I Want to be a Professional Photographer

April 09, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

Camera - PixabayCamera - Pixabay

Since this is mostly an animal photography page, perhaps I should have called this post Legal Beagles 

 

Are you considering "going pro" in the photo/video biz? Good for you! Let's get you started on the right foot right from the get-go. Is that enough buzz words yet? 

 

Liability Protection - yes, you do need to have these in place even if you think you have nothing someone would want to go after. Being a sole proprietor offers zero protection for you, go with the LLC or Corporation options instead. (That's my years of working with the SBA's Small Business Development Center clients talking, and yes, you do need that protection.)

 

Branding - there is plenty of information about branding available and one of the most critical times to get this right is on the front end of your business. Again, save yourself a lot of pain and do this right on the front end. You want to protect your business name, logo, slogans and any classes you develop. 

 

Where should I start? Glad you asked! 
 

Start with a flexible name - if your name is unique, you could use that alone as your name. If your name is "Mary Smith" that may not be unique enough. (Sorry, Mary.)  Once you think you have a name, do the proper searches to make sure you have the right name. Also, check trademarks to be sure you're in the clear there too. Register your information, copyrights, logos and trademarks, the cost will vary depending on where you live, but plan on somewhere between $200-$300. 

 

Once you have decided on a name, do the proper searches to be sure your name is available. 

  • Start with a Google Search (this is the best starting point, use other search engines too, but start with Google.)
  • Set up a Google Alert to check for names, trademarks, slogans, et cetera
  • Check Social Media handles and make sure they are available
  • Check on USPTO.gov 
  • Pay an attorney to do a visceral search
  • Check variations of your potential name

Once you have done your due diligence on the naming and registering your business, there comes more paperwork, and yes, it's important too. 

 

Things you'll want to have on hand to protect you and your work. 

  • Contract for your photo shoots 
  • Model release for the people in your shoots 
  • Property release for famous pets 
  • Print release
  • Privacy Policy 

 

When you send contracts/paperwork to clients, follow these guidelines, and you'll be ahead of the game. 

  • Have the documents drafted by an attorney
  • Get your contracts in writing 
  • Use digital signatures 
  • Do NOT use auto countersign
  • NEVER send an editable document (If you would like to hear some horror stories about this, ask me when you see me.)

 

 

This information should get you started on your path to success. Please let me know if you have questions or if you have a tip to share. 

 


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