Ask An Agent / Should I Write a Business Plan?

Ask an Agent is a regular monthly feature answering your questions about the business of photography – the photography industry’s first Agony Aunt! If you have any questions you’d like to ask a photographers agent please send them to Questions can be on anything to do with the photography business, such as photoshoots, marketing, professional practice, pricing, contracts, legal stuff – anything.

Hey there Ask an Agent,   I’ve just graduated from Uni with a degree in photography. I want to be a professional photographer, do you advise I write a business plan?   Thanks,


Hi James,

Congrats on getting your degree! As you probably are aware a degree isn’t a guarantee of a successful photography career, although not a bad place to start and a great place to research, experience and explore.

Being a successful photographer is the same as running a business, as it seems you already appreciate by asking this question in the first place. And writing a business plan can be a really useful thing to do for any business. Basically it will force you to consider the feasibility of earning a living from your photography and help you map out a plan. It will help you get focused and also spot any weak areas.

In a nutshell a business plan will push you to define your business in terms of what you are offering and who you are offering it to. What is your ‘product’ and what is your ‘market’? Do you want to be a commercial photographer shooting for big brands, for example, or a fine art photographer exhibiting around the world and publishing books, or maybe you want to specialise in food and drink photography for cookbooks.

Whatever your hopes and aspirations, a business plan probes if you have the skills and experience needed to fulfill your dreams. It questions who your competitors are and what your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are. A business plan also incorporates a marketing plan, asks you how you will promote and ‘sell’ yourself and your photography. And last but not least a business plan will help you focus on the nitty-gritty of how much it will cost to set up and run your business, and how much money you can realistically expect to earn - your profit and loss- whilst also bearing in mind how much you need to live on to continue operating your business in the future.

There may come a time when you need to sit down and write an actual, formal business plan. You’d need to do this if you are looking for investment, trying to raise additional funds for expansion, considering going into partnership with someone else or wishing to sell your business.

To be honest if you look at some of the templates available, you may think a lot look pretty off putting, asking you such things as what is your ‘Mission Statement’ who is your ‘Management Team’  and to do a ‘SWOT’ analysis for example. But it’s worth bearing with it, even the most complex looking business plans contain the same basic key areas that all businesses should examine and give some thought to.

One of the books I’ve written, ‘’Running A Successful Photography Business’’, has a whole chapter on a photographer’s business plan actually, so it might be worth grabbing yourself a copy for further reading.

All the best with your career as a photographer!

Whether you’re a creative director or a student, a photographer or a designer, an art buyer or an assistant, if you have any questions you’d like to ask a photographers agent please send them to and we’ll answer as many as we can!

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