Starting From Scratch

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by RMThompson, Nov 14, 2006.

  1. RMThompson

    RMThompson the TPF moderators rock my world!

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    Hey everyone. Before I continue I want to tell you all that I love this forum and the advice thus far as surpassed anything I've gotten from other sites.

    With that said, I need some more!

    I am a pure amatuer right now, no doubt, but being a sales oriented person I've been able to make some decent cash on the side just by promoting myself through friends and family, and taking pictures with my Canon A610.

    With the exception of buying my new camera, (A Nikon D50 most likely), I need advice on how to start the business!

    Several things I know I need, business cards, website, etc etc, but I am not sure how photography works as far as licensing and corporations in Florida.

    What is the bare minimum I need? Is an LLC the best way to go? INC? What about insurance? Is it necessary?

    What kind of contract do you make your customers sign?

    What am I forgetting? I am sure I am forgetting something...

    So go ahead! Pour it on me!
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    As far as what you need for you area...I can't help with that...but maybe check with your city/state web site...and see what you need for a small business.

    As far as the rest of it...it depends on what kind of photography you are wanting to do...and who you are selling your work to. Any more info you can give us?
     
  3. RMThompson

    RMThompson the TPF moderators rock my world!

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    Well the local City/State websites are very misleading and distracting, and cannot describe what is required from step one.

    As far as what do I want to do? General portrait and even photography.
     
  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I think a web site is practically a necessity...but don't rush it. An instructor of mine gave us this advice...make sure you have enough 'great' images for your web site. Don't fill a bunch of pages with 'OK' or mediocre shots...use only your very best shots. If that means only having 8 shots on your web site...then so be it. Add more as you get them...but don't put in 'fillers'.

    Taking a class or classes might be a good idea. It doesn't even have to be a photography class...maybe a small business class. Not only can you learn something...but you can make contacts and find out how to get started. Learn from people who have already gone though the hoops...so that you don't make the same mistakes.

    My instructor told us about former students who tried and failed...and he says the most common mistakes were 'going public' too soon....and not charging enough.
     
  5. ladyphotog

    ladyphotog TPF Noob!

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    You need to be incorporated before you do anything. Secondly, there is a couple of great books called the Photographers Market for Building your Business and Business and Legal Forms for Photographers.
     
  6. AprilRamone

    AprilRamone TPF Noob!

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    See if your state offers a tax class because it can get confusing for photographers. I took my state's class (Colorado) and I'm still a bit confused although not nearly as much as I was...
     
  7. RMThompson

    RMThompson the TPF moderators rock my world!

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    I learned a long time ago the golden rule of paying taxes...

    Pay them. If you are paying them it means your making money.
     
  8. Swiss

    Swiss TPF Noob!

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    I'd recommend to not start a real business before you've reached a certain level and have some experience. May happen really fast if you're talented, so don't worry. The reason is, that friends certainly hire you and think you're good, because they're friends, but beyond that, people want quality and will only recommend you if this is, what they get. If not, they might tell others to not hire you. A website is useful to show your work to potential customers. So as soon as you have some decent photos, set a website up. If you need some help with that, let me know. Good luck, it's a fun job!
     
  9. DocFrankenstein

    DocFrankenstein Clinically Insane?

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    You need to incorporate, hire an accountant, pay a laywer to make you a decent contract. That's at the bare minimum.

    Being a sales oriented person you know the value of marketing. Those cool images you're producing aren't going to sell themselves. You need to actively make them being seen.

    It ain't easy, but the reward is so worth it.
     
  10. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I'm no business major...and maybe I'm confused...but do you really need to be 'incorporated'?

    Where I live, you can be a sole proprietor, in a partnership or be an incorporated company. I would think that most photographers start out as sole proprietors...the licensing is less and doing your taxes is much easier.

    The biggest difference, as far as I can tell...is that if you are incorporated, your personal finances are legally separate from your business finances. So if you get sued over a business transaction...you can't directly loose your house etc. Definitely a good idea if you do a lot of business...but as one person doing photography part-time...I wouldn't think it necessary.
     
  11. cyberdyke

    cyberdyke TPF Noob!

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    Not a lawyer, accountant nor do I play one on TV....

    You can get FREE mentoring biz help from these guys. They can help you will all of your starting questions for your local area.

    Incorporation is a good idea it protects your assets if someone wants to sue - its pretty easy to set up but does cost some $

    If you were to join a professional group (ASMP, PPA) they will also help you with advice on your setup questions, however these guys do cost something. But you're clients will feel "better" seeing the group logos on all of your promo materials.

    No one has mentioned it but don't forget one of the most important thing to get is Insurance. Both for your equipment and for you and your studio, don't put this off until last as it might save your life.

    Another thing you can do is talk to a local photog and ask them what you need to start out.

    Hope this helps - good luck its a tight market.



    J
    http://www.redhawkphoto.com
     

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