How to Commence a Photography Business and Develop a Portfolio for Customers
  • Tiana Duarte-Kargbo took her photography aspect hustle total time following a stranger presented her a task.
  • She designed her organization by having freelance work opportunities and creating editorial assignments to present her techniques.
  • The photographer shares her suggestions for creatives hoping to transform their side hustles into organizations.

This is an as-told-to tale based mostly on an job interview with Tiana Duarte-Kargbo, who runs her have pictures enterprise, Tiana Michele Image.

Duarte-Kargbo picked up photography as a artistic outlet in May well 2020 and, the next thirty day period, moved from Memphis, Tennessee, to New York Town to pursue the side hustle skillfully. To make finishes fulfill, she labored working day work, such as just one in a salon.

In November 2021, a salon consumer asked to see her pictures and was moved by her talent, Duarte-Kargbo claimed. The customer, who owns a picture agency, presented her a work as an assistant, which gave Duarte-Kargbo the wage she desired to help herself and the adaptability to get the photography business off the ground.

Among December 2021 and January 2023, she booked 5 figures in income, files seen by Insider demonstrate. Here’s how Duarte-Kargbo leveraged an option to construct her organization and her assistance for other creatives attempting to do the very same.

The adhering to has been edited for duration and clarity.

Lean in to prospects

Duarte-Kargbo moved to New York for more opportunities

A photograph from Tiana Michele Picture.

Tiana Michele Image



I often believed pictures was entertaining but under no circumstances took it also critically. I was a dancer, but when COVID-19 strike, dance employment grew to become nonexistent and I was struggling from some serious accidents. So I took time off, and that’s when I picked up my camera once again.

For the initially two yrs of living in New York, I labored as a barista, in retail, and as a receptionist. I shot photos on the weekends and during my time off.

When I was working at the entrance desk of a salon, a shopper identified out I was a photographer and requested to see my function. I showed her my Instagram account, and she informed me I “shouldn’t be here,” that I must be out there doing images rather. But I described to her that I could not manage to give up my occupation. 

She mentioned she was going to assist me out, and afterwards that day, she available me an assistant place doing work for her. She reported it would be minimal servicing and give me time to do my possess detail.

For whatever motive, I considered her. In November 2021, I quit and worked for her for the following thirty day period and a fifty percent. In the meantime, I bought my web site redone and put out as a lot material as probable for the reason that I did not have time to do any of that prior to. Doing work for her gave me the time and area I needed to get on my feet.

Just after that month and a fifty percent, I was landing enough freelance gigs to leave the assistant part.

Construct a portfolio with what you have

Behind the scenes of a Duarte-Kargbo shoot.

Guiding the scenes of a Duarte-Kargbo shoot.

Courtesy of Tiana Duarte-Kargbo



Even prior to I fulfilled the stranger, I experienced established a portfolio with whatever perform I could. I did a good deal of things for cost-free, like photo shoots with people I’d randomly message on Instagram.

Duarte-Kargbo shoots some small weddings and elopements.

Duarte-Kargbo shoots some smaller weddings and elopements.

Tiana Michele Photograph



I also launched a mini undertaking identified as the coloration of dance in summer 2020. I labored with a handful of dancers of shade whom I photographed and then interviewed about their activities in the dance planet, for the reason that the field is quite racist.

By the end of the challenge, much more individuals experienced read about my operate and arrived at out to work with me. It was a excellent way to establish my assortment of get the job done.

Then, when I give up my salon career, I acquired cash via freelance work opportunities, like photographing a national dance conference and social-media articles for a advertising company. People employment paid the expenditures until finally I was prepared to acquire Tiana Michele Image whole time. 

Be intentional with the work opportunities you take

It is really mentally exhausting to constantly seem for work opportunities, weigh no matter if you happen to be on the ideal route, and choose what your operate is value. But my most significant piece of information to other creatives is not to settle for work you never want.

For case in point, marriage pictures can be lucrative, but the far more I shot weddings and posted all those photographs, the extra inquiries I acquired for wedding day-variety occasions. Ultimately, that is not the function I want to get.

I’ve deliberately posted more of my editorial do the job to show possible consumers which is my model and perfect gig.

Now I get a great deal of inquiries from consumers who are in the social-media field, both modest-business enterprise owners who need to have information or creators who will need information for themselves. And I get a large amount of customers who want to just have exciting picture shoots for by themselves. 

I enjoy these clients mainly because it presents me the flexibility to perform and experiment. Acquiring my voice and having my name out there are how I am going to get my desire gigs.

By Indana