Skip to main content

Success as a photographer in Punjab

Bilal at work as a photographer

Success as a photographer in Punjab

My name is Bilal and I’m 29 years old. I come from Punjab province in Pakistan. After graduating as an engineer at the University of Engineering and Technology, Taxila, I first worked as an electrical engineer in Saudi Arabia and then in Qatar. I earned a good salary and was often able to visit my family in Pakistan. But the COVID-19 pandemic got worse during a visit to my family in January 2021. My father insisted that I shouldn’t go back to Qatar, but stay with them instead. 

So I had to think long and hard about what to do. I injured my shoulder when I was in Qatar and find heavy work difficult. The salary as an electrical engineer in Pakistan is also a lot less than in Qatar. So I didn’t see that as an opportunity. I decided to set up something of my own in a different area. I’ve always been interested in photography. My brother Usman is a photographer and I knew I could use his contacts and network to build my own customer base. That’s how I decided to become a photographer. 

Bilal in his studio

Training course for newcomers to photography

I was lucky that a friend told me about a photography training course organised by the Pakistani-German Facilitation and Reintegration Centre (PGFRC). I applied to join this training course. It’s intended for newcomers to photography and is offered at the STEP Institute of Art, Design & Management (IADM) in Lahore. The 15-day photo training course teaches you practical and technical skills. It also includes a module on business development. 

I learned the basic theory of digital photography. The practical lessons covered lots of different types of photography: fashion, product, portrait, landscape, event, documentary and architectural photography. This meant I could create a thick portfolio with a wide range of photos that I could later use to win customers for various photo projects. 

Equipment for my own business

The module on business development taught me how to set up and successfully run a photo studio. The knowledge from this training course meant I felt well prepared to open my own studio. I was also given a professional camera, a flash unit, a tripod and a camera bag. I wouldn’t have been able to start my own business without this equipment, because I had by then completely used up my savings during the pandemic.  

My new start with a photo studio

I was finally ready in November 2021; I rented a studio in the centre of my local town. My photography service mainly involves passport photos, portraits and products. I also get jobs in event and fashion photography. My brother arranged photo assignments for me in the beginning. In the meantime I built up my own network. I’ve taken photos of the opening of a Japanese car manufacturer’s showroom and did a fashion shoot for a popular local clothing brand. I’m currently discussing a photo project for the opening of a branch of one of Pakistan's largest food chains. 

I’m also watching how the market develops and am expanding my business. I now also provide copying, invitation card and photo printing services. And I’m selling computer and mobile phone accessories as well as stationery. This increases my income. 

My work is in demand

Business is good. More and more customers were asking about event photography, so I now employ freelance photographers. They mostly take photos at events during the wedding season. I often use female photographers, because they can take photos at events exclusively attended by women. This means I’ve closed a gap in the market. I also offer to take videos of events. I’ve even bought drone cameras and more professional cameras for this.

Still in touch with the PGFRC

I’m so grateful for the help I got from PGFRC. I still keep in touch with the advisors there. My tip is to stay curious and be open to new ideas, that’s when new opportunities come along. I’d also like to continue my professional development and will soon be taking part in the next business development training course. That will teach me how to successfully continue and develop my photography business. I’m also getting involved in marketing and am designing my own Facebook business page. My plan is to move to a larger photo studio in a new shopping centre. Today I’m confident that I’ll have lasting success.

Help with Bilal’s new start


Those who helped Bilal with his new start in Pakistan include:

My tip is to stay curious and be open to new ideas, that’s when new opportunities come along.

Other experiences