4 Tips For Starting A Photography Business

Are you considering the legal formation of a photography business?  If so, this article is going to instruct you on four things that I highly recommend you follow. Without further ado, let’s dig in.

Be Legit Or Quit

The first step, and one of the more important ones, is to legalize your business. There are many forms of a business; LLC, S-Corp, C-Corp, etc. I found that Dan Hellar’s article on the topic to be extremely educational for my decision. I went with a LLC to keep it at its simplest, and because I’m the sole proprietor it will make my accountant’s life easier, and the documenting process for myself easier.

There are two companies that can automate the process of generating a legal business; LegalZoom and RocketLawyer.  I’ve personally used LegalZoom but I hear RockerLawyer is also really great.

Move Away From The Post-Its

The most crucial thing I can tell you is to speak with an accountant. Find one that you trust with your personal taxes and in turn hopefully your new business as well. Your accountant can provide guidance on how you should record, keep, document and organize your business finances and records. By going with a local accountant, he or she will know what must be done for your state and of course for federal purposes.

My accounts recommended QuickBooks, but as it turns out, the Mac version can’t export an accountant file. So for 2013 I decided to switch to a simpler method, using Excel. I noticed that the SnapShot Excel file for photography business tracking was on sale, in a bundle with other documents, for $29. So I picked up a copy and sent it off to my accountant for approval. He agreed that it was a fantastic document and there we have it.

Pay Up!

You need a method of invoicing clients, and there are a lot of them around the Internet. Many photographers use Freshbooks, but I prefer Pancake App because I have complete control over the files, design, etc. Plus Pancake requires me to pay once, without monthly fees.

If you are running WordPress, then WP Invoice could be a good choice for you. Heck, if you’re using QuickBooks then invoicing is built-in. Again, do your research before jumping on one.

Whichever you find, make sure it can track expenses that need to be recorded for tax time, or for billing to clients. For example, permits and gas.

Make It Impressive

Websites are an essential element to your business. So make sure that your website is running on a fast and secure web host. When you know your website hosting is at its best, it’s time to pick an elegant portfolio theme for your website. When deciding on one, look for the following:

  • Branding capabilities
  • Search engine friendly
  • Gallery management
  • Mobile friendly
  • A clean gallery style

Having a fast website is great for search engine optimization and a beautifully designed website will attract business, so be picky and think what’s best for your business.  You want a theme designed to convert your website visitors to customers, not one that looks pretty just on the outside.

Get Going

In this article I’ve summed up four things that will go into the backbone of your new photography business, thus making it a success.  I can’t stress enough how important it is to do your research, and ask questions.

Thanks for reading,


Scott Wyden Kivowitz is a NJ photographer sharing his passion for photography any way he can. 

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  1. Hi, Scott,

    Great to see your article over here, and I think you’ve got some great points. One I would add is the matter of taxes. We see far too many people trying to break into professional photography who don’t pay appropriate sales tax, and whose accounting system doesn’t work well enough for them to pay the other taxes needed.

    If you expect to get paid like a pro, you should also expect to pay the dues that a pro pays, and that includes sharing the tax burden. Even if you don’t make much, set up your tax accounts and finances so that when you do grow, you don’t ever have to worry about being on the wrong side of the law. This is just part of planning to succeed!

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