How to Become a Beauty Photographer in 14 Steps (In-Depth Guide)

Updated: March 22, 2024 is reader-supported. When you buy through links on my site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

The beauty industry is booming. The global photography market size is projected to reach $60.8 billion by 2032. With the growth of the beauty industry comes increased opportunities in beauty photography. Social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok have fueled consumer desire over the last decade for beauty content.


The allure of working with makeup artists and models to create stunning photos and videos makes beauty photography an enticing career. Learning the photography skills needed to properly capture makeup artistry and model aesthetics takes commitment and practice.

This guide will walk you through how to become a beauty photographer. Topics include market research, competitive analysis, registering an EIN, obtaining business insurance, customer service, and more. Bring your knowledge and experience as a stylist to work as you start your own business.

1. Conduct How to Become a Beauty Photographer Market Research

Market research is essential to becoming a beauty and fashion photographer. It offers insight into your target market, industry trends, and the top tools of the trade. For the most part, it helps you outline the major parts of your business plan as a fashion photographer.


Some details you may learn through market research as a fashion and beauty photographer include:

  • The beauty industry is a major driver of demand for beauty photography services.
  • Rising social media usage also spurs demand. There are over 1 billion monthly active users on Instagram alone.
  • Aspiring influencers and everyday users alike seek high-quality fashion photography and videos to post.
  • Consumer desire for beauty photography spans geographic regions.
  • Women still make up the majority of beauty industry consumers, but men’s grooming products are also on the rise.
  • With diversity and inclusion becoming priorities for beauty brands, there are openings to photograph models of all ages, ethnicities, and gender identities.
  • Aspiring beauty photographers have ample opportunities to monetize their skills.
  • The barriers to entry in beauty photography are relatively low compared to other photography specializations.
  • Artistry and an eye for aesthetics are more important among hair stylists and makeup artist photography.
  • Post-processing skills can be self-taught through online tutorials.
  • Makeup artists often supply beauty products and models.
  • To become a professional beauty photographer, you simply need determination, resilience, and a passion for the craft.

While competitive, the creative flexibility and entrepreneurial prospects of beauty photography are compelling. Focusing a photography business on this booming industry with so many monetization avenues can be quite lucrative for those willing to hone their skills.

2. Analyze the Competition

When working to become a successful fashion photographer, thoroughly analyzing your competition is crucial. If you plan to operate a creative team for beauty photography shoots, research competitors in your geographic area.

Some ways to get to know competing businesses in the photography and fashion industry include:

  • Drive by nearby photography studios to evaluate their locations, signage, client traffic, and more.
  • Search online reviews and local business directories to gauge reputation.
  • Study their service offerings and pricing on their websites to inform your own.
  • Evaluating the competition online is equally important.
  • Search relevant hashtags on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube to find top beauty photographers building their brands on social media.
  • Analyze the engagement levels on their posts, their overall follower counts, video view counts, and subscriber numbers. This quantifies their reach and resonance.
  • Assess qualitative elements like their aesthetic styles, creative concepts, production value, and branding.
  • Make notes on strengths you aim to emulate and shortcomings you seek to avoid.
  • Subscribe to their channels to continually monitor and learn from their content strategies.
  • Use Google to uncover beauty photographers servicing your target geography and clientele.
  • Analyze their profiles on online creative job boards to understand their specialties.

Ongoing competitive analysis lets aspiring beauty photographers value their work based on the local market. Improve upon competitor vulnerabilities as you develop your own portfolio and style.

3. Costs of How to Become a Beauty Photographer

Launching a beauty photography business requires more than a knack for finding the best natural light. You must also think about the start-up costs of becoming a professional photographer. These consist of fashion photography equipment, establishing a legal business entity, and obtaining the necessary studio space.

Startup Costs

The primary start-up cost is a camera body and lenses suited for beauty photography.

Plan around $3,500 for a quality mid-range setup including:

  • A full-frame DSLR like the Canon 6D Mark II ($1,500)
  • An 85mm f/1.8 prime portrait lens ($600)
  • A 24-70mm f/2.8 standard zoom lens ($1,400)
  • Lighting gear like strobe lights ($200-500 each)
  • Reflector panels ($50) add further start-up costs

Estimate $5,000-$7,500 to acquire a robust beauty photography gear kit.

Creating a photography website, branding assets, and profiles across social media platforms comprises another essential start-up task. Secure your business name as a domain. This can cost $15-$30 per month. Factor another $200-300 for branding deliverables.

Structuring your business as an LLC or S-Corp adds legitimacy and liability protections. LegalZoom enables forming an LLC starting at $79 plus your state’s filing fees which average $500-600. Obtain an Employer Identification Number from the IRS as well which costs nothing.

Leasing even a modest studio for your own shoots costs around $1,000 per month in most US metro areas. Purchasing studio lighting equipment, backdrops and props will require several thousand dollars upfront in additional build-out costs beyond rent.

Ongoing Costs

Aside from equipment financing payments, the monthly expenses stemming from:

  • Website hosting fees
  • Continuing education courses
  • Adobe Creative Cloud subscription ($10-$80 per month)
  • Professional association memberships
  • Liability insurance ($500 per year)
  • Marketing spend
  • Other recurring costs

Getting through the first 6-12 months until higher-paying client work materializes can easily cost $3,500+ per month.

Having sufficient savings or a separate primary income stream ensures you can cover the considerable costs involved. Committing to ongoing self-promotion and portfolio development remains imperative as you reach out to model agencies and start shooting.

4. Form a Legal Business Entity

When launching a beauty photography business, properly structuring your legal business entity is important for liability protection and expansion capabilities. The four main options each have pros and cons to weigh against your own work ethic and expectations.

Sole Proprietorship

Operating as a sole proprietor means your business is not considered separate from you as an individual. This offers simplicity and flexibility for beauty photographers just starting. You take on unlimited personal liability for debts and legal claims tied to the business. Your assets can be pursued in lawsuits.


Forming a partnership with a fellow photographer allows combining complementary creative skills and business resources. You diversify risk across partners and raise more start-up capital. Each partner assumes full liability for the actions of the other under this structure.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Registering your beauty photography endeavor as an LLC offers the best of all worlds. You gain credibility with a formal business name while enjoying legal and financial separation between your personal and company assets. An LLC limits your liability from judgments or debts.


A stand-alone C-corporation entity enables raising funds by selling company shares through an initial public offering or private investors. Corporations can live beyond the involvement of original owners. However, corporate income gets taxed at the corporate rate and again through personal income taxes.

5. Register Your Business For Taxes

Once your beauty photography business is legally structured as an LLC, the next vital compliance step is obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

An EIN serves as your business’s social security number for tax purposes. It is required for opening a dedicated business bank account, applying for licenses, hiring employees in the future, and even selling products on Amazon or social platforms.

Applying for an EIN is free and straightforward through the IRS website:

  1. Navigate to the EIN Assistant page
  2. Answer whether you are based inside or outside the United States along with information on your LLC entity and ownership structure.
  3. Provide your personal identifying details such as name, SSN, address, and phone number.
  4. Print or electronically save the issued EIN confirmation notice from the IRS for your records.

With an EIN secured, also register with your state revenue or taxation department to obtain a Sales Tax ID number (if required in your state). This allows legally collecting and remitting state sales taxes on any photography packages or products sold to clients or online stores in the future as your studio grows.

Submit your EIN, business banking details, and a completed sales tax permit application to the state. Once approved, you will receive a Sales Tax ID certificate or confirmation letting you collect sales tax moving forward. Display this certificate publicly.

Keep in mind that sales tax registration fees based on business structure and location range from $20 to several hundred dollars due at the time of application submission for processing.

6. Setup Your Accounting

Properly managing your finances and adhering to accounting best practices is crucial when launching a beauty photography venture. Investing in tools like accounting software and partnering with an accountant protects you during tax season and expensive audits.

Hire an Accountant

As a creative, number-crunching may not be your specialty. However unclear bookkeeping can quickly create major headaches. Failing to separate business and personal transactions makes untangling finances complicated. If selected for an IRS audit, inadequate records raise red flags.

Accounting Software

Using accounting software like QuickBooks lets you connect business bank accounts and credit cards so transactions automatically download into predefined income and expense categories. Bills, invoices, and taxes remain organized in one dashboard. This automation saves ample time while ensuring clean books.

Open a Business Bank Account and Credit Card

Operating your photography studio demands a strict separation of business and personal finances. Using dedicated business checking/savings accounts and credit cards maintains this division. Applying for a business credit card also helps track expenditures without impacting your credit score.

7. Obtain Licenses and Permits

Before welcoming your first photography client, ensure your beauty studio secures all required licenses. Find federal license information through the U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBA also offers a local search tool for state and city requirements.

Registering your legal business entity and tax obligations is merely the beginning. You must still gain clearance for a commercial storefront studio location or home-based office suited for client meetings and photography sessions through proper zoning variances and home occupation permits.

These allow operating spaces zoned for residential instead of commercial use. Applications cost around $25 and require inspections proving you meet safety codes and insurance requirements. Some homeowner associations restrict all business activity without HOA approval as well.

If planning retail sales of branded beauty products or photo prints beyond just photography services, also apply for your city’s business license. Fees range from $50 to the hundreds of dollars annually. This allows legitimately transacting business in that municipality and confirms you meet all codes.

Some counties additionally mandate specific creative business permits for photographers beyond standard business licenses. These may encompass extra zoning ordinances related to operating a photo studio, regulations around photographing minors and insurance obligations for commercial enterprises.

8. Get Business Insurance

Business insurance shields beauty photographers against financial perils that could otherwise permanently shutter promising enterprises. It transforms ruinous liabilities into manageable expenses by distributing risk across an insured pool.

Without adequate coverage, a minor mishap during a shoot could spur a lawsuit exceeding your savings. For example, a model could trip over unsecured gear and sustain injuries warranting medical bills or lost wages. An electrical fire sparked by studio equipment may damage the entire building.

Perhaps a disgruntled client loses precious photos due to a corrupted memory card and seeks compensation for the pivotal life events you failed to capture. These common accidents all quickly spiral absent insurance.

General liability insurance policies covering bodily harm, property damage, and personal injury start at around $50 per month. Products tailored to photographers through providers like The Hartford also include equipment coverage and errors & omissions clauses for client disputes.

Gaining business insurance only requires reaching out for customized quotes based on your LLC entity type, studio location, number of contractors, and other key details. Be prepared to provide:

  • General contact information
  • Your annual revenue
  • Types of photography services offered
  • Average number of shoots per week
  • Square footage of your studio space

Premiums vary widely based on these factors. For a single contractor working from a home studio, expect to budget $100+ monthly for ample protections. This wise investment reduces six-figure risks to modest deductibles.

Rather than rolling the dice, protect your budding beauty photography venture from the outset through business insurance. Accidents and unforeseen catastrophes lurk around each corner. Transferring these hazards to insured policies sustains your studio no matter what misfortunes may strike.

9. Create an Office Space

Establishing a professional office space as a beauty photographer lends credibility with clients while providing a centralized hub for handling the administrative aspects of running your photography studio. An office goes beyond just having a shooting location or post-production setup.

Home Office

Convert a spare bedroom or basement into a home office for minimal expense. Expect costs of a desk and office supplies around $2,000 upfront, plus $150-300 monthly for upgraded internet and utilities depending on size.

Coworking Space

For around $300 monthly at spaces like WeWork, a hot desk in a shared creative coworking environment provides workplace community and networking. Expect amenities like printing, conference rooms, and coffee. Storage is limited and materials cannot be left onsite. There are also no dedicated spaces to meet clients.

10. Source Your Equipment

Launching a beauty photography studio demands quality camera gear and lighting equipment to capture clients’ makeup artistry in inspiring detail.

For amazing pictures, you need amazing equipment. Here are the top avenues to source those tools:

Buying New

Of course, purchasing fresh equipment from retailers like B&H Photo allows customizing the exact cameras, lenses, and strobes that best fit your needs and aesthetic. Invest in pro-oriented gear with durable construction and backup services given the investment of thousands of dollars.

Buying Used

Scour photography forums and used marketplaces like KEH Camera and eBay to uncover discounted secondhand equipment in reputable condition at 40-60% savings off new options. Local sellers on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace also offer deals.


Rather than immediately sinking capital into ownership, renting camera and lighting gear for specific jobs or test shoots enables sampling tools before fully committing. Lens-rental sites like Borrow Lenses, Lens Rentals, and LensProToGo offer reasonable week-long rental rates.


Some equipment providers offer three-year leasing terms on new camera setups and strobes for affordable monthly payments rather than demanding large out-of-pocket buys. Expect to qualify based on personal/business credit history and pay the gear’s remaining value should you keep it after the term expires.

11. Establish Your Brand Assets

Crafting a cohesive brand identity helps beauty photographers express their unique artistic perspectives while appearing polished and professional to clients around the world. Investing in brand assets also boosts credibility and memorability in a visually crowded industry.


Getting a Business Phone Number

If you hope to set yourself apart, purchasing a dedicated business phone number through providers like RingCentral enables seamless calls. Expect starter plans around $30 monthly with vanity numbers available using your business name.

Creating a Logo and Brand Assets

A logo encapsulates your studio’s personality and specialty while iconic marks boost brand recognizability across marketing materials. Looka and similar DIY sites offer eye-catching templates from $20. Custom designer gigs on Fiverr charge a few hundred dollars.

Business Cards and Signage

Business cards enable professionally introducing yourself during in-person networking and sharing contact info with prospective clients. Vistaprint provides 250 basic cards for around $20. Consider spot-varnished accents for added polish.

Purchasing a Domain Name

Secure your business’s identity online by purchasing a .com domain through registrars like NameCheap for less than $15 per year. Short, simple domain names directly conveying “beauty photography” prove best. Make sure web visitors reach your site not error pages.

Building a Website

Display your portfolio and book client sessions via a website. Through Wix and similar DIY platforms with photography templates, expect starter sites for around $10 monthly. Or hire web developers on Fiverr for $500.

12. Join Associations and Groups

Joining relevant professional associations and online communities accelerates growth for aspiring beauty photographers through networking, idea exchanges, and access to industry insights.

Local Associations

Look into your statewide professional photographers association like the Professional Photographers of California which offers benefits like pro labs, gear discounts, and legal templates for $150 annually. Attend association photo expos to connect in person with esteemed professionals while evaluating the latest gear.

Local Meetups

Discovering workshops, seminars, gallery showcases, and networking happy hours in your region sparks inspiration while forging connections with fellow artists. Photography enthusiast gatherings abound on sites like Meetup. Browse by location and niches like Fashion Photography or Creative Professionals to find the perfect fit.

Facebook Groups

For community support 24/7/365, dive into Facebook Groups like the Fashion/Beauty Photography & Retouch which share job opportunities, styling trends, and business coaching specific to the industry. Others like Beginners Photography Group offer technique advice.

13. How to Market a Beauty Photographer Business

Implementing marketing best practices ensures beauty photographers consistently engage ideal prospective clients, generate bookings, and expand their commercial reach through compelling online and offline touchpoints.


Personal Networking

Tap your network by posting across social channels about your refined specialty. Offer time-limited discounts to connections for early shoots to build a portfolio. Satisfied clients then organically endorse your work to their broader friend networks as you deliver incredible image results.

Digital Marketing

  • Run Google/Facebook ads promoting limited seating for photography workshops or styled sessions for teen models aspiring to build their portfolios
  • Guest post beauty, fashion, and cosmetics blogs detailing your unique point-of-view around striking a balance between glam and natural looks
  • Launch YouTube tutorials revealing posing tricks and behind-the-scenes lighting techniques to showcase expertise
  • Email special seasonal offers for holiday family or Valentine’s couple mini-sessions
  • Partner with respected hair salons and makeup artists to co-market beauty services combinable into packages
  • Post TikTok videos documenting editorial photoshoots from lighting setup through final editing

Traditional Marketing

  • Design eye-catching postcards with your top images/branding for mailers to cosmetic company headquarters offering services shooting products or models
  • Print flyers distributed at beauty product retailers, fashion shows, and industry events listing precise specialties around cosmetics, skin, hair editorial photography types
  • Schmooze event photographers around handling overflow clients/bookings for weddings or corporate functions involving glam themes
  • Volunteer pro bono services at pageants and modeling competitions to gain visible event program credits and direct networking

While digital platforms enable efficiently contacting swaths of prospects nationwide, local in-person networking carries equal weight for assignments landing beauty photographers coveted publication press, commercial brand deals, and influencer clientele.

14. Focus on the Customer

Delivering exceptional customer service dramatically accelerates growth for aspiring beauty photographers. How you make clients feel before, during, and after photoshoots directly impacts referrals and retention. In short, your dream depends on your customers.


Thoughtfully considering locations, poses, lighting, and scene setups catered to individuals instead of only what works best for you. Show customers your concept and mood board. Ask them what they consider the components of great images to be. Self-doubt is your enemy as you build your work ethic.

Following up quickly with selects from sessions and involving clients in collaborative final editing discussions maintains excitement around revealing their personalized photos. Make customers feel like friends by including them throughout the process.

Finally, sharing online albums packaged beautifully with customized beauty retouching and color grading positions you as a top-tier creative invested in exceeding expectations every step while inviting organic shares and tagged social posts from delighted clients.

In an industry intensely reliant on word-of-mouth praise and referrals from past photography subjects to land future bookings, going above and beyond in nurturing meaningful customer relationships ultimately proves most profitable long-term.

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