The photography business is one of the most competitive businesses in the United Arab Emirates. In addition to taking great photos, you need to be a superb business person to make a decent living in the field. You’ll get there much more quickly if you start right.
Start with a Solid Photography Business Plan
Like the old saying goes
“failing to plan is planning to fail”.
You need to do the math to see what can make your photography venture sustainable over the long run.
An important question to ask yourself is how much will you charge for your services? Let’s say you believe your time is worth AED 300 per hour. For every hour you spend shooting, you’ll spend about three hours editing. You need to factor that into your pricing.
You will need to research as to what type of photography services are in high demand. Is corporate photography a good niche? Should you focus on weddings, birthday parties, and assorted celebrations? Is having a full-time studio necessary for you?
Photography Portfolio and Gear
Professional experience is a must regardless of your niche. You’ll need to show your prospective clients what you can produce and to do so you’ll need a portfolio. You could be the most amazing photographer in the world, but unless people know about it, you will not see any success. A good website is a great means to showcase your portfolio alongside social media.
If you start as a sole trader, when it comes to camera gear, professional photographers recommend having two cameras, two high-quality lenses, two flashes, and high-quality photo editing software to edit the images. The reason you need two of everything is that you need backup equipment. All equipment breaks down and letting down your clients is not good for business.
Where to Incorporate to Photography Business
If you select the free zone for your company setup, then you have quite a few options. Dubai Media City, Fujairah Creative City, and Umm Al Quwain FZ Authority allows an individual to operate as a freelance photographer, and conduct business in one’s birth name as opposed to a company. This is a great option if you are on a tight budget and don’t want to rent an office space nor hire staff.
However, if you want the flexibility to apply your trade through the Emirates, we would recommend getting a local license through the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED). You will require a local partner as well as a physical site for your business. We can help you with both of those requirements.
National Media Council
Outdoor photography is a regulated activity in the United Arab Emirates. The responsible regulatory agency is the National Media Council. You must lodge an online application for any aerial or ground level photography session in public areas.
The requirements to obtain a photography permit are:
- Confirm the start and finish of the photography session
- Identify the location of the photography
- Provide details of all photographers
The process is relatively straight forward therefore compliance is easy.
The Future of Photography in Dubai
This is an exciting time to be a photographer. New developments in photography will allow 3D object capture, better real-time AR interaction, and photos that have an incredible level of depth. With Dubai always at the forefront of technological change, this is the ideal place to be at the cutting edge of this transformation. If you launch your business in Dubai, you can help shape the future of photography.