Whether you run your photography business full time, part-time, or are just an advanced hobbyist there are a few business practices that can elevate your activity to a professional level. Knowing and using professional photography business practices can save you time, inspire client confidence, and generally make your photography career much more fulfilling. To help you toward establishing your professional photography business practices, what follows is a short list to act as a guide. It is not exhaustive but covers important aspects of meeting professional business standards in photography.
Once you consider taking your photography seriously, especially if that seriousness includes making money, you have to think about your legitimacy. Creating an official business for your activities is not as daunting or as expensive as you might think. In fact, considering how much photographers spend on gear and lenses, the cost to start a limited liability corporation (LLC) or sole proprietor business seems very reasonable. This added legitimacy can increase client confidence in your ability to meet their needs. When you show you take what you do seriously, others will too.
In many ways, the contract is the backbone of a successful business. Being professional in your photography business makes the use of contracts vital and necessary. Before you design a logo, have business cards printed, or run a single social media ad you should have the contracts for your business drawn up and ready to present to clients.
Photography contracts will set out the conditions of what the photographer will provide to clients, the terms that payment will be made under, and the recourse for all participants when conditions are not met. Contracts should always be seen as something that is helpful in making sure everyone gets exactly what they need from the transaction.
If you don’t have ready access to a lawyer to draw up your contracts, there are many books available containing example contracts, and online resources to consider for templates. It may be more effective to have a lawyer look over an existing contract rather than draw up one from scratch.
LEGALITIES: INSURANCE AND ACCOUNTING
It is tempting as a part-timer or hobbyist to consider skipping options like insurance for equipment and yourself. Insurance is not a burden, but a beneficial option to protecting yourself from equipment loss, accidents to clients or their products during a shoot, and other unforeseen events. Insurance should be seen the same way you view buying equipment and lenses; part of the cost of doing business.
In the same fashion accounting and money management should also be at the forefront of your considerations. Depending on the size of your photographic ambitions you may not be required to follow all the financial guidelines for a business. You should be familiar with them as your business grows and always remain in compliance.
Putting off considerations like insurance and good accounting practices can ruin an otherwise healthy and growing photography business.
BUILD A PORTFOLIO
As a photographer dealing in a visual medium, your clients can only have as much confidence in you as your best images warrant. As you grown in skill you should always keep adding your best images to your portfolio not only as a selling point to clients but as the target you are always trying to surpass. The path to being a stronger, and therefore more valuable, photographer lies in creating better and better images. Complacency will only lead to stagnation.
Once your shoot is done, be it a portrait session or commercial product shoot, etc., the photographer has the responsibility of producing a final product to the client. Finished, ready-for-use images that meet the requirements set out in the contract. Full-resolution, processed or retouched images need to be made available in a timely manner. Given the volume of your business and the requirements of the shoot, “timely” can vary but that is no excuse for making clients wait excessively for your deliverables.
Never deliver to a client work you would find unacceptable to purchase yourself. Set standards for yourself and then meet or exceed them.
Establishing profession business standards in photography is very similar to establishing professional standards in any business. Knowledge of the principles can make the transition into being paid for your photography much smoother than simply jumping in and figuring it out later. Hopefully, this short guide has given you an idea of what you need to consider to make your photography business the successful concern that your talent deserves.
Share this Post