Do you find yourself struggling with the legal aspects of your photography business? I’m sharing some legal things that you NEED in your business. Some are not-so-typical recommendations that you probably don’t typically hear, but after running my own photography business for almost 4 years now, I’m sharing everything I’ve learned. It’s so much better to do this now so you can save yourself a huge headache in the future.
Now, before we get started, I want to share that I’m a photographer, not a lawyer or an accountant, but this episode is just to share my personal experience and recommendations. I know that the legal side of things is one of the most nuanced and difficult things to grasp as both a new photographer and even an experienced one.
Please do your own research before blindly listening to anyone’s advice, even mine, especially when I’m just a photographer just like you.
This is one of the very first things you should do as soon as you open the doors to your business. You should have a contract for your wedding couples, adventure elopement couples, second shooters, styled shoots, associate photographers, cancellation contracts, rescheduling amendments, third-party payor contracts, and literally any other matter you can think of.
I personally use and recommend The Legal Paige’s contracts for everything. She was once a photographer and is now a lawyer. I absolutely LOVE her contracts, and RIGHT NOW, she’s running her 40% off sale for the year, which she is running until Monday, November 27th. I do have an extra 10% off code for you to use as well, which is CLAIREH10. This is the one time you can get her contracts truly for a fraction of the price, so if I were you, I would run, don’t walk!
One of the best things about The Legal Paige is if you don’t know what kind of contract you should purchase, you can reach out to her team and they will guide you on that. There are also contracts for established photographers who are looking to scale their business this year with digital products, online courses, or coaching programs. These contracts are an investment in the future of your business to protect you and legally set you up for success.
Many times you’ll hear about having business insurance because some venues require it. If you’re a wedding photographer, I’m sure you’ve been asked at some point to put together a certificate of insurance for a venue that has them listed on it just for liability coverage.
I have Hiscox and I’ve been with them for about 2.5 years. They are who I have my business insurance and gear coverage through and I pay about $65 a month for both. It truly is such a small cost in the grand scheme of things to know my business is covered in case a couple gets hurt or my gear gets stolen or damaged. While I’ve never had to use it, I like having the peace of mind knowing it’s there.
If you don’t want to go through Hiscox, a lot of times you can go through your home, renter’s, or car insurance and possibly give you a bundle discount if you continue with them.
Just to give you more specifics about my personal coverage – What I have found to be fully adequate is a $1 million liability insurance policy and then my gear coverage. All I did was add up the cost I paid for everything, told the insurance company how much gear I had and the value of it, and then they came back to me with a quote for what the gear coverage would look like.
Even if you’re just going to be in business and, typically, if you make more than $600 a year, you need to register your business because you will have to pay taxes. I would advise you to do some research on your state, city, and county requirements. Start by reaching out the the Secretary of State. That has been the most helpful thing for me when trying to figure all of that out.
After you register your business, you will know that your business name isn’t taken and that you can practice underneath that name.
If you’re lost on this, my personal accountant is incredible. His name is Rocco. He will be able to give you a slew of options on getting on a call with him, as well as the cost of things. I know that if there’s one thing I wish I had done earlier in my business, it would have been to outsource all things taxes and accounting because it can be so overwhelming.
I personally have one business credit card that I use and it’s the Chase Business Ink credit card. It has some huge bonuses if you do end up getting approved through my link.
The reason I love credit cards is because you can get so many points on your big purchases that are for your business. At the same time, you can transfer those points to your personal and use them for personal travel.
For example, if you travel a lot for your business and use points to pay for your flights, hotel, or rental car, you cannot write that off because it’s not an actual dollar amount to be written off. So, what I do is use my business credit card for every expense, including the traveling so I get multiple points for every single dollar. Then, for all the points I accrue through my business card, I transfer that over to my personal credit card.
I do want to say this – don’t purchase things that you can’t afford just to get credit card points because that will come back on you. It’s about using strategy to make the most out of the money you’re spending for your business and then having the benefit in your personal life where you can travel, book flights with points, etc.
In regards to your actual business bank accounts, I recommend having these set up under your business so that you can keep your personal and business completely separate. The same goes for credit cards. It will help so much when it comes to accounting and figuring out expenses.
But find a bank that will allow you to have multiple accounts and go back and listen to episode 27, where I talk about the best business books for photographers. I share about Profit First and how I personally divide all of my income and have an expenses account and a profit account and save for taxes.
Whether you are experienced or just starting your business, this is a non-negotiable because you need to know where your money is going, what your expenses are looking like, what your income looks like, and get into the habit of looking at your reports and understanding those things.
If you didn’t listen to episode 25 where I spoke with a bookkeeper, then go back and listen to that episode. I think you’ll find it very helpful. At the same time, I do want to recommend my personal favorite accounting and bookkeeping software, which is QuickBooks.
I currently use the simple start version and I absolutely love it. It can take some time to understand, and this is another thing an accountant can help you with.
I love QuickBooks because you can track so many things. It connects to all of your accounts and you can categorize your expenses so you know where your money is going, where your income is coming from, how much you’re spending on ads, style shoots, education, etc.
It’s so easy to categorize and have it connected to all of your accounts. In fact, one of my favorite things about it is that instead of having to have a separate software or track all of this manually, you can categorize your miles that you drive on your car as business or personal, and that will help if you do take the mileage writeoff every single year.
Another thing I really love about QuickBooks is that you can actually know how much you owe in your quarterly taxes. If you have it set up to be linked to your HoneyBook or Dubsado, it will keep your sales tax amount there in a tab where you can quickly access it and quickly go through the website and pay your state, city, and county taxes.
That really only scratches the surface on everything you can do in QuickBooks, but if you don’t have any kind of accounting software yet, I would recommend snagging my link for 30% off your first 6 months.
So, those are the 5 legal things I wanted to share with you that you need in your photography business. It’s my hope that this episode took some stress out of the legal side of your business. Whether you are new or established, I know it can be helpful just to hear how other people do things, but I hope it was a breath of fresh air where you can feel just a little bit more confident in your business.
The Legal Paige Contracts – code for $10 off CLAIREH10. The sale and code are valid until November 27th, but you can use my link any time when listening to this episode!
Hiscox – my business insurance!
QuickBooks – 70% off QuickBooks for 3 months until November 26th!!! Then after November 26th, it’s 30% off 6 months. I recommend the Simple Start version.
Earn 100,000 bonus points with the Ink Business Preferred card. This is the card I mentioned having for all of my business expenses. You can apply here and see if you’re approved!
Episode 25 – Bookkeeping 101 with Frolic Bookkeeping
Episode 27 – The Best Business Books for Photographers