somewhat hypothetical photography business, camera + lens + accessory needs?


Been spending a lot of time on here!
Dec 8, 2011
Reaction score
the south
Can others edit my Photos
Photos NOT OK to edit
ok without getting too much into my current situation. lets just say im in process of finishing up a degree, and im out of work right now due to a pretty serious accident which happened almost a year ago.:(

i have discussed with my wife starting up a photography business, and while this is just hypothetical at the current time, i do think its a possiblity.

considering i live in a city which isnt huge, i would like to try to do general photography including. weddings, events, portraits, business, commercial, architecture and maybe product shots.

i dont expect to just jump in the game, i still need to give myself more time to understand more about photography. i have been involved in it a while now, but still more time is always better.

i guess i need to start thinking of the important equipment to have, and the budget needed.

right now i have a d7000, which would be my backup camera, a 24-70 lens, a tokina 11-16, and a 70-300mm 4.5-5.6 vr

my idea was the following

Nikon D4 - $6000
nikon 70-200 vrII - $2000 (used)
tokina 100mm 2.8 macro - $500
probably a nikon 85mm 1.4G - $1700
use the current 24-70 i have
use the current 11-16 i have, at 16mm on the d4, or use the d7000 for the few wide angles i would need to take.

and a few thousand in lighting. maybe a sb-700, and some AB. and maybe $500-$1000 for a nice ball head tripod

i was thinking $12,000-$14,000 area would be a good starting budget. any other ideas...
Since this is all still hypothetical, have you considered a used D700 for your main body? It would be $1500-$1800 used if you waited a couple weeks (price is about to drop). It would be a great workhorse, and MUCH cheaper until you know for sure whether this will take off. Then you could upgrade to the D4 and demote your D700 to the back-up body when you have an idea of how much income this can produce for you. How long do you think it would take for you to make back that $6k with your photography work when you are just getting started?
I'm waiting on this thread to be attacked like any other mentioning starting a photography business

-Please ignore typos I'm currently on my phone-
You are going to have to narrow down your specialty and purchase equipemnt specifiaclly for that specialty.
I'm waiting on this thread to be attacked like any other mentioning starting a photography business

-Please ignore typos I'm currently on my phone-

This doesn't appear to be the usual "how do i create my huge watermark, i'm going into photography" type thread? And with this investment it can safely be assumed OP is getting insurance, business licenses, tax ID, etc. ?
How about computer system and software? You have neglected to mention what you have there. You REALLY should have 2 systems-1 for editing and 1 for your bookkeeping and other stuff. Neither of which should be your internet computer but that's not always realistic.

Then there is contracting and legal advice as well as accounting and tax help-those aren't a HUGE expense, but expect to spend about a grand there to CYA properly.

You haven't mentioned backups for your primary lenses and speedlights-you REALLY should have them. I have had a lens fail and a flash break... Thank GOD for my backups. The 11-16 can cover for the 24-70 for the most part, but that 70-200 is one you'll find is your BIG go to lens on a full frame camera for portraits, weddings... well... everything.

The jump to the D4 is definitely NICE! Is it necessary? What about the D800 to get you two and sell the d7000? Just my opinion and we know opinions are subjective. I'd rather have two very comparable or same back up cameras than the gap between the D7000 and D4.
I'd want the SB910 and a SB700 or comparable for a second.

Pocket wizard system or similar for your lighting can run you some bucks if you are going to go with something you can control from the camera. Or it will only run you a few hundred to go with a good system that you have to adjust by walking to the strobe to adjust.
Derrel just sold me on the Speedtron lighting... might want to talk to him about it. He's VERY knowledgeable and was an immense help to me.

I think your budget is high on the tripod. You can most definitely find an excellent tripod and ball head for portraits under $500. I picked these up after seeing a Sam Puc' seminar and it's awesome for just about anything. Total is just under $500 Manfrotto 222 Joystick Head 222 B&H Photo Video and Manfrotto 058B Aluminum Studio Pro Triaut Tripod Legs 058B B&H LOVE LOVE LOVE it.
Backdrops and backdrop system
Location and all of the furniture and requirements that go with it.
I would suggest that you think about from at least two perspectives: Photography and Business.

From the photography perspective: What will be your focus? How will you differentiate your services from the competition? How will you price your services? Will you have a studio? Can you start with a focus on a smaller number of photographic specialties (so a little more narrow in scope, but deeper) - - this may only require a subset of equipment, therefore less investment, and it may also allow you to better brand yourself.

From a business perspective: Do you have a busines plan, with cash flow projections? Do you have money for marketing/sales? How long can you stay in business with no revenues, very little revenues, etc? Will you be able to buy all the equipment with cash? If not, what kind of loan payments can you afford? What do you have for collateral - - and are you willing to risk it? How will you know that your business is generating enough cash so that it is indeed successful? What are you willing to lose before calling it quits?

Ask, and answer, as many of these questions now - - before the pressure to execute is on.

Good luck!
thanks for the replys, i like the idea of the d700, that was going to be my next camera.

yes i plan to go through all the things i need to do this legally

as far as computer systems go, i have a linux server that is behind a firewall, but i could disconnect it from the internet, its really just for me to play with and use as an FTP/http/telnet server, but if i needed it for book-keeping etc. i would remove it from the internet for sure to protect my customers.

also my main editing computer is a 6 core 3.8 ghz AMD phenom, 16 gig ram at 1600mhz, 1 gig 256bit DDR 6 video card, 2 hard drives. total of 2 TB, then a 500gig external drive. it does a good job with lightroom and photoshop. oh and windows 7 64 bit. i guess the monitor could be upgraded to that dell IPS, but i have a nice gateway right now.

i have some time on my hands here, but may be starting a part time job soon, hopefully at a local camera store.

i dont want to be the guy thats like hey, what do i need to start a photography business tell me everything, im doing it tomarrow. thats why i want to slowely get ideas and put together everything needed, and maybe even start a few small jobs on the side to get my foot in the door and network. im not a facebook person, but i do have a few friends that network on there as far as photography goes locally.
Last edited:
• Critique • Photography By Zack Arias • ATL • 404-939-2263 • [email protected]

They are fairly long, but not bad on entertaining so they are fairly easy to keep up with. They might be critique videos, but there is also some good business advice and general inputs in there as well. I think Zak also talks about the business side more in his blog as well so its well worth checking out.

The main word of caution, though, is that if you want to run a business try to focus your choices so that you're the go-to guy for "Weddings" or "portraits" not the handyman of photography. Of course nothing stops you setting up two websites directed at two different kinds of client (eg your architecture clients are less likely to be interested in your wedding services and vis-versa).
Specialization is not a bad thing in and of itself, it will help set you apart from the rest. However I'm not sure that is the best advice in a small market. The OP does say he is in a small town. He has not said how that market is now served. What is certain is that in a small market, adaptability and ability to service the Lion's club party as well as the local varsity team and everything in between is a better road to financial feasibility. The OP needs to figure out how to capture that small market from whatever competition is around.
ok, actually its not a small town, i guess i was just saying its not a big city. the population of columbia sc and surround areas within 40 miles is about 750,000. the population of the in city limits is 130,000
ok, actually its not a small town, i guess i was just saying its not a big city. the population of columbia sc and surround areas within 40 miles is about 750,000. the population of the in city limits is 130,000

You are right, that is not a small market after all. The general advice of picking a niche and getting good at it is not a bad idea.
You can do beautifully with that! Population in my home town is like 1600. Literally.
I'm not trying to dissuade you or discourage you, just be prepared for the "lean" days. Years ago when I worked as a photographer, some weeks I made "good", other weeks I made just enough to break even. Be prepared for the "slow times". Don't forget the IRS and Social Security. I wasn't aware you had to pay SS, or "Self-Employment Tax". As a self-employed person, you'll need to set aside money for taxes or set up a quarterly payment plan. AND SAVE YOUR RECEIPTS! Equipment, travel, gas, meals, etc. can often be written off as a business expense. I'm sure things have changed, but some of the forum members who are current on these issues can probably give you better info. or you may know an accountant or CPA who can give you some advice. Best to you. Live the dream!
well, thats the thing, there is really no better time then now, or soon to get this started. im recovering from an accident, and really cannot do any heavy labor. im hoping for a job at the camera store, that could help with discounts of equipment hopefully, and printing pictures.

i think right now im going to put some money into my lighting, im not going to get too crazy with it at first, i just need a budget setup. was thinking a pair of sb-24s or sb-28s, 2 lighting stands with umbrellas, and the yongnuo trigger 4 pack, and probably an sb-700 for on on-camera ttl flash.

EDIT just won a sb-24 for $65 shipped, so i will just go with a pair of them...

Most reactions