Blog Professional Development – Zak Arias: If I Had to Start My Photography Business Today

Professional Development – Zak Arias: If I Had to Start My Photography Business Today


I recently attended a webinar by Zak Arias titled “If I Had to Start My Photography Business Today” put on by PhotoShelter.

Zak Arias Website Screen Grab

The talked was based around the scenario of him being kidnapped and having to start all over again from scratch in another city he had no contacts in. He made some awesome points, you can see my notes below;

  • The first thing you should do is hire an accountant
  • Slash your expenses
    • Get small coffees, no lattes
  • Know your numbers
    • What is the cost of doing business?
    • What does it cost you to live a month?
  • Gear you should buy (approx used prices)
    • 5D Mk I 12MP $600 (x2 for event photography)
    • 35mm f2 $250
    • 85mm 1.8 $300
    • 5 in 1 Reflector $60
    • Light Stand $60
    • Cards, Batteries, Misc $200
    • Used Computer $1000
    • Some photographers end up getting GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome), avoid this.
  • Setup a Basic Word-press Site
    • Gallery
    • Blog
  • Business Card
    • Name
    • Location
    • Phone Number
    • (not
  • Find your niche (client base)
    • Research research research
    • Wedding (1-3 Year turnaround)
    • Editorial (1-3 Year turnaround)
      • Joey L
    • Headshots are a great start
      • Prices can vary from $200-1500
      • People need one right now
  • Shoot your friends
  • Find your referral base (different from client base)
    • Rather than looking for apples, look for the apple tree
    • Find the guy that knows 10 bands
      • Take them for coffee and ask what they want to see in the industry
  • Shoot for free
    • Limit the # of shoots and set a time frame (next 30 days)
    • Don’t give free to anybody
    • Zak focused on Thurs-Sat playing bands that were at bars 2x month, with merchandise.
  • Don’t complain about the over saturation of the photography market, you are a part of the over-saturation
  • Get involved
    • Find a local place to volunteer at 1x month
      • Don’t push it, make relationships not sales
  • Hustle
    • Get out there and make it better. Get off your Xbox.
    • Get off the photo forums, photographers don’t hire other photographers
  • Just a heads up you’re going to work for 5 years before you take a breather
  • Q and A
    • Is there any marketing that you would pay for in the beginning ? No except for maybe Adbase, editorial photographers list
    • What software would you purchase? Lightroom and Photoshop elements

It was a great hour long talk put on by PhotoShelter, just the right kick in the pants a Friday afternoon needed.

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