View Full Version : Photography Business Questions
09-20-2006, 08:49 AM
I've been doing portraits part-time for about two years now and have sold some of my landscape photos. I don't have a studio or lights, do all sittings outdoors in the place chosen by the client and have been doing this pretty casually.
My niece contacted me yesterday and said two seniors and four moms with babies have contacted her requesting I do portraits. Either its :D or its :madness , I'm not sure which. :lol Last summer and fall I had so much work that I turned away business and still spent all my nights and weekends either taking portraits or sitting in front of the computer. I know I don't want to go there again as I was pretty stressed trying to meet the time limitations of the clients. I've seriously considered trying to go full time in the business but I already have a decent full time job and its been an extremely difficult decision to make. :think
Sorry for the lengthy explanation but my questions for those doing this as a business:
Do you have a studio?
If you have a studio with lights, how long did it take you to learn the lighting? We live in the country and it is possible I could convert one of our out buildings to a studio pretty easily.
Do you have business cards?
Are you a corporation or just operating as a sole proprietor? Guess I need to talk to someone locally about sales taxes, income taxes, etc.
Do you have insurance in case something goes wrong?
Insurance on your equipment?
At this point I feel like I need to make a decision to either continue to do this casually and just take the clients as the inclination strikes me or I need to proceed with a business plan in mind, get organized and make this a sound business.
Thanks for any and all suggestions and thoughts!
09-20-2006, 02:08 PM
I can't be of any help to you business-wise - but I just wanted to jump in and say good luck.
09-20-2006, 05:23 PM
Do you have a studio? Portable studio
If you have a studio with lights, how long did it take you to learn the lighting? I just got my lights in December. I had done weddings and other location work for 20 years using natural light and flash only. Right now I really don't have a lot of time to play with my lights so it's taking me longer to learn than if I dedicated a set amount of time to do it each day.
Do you have business cards? Yes
Are you a corporation or just operating as a sole proprietor? I have a DBA filed with my County of residence and file my taxes under my social security number.
Do you have insurance in case something goes wrong? Yes, my equipment is insured. If I had a designated studio space, I would also have that insured through my homeowners since my space would be right here.
Insurance on your equipment? See above.
09-20-2006, 06:25 PM
I don't have a business but one day I hope to. I know that the first thing before I took any clients would be to get liability insurance. Just don't want to take any chances!
09-21-2006, 06:54 AM
Do you have a studio? A portable one. I've got lighting and a portable backstand that I can take to any location as well as do a shoot in my own home. It's not a formal studio, but I have one bedroom set up like a studio.
If you have a studio with lights, how long did it take you to learn the lighting? Depends on how much you practice with them. My son was pretty sick of me taking his picture trying to understand all the lighting angles. I just sat a TV in front of him and told him he didn't have to pay attention to what I was doing, that worked for awhile. I think the key is just practice and you'll get the hang of it pretty quickly.
We live in the country and it is possible I could convert one of our out buildings to a studio pretty easily.
Do you have business cards? Absolutely, they are super cheap to get through a lab (WHCC for $16 for 120), always have them on hand, in my purse, car, house because you just never know when you'll run into someone that is an opportunity knocking.
Are you a corporation or just operating as a sole proprietor? Guess I need to talk to someone locally about sales taxes, income taxes, etc. I am an LLC but started out as a sole proprietorship. I changed to an LLC because I wanted to limit my family's liability if something wrong happened within my business. It protects the family assets from being touched. I attended a class at our local junior college on starting a small business and received invaluable information and also an accountant who specializes in startup small businesses. He has answered many questions and given guidance to me without charging me a dime. He taught one of the parts of the class.
Do you have insurance in case something goes wrong? If you have homeowner's insurance, contact them. For a small yearly fee they can add business coverage insurance to your policy that protects you in the case of accidents that happen in regard to your business. It's worth it just to have the piece of mind.
Insurance on your equipment? Your homeowner's should also cover your equipment, but double check with your agent. You may need an additional insurance rider on your policy, again a small fee but well worth it. I had my Nikon DSLR camera stolen out of a rental car on vacation and my insurance company covered it completely.
09-21-2006, 04:34 PM
This has been very helpful! I have my own scrap-for-hire business, and have my fictitious business name statement, and do a little photography here & there. You have given me some things to think about.
09-21-2006, 10:34 PM
Do you have a studio? Yes Portable, but I am learning All natural lighting :)
If you have a studio with lights, how long did it take you to learn the lighting? I worked for a school portrait place for awhile, I learned alot about lighting through them, but I am always learning stuff...
We live in the country and it is possible I could convert one of our out buildings to a studio pretty easily. I dont see why not :)
Do you have business cards? Yes but they are old and I am having a new Logo and name change. So time for new ones..
Are you a corporation or just operating as a sole proprietor? Guess I need to talk to someone locally about sales taxes, income taxes, etc. I am all by myself..
Do you have insurance in case something goes wrong? Equipment yes, for people, not yet :(
Insurance on your equipment? Yes
09-22-2006, 09:50 AM
I want to thank all of you who replied to this thread. I did some investigation into the other three photographers in my town (pop. 11,000) and two out of the three have studios in their homes. One states on her website that "having her studio in her home keeps overhead costs down, so she is able to give you the best photos at a price well below other photographers in the area." And I know she's good as I've seen her work. :cry The other "home studio" photographer is also well below average prices as he did my daughter's senior pictures and wedding and he is still film. :sulk The third photographer has a downtown studio and I would assume his prices are more but not necessarily if he has to compete.
Given this information, I think it would be tough to get a piece of the photography business here. I will probably continue to do this casually and take clients as the mood strikes me. I will probably take at least one senior and maybe both, but say no to the others.
Again, I appreciate your taking the time to reply!
09-22-2006, 12:39 PM
Please don't be discouraged. Having only 3 photographers in town is really not that bad. Really. When I lived in another city, there were probably a few hundred photographers....totally oversaturated. It drove the prices down considerably. For instance, here I could get $1500 for a wedding, but there I could only get $500. :eek
Anyway, the thing is that you can find a niche to your style. Maybe the other photographers do portraits, but perhaps you could specialize in "natural portraits" - not posed, ya know? Or perhaps you could be known for doing artistic expressions to the photos afterwards - such as adding fairy wings to little girls and stuff like that.
Don't give up just yet. There is always room for everyone to compete for the same customer base. You just need to find your specialty and get the word out about it.
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