How to Start a Photography Business (the right way!)

Starting a photography business is exciting, but setting up business is so super important! We need to make sure you’re on the right path!  

This high-level check list is great for newer or advanced photography businesses to use as a barometer for making sure you’re on the path to success.

For the full FREE download go here 

  • Choose a name

Make sure you’re not violating any Federal or State trademarks, as well as ensuring your name is available.  Don’t want to get kicked out of business for a mere issue with name.  Sometimes adding “photography” to the end of your name requires a submission of legal form!!


  • Choose a structure (Sole Proprietor, LLC, Corp) and accompanying legal documents (ex. Operating agreement) as necessary. 

You can choose from Sole Proprietor, LLC, C Corp, S corp and Partnership structures.  Choose the one that fits your plan – not just what everyone else is doing!


  • Make the appropriate tax elections with the IRS (if applicable)

You could be saving more money on your Income Taxes through special elections – be sure you’re doing it!  (See more on Taxes here)


  • Get your sales tax permit

Remit your sales taxes if applicable and be sure you know WHAT products and/or services to charge on.  Careful if you’re doing all inclusive collections without breaking out sales tax that may be a state law no-no!


  • Get other appropriate license and permits for your jurisdiction

Don’t get shut down for simply not getting the right licenses and permits for shooting.  Licenses can include extra business licenses on top of your formation.  Permits can be for specific shooting areas (see Shooting on Private Property)


  • Set up your EIN and Employer account  (if applicable)

Make sure you’re in line with the IRS and State law requirements – get these down!


  • Use the right photography contracts to protect your busines

Are you using the right business forms for your business? You need to make sure you have a contract for EVERY session, model release to publish (See these model release articles), print release (See this print release article), and other forms you can find listed here!


For the full FREE download go here 


  • Get the right insurance

There are approximately SIX types to choose from!  (See Insurance Article here)


  • Set up your budget and retirement savings

Every business needs a budget and appropriate retirement savings. Get these accounts set up!


  • Get an appropriate price list

Make sure you’re actually pricing for success – don’t just fly by the seat of your pants!

Don’t forget you also need the appropriate web presence, client management, and other aspects to drive your business to success!

How to Set up a Photography Business


Rachel Brenke, TheLawTog

Rachel Brenke is a lawyer, photographer and business consultant for photographers. She is currently helping creative industry professionals all over the world initiate, strategize and implement strategic business and marketing plans through various mediums of consulting resources and legal direction. Disclaimer: I am a lawyer but I'm not your lawyer! View my entire disclaimer here