Steps to Starting a Photography Business in Kenya

Steps to Starting a Photography Business in Kenya


This is a complete guide on how to start a photography business in Kenya. It covers every aspect of starting a photography business including the equipment you will need and how to market your work.

There are many different types of photographers out there, some specialize in portraits while others do wedding photography or something else. That’s why we each have our own niches.

But the basic principles in starting a photography business are the same and this article will cover all of them, including marketing techniques that work for photographers no matter what their niche is.

But first, let’s take a step back and look at why setting up your photography business in Kenya is such an attractive idea.

Is a Photography Business in Kenya Profitable?

Yes, there’s a good chance it is. Why? Well, a few reasons come to mind;

Not many people are in the photography business in Kenya. In Nairobi, just 4,000 out of 8 million people have cameras or take photographs regularly.

The fact that there are so few professional photographers means there’s plenty of room for you to find your own niche and start making some money.

What do we mean by niche? We’re saying there’s no reason to face direct competition. For example, if you set up a business to sell wedding photography services, then couples getting married will need more than one photographer at their event.

So even though there are a lot of people taking pictures in Kenya (and plenty of businesses that sell cameras and other photography equipment), there aren’t a lot of professional wedding photographers.

When you have something like this on your side, you’re going to find it much easier to make money in any business. Why? Well, for starters, there’s little risk involved in trying out new ideas – because the market is so small and so unaware of the services that you’re offering, they’ll be happy to try something new as long as it’s good enough.

The point here is that there are a lot of potential customers in Kenya for your business. And while there are several other factors (such as how much money you have or don’t have) that will influence your success in your business, these at least give you a good chance of success.

Reasons You Should Start a Photography Business in Kenya

So why start a photography business in Kenya? There are many reasons:

  • It is a great side hustle – as we mentioned, there are very few professional photographers in Kenya. What does that mean? That means you’ll get plenty of work if your business is good enough! If you’re looking for a way to make some extra money without having to commit yourself full time (to one job), this can be a great way to do it.
  • New Experiences – If you’re, say a travel photographer, you’ll get to meet people from all over the world who are eager to share their stories. And if you’re a portrait or wedding photographer, in particular, there’s very little competition for you – usually only one or two competitors who have similar skills (and both of these may actually be trying to compete with each other). If you’re a wildlife photographer, there’s plenty of potential clients for you in Kenya.
  • Your prospects are unlimited – whether you want to shoot weddings or portraits (and make some money doing so), find travel photography work by shooting landscapes and famous landmarks or even take up stock photography as a way to earn extra cash – the fact is that the opportunities are endless.

Setbacks to Starting a Photography Business in Kenya

There are, of course, a few problems with starting a photography business in Kenya.

  • You need money – any time you want to start your own business, capital is one big problem that you’re going to have to deal with. And in the case of many photographers who are just starting out, they don’t have much cash available. So if you’re going to open a photography business, we recommend that you save as much money as possible before you start.
  • Inconsistent Income – being a photographer means that your income can be all over the place. For example, one week you might make a ton of money and another week you’ll make very little (or nothing at all). That’s just the nature of what we do – sometimes people need photos quickly and they’re willing to pay top dollar, other times they don’t really care about taking new pictures at all.
  • Business is competitive – while there are very few wedding photographers in Kenya, you’re not the only travel photographer or portrait photographer out there. What do we mean by this? Basically that your customers could be going to other businesses to get photos and they might be happy with their current services. The good news is that if they aren’t happy with those services, they might try you out – but if you don’t deliver on your promises (which we’ll talk about below), that could hurt your business.
  • You need to have the right personality for this job – so while this is true of any type of photography side hustle, it’s even more important in Kenya because there are very few professional photographers out there. Because you’re new, people are going to be sceptical of your skills and they might want pictures that look like the ones that other professionals have taken before (which is okay – just try to find a niche for yourself by finding something different or unique from what others do).

How Much Does it Cost to Start a Photography Business in Kenya?

The truth is that there’s no easy answer to this question. Why? Because starting a photography business costs different amounts depending on what type of photography you want to do:

A wedding photographer who owns a nice DSLR camera, an external flash and some lenses can spend about $1000 – $2000 (roughly) on equipment and other expenses, but a wedding photographer that also owns a portable lighting setup may spend more.

A portrait photographer who is just starting out can probably get by with a cheaper DSLR camera and some lenses, but if they want to do more advanced stuff like multiple portraits or products shots, then the cost will go up.

A travel photographer who has some basic equipment (DSLR camera, tripod, wide-angle lens) can probably get away with spending less than $500. But if they want to have some extra equipment like a portable lighting setup or something with them at all times, then the costs start going up. The more expensive your business is right from the beginning, the easier it will be for you to get clients. So you may want to start out with a more expensive business just because of that fact alone.

Steps to Starting a Photography Business in Kenya

Now that we have the basics down, let’s get into the details of what you need to do to start a photography business in Kenya.

Step 1: Create a Photography Business Plan

This is the first step to starting a business in Kenya – make sure that you outline a plan for your photography business. If you’re not familiar with this process, there are plenty of templates online where you can just fill in the blanks.

Here’s an example (but again, if you aren’t very good at planning and organizing, you can find templates online where you just fill in the blanks):

If you want to learn more about business plans, check out this article: How to Write a Business Plan for your Photography Business.

Step 2: Do Some Research on Your Market and Potential Clients

Research is the number one thing you can do to give yourself a competitive advantage – especially in Kenya where there are very few professional photography businesses.

By doing research, you can see what other people are charging for their services, who your potential clients are and how many of them there are (so that you know whether or not you can make a living off of this), and what things they’d be willing to pay for.

You don’t necessarily need to spend a lot of money on marketing – with research, you can find out exactly how much people are spending (both average and maximum) on photography services like yours, which will help you when it’s time to start your sales process (which we’ll talk about in Step 4).

Step 3: Sharpen Your Photography Skills

In order to be able to do professional photos in Kenya, your pictures will have to look very good (like the ones that are posted on the websites of other photographers). So you need to practice and get better.

The best way to get better is to take photos of things you don’t want to (crappy focus, bad lighting, etc.). Don’t be afraid to go up to random people and ask them if they could hold a pose for 15 seconds so that you can take a picture.

It’s always better to take a lot of bad pictures and to learn from them than to take a few pictures that look good.

You can also invest in a photography course (or courses) that will teach you all about photography (both the technical stuff and business skills).

Step 4: Get the Right Equipment for a Photography Business in Kenya

Hopefully, you already have some basic equipment for your photography business (DSLR camera, tripod, wide-angle lens). But if not, there are plenty of things that you’ll need to start a good photography business. As I said earlier, whether or not you invest a lot of money into your initial investment will determine whether or not you’ll have a hard time getting clients at first and if you lose money.

For example, if all you have is the kit lens that came with your camera, then it won’t be very easy to get good photos for your business. Your photos will look terrible (because people expect higher quality from a professional photographer) compared to someone who has a professional camera.

If you’re just starting out, I recommend that you try to get the best equipment that you can (within reason) and save money in other areas of your business (such as getting cheaper backdrops or something). This will make it easier for you to take great photos without having any problems – which is key.

In any case, here’s some of the equipment that I recommend you have:

  • Camera – Canon 5D Mark III (or any other professional camera)
  • Tripod
  • Camera bag
  • 2 Extra Batteries
  • Wide-angle Lens
  • 50mm lens
  • Macro lens
  • 1 Flash External Hard Drive
  • Memory Cards
  • Wireless Remote
  • Shutter Release
  • Lens cleaning supplies
  • Filters
  • Backdrops
  • Bounce cards
  • Dimmable light
  • Light stands/booms/etc.

If you don’t have a lot of money and you can only invest in one thing, then make sure it’s your camera. That’s the most important thing that you need to be able to do professional photography (in my opinion). If you’re just starting out, you can get a pretty good camera for $2K-3K. If money isn’t an issue (you’re just trying to make the transition from hobbyist to professional), then I’d recommend that you spend as much money on your equipment as possible because it will make things so much easier and get you better results.

Step 5: Invest in a Good Photo-editing Software

If you have your own photography business in Kenya, then you’ll probably be working with a lot of raw files. This means that they’re not going to look very good when you get them from the camera (they’ll have bad lighting, white balance problems, etc.). However, you can use software like Lightroom and Photoshop to edit photos so that they look great.

As far as I know, Photoshop is the most popular photo-editing software out there (at least in Kenya). So if you’re thinking of starting a photography business, then just get that one and start learning how to use it. It’ll take some time to learn how to use it effectively, but if you’re serious about starting a photography business (like I said earlier), then you’ll have to put the time into learning it.

The internet is also an amazing resource for learning how to use software like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. There are plenty of tutorials that will teach you how to do things like retouching, removing colours from pictures, etc. Just google “Photoshop tutorial” or something.

Step 6: Choose Your Photography Niche

If you’re thinking of starting your own photography business, then you’ll probably want to decide what kind of photography niche that you want to specialize in. This is because some niches are more profitable than others ( portrait photographers charge a lot more than event photographers do).

In any case, here are some of the most common photography niches out there:

Portrait Photography – this is probably the most popular niche in Kenya.

Event photography – if you’re lucky enough to get a gig at any big event (such as an expo or something), then you’ll make bank.

Wildlife/Scenic – this is a niche that I’m interested in. It’s very cool, but you don’t get to see a lot of wildlife here (in Nairobi).

Wedding Photography – most people hire wedding photographers for only one day. That means that you only make money on one day, and then you have about 6 months to find another photography client

Stock Photography – this is a very interesting niche that I’d like to dip my feet into. It’s basically selling photos online (not to people, but to corporations). You usually get paid by the photo, so if you have 100 pictures that sell for $5 USD each, then you make $500 USD.

Photography is a very competitive market, and there are always new people trying to start their own photography business. You have to be willing to put in hours upon hours of hard work into your business if you want it to succeed.

So if you’re really serious about getting into the photography industry, then I suggest that you start doing what most professionals do: put in the hours day in and day out. People generally don’t get good at something overnight, so if you’re serious about photography, then be ready for a ton of work ahead of you.

Step 7: Create Social Media Pages for Your Photography Business

If you’re serious about starting a photography business, then you need to have your own social media pages. You can use these pages to showcase work that you’ve done (and get potential clients interested in hiring you), and they can also serve as a platform for customer service purposes.

When it comes down to it, though, the best thing about social media is that it gives you a platform for interacting with your customers. If your clients see that you’re out there, responding to their questions, and helping them whenever possible, then they’ll probably be more likely to hire you again when they have another photography need (or refer someone else to you).

So if I were starting my own business, then I’d create these pages for my photography business: a Facebook page (to showcase work and to interact with customers), a Twitter account (for interacting with customers), and an Instagram account (again, for showcasing work and interacting with customers).

For photography, we find Instagram the best as it is more visual and a great platform to advertise on.

Step 8: Start Taking Pictures!

Now that you have the most basic stuff in place, all you need to do is start taking pictures of what you think your clients want. If they want family photos, then take some. If they want event photography, then shoot those photos.

It sounds really simple, but it’s actually pretty hard to put this into practice sometimes. You have to be able to anticipate your client’s needs and deliver. For example, if a client hires me to take pictures of their wedding, then I have to be able to anticipate what they’re going to need and deliver (that is my job).

It’s definitely not easy, but it can pay off big time if you’re willing to put in the work.

Now that you are just starting out in the business, you may not have clients in your circle of contacts. That means that your only method for generating business at first will be to create a website and supply a good portfolio of photos. You can also offer free samples which will help you get more clients.

Step 9: Market Your Photography Business

After creating a few good samples, it is time to market your business. You can do this by:

Direct Marketing- This involves sending out brochures and flyers to interested people who may need your services through the post or door-to-door campaigns. Word of mouth through friends, family members and acquaintances is also an effective way to market your business. Trade shows, exhibitions and seminars are also good options for you to meet potential clients and business partners.

PowerPoint Presentations – You can use these to help you market your products, services and company details through power-point presentations. However, ensure that the images used in them match the quality of work you offer.

Accessories – Every photographer needs an array of accessories to take pictures and videos of a wide variety of scenes. This includes tripods, remote cameras, flash guns and even photo editing software. You can market these accessories through your website or social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.

Remember that business networking is important if you want to start a successful photography business. Ensure that the people you meet are not competitors. The information you share should be relevant to photography, though.

You can also market your services through trade fairs in colleges and universities and professional clubs or associations that you belong to.

These strategies will help you promote your business and get more clients in Kenya . They are time-consuming but they work if approached strategically.

Step 10: Decide on Your Rates

It is important to note that the Internet has made life easier for both professionals and amateurs. Almost everyone with a smartphone possesses powerful photography equipment (e.g., digital cameras, camcorders, cell phone camera) compared to just a few years ago. For this reason, it is crucial to establish your rates as soon as possible. Two common factors you should consider are the complexity of a project and the cost of your time.

The pricing strategy that works best for you will depend on your industry, so be sure to research thoroughly before deciding on any price. To get some help with this, here is a step-by-step guide on how to set prices in photography :

Find out the prices offered by your competitors. Research costs of setting up a professional photography business – consider factors such as capital, operating expenses, equipment and staffing costs.

Figure out your employees’ salaries and benefits to ensure that you comply with Kenyan labour laws. Determine how much profit you want, based on needs or personal preferences. Consult professionals for help or advice when you need them.

Depending on the circumstance, individual prices for different projects can be set higher than the average because a client may want nothing but quality work from you. However, if your pricing is too high and clients are not comfortable with it, they will look elsewhere

After determining your rates and packages, update your website and include them in your portfolio. Use the same rates when talking to potential clients, so that they have a clear idea of what they are going to pay before starting the project.

Conclusion

The photography business is no different from other businesses. From product creation and delivery to the sales process, you need a strong marketing strategy to succeed. There are many ways to do this, but some of them may only help you in the short term while others will benefit your business for years to come.

Here are some things to bear in mind when starting a photography business in Kenya :

Study the market and determine where your customers are. You can do this by talking to people from other businesses that they come into contact with on a regular basis. Take time to understand what their preferences are and how their needs change over time.

Find out where your target customers hang out online so that you can reach them by advertising your services on social media. Look up local events and trade shows where you can meet other photographers and make connections with potential clients.

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