Tips from a Pro: How to Name Your Photography Business

photography desktop-01 As a photographer just starting out, it’s easy to name your business after yourself. After all, you are the one taking the pictures.

But Angela Kurkian, director of education for the Professional Photographers of America (PPA), encourages photographers on the brink of turning passion into business to think carefully about the name they choose for their brand.

“One of the things we tell our members is to begin with the end in mind,” Kurkian says. “You want a name that can grow with you. Think about naming your child, for instance. You want to think about him or her as an adult, not just as a little one.”

Kurkian, who advises the 28,000 members of the PPA on business and branding techniques, says the first step is to develop a business plan that identifies target clientele, sales strategy and long-term goals for the business. Then you’re better equipped to choose a name that can grow with your business versus hold it back later down the line.

Name.Kitchen asked Kurkian to weigh the pros and cons of naming your photography business one of two popular ways: naming it after yourself versus coming up with an original name.

Going out as ... you!

“If you’re wanting to build a name for yourself, then naming your business after yourself can be a good thing,” says Kurkian. “It’s easy for people to remember, they don’t need to remember anything kitschy. They just have to remember you as a person, and you’re always identified as that person at the forefront of your business.”

However, if you have aspirations of selling the photography business someday, or taking on additional photographers, a business bearing your name might not be as attractive to prospective buyers or partners. But Kurkian says it’s not impossible, pointing to the success of Fred Marcus Studios, a high-end wedding photography business in New York City.

“He’s become like Tiffany’s,” she says. “It’s a personal name, but it’s become a brand instead of a person.”

Creating a new name

When crafting an original name for your business, Kurkian says to think thoughtfully about your ideal clients and the brand you wish to convey.

“You want something that’s going to draw you in, not something that’s going to shut the door,” she says. “You’re not going to appeal to a high-end modern bride with ‘Hearts & Kisses Photography,’ for instance.”

Keeping the name descriptive, yet short, is also key. Kurkian points to LA Pinups as an example. “You know exactly what he does by the name,” she says.

Kurkian sites her Ohio-based photography business, Essenza Studios, as an example, too. When she launched the business, her objective wasn't to be the sole photographer. Rather, it would be a central hub for a network of photographers -- so using her name would have been a hurdle in building out this vision.

“If you have long-range plans of wanting to have multiple photographers or a larger base, and want to be able to extend beyond your own personal capabilities, then having a name outside of yourself is smart,” she advises.

Click here to learn more about the PPA's business and photography programs.