it’s meant to be your new occupation or it’s something you’re looking into as a “side hustle,” it’s sure to be a rewarding project that you can build up any way you like. The tricky part, really, is getting started! For that reason we thought we’d outline a few helpful tips for anyone looking to get started with a personal photography business in and around New Jersey.

Set Up Your Website

First and foremost, whether you’re starting up in New Jersey or elsewhere, you should get your website set up. Even if you don’t really have a business yet, your website can serve as a point of reference — something to show friends, share on social media, and send to your earliest prospective clients. We’d recommend taking a look at some examples of excellent photography websites before you design your own, so you can figure out a design strategies (such as where to put calls to action, how to showcase your work, etc.). But most of all you’ll want to show off some of your photography and provide whatever contact information you need to bring in business.

Establish Your Company

Once you have a site and you’re ready to take on clients, you may want to look into establishing your photography business as a real, official company (typically, an LLC). This can be a different process in each state, but setting up an LLC in New Jersey is a fairly straightforward process. You’ll need to name the business, choose a registered agent (this can be you, and basically means someone who represents the business in legal matters), and file papers to formalize your status and set up the requisite tax filings. This is all ultimately worth doing for a number of reasons. Your personal assets will be better protected if for whatever reason legal action is ever brought against the business; you’ll have simplified (and likely lower) taxes; and being able to brand your business with “LLC” makes it seem more professional as well.

Learn the Best Spots

You’ll find if you operate a photography business that some clients will have very specific ideas in mind, and others will want (or expect) you to stage photos entirely. When you have the opportunity to do a little bit more staging, you’ll be well served by knowing some of the best spots around for photos. Naturally, when you consider a whole state like New Jersey, there are a lot of options. But it’s still a good idea to take the time to explore, search online, and come up with some go-to areas to suggest, or even post about on your site. To give you some ideas, we’d recommend Speedwell Waterfall in Morristown, the sculpture park in Hampton, Liberty State Park in Jersey City, or most anywhere on Cape May. And there’s nothing wrong with spilling into New York City now and then, either! We’ve highlighted some gorgeous Central Park engagement photos, and that’s certainly as good a spot as any for photography — as are a number of pretty places around Lower Manhattan.

Get Social with the Right Accounts

One of the best ways to grow your business once it’s off the ground is to get on social media and interact with target markets as much as possible. For instance, you might want to try to communicate with local wedding planners or venues on social media, such that you make yourself visible to people who may be in the early stages of planning weddings. You might also familiarize yourself with New Jersey’s most popular colleges, or even some of the larger high schools, so that you can figure out how to interact with students (and parents) who may be seeking graduation photos. This all takes a bit of work, but in figuring out your target market and putting yourself on the radar of said market via social media, you’ll develop a way to attract business.

Follow Coronavirus Updates

Finally, it’s only right to mention that any business of this kind needs to be considerate of coronavirus updates for the foreseeable future. With a large population and some dense cities (not to mention proximity to New York), New Jersey is one state in which people still need to be very careful. We already saw the coronavirus impacting wedding season in NJ earlier this year, as well as canceling in-person graduations and other large gatherings. None of this means you can’t take photos by any means. But for now and into the near future, you’ll need to make sure that you openly prioritize safety, and that you work with prospective clients to make everyone feel comfortable.

Hopefully this has helped provide some ideas for how you might get started! Running your own photography business is a great deal of fun, and done properly it may just turn into a whole new job that you love.