Part and parcel of establishing your own photographic business is establishing your own legal entity. This means establishing yourself for taxes. This is broader than the scope of this article, because every country has it’s own business rules. Also every state in federal countries has different legal rules. The first thing you need to do is register your business according to your local rules, if you are unsure of this either take legal advice or go and see your local town hall and ask them about local legal requirements.
You then need to separate your private finances from your business finances. Even if you pay your bills with a credit card you should have a separate business card.
Once you have set up your business, then you have to ensure that that business is protected, and one of the ways you can do this is to insure yourself against risks to your business. Whilst you should be able to insure an overall business policy for your business you need to make sure that all the liabilities you face both fiscally and legally are covered. We live in a litigative society, and whilst insurance may seem an expense you can do without, it gives you peace of mind. You need to consider insurance for your errors, omissions and liabilities, as well as ensuring your equipment for loss or damage. You also need an insurance against a claim made as a result of an accident, occurring whilst you are conducting a photographic session.
All sorts of simple errors and omissions can occur between taking the photographs and giving the finished image to the customer. Film can get lost either through your fault or the processor’s. Images may be lost whilst shipping, or in the postal system. Images may also be lost by private carriers, paying a premium price for services may not be sufficient, do you know whether or not you are covered by their insurance, and if you are what is the limit? Whilst it is possible for images to be lost in Cyberspace you should be able to cover those eventualities yourself, by having back up systems. You may release the images to the incorrect party. As well as this there may be a human delay and you may find yourself in the wrong venue, with no time to correct this.
There are other errors that you can be held responsible for this; your customers may sustain a personal injury whilst they are in your home or studio. It is advisable to protect yourself with liability insurance. If someone trips or falls over a piece of equipment, you can be held responsible for the damage. One of your customers may even trip and sustain and injury outside your house on the steps, but if they are coming to your house for business purposes, the business is often deemed to be liable.
Depending on what type of work you are doing you may need an insurance policy for your models. Supposing you take a model to photograph to an outside location and she or he is struck by lightning, or a stray horse, etc? You will also have to ensure that all your equipment is also covered whilst you are on location, as well as inside your normal working area. If you work internationally on location, it is very important to ensure that everything is covered on an international basis.
When you protect your equipment make sure that remember to insure all of it. This does not include just your camera, lenses, and other obvious pieces, but your computer, fax machine, as well as all your software. If you use all your own dark room, then there is that equipment to insure as well. Even if you are using your house, your office equipment will not be included on a normal domestic policy.
As well as all these things you need to have a type of health insurance that covers you if you are sick, or cannot make an assignment. Also what happens when your car breaks down, and you miss a wedding? All sorts of events can and do occur.
It is also normal for any individuals to cover themselves for loss of income. You need to have an insurance policy for this, not just for your health expenses, but to ensure that over basic bills such as mortgages or repayments are covered.
If you have employees, then the business of insurance becomes more complicated, you need to ensure against their actions against your customer’s as well. Supposing they get caught up in a claim for *** harassment, then you yourself are responsible. Each added little extra thing which you ensure yourself against will probably only add a few extra dollars to your annual bill, and the dollars spent may save a lot of heartache later.
You can ask to extend your private insurance to include a business package, or there are several companies that ensure the professional photographer’s needs with a separate package of comprehensive insurance. It may also be necessary to extend your vehicle insurance for the transportation of equipment, or it may be cheaper to include such things as loss of equipment from an unattended vehicle on your business package. It is not advisable to assume that you are covered for liabilities on existing insurance policies; it is always safer to check.
This article has been supplied courtesy of Roy Barker. Roy often writes and works closely with Profitable Photography Business . This site is dedicated to coaching you in starting your own photography business but places a strong emphasis on profitability issues & guidelines. You can also gain many photography resources (some free) from Digital Photography If you seek further guides, helpful hints, articles and news, you can go to http://www.photography-business-tips.com which also has a Photographers Forum for exchange of views with other photographers.