How to Start a Photography Business or at Least How I Did

I was 17. I had been offered an internship as a wedding photographers assistant the summer after I graduated, 2008. So not knowing what I was getting into, I jumped at the chance to spend the summer shooting weddings. It was unpaid, I was unexperienced and the new Canon 40D in my hands was a forgein language to me. I had no idea what I was doing, but I had a camera and I was a photographer. This is how to start a photography business, or at least how I did.


After finishing my college training for photography I remember writing “Professional Photography” on every business card and marketing piece I owned. Looking back now, 7 years later, I wouldn’t call myself a “professional.” I consider myself a photographic artist. I have learned that photographic art is ever changing and there is no way to know everything. Even those that I have known in the industry for 20+ years have failen behind due to not keeping up with the times. They are fabulous photographers but have not changed as time marches on. So no matter how many classes I take and trainings I attend, the photographic art industry is ever changing and always advancing.

So in 2008 I jumped in feet first with a dream and a passion to be a “Professional Photographer” and started TJZ Creations Photography & Graphic Design. The TJZ portion was my initials: Tiffany Joy Ziegenfus. I took pictures of everything… Portraits, Weddings, Seniors, Business, Vehicle and Event Photography. I was the jack of all trades and the master of none. It’s taken 4 years to figure out my true passions, Wedding and High School Senior photography. Some say I should’t limit myself so much and others say I need to specialize in just ONE! However, I have a plan. I love both and can’t see myself giving either one up.


Original Business Card in 2008


You see, one of my first high school seniors is getting married this December and Aaron and I will be photographing her wedding in Michigan. My goal is that the relationships I build with my seniors during there session and senior year, will only continue when they are engaged and getting married to the love of their life. I can’t tell you how wonderful and rewarding it is to have Aubree ask me to be her wedding photographer. Yes, I cried a few tears of joy and delight when I heard the news.


One of Aubree’s senior photos


In 2010, I got serious about my business with a big dream and a 10 year plan. I started renting a studio location in September of that year and my business took off. I hired a web designer to make me a legit site and realized that contacts weren’t just for looks.


You see, in my mind, I wanted to be the biggest photographer in Greensburg. My 10 year plan was to have a large warehouse and section it down into studio rooms. One even complete with a portion of a vintage 1950’s bus. Then there was the coffee shop downstairs to help cover rent and the staff and team of photographers that ran things along with myself. I had it all mapped out, but after our wedding at the end of 2012, things started to change. God had a different plan for my big “ten year plan.” He wanted me to keep it small and build a business on relationships. Not quantity but creating quality lasting relationships. With that, Aaron and I started shooting together in March of 2013. Pat & Tarra’s wedding was one of the first that we shot together that year.


Then in January of this year, after 2 full wedding seasons together as a husband and wife team, we changed our business name from TJZ Creations to Jackson Signature Photography.


I never thought I would get rid of my silly TJZ Creations name, a name that was created and though up over picking a screen name for my Apple dot MAC account but thanks to a wonderful industry leader, Mary Marantz, she gave me the push I needed to make the change. You can read all about our name change in this blog post here.

So from big business dream to small and specialized, my vision changed. Creating fantastic relationships leads to the most beautiful photos.

This is my story. This is how it all began. God has created me to create and guided my every step. It has not been easy and has had it’s fair share of lows and highs but I know I am right where I should be.

– Tiffany

  • Melissa said:

    I enjoyed reading this! Thanks for sharing your story :)

  • Love the story. It helps others who are contemplating their own business.

  • Doug Rae said:

    I love reading an article that can make people think. Also, many thanks for allowing for me to comment!